Kevin Fowler is back. The highly-esteemed Texas singer-songwriter returns to form with his new release “How Country Are Ya?” Set for release on Tuesday, he can’t wait for his fans to hear the new music. With Texas music being a wide-open musical genre, The 615 asked Fowler where he felt his music fit into the diverse mix.
“I think I fall in more of the honky tonk side,” he said. “That’s the cool thing about the Texas music scene. There is really no ‘sound.’ There’s guys who are doing more rock and roll stuff, and some doing some more hardcore country. I think I’m the honky tonk guy in the whole mix.”
Fowler says that in many ways, the album takes him back to the future. “This record is reminiscent of some of my early records. The last few have been on Nashville labels, and this one is back on my label, Kevin Fowler Records / Thirty Tigers. I went back and wrote the majority of the album at my ranch in Texas. I invited all of my boys to come out. I wrote some with Pat Green, Josh Abbott and Deryl Dodd. We recorded it in Austin and used Texas pickers on the majority of it. I wrote a couple with David Lee Murphy and Shane Minor. We just did it kind of old school. We didn’t worry about radio or the charts. I just wanted to make a record I thought my fans would want. There was a lot of stuff on there that normally I wouldn’t cut. We even had a mariachi song on there. There’s all kinds of different stuff. It really runs the gamut. We took the blinders off, and said if it’s a good song, we’re going to put it on here.”
The disc includes a vocal cameo from the Rankin Twins’ Amy Rankin on ‘Before Somebody Gets Hurt.’ Fowler says the song has been around for a while. David Lee and I wrote that together. He produced the record I cut for Lyric Street. We had written that for the last record, but by the time we got it finished, the record was done. I think it’s a smash. We brought her in and she just nailed it.”
Another notable track is “The Girls I Go With,” which he feels will be a crowd favorite. “That’s just a honky tonk number that will keep the dance floor packed, and keep you drinking at the bar all night. It’s kind of a flashback to my earlier stuff with a lot of shuffles and dance songs. If you keep them drinking and dancing, the club will have you back again. That’s the unwritten rule in our part of the country with all the dance halls. That’s how we make a living – drinking and dancing.”
As one of Texas’ biggest acts, Fowler will be hitting the road to promote the new disc, though he never really has slowed down from it. “That’s the good thing and the bad thing about the scene here. It’s all about touring. It’s all about the fan base, not as much about radio airplay, it’s about getting people in the door. How we make our living is touring and merchandise. That’s the great thing about it is that it helps it create a career where you can play for thirty of forty years like Jerry Jeff Walker or Robert Earl Keen. They’re still out there touring, so you’ve gotta stay on the road. Luckily, I enjoy touring and being on the road. We haven’t really taken off more than a week since the late 1990s. It’s one of those things – ‘On the road again,’ Willie nailed it with that song. I’ll come home on Sunday, and be tired and road weary. By Wednesday, I’m ready to go, and I think my family is ready for me to go. They’ll say ‘You’re getting cranky. It’s time to leave again,” he says with a laugh.
Having been recording for close to two decades now, Fowler stands in amazement that he is now looked at as a career inspiration for newcomers. “It’s funny. When I first started out in the late 90s, I’d need some advice, and I would call Ray Benson. He was my guy to bounce things off like management and stuff like that. Now, guys like Josh Abbott or Casey Donahue ask me what I think. I wonder ‘Wow. When did I become the old fart?’ When did I become that guy. Luckily I’ve been able to stay in the game long enough that there are a younger generation of Texas artists that to them, I am the wise old owl.’ Hopefully, they won’t make as many mistakes as we did!”