This interview is courtesy of www.splattertribe.tv and Luie. Thanx again Luie.
Interview by Primal
Interview by Primal
In 2008, I, for Rocklahoma ’08, after driving for days…days… The first chance I got to relax, after the long trip, was the night before the festival was to start. The driving was over…. It was finally over…. The festival grounds where empty. Which is an awesome sight in itself. A huge piece of land, that is set up to host tens of thousands of rolled into Pryor, Oklahoma people for four days, starting the next night, is an awesome, awesome and quiet sight.
Me and my my friend Shaun was driving around in our golf cart checking things out and we rolled up to one of the side stages where this Bad Ass looking band was up on stage sound checking vocals. This festival was to be a Glam/Hair/80′s’ish style festival and these guys looked like badass bikers or sumthin’. They did not fit what I was expecting to see, which was not a bad thing. Nostalgia had turned into the NOW! This was a new band that I hadn’t ever heard before, and they super kicked my attention.
I kept hearing this big, and I mean big, SOB belting out, “Straight Up, Let’s keep it on the level, Truth is that I’m the fuckin’ Devil!” Over and over while they sound checked. ”Straight Up, Let’s keep it on the level, Truth is that I’m the fuckin’ Devil!” I mean, that leaves an impression…
That’s around the time, I remember this dude in a golf cart beside me took a drink out of this big assed superduper cup and said, you want some whiskey?
After being the only driver, for a week, in an RV, with a lot of yelling goin’ on and a lot of stop offs, and no control over any of it, I was ready to let loose. I mean, this was a road trip to a damn Rock N’ Roll festival, half a country away from where I live, and I hadn’t got to drink anything yet… Listen, that has never really been my style. I was never the Designated Driver, you know? Just ask… So I said, “Hell Yeah” and then noticed his superduper cup was over half full of whiskey. I remember chugging it, stopping and then chugging it again. I was disappointed in the fact that I couldn’t kill it, and then I handed it back and said disappointedly, “I hope that wasn’t supposed to be one shot, cause I couldn’t do it.”
The dude looked back at me, like he was completely mortified or something, and said,”Huh-huh, (not like a laugh huh-huh, but like a fake huh-huh) I was just setting and sipping some whiskey.” Then he turned turned toward the stage. He was either disgusted or scared, not for sure which…That was when I realized he was just offering a sip and I had done drank over half of his cup or he may have not even really wanted me to drink his whiskey anyway. Either way, I didn’t really care. The thing about whiskey is, sometimes it just hits the spot, you know?
Anyway, that was about the time these guys kicked into song and I was just blown away. They’re whole sound check was my first concert experience with THC. I went on to see them play 5 times over those four days, and that was only because I missed them a couple of times. I mean they where monsters…I don’t know how many times they played that week, at least twice a day, but every time they did, I KNOW that they kicked everybody’s ass that was watching. They also almost kicked Marq Torien of the Bulletboys ass that week as well, and trust me, that’s never a bad thing!
I really don’t know why I am just now getting an interview with these guys up because I have been a hardcore fan ever since that first initial contact I had with their music, and I always will be a hardcore fan.
This interview was conducted in November, but I wanted to save it for the anniversary of guitar legend, Dimebag Darrell‘s death which was on Wednesday, December 08. It just seemed like a fitting interview to post in tribute… So check out this transcribed phone interview that I conducted with the man, Big Dad Ritch and check out the THC video’s below… Yep, THC has OFFICIALLY been SPLATTERED@#$%!
SplatterTribe: I know the lineup has changed a bit in the last year or so, what is the current lineup of THC?
Big Dad Ritch: Right On…Well the main nucleus of the band is my bass player John Exall and my lead guitar player Randy Cooper. The other guys are good ole boys and they’re there to help us out and we appreciate the Hell out of’m, but that’s who THC is, is us three..
SplatterTribe: I know you had to cancel some shows. Is there something up with the band now?
