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January 26th, 2016

Randy Rogers on His Band’s New Album, Getting Inked and the Best Advice Willie Nelson Ever Gave Them

Randy Rogers BandCourtesy Photo

Since releasing Like It Used To Be, their 2002 debut album, Randy Rogers Band has developed a loyal following. Their past four discs have all hit the top 10 on the Country Albums chart, with the past two (2010’s Burning The Day and 2013’s Trouble) also hitting that same mark on the Billboard 200. On Jan. 15, the band released their first album in three years, Nothing Shines Like Neon, which is already garnering strong acclaim with a strong collection of honky-tonk weepers such as “Pour One For The Poor One.” Rogers spoke to Billboard about the famous country star he inked on his arm, Alison Krauss and Jamey Johnson guesting on their album and the best advice that Willie Nelson ever gave him.

Exclusive Song Premiere: Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen’s ‘Standards’

Nothing Shines Like Neon is Their Most Traditional-Sounding Disc Yet
“We’ve been wanting to make a traditional country album for years. I grew up in Texas playing the Opry circuit and wearing Brush Poppers, starched jeans, and a black hat while singing George Strait songs around my little hometown. That was the music that I grew up on,” says Rogers. “I later discovered Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. That set me on a journey to find Lefty Frizzell and Bob Wills. The man I am now is still that kid who wanted to be George Strait. That’s the music I grew up on. For me, it’s a full circle to the music I’ve always enjoyed and liked and wanted to emulate.”

Jamey JohnsonAlison Krauss and Texas Icon Jerry Jeff Walker Are Guest Stars
“We’ve got Jamey Johnson on the album, and he’s arguably the most country voice we’ve had in a long time. Anytime you can have Alison Krauss singing on the record with her beautiful voice, that means the world to me. She’s so amazing. We were so glad she was willing to put her voice on this album. That’s something that I never would have dreamed of. I went to so many Jerry Jeff Walker shows in college that I lost count. I couldn’t tell you how many. I jammed to him so much then, and still at every party that I’ve ever been to. Just having his presence as a vote of confidence, with him being from Texas means the world to me.”

Rogers Is a Merle Haggard Superfan (and Even Has a Tattoo of Him)
“I have a Merle Haggard tattoo. I got that on my arm last summer. His music just puts me in a good spot. If we’ve had a long week, when we come off the stage, we turn on some Haggard, and it just seems to set the mood for me. Sometimes, I’ll also listen to some before the show. It’s just what I like listening to. My favorite all-time song would be ‘Misery and Gin.’ I’ve probably covered ‘Stay Here and Drink’ or ‘Workin’ Man Blues’ more, but that is one of the best country songs ever written.”

Darius Rucker on His Life as a Family Man: ‘I Want to Play the Music and Raise the Kids’

After Four Albums With Universal, the Band Went Indie With Their New Release
“It’s interesting for us, because we’re promoting and paying for it ourselves, but we’re getting back in the swing of things. I’m kind of a control freak, so it’s nice to be able to determine when the album comes out, how you’re going to promote it, and who you’re going to hire. I like working hard and making your own luck, and I think that getting out there and doing it is so beneficial. Waiting around for something to happen can kind of leave you in a bad spot.”

Willie Nelson Gave Them Great Advice They Still Follow
“We still have so much fun on stage. It’s been the same five guys on stage for thirteen years. We still get along as good we ever have. Knock on wood, it’s just been a miracle. We’ve never had any problems with drugs, alcohol, or the law. We actually hang out with each other when we’re not on the road, and our kids are friends — we just try to treat it like a family, something we learned from Willie Nelson. We try to take care of each other, and have the others’ backs. It sounds crazy, but I think we got really lucky.”

Look Out Yonder Premier in Rolling Stone

January 26th, 2016

Hear Randy Rogers and Alison Krauss Salute the Gypsy Life on ‘Yonder’

Randy Rogers Band

Nothing Shines Like Neon might be Randy Rogers Band’s seventh studio album, but it’s also a record loaded with renewal. It’s the Texas mainstay’s first album with a new label, Thirty Tigers, and their first time working with renowned producer Buddy Cannon. There’s also a strengthened country approach, driven by songs like the elegantly introspective slow-burner “Look Out Yonder,” which features Alison Krauss (listen to the song below). The LP also features appearances from Jerry Jeff Walker and Jamey Johnson.

“Having those endorsements personally means a lot,” Rogers tells Rolling Stone Country about the song, which also includes vocals from Dan Tyminski, Krauss’s partner in Union Station. “Who cares what it does with the career — for me, hearing Alison sing with my voice is like a dream come true. It’s gorgeous, she’s gorgeous. Just gives me goosebumps thinking about it.”

It’s also an emotional song for the band, layered with meaning beyond the evocative words. Written by Earl Bud Lee (“Friends in Low Places”), Rogers sees “Look Out Yonder” as a tribute to songwriter Kent Finlay, his mentor who passed away right as the recording process started for the LP. The title itself, Nothing Shines Like Neon, is taken from one of Finlay’s lyrics, and the sonic palette — touching on more traditional country elements — was another way to pay tribute to the man who had a profound impact on Rogers’ life.

Cannon recruited Krauss for “Look Out Yonder,” leaving Rogers dumbfounded that the angel-voiced bluegrass singer appears on his record. “Buddy had joked with me, ‘Yeah, we’ll get Alison to sing on it,'” Rogers says. “But I didn’t think it would ever happen. I didn’t believe it until I heard it, and then it gave me so much confidence.”

Beyond “Look Out Yonder,” Nothing Shines Like Neon contains plenty of those danceable tracks that the band is known for, like the raucous duet with Walker “Taking It As It Comes” or the moody groove of “Rain and the Radio,” but nothing quite like the heavy crunch of “Fuzzy,” from their 2013 Jay Joyce-produced LP Trouble. There’s way more room for fiddle and traditional licks than layered pop-country flourishes, perhaps inspired by Rogers’ side project with Texas pal Wade Bowen, Hold My Beer, Vol. 1.

Rogers is cautiously optimistic about how a band like his fits in among the current country landscape, in the wake of success stories like Chris Stapleton’s. But after 15 years releasing records, endless tours and a balance of career highs and lows, he’s not waiting for the industry to change around him. “We can’t really wait around on having a hit,” he says. “We have to make our own luck.”

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