In many ways, the Randy Rogers Band and their new single “Interstate” have given fans and country radio listeners the best of both worlds, since the group has been a fixture on the Texas charts for years but also has a major-label Music Row deal with MCA Nashville.
“Artists from here are kind of pigeonholed as Texas artists. What I really think is we’re an American band,” Rogers says in a mid-February phone conversation from Omaha, where the group was slated to play a few hours later.
“We’re the true story, the band that got a van and finally their own bus. We signed a deal and we’re doing it right,” he continues. “I enjoy the difficulty of trying to be well known in the music business.”
Rogers has certainly achieved that, with a huge following in the Lone Star State and a fast-growing nationwide audience both from MCA/Universal Music Group Nashville’s fine radio promotion team and from RRB appearances on late-night TV shows including those hosted by Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno, and David Letterman.
“Interstate” is a classic RRB single, produced by the Grammy-winning Paul Worley in Nashville. It’s a radio-friendly tempo tune featuring the layered harmonies and chiming guitars that Rogers so often uses, a little reminiscent of the Byrds but with the unmistakable RRB sound.
Randy is a preacher’s son from Cleburne, Texas, about 30 miles south of Fort Worth.
“I was truly the Son of A Preacher Man,” he says, echoing the classic 1969 hit by Dusty Springfield, the British blue-eyed soul singer who cut that track in Memphis.
“I loved Gospel music, it got drilled into my head when I was young,” Randy continues. “Songs like `The Old Rugged Cross’ were among my favorites. Merle Haggard is my hero, and guys like Merle and Willie Nelson were my troubadours.”
Fact is, Randy had a Willie Nelson drum kit back in the day, a Willie Nelson guitar, and since he’s turned pro Randy has worked many shows with Willie.
“Every time we do it’s a dream come true,” he says. “I cherish that.”
Rogers soon put together a band and began playing clubs – and hasn’t stopped since. Here’s a group which has charted a couple of Top 5 Billboard country albums, and still works upwards of 200 shows per year.
All of that endless touring and hard work also paid off on the singles charts. Even when the band was an indy distributed by Smith Music Group, they charted “Tonight’s Not The Night” and “Down And Out” at No. 43 and 48, respectively, on the Billboard country singles chart in 2005 and 2006.
Since signing with Mercury, the RRB’s “Kiss Me In The Dark” and “One More Goodbye” were both Top 60 singles in 2006 and 2007.
Rogers has a unique philosophy about music.
“The thing I love about this business is that it’s impossible,” Randy says. “It’s impossible to get your songs on the radio, and it’s the hardest business in the world to be in. But I enjoy every aspect of the business. Music and the music business are two different things.”
Here’s a typical Randy day, as he describes it: “I’m on the phone with agents, lawyers, as tied in and tuned in as any artist is. I love it. I love the challenge and learning about the business, things like where I’m going and how many people are gonna pay to see us.”
This ability to harness both the creative and business aspects of today’s music are hugely important to any artist’s success in these tough economic times in the recording industry. The Zac Brown Band is another artist embracing this state-of-the-art approach, and the ZBB has become one of the runaway success stories of recent years.
As all RBB fans know, the band’s lineup has been the same since 2003, a rarity in any genre of music. The others are Jon Richardson (bass); Geoffrey Hill (guitar); Brady Black (fiddle); and Les Lawless (drums).
Randy co-writes many of the band’s singles with ace songwriters including the Texas favorite Charlie Robison, the husband of Emily Erwin of the Dixie Chicks and a guy who charted 5 Billboard singles as an artist himself between 1999 and 2003.
So as Randy and the RBB head back to Music City for the Country Radio Seminar, they are coming with a full head of steam at radio, on tour, and on the Web, and this Texas success story seems poised to write several exciting new chapters.
By Phil Sweetland