Texas Hippie Coalition are a 4-piece proudly hailing from the great state of (you guessed it) Texas. Denison, Texas to be exact. The group has the every ounce of the power groove and outlaw spirit you’d expect from a Southern Metal band, and they want you to know they mean business. Plus, vocalist Big Dad Ritch claims he’s seen Pantera between 50-75 times, and that makes him a cool guy in my eyes. That’s a lot of Dime, and I wanted to talk to him about it.
T.H.C. (huh huh) are hitting the road on this Summer’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival supporting their 2102 Carved Records release, Peacemaker, and forthcoming release, Ride On. I got in touch with the man himself, Big Dad Ritch, prior to Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival to talk about the albums and upcoming run of dates, BBQ, and of course, Pantera.
G- What’s going on, man? How’s everything going and thanks for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today!
R- Oh man I’m finally back in Texas and I’m chillin’, baby. I’m chillin’ with some Willie stuff!
G- Right on very good. And how’s the weather down there? Nice and warm, I betcha.
R- Man, we’re actually right around 90 degrees which, for Texas, is not that hot.
G- True that. I was in Austin a couple of weeks ago myself and it was a perfect 85 degrees the whole time, so Texas definitely has the one-up on NY when it comes to weather.
R- I’m telling ya, Austin is one of the best places in the world you could ever be. I love that town.
G- Preach on. I go there every year and love it myself.
So, what I want to talk about first is, obviously you’re touring in support of Peacemaker right no You released that back in 2012, and you’re slated to release Ride On on Carved Records in the near future. I wanted to chat about the new album a bit with you. Who recorded it, where was it done, and just tell us about it, man.
R- Right on. (laughing) Ride on! We started off down in Arlen Studios owned by Willie Nelson and his family down in Austin, Texas, and then we finished up at The Sound Kitchen with Skid Mills, and Skid is the producer on this album.
I did write a few songs with Bob Marlett, the producer of Peacemaker. This album, to me… It seems like the last 3 albums all stood on there own. Pride Of Texas was one thing, Rolling was a discovery of what somebody else’s money could do for you (laughing), and then Peacemaker was starting to realize that we’re making albums and we can express ourselves this way, we can do more. We’re not just in a garage anymore. We’re in front of, here lately, tens of thousands, so it’s been a wonderful experience.
So, we just want to take this opportunity to, and it sounds so cliché when people say take it to the next level, but we just want to skip levels 2-9 and just get straight on to 10, baby!
(I’m convinced now that this guy fucking rules!)
People always talk about thing in music and for me, it feels like… This band, we haven’t really gone and put ourselves in a line behind somebody. We’ve gone and created a whole line of our own, so we’re at the front on the line. And when you’re breaking a genre, so to speak, it’s a struggle.
So, we’ve been struggling for the last decade trying to get to this point. But now that we’re here? Believe me, baby, there ain’t nothing throwing us off of this bull right here. We’re riding this bull ‘til it’s a steak, and we’re gonna eat it when we’re done ridin’ it.
R- And when we talk about this album…We’re gonna talk about Pantera today, and we should be talking about bands like Clutch. We should be talking about bands like Corrosion Of Conformity, and those bands that have had a great influence on me. Phil from Pantera, of course, and also from Down. You know, just all those influences that effected me. But also those bands like Van Halen and Motley Crue and how I’m deep rooted with Waylon and Willie and Johnny Cash. We just want to make sure that ALL those genres were represented and came across.
On this album, you speak of those great ones, and you speak of your champions, and those icons and legends. THC just wants everybody to know that you’re about to get one more.
G- Excellent, dude. I saw EYEHATEGOD last night and met Jimmy Bower, and I’m interviewing COC tomorrow, so we’re talking about a lot of the same stuff right now.
R- Man, I was at NAAM in Anaheim, and I love crowds but the crowds I love are the ones in front of me when I’m on stage and feeding off that energy. But in a big scene like that and everything going on, I’m more of a backyard barbequer, you know what I’m sayin’? And this was like a big, gigantic places with rock stars everywhere. So, I’ve got my tongue hanging out and drooling looking at all these rock stars, and I saw Jimmy Bower. I see him and Pepper, and with Pepper… I could steal Pepper from any band he’s in. My guitar player that I want is Pepper. So, I saw Pepper and I was like ‘Awww man,’ looking at him like some little girl (laughing), and then Jimmy stops and looks at me and says ‘Damn, you’re one of them real cowboys, aren’t you?’ I said ‘Sir, I sure hope to be one day!’ (laughing) And that’s how I met Jimmy Bower. We didn’t have much more than a ‘hi’ and hand shake, but I was like ‘I know who you are, Mr. Bower.’ I went on about my business and that’s about it, but he’s just a killer dude. Killer dude.
G- (laughing) No question.
Now, alright… I’m excited because we’re waiting for this album in 2014, and it seems like THC drops new records every 2 years with shocking consistency since 2008, so when can we expect to see this one out on the shelves, man?
