Red-dirt music, an offshoot of country, draws its name from the red dirt found in such states as Oklahoma, Texas and Georgia. Because the dusty soil has a strong iron content, it’s a pervasive element that stains clothing and eats into the finish on automobiles. No wonder then that the musical style, too, has begun seeping into other music genres: Texas Hippie Coalition, which hails from the Lone Star State, proudly describes itself as a “red-dirt metal” band.
Singer Big Dad Ritch explains how the band got its moniker.
“Red-dirt country consists of a lot of good ol’ boys. Cody Canada of Cross Canadian Ragweed and Cody Canada & The Departed, along with Johnny Cooper, Kevin Fowler, Pat Green — a lot of great bands. Great songwriters,” he says. “Their songs are storytelling songs, and that’s where that comes from. Just good old storytelling music, and I think that what they saw in us was that we stay true to our roots and where we came from — we came from the same place as them, although they leaned a little bit more toward the country side, and we lean a little more toward the metal side. So it got dubbed ‘red-dirt metal’ back in the very beginning by one of them boys, and I’m sure they can all argue the fact over who it was; that’s between them. But it sure did stick. And that’s a badge that we wear proudly.”
The band is carrying on its red-dirt metal tradition with the upcoming release of its fifth album, Dark Side of Black, arriving April 22 on Carved Records. (It can be pre-ordered on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.) According to Ritch, the album title evolved from a personal theory — and inspiration from one of his idols, Johnny Cash.
“Cash is one of those songwriters that’s able to let the audience and the listener hear what’s deep down in the soul — what might even be hidden behind the heart, in the dark part of the heart. It’s just something that I wanted to use a little bit in the writing,” says Ritch. Noting how many artists end up having a “black” album of some sort (see Metallica, Jay-Z, Prince, Spinal Tap, etc.), he wanted Texas Hippie Coalition’s version of it “to represent more than just being a black album. I wanted it to represent the darkness that is out there.”
“In one song, it says, ‘Inside you there lies such a darkness, for lying you have such a knack.’ And it’s just talking about how even though someone may be dark, there could be someone darker. That one that’s darker could be me, I could be the dark side of black,” he muses. “It’s also just letting your haters know that you can paint me the villain. But there’s always someone darker out there. And that’s what we’re trying to represent with this album. Sometimes when someone concentrates so hard on putting out your bright light, instead of concentrating on their own light, it only leads to a deeper, darker, dark side of black.”
The story behind one the album’s tracks, “Angel Fall,” follows these themes. The band is exclusively premiering its video with Billboard today. Watch it below:
“Angel Fall” ruminates on the female archetype known as the preacher’s daughter. “As long as she remains the preacher’s daughter, as long as she’s an angel, she’s always treated like an angel. But angels can fall from grace,” observes Ritch.
“When these angels take the wrong path or lose their way, where does that leave them, and where does that leave you, the person that loves the little angel? What do you do for that person — tough love? Turn your back? Or do you continue to love them?” he wonders. “It’s just asking, ‘Can you love someone that has imperfections, and can she ever come back into grace?’ It’s about wondering if you can dig down inside and find compassion or pray for someone who’s a sinner. Strange concept, I know, but it really spilled out in a good way in this song. I think it’s a different song lyrically and stylistically as far as Texas Hippie Coalition goes. And it’s something I think the listener will enjoy.”
For tour dates and to purchase tickets for the Dark Side of Black Tour, visit THCOfficial.com.