BIG DAD RITCH – Since the Texas Hippie Coalition released their sophomore album, “Rollin'”, (Carved Records), on July 6, 2010, this Hard Rockin’ meets Heavy Metalin’ band has been tearing up every venue they play at and attracting new fans by the second. This is a band built on American and Southern pride, fronted by a large man, with a large voice that can’t mask the fact he also has a large heart for his community, kids and U.S. troops abroad. Big Dad Ritch is his name and bellowing out songs that can make cement foundations split apart… is his Rockin’ game.
Hard Rock Hideout had the Rockin’ pleasure to speak with Big Dad Ritch recently and he was never lacking any Texas hospitality or pride. Touring, patriotism, politics, influences, charity and of course, the new Texas Hippie Coalition album were all covered, in a very candid and Texas big way, by Big Dad Ritch. When it was all said and done, this writer walked away knowing he spoke to one of the biggest gentleman he has ever interviewed. Contrary to an old fashioned line which is used much too often, however, sometimes big things do come in big packages. Here is what Big Dad Ritch had to say:
HRH: Texas Hippie Coalition has a full slate of touring ahead, any tales about life on the road you want to share?
BIG DAD RITCH: Naw, that’s all a big secret. I have a wife, a girlfriend and an ol’ lady! (laughs)
BIG DAD RITCH: That’s how we say it down here in Texas, ol’ lady! (laughs)
HRH: Did you and the guys ever think “Rollin'” would have such an immediate impact like it did?
BIG DAD RITCH: We felt strong about this album from the start. From beginning to end, it’s a very strong album. Two months were spent on drums, twenty days spent on bass, one month spent on guitar and just twelve hours were spent on vocals!
HRH: Whoa, you spent just twelve hours on vocals for this album?
BIG DAD RITCH: That’s right, twelve hours! I did vocals for six or seven songs in eight hours and the other four or so in four hours. Everyone wondered what our producer, David Prater, would do. As it came out, it’s a masterpiece! People always said, when you’re working with him, he is a juggler and just let him do his thing. Well, he’s actually a magician after it was all said and done! Listening to this album now, he was a magician.
HRH: Are there any Summer festivals you’ll be playing in 2011?
BIG DAD RITCH: Man, we’re trying for Rocklahoma, playing for those people was the greatest experience of my life. Texas Hippie Coalition got their break at Rocklahoma. Being there, it’s like being packed into a tent on a Sunday afternoon with the bible! Rocklahoma was a religious experience for me! We’d also like to get back to Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
HRH: “Rollin'” has an enormously bold and loud made in America sound and vibe to it. Have you or will you play overseas for our U.S. troops?
BIG DAD RITCH: As a matter of fact, our management are trying to get us on the USO package for next year! We’re just building on our name and recognition right now, but we’re chomping on the bits to go there and play for our troops. We’re proud to be from Texas! Our colors are red, white and blue and at home nationwide! Texas Hippie Coalition has a “boot campaign” for our troops, check it out, it’s on our website.
HRH: That’s really cool, Big Dad Ritch.
BIG DAD RITCH: I received a letter from a girl that’s serving in the military. She wrote, that every morning when they wake up, the troops hear sirens. The sirens are practice for being ready to battle. So, she had the speakers rewired to blast out the our song “Crawlin'”, from our first album! She wrote it was blasting as loud as hell! That’s awesome stuff to hear. We’re all spreading our wings for the red, white and blue. Everything about this band is red, white and blue. That’s what Texas Hippie Coalition wants to be known for too, as an American band that’s proud of their country and troops.
HRH: I’ve never been a huge fan of ballads, yet if “Groupie Girl” is your answer to one, that is a damn cool ballad. How have the fans responded to this song live?