Big Dad Ritch: No, we’re just goin’ through some personnel changes at the moment. The road is a very hard bull to ride brother and it aint for everybody. Me, John and Randy, we aint been thrown yet and we’re hoping to ride for the whole 8 seconds.
SplatterTribe: Where you three ever together in previous bands?
Big Dad Ritch: No, actually Randy & John have played together in a few bands in the past. Whenever I started this band, I just went around…I live in a little town called Denison, Texas, a little… town down in the Great State of Texas. This county down here, it’s loaded with great musicians. So I just went around and gathered up like the best bass player from one band, the best drummer from another, the guitar player from another (and) basically just kind of threatened to whoop’m all if they didn’t come play for me.
SplatterTribe: Did you play in any previous bands yourself?
Big Dad Ritch: Yeah, when I was younger, I had had a couple of bands together. We where a whole lot heavier, more Metal. Back in ’91 when I had that band together we where some of the heaviest stuff out there between Slayer & Pantera. It was somebody else’s band that I was in. Then later on I got in another band called God Awful Mess, that was somebody else’s band. It was ’94, ’95 (and) somewhere closer to Tesla, maybe and starting to get to where I wanted to go. About seven years ago, I did a… job for about 9 years, been away from music for about 5 or 6 years and I just wasn’t loving what was out there. There wasn’t anything that made me want to go and buy the album. There wasn’t nothing on the radio that made me go ,”WOW, That’s awesome!”, you know? So I really wanted to put something out there that was in my vein, which was, you know Johnny Cash, Waylon & Willie, get that Outlaw spirit out there, get that Southern Rock N’ Roll style of 38 special, ZZ Top, Molly Hatchet, Lynyrd Skynyrd…get that vibe to come across, but definitely want to keep it modern with that Power Groove that is ALL Texas. I do hear some Pantera in there but I also hear some Lynyrd Skynyrd, you know?
I even had one guy come up to us after one of our songs and say, “Hey man, do you like Johnny Cash?” I said,”That’s why I dress in black baby! I love Johnny Cash” He said ,”I just kind of…It was weird I just kinda felt it all of a sudden.” So it’s great that that comes across in the music, because I really want it to.
SplatterTribe: I read where you actually got the chance to see Johnny Cash perform. That’s something I never got to do, what was that experience like?
Big Dad Ritch: Man, you know, growing up in the south you go to church a lot. My Grandma was a big Pentecostal woman and she dragged me into church a lot. You get to hear the preachers, all the preachers down here, they’re very eloquent speakers. When I went and seen Johnny Cash, the songs, you know, really struck home with me…He lets you in deeper then a lot of musicians out there will let you in. A lot of musicians are writing about…fiction, you know what I mean? I felt like he was giving you something that was real and it really came across, but what really captured me was in between the songs…The way he talked to the audience. The things that he spoke on. The things that he said. You could just see the whole audience just having fun and Rocking out to these good ole Country songs that he was PLAYING. Then when it was time to talk between songs, he had’m all. They where all there. He was captivating. He was the best front man, the most awesome showman that I had seen…and I was just totally blown away by it and I knew then that that was exactly what I wanted to do.
SplatterTribe: Where you a major fan going into the show?
Big Dad Ritch: Well as a young kid I listened to a lot of Southern/Country music. The Oklahoman’s, The Texas boys, you know Johnny Cash, Waylon, Willie, David Allen Coe. I always was all of that. So I was a little bit of a fan but after the show, I was a monster fan.
