TEXAS (CelebrityAccess) This feature normally focuses on up-and-coming artists, the ones that are on the cusp of seeing massive exposure and skyrocketing career arcs. The Randy Rogers Band may not exactly fit those criteria but, then again, it’s an artist that is seeing a solid uptrend over the past few years.
The band itself – Randy Rogers (lead vocals), Geoffrey Hill (guitar), Jon Richardson (bass guitar), Brady Black (fiddle), Les Lawless (drums), and Todd Stewart (utility player) – has been around for 18 years and recently dropped Hellbent, its eighth studio album, with the help of highly respected, Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb. Yet, although it has been associated with Texas’ Red Dirt country music scene (which Rogers considers to be a little restrictive) and is considered one of the top acts in the state, RRB has also seen recent growth as far West as California, with sellout shows in markets like San Luis Obispo and San Diego.
“The crowds have been getting bigger. Yes, absolutely,” Rogers told CelebrityAccess. “It’s had very little to do with radio because we, frankly, don’t get national radio airplay as much as we do regionally. I would think that we are hyper-focused, as a management organization and as a band, to continue to develop and build those markets and to come back every six months and hit them.”
Rogers received plenty of attention recently for a mythical project called the Stryker Brothers, two mysterious songwriters who died in a prison fire. It turned out it was a musical project by Rogers and Robert Earl Keen, but contemporaries had fun with it, talking on camera about how the made-up duo was part of the fabric of country music mythos.
Meanwhile, Rogers continues to operate Big Blind Management alongside Robin Schoepf with a client roster of younger Texas-based artists and runs several music venues in the state. His wife has established four clothing boutiques in Texas, and Randy was the face of Don’t Mess With Texas for the Texas Department of Transportation campaign last year and is credited with reviving the Cheatham Street District in San Marcus. He even has a degree in Public Relations.
We asked Rogers questions on a spectrum of topics, starting with a project he is launching – the second volume of Hold My Beer with Wade Bowen.
OK, so what’s new with the ‘Hold My Beer’ project?
OK, so it’s recorded, Hold My Beer Vol. 2. Wade Bowen and I put out Hold My Beer Vol 1 in 2015 and we’ve also been touring under that name for over 10 years and touring together for 15-plus years besides that.
So I went and got a copyright attorney and researched who owned the mark for Hold My Beer and Hold My Beer And Watch This, and we ended up securing those marks. So we did our due diligence as far as making sure we can do business entertaining folks as well as recording music under the name Hold My Beer And Watch This.
So, I’m excited about that and kind of shopping the record. I had just come off my relationship with Universal. I made four records at Universal while Randy Rogers Band was there. We put out Hold My Beer Vol. 1 on an independent level and really had this great success with the album.
We subsequently put out the Watch This album, which was a live, acoustic album and we’re getting ready, I believe, to release an album that we recorded one evening in Dallas at the House of Blues.
Hold My Beer Vol. 2 looks to be coming out next year. So Wade and I will be touring this summer under Hold My Beer And Watch This, doing songs we’ve written together and tell stories on each other. It’s really laid back. Kinda poke fun at our mediocre success at country music radio and how bad I am at golf.
It’s really honest banter because we are kind of different and have been for a long time. I think the fans see that and gravitate toward it.
Aren’t you supposed to be great at golf? Aren’t all country music stars supposed to be great at that sport?
Well, I’m not that bad. I’m just worse than Wade.
Let’s talk about your management company.
Yeah. Around 2015, my day-to-day manager Robin Schoepf and I decided to form Big Blind Management. It’s because we heard this guy named Red Shahan and we were blown away by him. He’s a friend of mine and just had a lot of questions – how to break into the industry, how to register songs, everything from an IRC code to a publishing deal to tour management. So I saw this huge opportunity in Texas because I tour and live there, and tour all over the country but I do see a lot of talent that is opening shows for us, and a lot of questions that kids have.
