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Randy Rogers Band talks secret to success, Willie Nelson, and homemade tamales

The Randy Rogers band are Jon Richardson, Les Lawless, Randy Rogers, Brady Black, Geoffrey Hill
The Randy Rogers band are Jon Richardson, Les Lawless, Randy Rogers, Brady Black, Geoffrey Hill
Photo from David McClister

Though they may not have major radio play or have several Country Music Awards to their name, the Randy Rogers Band has been going strong for over ten years. With a dedicated fanbase and number one albums under their belt, the band put passion and heart into their music. Their live shows are fun and their albums are nothing but fun, with a little bit of heartache mixed in. With a new live album on the way, Randy Rogers talks about the secret to keeping a band together for so long, the new release, and where the band is headed next.

Listening to the album, what really draws in listeners to the music is there are some tracks that seem like good ol fashion country and there are others that mix country with some elements of rock. Is it your goal to bring a fresh sound to the country world and maybe pull in a different audience?

Randy Rogers: We're victims of the time frame we grew up in. I listened to a lot Willie Nelson and George Strait when we were younger; I actually wanted to be George Strait. But we also like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, stuff from the Seattle grunge scene. I write songs that are country themed, with some rock and other elements mixed there. It's more of a sign of the times.

Who would you say are some of your influences for your music and songwriting?

RR: I would say Michael Martin Murphy; I found a lot of other singer-songwriters I gravitated towards like Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson, and Kal Van Zandt.

What was it like working with Jay Joyce for the album “Trouble?”

RR: It was fun! Jay is so cool and I really enjoyed the experience. Hopefully, we'll make another record with him this fall. I always enjoyed his work. It's cheesy to say it was a dream come true, but it was an honor to work with him. We came out of it feeling accomplished and that's the best thing you could ask for.

Also on that album you recorded a song with Willie Nelson. What was it like getting to a do a song with one of your heroes?

RR: Well, I had performed on stage with Willie before, but recording with him- it's something where if you would've told me in the sixth grade I would make a song with him I would've keeled over dead. He's a really sweet guy; he sat around telling a bunch of jokes. Any stories you've heard about Willie Nelson are pretty much true (laughs). We went out to his ranch and hung out, too. It was really cool.

The title of your upcoming live album/dvd is “Homemade Tamales.” It sounds delicious, but what's the story behind the title?

RR: There's this venue called J.P. Floores Country Store, we've been there a bunch of times and they have a sign where they sell homemade tamales. We kind of used that as a metaphor for the home made songs we make and it's also a nod to the store. It's one of our favorite places to play. J.P. was actually one of Willie's confidants back in the day. The song “Shotgun Willie” talks about J.P.

Do you have a favorite song to perform live?

RR: There are a few songs that we can't away with not playing live, like “Kiss in the Dark.” But on the upcoming live album there are a few new bonus tracks, like “Satellite,” that we're starting to work in the setlist and those are starting to become my favorites. Playing new songs is always exciting; kind of breaks the monotony of playing the regular stuff.

You're doing a show in Chicago. What do you always look forward to doing in the city when you have a show here?

RR: Chicago is one of my favorite cities. Even as a kid my grandparents would go to Chicago for vacation and send me back postcards. We usually try to take a day off and just take in the city. So, this year I'll be spending Valentine's Day in Chicago with my wife. We've done pretty much everything in the city, walked along the mile, been to the beach. It's a great city. We love it and spend as much time off the clock there as we can.

What was the weirdest thing that happen to you guys while on tour?

RR: Happens every weekend. We wrote about some of the experiences in the song “Trouble.”

Is there someplace you haven't toured yet, but want to?

RR: We've hit everywhere except Alaska and Hawaii. We have to do them at least once so when can say we did them all. Australia might be fun too.

You guys have been together for a little over ten years now. When you first started out did you think you would be making music with the same band for so long? What's the secret for keeping the band together?

RR: We drew a line in the sand. We were making zero dollars and we decided we would split the money, take care of each other, no one would do something stupid, or get into drugs. It's next to impossible to do, but we were lucky. Nobody was going to lose anything at the time; it was all about timing. I'm not really surprised we lasted this long. I knew it was gonna happen.

You guys have a huge, dedicated fanbase, lots of albums under your belt, many music insiders have praised the band, yet some may still be wondering who you guys are. How did you achieve such great success, yet still remain somewhat underground?

RR: We never had huge radio success and having a smash hit that's recognizable would change things. But we would never dream of that kind of career. We want to be known for our work. Our fanbase sees our loyalty to each other and to them. And they can see the music getting better and better.

Both of your studio albums have been number one most downloaded country album on iTunes. What was your reaction when you first heard the news?

RR: Thankful to the fans that they buy the albums and come to the shows. We're just lucky. It shows you can do this without a ton of help from radio play and the label. We just played a ton of shows and made good music.

When can fans expect new music from you guys? Are you currently working on anything?

RR: We have a couple of new songs on the live disc. After that, we'll be writing all year and probably going back in the studio in fall, so there should be a new album in less than a year.

You can catch the Randy Rogers Band this Friday (February 14) at Joe's Sports Bar. You can still grab some tickets for your sweetheart and have a rocking valentines day. Their live album “Homemade Tamales” will be out April 15. To learn more about the band and to grab any of their other albums visit their official site.

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