SplatterTribe: Getting back to you guys, tell us a little about the somewhat extensive tour your on right now…
Big Dad Ritch: Yeah, we’re actually rollin’ pretty much non stop. They are being so kind as to givin’ us 4 or 5 days off here and there. Being centered in a central location in the middle of the United States, in Oklahoma and the northern most part of Texas, it’s pretty easy to run east coast to west coast and have a little stop in the middle on the way home. So, right now, we actually just left the east coast, like I said, a couple of days early. We’re just here a couple of days. We’ll be headed out to Oregon next week. We got some shows up in Oregon, up in Washington State. We’re number one on the radio up there in Spokane. We’re gonna go up there and service that radio station up there and give everybody in Washington the old what for. Which is great for me because at a young age my dad was a Hippie and when I was 2 years old, my dad loaded me up in a Dodge van and we took off to Washington state and I lived in Washington state till I was about 9 years old. And I had hair all the way down to my ass at that young age (laughs)
SplatterTribe: A band at the stage that you are at in your career doesn’t get a lot of time off at all do you?
Big Dad Ritch: I actually was just speaking with my boy the other day, my oldest boy, he’s a pretty smart little feller. I don’t know where he got it from… I know his mom was a dumb-ass No, I’m just kiddin’ (laughs)… You know, he’s got a higher level of intelligence and he’s already explained it to me that I’ve been home 65 days this year. He’s keeping track of it and he’s letting me know.
When I get home I disappear off the face of the Earth because I smother myself with my children. I try to spend as much time with them… I’m not very good at basketball, so they beat me easily, but football I can tackle really good and the fact that they are only 13 and 7, it usually only lasts about a half (laughs)
SplatterTribe: Many fans probably couldn’t even envision you having a home life…
Big Dad Ritch: There really isn’t much of one. Like I said when I’m home I just come straight home and smother myself with my family. This morning I got up and took my daughter to preschool. I’ll pick her up this afternoon. I’m just being Mr. Dad when I’m at home, you know. That’s one great thing about being a musician is I mean, you don’t get to be there everyday. That does suck, but the fact that when I am here, I don’t have any obligations other than to maybe do an interview on the phone or something like that. It really gives me my whole day to do whatever I want. Today I’m picking my daughter up early, taking her shopping and get her some new shoes and then later on today I’m picking my boys up…
SplatterTribe: What’s the writing process like for THC, do you do any writing when you’re not on the road?
Big Dad Ritch: Actually, me and John and Randy write all of the time. We are writers pretty much nonstop. We are always throwing ideas at each other. Of course, I write all the lyrics. I do the song arrangements, structure and stuff like that. Even the rhythms that come at me, I might change’m up, take some notes off, add a note and then elongate it or shorten (it). My main writer is really my bass player John. Really there is no format for us. I’ve had trouble answering this question before because we write in every case, every scenario, just nonstop. Right now we’ve got a lot of songs that we just weren’t able to get on this last album and we’ve already wrote 4 or 5 more since this album has been wrote. So we’re setting here looking at these songs having fights over what we think is going to make it onto our next album.
SplatterTribe: In 2008, I got to Rocklahoma the day before it started and after check in and everything was over and it was time to relax and get ready for the festival. We ended up riding our golf carts out to the side stage where sound checking and the first thing I saw was you guys sound checking to the song ‘Cocked & Loaded’ wich is on the new album. So I know that song dates back to at least 2008. So how old are the songs that are on the new album ‘Rollin’?