— Randy Rogers Band (@RandyRogersBand) January 5, 2019
Then I saw Parker McCollum open a show for us after our little management company had been open for about six months. I asked him a couple questions after the show and he gave me some surprising answers. He had signed this goofy deal with this person who registered his songs kind of incorrectly in the publishing world and he was paying a radio promoter who wasn’t necessarily doing what they said they were going to do, and a booking agency that had some weird contracts. It really made me upset.
My whole goal with this management company is because I did come up in a 1988 Suburban, playing shows opening for people who were bigger and successful to signing a record deal at a major label to having multiple publishing deals throughout that tenure with Warner/Chappell. I just felt I had a lot of knowledge and Radney Foster was somebody in my life early who held my hand and did the same thing for me, introduced me to Nashville and the system. I just felt there was an opportunity for me to give back and pay it forward.
That’s the mission of the company: to be honest, to be fair and explain to these youngins there is a way to take your music as far as you like, if you want it bad enough.
It’s also a boutique management company where we will just work a project for certain artists, right? Some artists don’t have the financial means to carry a full-time manager so they’ll come to us and say, “Hey, I’ve got this project, it’s recorded, I need you to help me release it for the next six months.”
So we’ll manage a project instead of an entire band or artist, which I think is also a very valuable piece to what we have to offer. Robin’s been with me for almost day one; she’s been with me 16 years. She’s been part of every release I’ve made or put out, so she knows the moving parts, working backwards on a release from the artwork and when to turn in the masters and the codes. She brings a lot of value to a young artist that maybe doesn’t have the crowd to sustain a full-time management company.
That’s why there has been a revolving door of sorts. We also just signed this kid named William Beckman, who’s just fantastic. It’s a labor of love. There’s not a whole lot of money in it.
Not a lot of money in it yet, assuming that you’re hoping your clients will hit the stratosphere.
Well, Yeah. I got him a publishing deal at Warner. He’s on fire right now. He’s the biggest thing and his group of people coming up in Texas and now far beyond that.
How much time do you dedicate to Big Blind Management? A couple hours per day?
It’s interesting. My wife makes fun of me for not having hobbies. I also have small children. There’s not a whole lot of time for me to go play a round of golf or go fishing or check out for the week and go down to the ranch – like I even own a ranch. Someone else’s ranch (laughs).
I’m a workaholic. I have a lot of ideas and try to put them into motion. I am the principal owner of two music venues that I book and actively manage. It’s probably six hours a week that I’m answering emails or responding to requests from agents to confirm dates to conference calls discussing the future of said artist or deal with something at a venue that I own. All in all, it’s a chunk of time. I guess the one real way that I’m lucky is that often times I do it on the road so if we’re on the road Wednesday, if we leave that night to go to Kansas City, I wake up Thursday morning at 8 a.m., get a cup of coffee and work for four or five hours. Plus Friday morning.
And I’m on the bus, you know? We’re just traveling. There’s not a whole lot of distractions from home that I have. I feel like I manage my time wisely in that aspect.
What about working with Red Light and Enzo DeVincenzo?
Yes. It’s always been kind of a co-management deal. And this is great for lots of artists to think about: with Enzo being in Nashville and Robin being Texas-based, I kind of have the best of both worlds. Smaller things, as easy as getting autographed guitar to someone for a charity event, I just have always had Robin there to handle it. And as complex as me wanting to be hands-on with the design of the web page, I can drive across town and sit in front of the computer with Robin and tell her exactly what I wanted. That saved money, that saved trips to Nashville, it saved daddy time. It’s been frustrating at times; not going to lie, being co-managed, but it works for me. I saw value in having someone on the ground in Texas and never leaving my roots that we’ve sunk down here. But at the same time, the big picture is being recognized nationally and we’ve managed to pull it off with Enzo’s knowledge and his relationships at Universal, where we spent so many years. And with WME.
Now, with him being at Red Light, the umbrella’s even bigger, right? It’s like having, kind of, everything.
