Turnpike Troubadours Make a Run For The West Coast (INTERVIEW)

The West Coast is about to experience soaring red dirt anthems and high energy country barnburners courtesy of The Turnpike Troubadours starting late this month and going until mid-August including a big date August 3rd at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles.

This next run of dates is likely to be their last touring their self-titled album that reached the third position on Billboard’s country music charts on the strengths of gems like “The Bird Hunters,” “The Mercury,” and “Long Drive Home.” Bassist RC Edwards said the tentative release date for the band’s fourth wide release album is October 20th.

The Troubadours will travel on home for more date on the red dirt circuit in late August and September. In addition to the tracks listed above and new material off the upcoming album, fans should listen for the seething “Gin, Smoke, Lies,” the band’s most recent single, “Come as You Are,” and a rocking take on the traditional “Long Hot Summer Day.”

Below is the full interview Edwards, who touched on highlights on the road, life in Southeast Oklahoma and the story behind “The Mercury.”

You’re touring the Texas-Oklahoma area this next week or so and again in September with about three weeks on the West Coast in between. RC, How’s the road been treating you?

Good! It’s been a busy year for us. We’ve done a UK tour and an East Coast tour and several festivals in the Midwest and somehow we did three or four weeks of studio time here and there and recorded an album. So, we haven’t been home a lot this year.

This band is one of the great success stories of this era in independent country music. Your last album hit number 3 on the country charts and it really deserved to hit at least that high. What are some of the benefits to going it your own way?

Just keeping control of everything. Just trying to do everything on our own terms. It’s one of the reasons we’ve never taken any kind of record deal. The ones we’ve been offered haven’t been worth taking as opposed to keeping control of your music and recording what you want, when you want, and releasing it when you want. These days you don’t really need a record deal with these distribution companies. Thirty Tigers is ours and they’re great and handle everything that you would want from a label without them actually owning a label. They’re changing the system.

How do you react when you see your album hitting number three without a label?

It’s very surprising. We were blown away and didn’t expect the numbers to be that good ourselves. We thought it was a good record and people would like it but you don’t really have a feel for something like that coming. There’s probably a lot of luck involved. There’s great record that don’t sell that good all the time.

You’re touring the West Coast in August. What do you guys enjoy off the stage when you’re out there?

It depends on the town, but the weather is one of our favorite things. You talk about it being humid [today in New York,] it’s nothing like Oklahoma. And then part of that West Coast run wraps through the mountains, which is an awesome place to be in July and August. We don’t get out there too often so we try to enjoy everything while we’re there.

You were also in my native New York just a couple weeks back. Are you ever surprised at how well we turn out for Texas music?

Yeah, we’re still surprised every time we leave Oklahoma that people show up. It’s always more people than we think. And part of that is just pacing yourself right so it’s a bigger show than it was the last time you were there six months ago or a year ago. When you don’t get to those places a lot you can’t really gauge that well what turnout is gonna be so you’re always surprised by what happened.

I always try to ask this when I get a chance to speak to an instrumentalist in a band. Which of your songs do you have the most fun playing?

The upbeat ones are my favorite ones to play, the barnburners like “Before The Devil Knows We’re Dead” or “Doreen” and songs in that vein.

You have an upcoming stop in Bossier City. There’s always been a special relationship between your band and that town, right?

I don’t know if we have so much of a relationship as much as a song about it. In Southeast Oklahoma, all the news comes from Louisiana so all the stories are from Shreveport and Bossier City. As far as our “Bossier City” song, back before there were any casinos in Oklahoma, the people from Southeast Oklahoma would go to Bossier City to go to the casinos. That was one of our first songs on our first album and we named our record label [Bossier City] so we’ve always had the moniker around us. I don’t think any of us have actually been there a whole lot.

You redid that song for your latest album.

It was from our first album which I don’t think we ever print anymore. It was a pretty low budget recording and the only people who are still in the band are me and [lead singer Evan Felker.] The two songs we redid, “Easton and Main” and “Bossier City,” are really staples of our live shows and the other guys wanted to do some up to date recordings that reflect the way we play them now.

Speaking of “Easton and Main,” I didn’t see any stops at Cain’s Ballroom in the next few months. Have you soaked up enough bourbon stains there or something?

I’m sure we have, but we’ll be back in December- generally we do a couple shows around Christmas there.

What’s it like playing a bar as tense and wild as the Mercury is in that song from your last album?

That was our home bar. It was just a loud, rockabilly, alt-country, punk rock bar that we found a home at early on. I still go play acoustic shows there and when we were starting out as a band we used to play there all the time and even hung out there all the time. That place was like family.

And I just love that track. It’s one of the few country songs I think I could accurately describe as unhinged.

I like that. That’s another song that’s really fun to do live.

In one of the great country songs of the last few years, you tell the story of a man returning home and hunting with an old friend. Does it ever feel to you like you’ve missed a lot and need to get back in your element when you get home?

Oh, definitely. And sometimes you’re only home a day or two before the next tour or project so it might be two or three tours before you really get to connect with everybody. That’s definitely a feeling that we have a couple times a year. Evan’s definitely the big hunter of the group.

Let’s hope you draw some big crowds and catch a few birds on your way.

I hope so too. That sounds like a good trip

Don’t miss The Turnpike Troubadours at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles on August 3, 2017.

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