Big Dad Ritch: Well, the album that’s out now, the 2 songs that are really the newer songs on there are Intervention…(and)…Groupie Girl is a fairly new song because we had it. We tossed it around. We didn’t really know if it was us. I kinda liked it. I went in and revamped it. (We) done some stuff to it, got it to where it is now. Actually when we presented that to the record label. That was the one song that we turned in that they weren’t crazy about at first. I was like, “Well, dang, OK, if you’re not digging that that’s cool.” and then about 4 or 5 days days later I get a call from my manager. I get a call from the label. They’re both saying, “Hey man, I think we’re wrong. We’ve been listening to that Groupie Girl and we love it.” (laughs)
I think the theme of this band is when we go to write we don’t say, “OK, we’re Heavy Metal. We’re writing Heavy Metal songs” or “OK, we’re mainstream Top 40. We’re writing that” or “Hey, we’re a Southern Rock band. So we’re just writing that.” You see all the elements from Country to Rock N’ Roll to Southern Rock to Heavy Metal. All those influences come across, at least I hope they do. I feel like they do. When it comes to writing a song, it should stand the test of time. I mean, there’s a couple of songs that didn’t make the first album that we still have and if the label was to let them in, I would put them on there. They’re all songs I feel good about. I figure that me and John and Randy together, I figure us guys have probably wrote about 40 songs together and I bet you we have probably only thrown away about 4 or 5 of them. (laughs)
SplatterTribe: And you’ve released about 20, so that means you’re setting on a good 15 songs basically…
Big Dad Ritch: Yeah, we definitely do have enough to punch out a double album if we wanted to, but I think what we’ll do is we’ll nitpick at each other and we’ll pick out the best tracks and we’ll get them on the next album.
SplatterTribe: How much say do you guys have with the label?
Big Dad Ritch: Well actually, in my contract and verbally with Carved Records, which I have to say is…It’s an upstart record label and it’s been a pleasure signing with’m and workin’ with’m because they have really givin’ me full range. They seen what this band was doin’ without a label and everything was running well. So really all they’ve done is just kind of jumped in and souped up the engines, so to speak, and got us some sponsors on the side of the car (laughs) and are helpin’ us make the racetrack a little quicker, you know what I’m sayin’?
Really, I turned in 11 songs on the last album and they approached wanting to know if they could release ‘Pissed Off And Mad About It‘ on this album as well. I told them that that would be cool. So I actually only handed over 12 songs for this new album and 10 of them made the album and the other 2 are most likely going to make the next album. I really feel strongly that they are both that good. That they should be on an album.
SplatterTribe: Did you hesitate on putting ‘Pissed Off..” on this album since it was already on your independently release Pride Of Texas CD?
Big Dad Ritch: I did. I did kind of hesitate a little bit. The label just kind of let me know that that was a song that they really liked. Pride Of Texas is something that we held onto for us, you know. So we could have our first independent album that belonged to us. We could do whatever we wanted to with it. They (the label) came at me and whenever you say the right things and you put dollar sign in front of it, it can be very convincing.
SplatterTribe: What about the next video or single release? Have you guys come to terms on that yet?
Big Dad Ritch: Actually we are gonna do 2 videos at once. We’re fixing to go to Columbia… Bogota, Columbia and while we’re down there we’re gonna be filming a video for Intervention and when we come back we’ll be filming a video for Groupie Girl. We should have both videos…The first one should be in the can and available for the public by March. The next one should follow up and be (released) shortly after hopefully by the first of summer.
SplatterTribe: Have you already worked out the details for each of the video’s or is that still in the process?
Big Dad Ritch: Well when we’re down in Bogota, Columbia, we’re actually gonna be…They have a hired military that are gonna be taking us from place to place and we’re just gonna do more like a ‘LIVE’ video, but with a lot of underbelly. You’ll be able to see us praying before we go onstage. You’ll be able to see us going from the backstage to the front of the stage. It will just be all live shots like we did with ‘Pissed Off And Mad About It‘. A little bit of the cutaway will be all the underbelly, the behind the scenes. All the stuff that’s goin’ on like that. I’m looking forward to that video really. We got some great people involved in South America that are going to be filming it. The cameras we are using are…I forget the kind of cameras they are. They use them for movies and stuff. There’s a band out there called 30 Second To Mars. They always shoot with these kind of cameras. I’m always braggin’ about their video. I didn’t know that (was what they used). I was always like, “Man, this bands videos, they look so wicked”, wide shots, the way they look and everything. When the guy was presenting to us what he wanted to do with it, that was his pitch. “We’ll be using the same cameras they use in movies, something like 30 Seconds To Mars has done.” (I was like), “AWE, That’s Awesome!” (laughs) you know what I mean..