And you’re still with Joey Lee and Henry Glascock at WME? Clearly you’ve known Joey since the Buddy Lee days, right?
He left Buddy Lee and started his own agency and I was actually with William Morris and I was out on the road with Miranda and Dierks and decided to go with Joey Lee and his new agency that he started called 360 Artists. Henry Glascock had become a friend and booked me in the Southeast, and he went to work for Joey. I was, like, “This is it. Henry is going to be my agent for life.” As soon as we got rolling with 360 Artists, Joey moved everything back to William Morris! So I ended up back at William Morris.
Have you seen any growth in the past four years or so?
I think we’ve consistently tried to develop markets outside of Texas, and California is definitely a state that we’ve consistently toured. The crowds have been getting bigger. Yes, absolutely. It’s had very little to do with radio because we, frankly, don’t get national radio airplay as much as we do regionally. I would think that we are hyper-focused, as a management organization and as a band, to continue to develop and build those markets and to come back every six months and hit them, and play those markets. There are so many things you can do now as an independent artist with the social media and the ads you can buy, the placement you can have, the information that we’ve gathered on our fans and where should we play and the placement of those plays. I just think it’s proof that Enzo and Robin know what they’re doing.
I hate the term relevant because I’m only 40 years old, so I’m still fuckin’ relevant, you know? I’m not some old man. But the fact that the band has put out eight studio albums and has been around for so long, it’s just kind of keeping the fire burning. It’s interesting that people do pigeonhole certain things: like, we’re Texas music. We’re from Texas but when you get out of the state and you tour, I’m seeing that tag, that shoebox, less and less, and more and more seeing people be into country music that is different than what is on their radio dial.
And they’re drawn to that. They’re drawn to something different. They’re drawn to a different take or a different sound. I also think we were right in the middle. People don’t know if we’re country music or Americana. It’s a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, it’s kind of sad at times. It’s still this big thing and oftentimes people haven’t heard us before even though we’ve been around for so long. So we’ve been trying to cater to those folks who are kind of new to us.
But the Randy Rogers Band is drawing crowds but, at the same time, you’re not exactly the people that TMZ reports about every day. Would you agree with a statement like that?
Yeah, it’s frustrating. I’ll just be flat honest. I don’t see why we don’t belong on national country radio. It’s frustrating that maybe certain industry types and executives don’t see or can’t understand the real impact that this band has had for so long and we have so many great fans that will literally follow us all over and enjoy the records and enjoy the deep cuts. It’s not necessarily singles-driven for us. It’s album-driven. These people come to my songs and sing along with the songs that were never even on regional radio. We’re a band where people take the songs and they become parts of their lives, their tailgate parties, their weddings, their quinceaneras, their kid going off to college, they’re kid coming home from war. I just see America and I see who the real people in America are. I think we try to cater to those real folks and we don’t try to cater to the bullshit fluff that is, quite honestly, Hollywood or sometimes Nashville – but not always because there’s some really great music there. We just try to be realists.
And also let’s just face it: you take what you get, right? It’s not Universal’s fault that we didn’t have a Top 10 song. It’s not Enzo’s fault. It’s not the band’s fault. It’s not anyone’s fault. You get in where you fit in and you make the most of the cards that you get dealt. If anything it’s a testament to us: I ran into an artist that was on Universal with me and dropped after having several No. 1s. I saw that person the other night in Nashville and said to me, “I just have so much admiration for your hustle. I wish I had that.”
And that’s the whole point with me. I made the record with Robert Earl Keen called Stryker Brothers. At the same time I was writing Hold My Beer Vol. II and in the studio with Dave Cobb recording this Hellbent record as well as having a new kid and managing bands and buying music venues. Back to not having hobbies, music has always been my life, my hobby, my dream job. So I don’t really focus on being on TMZ or not being on Jimmy Fallon – although I’ve asked to be on and expect it one day. We will have another shot at late night TV but I don’t focus on the make-or-break of those things. This is the best advice in life: you can only control what you have in front of you. You can only do your best with what you’re given.
