Texas Hippie Coalition
There are two paths you can take in life. You can choose to fall in line and be a follower, always fifth or sixth back, lagging behind others. Or you can make your own line and live as you choose, with everyone else landing behind you, while you create your own thing. Want to guess which line Texas Hippie Coalition have chosen?
That’s right. The purveyors of their own patented Red Dirt Metal sound are designing their own line in life and in music. For them, there is no other way.
Texas Hippie Coalition are committed to crafting a unique, original and thoroughly raucous brand of music that’s born of both life experience and a respect for rock ‘n’ roll’s forefathers. What exactly is Red Dirt Metal? Take outlaw country, toss in a dash of Southern-fried classic rock and mix it with some potent Texas power grooves and you’ve got a combustible sonic cocktail on your hands. Texas Hippie Coalition’s third album Peacemaker is a textbook example of Red Dirt Metal, which is the sound the band has been honing and cultivating for its entire existence.
THC’s frontman Big Dad Ritch, known as the “Godfather” of the RDM sound and an individual with a laser-like focus and vision when it comes to his music, believes that the band has hit its stride on Peacemaker, capturing the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll outlaws like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. He declares, “The outlaw spirit is still alive today. That is our goal: Bring it back.”
THC, who were the first band signed to their label Carved Records back in 2009, want fans of classic rock bands to know that they are carrying the torch and that they want to be the keepers of the genre’s keys. There will be no extinction of this beloved genre if THC have anything to say about it. “We want the people that love Molly Hatchet, ZZ Top, .38 Special, the Van Zandts and those bands that are growing older to know that somebody else out there is already waving the flag high,” he declared. The band, in essence, is ensuring that the style continues to have new and noteworthy additions, such as itself.
But Texas Hippie Coalition aren’t simply about making sure the outlaw rock style that they pretty much worship stays alive. They want it to evolve, infusing it with a modern edge and energy, thanks to the new tools (or is that weapons?) of the trade. Having also been surrounded and influenced by the likes of Black Label Society and Pantera –with Ritch proudly proclaiming to having seen the latter between 50 and 75 times live- Texas Hippie Coalition are turning in something fresh and fierce with Peacemaker. They aren’t just paying homage to Southern rock’s cultural milemarkers. They are proceeding with the intent to add to its canon.
The process of making the album was at first bolstered by levels of familiarity and comfort. “Me, [bassist] John Exall and [guitarist] Randy Cooper have been together a long time, and we’re soldiers always ready to go into battle no matter what,” Ritch said about his bandmates. The lineup is now rounded out by [drummer] Timmy Braun and [guitarist] Wes Wallace, who shared a lot of the album’s writing duties with Ritch.
But there were also some changes and shifts, which also add to the album’s heft and helped the band to expand. Texas Hippie Coalition recruited producer Bob Marlette (Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper) to work his magic and to help the band to further explore what it was capable of with an already established, branded sound. “We have a new producer and we already know who we are and what our brand is, so with this album, we decided that the boundaries we set for ourselves [are] in the past. We would cut that barbed wire and explore beyond those fences” Ritch said.
Exploring beyond those fences and cutting that barbed wire meant creating what the band calls “heart songs.” Rather than saddle them with a generic term like “ballad,” Texas Hippie Coalition chose to call ‘em “heart songs” because they touch the listener’s ticker. “They take you even deeper into the heart and soul, and into the deeper darkness,” Ritch admitted. He even referenced his biggest musical hero’s ability to vacillate between the dark and the light. “Johnny Cash could still let you inside and see the darkness of the man,” Ritch pointed out. “Johnny Cash was not just wearing black on the outside. There are parts of him that are black, and that same idea comes across on this album for us.”
Even with “heart songs,” Ritch issues a Surgeon General’s warning of sorts. “This album here takes you on a harder, longer drive, right into a brick wall. Strap yourself in.” Isn’t that the best type of rock ‘n’ roll there is?
Speaking about specific songs on Peacemaker, he said that the visceral “‘Damn You to Hell’ is maybe the heaviest song we’ve written. It has such drive and intensity that it’s like a mixed martial arts event, like UFC pay per view, like someone being grounded and pounded on.” You may emerge feeling like you’ve been administered a beating, but as evidenced in Fight Club, you can come out the other side cleansed and stronger from the catharsis.
“Think Of Me” is admittedly “the closest thing to a love song that this band would ever do. It is a great song. It goes beyond those boundaries.” Other songs that typify Red Dirt Metal include “8 Seconds” and “You Ain’t Seen Me,” which Ritch admits is “as southern-fried as Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet.”
The title song is a brilliantly written tune, told from the perspective of a gun. Ritch said, “I thought, ‘What would that gun say to people?’” That’s not something you come across every day in rock music, and it’s further evidence of how Texas Hippie Coalition are rewriting the rule book. The song boasts the lyrics, “I just whooped the devil’s ass / And you ain’t seen nothing if Jesus asks / It wasn’t nothing for him to see / This is all between God and me.” See what we mean about the outlaw spirit? It’s wholly present in every note, riff and lyric of Peacemaker.
Essentially, Peacemaker, which follows the previous albums The Pride of Texas and Rollin’, is like one of those out-of-control parties that will find you without a girlfriend and with pissed off family members the very next day, but you’ll be gawking over your killer new tattoo while nursing an awful hangover. It’s the stuff of life, the good time ingredient that you can’t manufacture or fake. It comes from a very real place, thanks to Texas Hippie Coalition’s ability to understand their influences and mine them into something wholly unique.
Texas Hippie Coalition is:
Big Dad Ritch – Vocals
Wes Wallace – Guitar
John Exall – Bass Guitar
Tim Braun – Drums