R- Man, we’re always running between June and August it seems like, so right now I think we’re looking at an August date. Hopefully it’ll be early August and we can get it out that first Tuesday.
G- Right on. And if that’s the case, it’ll be coming out just after or possibly during the last part of Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival which we of course have to talk about, because you’re on the lineup with a whole bunch of acts, man. Is this going to be the first time you’re on a festival of this size? What do expect to take away from it?
R- You know, as far as a touring festival, it definitely is the first time we’ve been a part of something this big and all we want to do is…
We’ve played with Korn before, and I think that’s the only band on the bill that we’ve ever done a show with before, and I love Korn, so I’m happy to be there and see them. And, you know, all those bands on that bill, I know they’re all bad asses..
G- Oh yeah.
R- And I don’t want to come on here talking shit, but they need to know I’m the Mohammed Ali of Metal and I can back it up and sling it. I mean, I know they’ve got me going on early in the day and they put me out there early, but all those bands need to know I’m coming out there to kick everybody’s ass. And when I mean everybody, I mean the people who bought the show, the talent, every band on the bill, I’m looking to kick their ass. The fans and the crowd, the audience out there, I’ll whoop their ass. Everybody on Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, no matter where it is across the United States, they’re gonna leave there and look at somebody and go ‘Man, I got my ass whooped by this band called Texas Hippie Coalition,’ cuz I aim to kick everybody in the neck. I am. Watch me.
Tell everybody ‘cuz it’s gonna happen!
G- I’m gonan catch you at 2 dates on the festival and I’m getting gmore pumped every time it comes up. The videos are great and the songs are straight forward and to the point.
Given that you’re going on earlier in the day, THC is going to be the band that jumpstarts the day and everyone else is going to have to follow…
R- I’ll tell you right now there are gonna be a bunch of rock stars in big ass buses behind us… I’ll probably be driving my Chevy truck to all these shows, but all those buses with people trying to sleep, when THC takes the stage, the place is gonna get so loud that we’re gonna wake everybody the fuck up.
No more chances to get your rock star sleep, because when Texas Hippie Coalition takes the stage, the Mayhem party will officially be starting. I can guarantee you that.
G- I’m sold. Texas is alive and true, and the pride is coming off you through and through.
So, let’s talk about one of my favorite bands and one of my biggest inspirations, and clearly a band you’ve had way more exposure to than myself: Pantera.
You’ve seen them a lot of times… When did you first check the band out, and what was the last show you saw if you can recall?
R- Man, when I was about 16 years old, a buddy of mine in high school had a little theater downtown on Main Street and he told me ‘I’m gonna buy this band Pantera and I’m gonna bring them here, and we’re gonna sell tickets in school.’
At the time, we had been getting everybody tickets to whoever. Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Krokus… We’d go out and buy 10-20 tickets and get everybody to go so it was a party. We weren’t really scalping because sometimes we wouldn’t even make the ticket value… We just wanted friend to go and party with us, you know? You’d have this thing called The Texas Jam, man, and you’d have Ozzy on it, Boston, all these great bands back in the day that everybody loved.
We were just big music fans, and he brought in Pantera there and that was the first time I ever saw them, and I was just blown away. After that, every time I could catch them in the Dallas area, every 2 months… I caught them at an old club called The Basin, a place called City Limits… just 10-20 times at every ond of those places. And then in our home town at a place called The Electric Company. I saw them there every 2-3 months. So, I’ve seen them probably 20 times with their old singer Terrence, and then moving on into Phil, I saw them for the first time with Phil at Electric Company there at the Electric Company in Denison, Texas and I was like ‘Oh my god, this dude is wicked.’
The last show I saw… Oh man… I’m trying to think.
G- It’s been a minute.
R- I’ve seen Damage Plan, too. That was the last time I saw Dimebag was with Damage Plan. You know, I just can’t recall the last time I saw Pantera. I know it was in Dallas, though.
I’m happy to see Vinnie still at it and kicking and, you know… Pantera, man. If there was ever a band that you wanted to hear their next album, man, that’s the band. If there is ever a band you’d want to see their next show, that’s the band. You want to see that next show.
G- Oh yeah I agree. And obviously we all miss Dime, and we miss and love you, Dime. THC has played for Ride For Dime before, and I can definitely see it happening again…
R- We’re there this year! August 15th, baby. Dallas, Texas.
G- And there it is! See, something about THC on Ride for Dime makes perfect sense, right?
So, onto some lighter matters: Texans you are and if Texan love one thing, it’s BBQ and their food. I want to know, from Big Dad Ritch’s perspective, where is the best place in Texas to get BBQ? Real, Texas BBQ.
R- Probably my backyard…
G- (laughter) Spoken like a true Texan!
