Randy Rogers has earned his road stripes.
The Texas-based singer and songwriter, who plays more than a hundred shows a year, has been passionately making music and steadily touring with his Americana and country band for the past two decades.
The most recent realization of his group's musical journey can be heard on its latest album, Hellbent. The album was produced by Dave Cobb, who has logged studio time with artists including Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell and Kacey Musgraves, and was recorded at the legendary RCA Studio A in Nashville. With songs such as "Hell Bent on a Heartache" and "You, Me and a Bottle," Rogers and the band capture their continued energy and passion for everyday life in the Lone Star State and beyond.
Westword caught up with Rogers to talk songwriting, life in Texas and how moving between the Rocky Mountains and the southern flatland can impact one's health.
Westword: How's it going?
Randy Rogers: Well, I was just up in Steamboat for two weeks, and I got a sinus infection. Then I came back to Texas, where it's 75 degrees and there's a lot of cedar pollen in the air. So that didn't help. The change in the altitude and the weather can do it.
Are you still able to sing?
Yeah, I got a steroid shot. I try not to do that very often, but it helps.
And you're headed right back to Colorado this week?
I am. I'm flying back on Wednesday, and we're playing the Mission Ballroom for the first time, so I'm excited. It looks great from the pictures and videos I've seen.
How long have you been playing with your band now?
October of 2020 will be twenty years.
Do you straddle the line between being an independent act and appealing to more mainstream audiences?
Well, we were on major labels for a while, so I don't know that we straddle anything, but we've always kind of had our own sound, and we've stuck to it over the years. We're touring all over the country and making records on our own now, which allows us to demonstrate more of our strengths. It provides a great life for us. We always wanted to be like Willie Nelson. So we like being on the road and playing shows and being a family. And we've accomplished that. We still love playing music, so the ninety minutes on stage is what it's all about.
How many shows do you play a year now?
I think we did 110 shows last year with the band, and I did about thirty more acoustic shows.
Where did it all come together for you and the band?
In San Marcos. We all grew up in different cities in Texas, but I was finishing my degree there at Texas State University. We all met in that town. We had all been playing in other bands, and we had a meeting at this house I was living in. We had a box of wine and drew a line in the sand. We decided to quit our other bands and give it a go together. It was pretty much that easy.
Did you ever finish your degree?
Yeah, I have a degree in public relations. And Geoffrey, our guitar player, has an MBA in accounting.
Do you have a particular method to writing your songs?
If you looked at my phone, you'd see a bunch of one-liners. I get them from movies or sitting at the bar and listening to conversations between people. It's just everyday-life stuff. Usually when I start writing, I'll have a melody that I've been working on, and I'll look back at all those one-liners, which are a bunch of goofy ideas. It's almost like a game. A brain teaser. Sometimes it doesn't work, and sometimes it just comes together.
I've also written songs with the help of some really talented songwriters. That can spark creative ideas. Sean McConnell is one of the guys that every time we get into a room, something happens. He's great. And there's a lot of songwriters where you get together and nothing happens, so you just end up sitting in a room and having coffee or cold beers.
Do you spend time in Nashville?
Yes, I have a condo in Nashville. That's kind of where I go to work. I've written four or five albums there. It's a peaceful place for me to get away from the everyday life of home. I have a wife, three girls, a couple dogs and a cat. It can be hard to be creative here, so I'll book time to go write. I'll line up some people to collaborate with, and then I'll head to Nashville, knock it out and come home. Things can get busy, so I have to take time out and plan for it.
I'm guessing you've spent a lot of time playing in towns all around Texas?
Oh, yeah. We've played all around the state for the last twenty years. Small-town Texas is probably why I have a job. Each town has its own festival. Poteet has the Strawberry festival. Winnie has the Rice Festival. Anahuac has the Gator Festival. Clute has the Mosquito Festival. It's just crazy.
You've played in Colorado quite a bit.
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Yeah, I've played at Red Rocks five times. I've played the Grizzly Rose more times than I can count. I've also played in Fort Collins, Steamboat and Aspen. I've been around Colorado for years and years. We love it.
Anything you want to say about the new album, Hellbent?
Working with Dave Cobb was amazing. It was a dream come true getting to work in that room, RCA Studio A, where so much stuff that we love was recorded. The record is doing great for us, and we're about to release our third single off of it, "You, Me and a Bottle." We've been getting some airplay in different cities, which is great. It allows us to get out of Texas and do this nonstop cross-country touring every year.
Randy Rogers Band and Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers Band play at 9 p.m. Wednesday, January 15, at the Mission Ballroom. Tickets are $30 to $60 at the Mission website.
Listen to Randy Rogers Band and more favorites from Westword writers on our Westword Staff Picks playlist.