BIG DAD RITCH: We have a pretty big canvas we’re painting on, with a broad stroke. Man, that song, when this song Rocks, it makes the fans go wild! I had put this song on the back burner and didn’t know how Metal fans would like it. We were playing a club in Texas one night, we just started clowning around playing “Groupie Girl” during our sound check. All the tough bastards liked it! Then, when we played that night, we didn’t play “Groupie Girl”, all the tough bastards and biker dudes wanted it! (laughs)
BIG DAD RITCH: It went over great though when we played it. Everyone seems to love it, girls always seem to find that big pole to dance around when we play “Groupie Girl” though! (laughs)
HRH: (laughs) I’m sure they do, Big Dad Ritch!
BIG DAD RITCH: Aw, yeah!
HRH: Texas Hippie Coalition blends Hard Rock, Southern Rock and Metal to perfection. Was this blending of music styles deliberate or just the way it happened?
BIG DAD RITCH: Actually, I’ve been in a lot of bands and it was always someone else’s band. When I was forming Texas Hippie Coalition, I told the guys, this is what I’m doing, I want to be as southern as 38 Special, ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd and have the Metal rawness of Pantera and Corrosion Of Conformity, while still being outlaws like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. Absolutely, it was deliberate to blend all those styles together.
HRH: I’ve read how Johnny Cash influenced you at a young age. How important is your connecting to the fans while performing live?
BIG DAD RITCH: Oh man, I want to personify the front man, not just by singing the songs. Texas Hippie Coalition is a band of brothers and I want the fans to perceive us as like pro wrestlers or super heroes. In between songs, what I say is very important, I want to affect and touch people with my words. I know my audience and fans. I know what my fans are looking for in a front man and I want to lead our fans into battle and come out with a victory!
BIG DAD RITCH: It means a lot to us. Just like our song “Jesus Freak” says and comes across, you can never tell by looking at a man as to how religious he is. I’m the guy that wants to go down by the river, with a beer and whiskey bottle in my hands, smokin’ something on the grill, yet we have prayer before we hit the stage before every show. We’ve given a hundred guitars to children, through the “Little Kids Rock” charity. We’ve given an entire school music supplies. We believe in giving back to the community so that youngins’ can learn and hear about good music. Through giving, these youngins’ may be the next little Ozzy or Eddie Van Halen when they grow up.
HRH: What’s your favorite Southern pastime that is not Rock And Roll related?
BIG DAD RITCH: Football! I’m a sports addict and football is the only sport I bet on! My bookie hates me, I’m undefeated on nighttime football! I live in Northern Texas and Texas is my favorite team. I drive all of my friends crazy with my Longhorns!
HRH: I feel so strange asking this next question, cause you are such a nice guy to talk to, Big Dad Ritch.
BIG DAD RITCH: Go ahead, fire away!
HRH: What really pisses off Big Dad Ritch?
BIG DAD RITCH: Bitches that don’t pay the bills when you leave them the bill money! (laughs)
BIG DAD RITCH: What pisses me off are government bailouts of the filthy rich and not the poor or middle class. Tax cuts for the upper class and upper middle class, with no tax cuts for the lower class. So much in politics pisses me off!
BIG DAD RITCH: Right? The guy I voted for president six years ago did a good job and delivered. Our new president we have now I voted for and he is not delivering what he said he would deliver to me. Our current government this time around pisses me off. Out in California, marijuana not being legalized. The people are not out there in California pushing their ticket to get marijuana legalized. I just want to tell all these politicians, if you guys just did what you said you were gonna do, you all wouldn’t have been voted out of office!
HRH: What dream band or musician would Texas Hippie Coalition want to jam onstage with?
BIG DAD RITCH: Man, you know, it’s like that old question, if you could have a quarterback who would you have? For my two minute drill it’s Roger Staubach. For my Super Bowl it’s John Elway. For my full season it’s Joe Montana. There’s different ways to look at it. We are the biggest party band out there of this era! We are drinking with our fans at the bars! To play with Motley Crue, with all the girls at that show, it would be ridiculous! If we paired up with Hellyeah and Black Label Society, we could do some major damage together!