Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen have been friends for about 15 years, and the Texas performers have shared many a stage in the Lone Star State. Recent changes in their label status led them to start conversations about recording a duets album.
Rogers told Billboard that they were able to do it their way. “Both of us were recently dropped by our record labels, so were allowed to make this record the way we wanted. It was perfect timing.”
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Hold My Beer: Vol. 1 will be released April 20. Bowen echoed Rogers’ thoughts about the recording process, saying the biggest challenge was the songwriting. “It was a little different with both of us having to change how we write or attack a song because when you’re trying to write songs for two male singers, it limits your topics of conversation,” he said. However, it was a challenge they were up for. “We had a lot of fun doing it. Going into the studio was pretty laid-back. It was definitely the most I’ve ever been in the studio. It was originally supposed to be an acoustic record, and we were going to tag some songs at the end. But we got into the studio and had so much fun that we just decided to do a whole record. I think you can hear the amount of fun we had just listening to the record.”
There are a mix of new songs and covers on the disc, including a pair of Merle Haggard songs: “It’s Been a Great Afternoon” and “Reasons to Quit,” originally a duet hit with Willie Nelson. Including two of Haggard’s songs was a no-brainer, according to Rogers. “I listen to Merle every night after I come offstage and some nights before I go onstage. I’m currently wearing a Merle T-shirt and am going to see him tomorrow night. I’ve always loved [‘It’s Been a Great Afternoon’] because it’s just fun and upbeat. It’s just something that embodies our tour and our friendship — just hanging out and having a good time.”
When asked about the latter Haggard cover, Bowen said it’s not one they had thought a lot about, but it fits. “I don’t know how that one appeared to us. We actually had to really listen to that one, because it’s been so many years since we had heard it. But it’s what we are. We tried really hard to show the friendship and how much fun we have and why we love doing what we do. That is such an honest song, and I think it’s hard to top that one. The road is tough, and it’s a crazy life we lead. You sacrifice a lot for what we love. That song hits home for us for so many reasons.”
The two will be uniting their talents on tour this summer to promote the album. Rogers said their fan base can definitely be found at the same clubs, but he good-naturedly added that there is one exception between the two artists. “Wade’s probably more popular with the ladies,” he allows, adding, “He’s a country crooner.”
Billboard.com is excited to bring you an exclusive premiere of “Standards” below. “It’s a dance hall song,” Rogers said. “It’s just a song about us. We stand onstage every night, and neither Wade nor I have ever had a big radio hit, but we still pack the dance floor every night and get to do what we do for a living. Life is good. It’s pretty much a feel-good song more than anything.”