Over the past several years. Brandon Rhyder has established himself as one of the top artists of the Texas / Red Dirt Music scene. His newest album, "That's Just Me" – released last month, will keep him very popular inside the Lone Star state, but he admits there were some different inspirations coming into play while making the set. He tells Billboard that he likens the process to an artist's evolution.
"When you've been doing this for awhile, I think you get to the point where it's so much easier to let the inspiration kind of take control, and take the wheels," he said. "I've always said that I've always written from inspiration. It doesn't mean it's going to stay in a specific genre," he says.
Rhyder says that with that with becoming a husband and a father over the past few years, it was only natural for his life to show up in his songs. "My life changes have definitely influenced my writing," he admits. "When I came out with the first one about twelve years ago, I was so wet and green behind the ears, and I didn't have a clue about what we were doing. But, I knew you had to get a product out there, and that you had to start somewhere. You don't have kids, a career, or a lot of things at that point. As the years roll by, I've been blessed to have had a few songs that have really helped me to develop a fan base and a following. This new record is my eighth project that I've put out, and a lot has changed over the years. I was married when I first started out, and now we have kids. I'm on the backside of thirty, so there's a lot of perspectives that have changed. I think all that definitely influences your writing, and the direction that I want to go. I'm always searching, and I'm always working. Those two kids and my family is the most important thing in the world to me, and I think that's really reflected on this record, as well."
More so than just lyrically, there are also a few different musical styles that enter into play on the new album. He said he didn't start to make That's Just Me with any grand artistic design in mind. Rather, it just came naturally. "I think writing from inspiration doesn't exactly mean that I am trying to go after a specific genre. I really like to approach songwriting either acoustically on a guitar or from a lyrical standpoint, and let it take over from there and organically come together. It's a different approach, not exactly the Nashville approach of co-writing everything, but we get our co-writes in there too."
One interesting tune on the album is "Haggard." It was influenced by a country legend – but not exactly the one you're probably thinking of. "It's a play on words, of sorts. I hold Merle Haggard in the highest regard. But, the angle from writing the song came from Charlie Daniels. I was doing a show with him a couple of years ago, and he was just the greatest. I spent some time with him – probably about twenty minutes in all, then got to go out and watch him on stage with his band just kill it like it was 1977. It was one of the most inspiring things I've ever seen. So, that gave me an angle, so I took it and ran with it. I didn't know what the response would be. I didn't know it would get the response it has, which has been really great. It's been one of those songs that we have to play every night, or we'll get in trouble."
Rhyder is on the road promoting the disc through the rest of 2013, and he even has his next project in mind. "We're already in the planning stages of another album," he confirms. "The thing that the general public might not get is that we've been through with this record for a year. Now, it's finally coming out, and it's time to move on to the next project. I would hope this allows me to travel and tour more, maybe in some states we've never been before. We're really blessed down here in Texas, because it's such a space to cover, and there are so many venues that we get to play," he says, citing Oklahoma and Chicago as two markets where he has made headway. He says he is far from done. "I really need to spread my wings and fly to other places as well."