R- I have my own food company called Red River Ribs. I have a salsa, a hot sauce, a Bloody Mary mix, and a BBQ, and I’m so spoiled because it’s my own recipe and my own BBQ that I have a hard time eating BBQ out. But I love BBQ so much and still do. But I’m just telling you that if you could come to my back yard and let me cook you some ribs, let me cook you a brisket, you will swear up and down that there’s no place better.
And my next door neighbor, or his neighbor, or his neighbor, they’re all gonna tell you the same thing (laughing). Nothing is better than their back yard BBQ. Down here, I have a place here locally in my town… When I was younger, I was lucky enough… This ol’ boy named Johnny, he hired me and worked at this little place down here called Hickory House, and that’s where I first learned how to cook BBQ and where I learned that I was gonna make a better BBQ than his.
G- Well, hopefully one day I’ll get to take you up on that and, like I said, if you want to make some real good friends real quick, bring some of that Texas BBQ to NY with you at Mayhem Fest and you never know… A full stomach is a happy stomach!
R- (laughing) I tell you what, we are BBQing on 15 of the dates. I’m not exactly sure which ones yet. I do know that I’m hosting the Coldcock Stage bar. I’ll be your bartender for those nights. We’re gonna have so much fun, man. Come over and I’ll cook you some BBQ and if I’m cooking that day, I’ll send you home with some, and I’ll pour you a shot.
G- Hey man, I’ll pour you one right back. Make sure one of those dates is either Saratoga or Buffalo, NY, cuz I’ll be at both.
R- Right on right on. And you know when I go to Buffalo, I gotta have my Hot Wings, though (laughing). I’ve got to have my Hot Wings!
G- Anchor Bar right on Main, you can’t miss it.
R- I know, baby, I know! It’s crazy!
G- Alright so 2 final questions for you. You’re on a big, big bill with Mayhem Fest, and you clearly have some great taste in music from the bands we’ve been talking about, so what I want to know is if you could pick your own feasible 3 band dream lineup to be a part of and have THC play shows and go on tours with, who would it be?
R- That’s so easy, dude. It’d be Pantera, Black Label Society, and Clutch.
G- Easy enough.
R- And I’ve already had the luxury of doing 4-5 shows with BLS, and I’d love to team up with them again someday. Their fans and our fans are awesome. He, Mr Zach Wylde, the big hammer swinger, he has turned us on to so many new fans and we appreciate so much for letting us get on that coat tail.
G- And I only had one last question written, but I want to go off script for a second: There was talk about Zach Wylde with Pantera. Do you think it should happen, and do you think Vinnie and Phil should bury the hatchet?
R- You know, I think we all as fans all wish it would happen. We’d love to see it and we wish it would happen. And if there was anybody that was gonna step in and do it, that’s who you’d want it to be.
I have a lot of friends that are in the business, the world of music. They’re not musicians, but they’re just in that world and do purchasing, buying, and stuff like that, and I do know that there is a lot of money out there for Pantera.
R- It’s a big chunk of change and it’s all there, and nobody has moved on it as of it. And knowing that there is that much money on the table, I’ll let you know that none of those guys are in it for the money. If any of those guys were in it for the money, Rex, Phil, Vinnie, and I’m sure no one would take the stage with anybody but Zakk Wylde on guitar, because no one could even come close to filling the shoes of Dimebag Darell, even the great Zakk Wylde is gonna fall short because, and I don’t know if you know this, but Zakk is not from Texas and Dimebag is…
But, none of those guys are in it for the money, and if they were they’d already have jumped on this cash. So, it’s all gonna come down to what those guys have in their hearts and souls, and none of us know what those guys are holding in their heart.
G- Well put and a respectable answer. I appreciate your sentiment on that.
I just have one last question today: I want to know, in you ropinion, and I know this is liking picking a favorite child, but what is your favorite THC song, or if you could only give one song to someone who’d never heard you before to try and make a new fan, what would you pick?
R- Well, the first song I’d give to anybody would be “Pissed Off…”
G- “…And Mad About It.’
R- Right. It has a Texas swagger to it, and it has that attitude that says we’re not afraid of what is on our mind, and it comes out in the music. It just feels perfect.
Right now, recording this new album, I have so many favorite songs off of it that it’s hard for me to even choose one off of it. We have one coming out called “Splinter” and if I could put that song in someone’s ear, I think that song “Splinter” would make everybody go ‘OK, now these dudes are bad ass,’ and that’s what I want. I just want to be a bad ass when I grow up, you know what I’m saying? (laughter)
G- We all do! Well look, we’re all looking forward to THC on the road and we’re all looking forward to this new album. I just want to say that it’s been a pleasure speaking with you today and we’re looking forward to the tour, so travel safe and wake all those bands up in the buses when you’re there, man. I’m pumped!
R- Hey my brother, thank you so much for having lunch with me today. I appreciate ya.
G- Sounds great and hopefully we’ll have some BBQ and shots on the road, too.
R- Gonna happen. Will do.
G- Alright! Have a great day, brother.
R- You too.