I teach to my young artists to just be excellent and be gone. Rinse and repeat. I try to do that on whatever level we’re at and, yeah, we’re not at Staples Center two nights in a row. We never will be. I won’t have a No. 1 song on country radio but I don’t wake up and think that’s success. The definition is different for everyone and I get to play music for a living, have completely sustained a band of the same guys for 17 years. I get to do what I love. I get to be in charge of what I love. I just feel like I did make it in the music industry and I’ve seen artists and played shows with them who have had No. 1s and those opportunities and they’d kill to be in a band of brothers like the one I’m in. They would kill to have my career. They would kill to have my “status” if you want to call it that. And the grass is always greener, right? I would kill to have 10 No. 1 records. But it doesn’t matter at the end of the day. What matters is continuing to be a better singer/songwriter every record and playing shows for people who believe in what you’re doing.
We’ll be seeing you performing the ACMs someday.
Haha! I think we were nominated three times for ACM Vocal Group of the Year. We have had our opportunities on that level. My time at Universal was great. I wouldn’t change a thing. There’s nothing I could do to go back and say, well, we could have been this or done that. We could have been Eric Church or Dierks Bentley. I’m happy for their careers but it just wasn’t me, it just wasn’t us. But that doesn’t stop anything. I can’t go do anything else. All I can do is continue to control what I can and make epic records with Grammy award-winning producers.
Do you think the Stryker Brothers will ever re-emerge?
I really don’t know. I love Robert and he’s my idol, and I love that record. There are some really gorgeous and funny songs on it. I want to play shows with Robert and we’ll get that opportunity and, when we do, who knows? It may come out of the ashes.
I also know he’s got lots of irons in the fire as well. The Stryker Brothers were this insane piece of work that came from all of our brains and it was one of the greatest things I’ve done in my life – make a record with my hero. It’s something I will cherish forever. Drinking tequila and writing songs with Robert on his ranch, riding around on a mule with him, talking about life. That brotherhood and friendship, man.
To round it out, I don’t know if I could be a happier person right now. I’m a big believer in you don’t get more than what you can handle. I think sometimes if we had a couple No. 1s that may not have sounded like us, it may have really hurt my career in the long run. I know that’s crazy but if we had one hit, some cute song I had to play every night, it could have really messed up everything. I think Luke Lewis knew that all along, going into the Universal years. I don’t know if I could be any happier. And that’s not fluff; that’s the truth. I’ve got everything I’ve ever dreamed of. I’ve got a wonderful career. I sing duets with all my heroes. I’ve opened shows for George Strait and Willie Nelson and that’s all I could ever have dreamed of as a little kid. I wouldn’t change anything at this point and at 40 years old, looking around me, with my healthy, beautiful kids, I’m in the prime of my life and I’ve still got my same brothers/band members. I’ve had the same bus driver for 13 years. Who does that? I’ve been loyal to the people who’ve danced with me and I continue to be loyal to them and the fan base we’ve created. Knowing my personality type and some of the pitfalls I went through as a young man, I may not be alive if I was given 10 No. 1s. I may have blown it all, seriously. I swear to God, I’m not sure if I could have handled it.
Tracy Byrd seems to have the same story, that it was better to settle down than continue the party.
Yeah and I hang out with Tracy Byrd. I think it’s super cool. He calls me and we talk. Growing up I wanted to be him, too. Obviously, in Texas, he was the king.
I’m just happy. I’m in a good spot and it hadn’t always been that way and it sure is now.
I told someone the other day, “I wish I could just push pause right now. I don’t think it can get better. How do you make time stop?”
He said, “You’ve got to live every moment. That’s how you pause time. You soak in where you’re at right now.”
Well, next time you see Miss Sally (Williams of the Ryman Auditorium) tell her I love her and hello.