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{20 Questions} Brandon Rhyder

Brandon Rhyder has become a favorite of Galleywinter and over the past year with the release of his latest album “Conviction”, he has soared to new professional heights. Recently, he became a new father and is soaring in his personal life as well. Check out this edition of 20 Questions and get to know this literate tunesmith a little bit better.

1. What’s new and exciting with Brandon Rhyder? First and foremost Kelli and I have a brand new baby boy named Dusty Regan Rhyder. He is the bomb! Conviction is doing great and I love my new band. Shows are growing and doors are opening. What a year so far!

2. Who are your top musical influences? Who are your top non-musical influences?

Musically, my life changed when I met Walt Wilkins in April of 2004. He’s been a big brother to me and has helped me realize my potential. Allison Krause and Union Station are the epitome of perfection. Radney Foster is a song writing genius, and Darrell Scott is simply a badass.

Non-musical my Mom has always played a large role in my life. She knows things about me and my life that most people don’t know. She’s a great friend!

3. Name association:

-Pat Green– Driven to Succeed
-Jason Boland– Talent
-Wade Bowen– A Great Friend on the Rise
-Peter Dawson– Nashville
-Randy Rogers– Superstar
-Charlie Robison– Mellowed Out
-Cody Canada– Red Dirt
-Roger Creager– Guns
-Doug Moreland– “Catlac”
-Django Walker– Jaguar

4. What’s an artist that not many people know about yet but should check out? And why?

Down here in Texas it amazes me that people don’t know who Darrell Scott is. Why should everyone know this name? He can play anything with strings and he writes hits. Songs for Travis Tritt, Dixie Chicks, and even Garth Brooks.

5. You have a degree in industrial technology, yet had many offers and a natural gift to pursue a music major in college. Why did you choose the path you did?

I felt like everyone was pushing me into music. I guess it was a rebellious maneuver. I didn’t know what I wanted out of life and the last thing I wanted to be was a band director! In retrospect I’m glad it worked out like it did. Life is funny that way!

6. You’ve been at ground zero for over 5 years of this Texas music explosion. Is this scene/music where you thought it would be 5 years ago?

My perception of the scene has changed ten fold over the last five years. I’ve seen some of those who were at the top continue to grow while others have maintained or declined. I’ve seen good bands blow up overnight and I’ve seen a lot of rift raft fall by the wayside. I’ve seen people curse Nashville from the stage only later to figure out that’s “still where the store is”, and I’ve seen singer/songwriters early in their career feel like they deserve way more than they’re getting because they’ve got some cha-ching behind them. I call this my second college education. Not only do you have to gain the respect of the fans, but of your peers as well! Weekend Warriors Rock ON!

7. Stories behind the following songs:

-Conviction– Down and out on his luck, this guy always does everything with “conviction” even though in the end it costs him love and salvation.

-Freeze Frame Time– a prophecy come true with my little boy now here. This song was inspired by an accapella female version of Amazing Grace at daybreak in the middle of a sunflower field on September 1st, 2004.

-Back Roads– I’m not an “interstate” kind of guy. I like the country roads. It reminds me of being a child on a bike, a teenager cruising the blacktops at 10 mph, and never forgetting where you came from.

-Mr. Soldier– inspired by a friend of mine who had to leave his wife and two boys to fight the war in Iraq.

-Let the Good Times Roll– A song about love and the vulnerabilities that come along with it.

-Go Back in Fool– Everyone has thought about getting out of the relationship they’re in, but the idea of leaving a good soul behind makes you walk back inside.

-Walking Shoes– Shoes all over the freeway in Austin. There must have been a hundred pair. I wrote it on the steering wheel in a matter of minutes.

-I Can’t Write You a Song– I was trying to find a way to express my love for my wife differently than it has ever been said before.

-Ain’t That Strange– A fictional story I wrote on the way home from a dead end job while stuck in traffic. Man I hated that job!!!

8. Your new album, Conviction, was produced by Walt Wilkins and has won you many accolades and much critical acclaim. Could you tell that it was a special album when you were recording it?

Without a doubt I knew it was something more special than I had ever imagined. This is my best collection of material and the supporting cast was amazing. Now all I have to worry about is topping it! No pressure, no pressure. (laughs)

9. Describe what it’s like to work with Walt Wilkins. What is his demeanor in the stuiio?

Walt Wilkins is a good soul and talent pours out of this guy. He makes me step up my game and has always encouraged me to do what I do. Tim Lorsch and Walt Wilkins make the studio a fun place to be and they never settle for mediocrity.

10. You decided to cover a Keith Gattis song, California, on the album. Why did you pick that particular cover tune? Were there others under consideration?

On every record I listen to I can always tell it when a song really means something to an artist. The words and delivery are a dead giveaway. This song had that special combination and I feel honored to have had the opportunity to cover it. I will always put a song or two like this on a record because I want to recognize other songwriters who are willing to tell it like it was or is.

11. You recorded “Conviction” in Nashville with some of the best musicians in the country. Describe what it was like hearing your compositions come to life under the talented fingers of so many great musicians?

The word talent is an understatement for all the guys and gals who were a part of this project. We would all gather in this small room and I would play the song acoustic and describe to them what the song was about and what I envisioned. Everyone took great notes and really got into the material. Usually we knew collectively where the song was headed by the 2nd take. Can you say amazing?

12. Favorite touring memory of the following towns/clubs:

I know this is the easy way out, but I really love all the different places I’ve played. I’ve met so many great people out on the road.

13. You grew up in east Texas and moved to Austin in 1999 to pursue your career. Talk about the differences between east and central Texas.

North East Texas is my home. It’s where I go to recharge my batteries. It is, however, a little behind the times maybe. You would think I could get more radio play in the area since I am a “home town boy”, but until I get a record deal and am considered “main stream”, they could care less. It’s a great place to raise a family, to go to church and have the thirty year job, but not so much if you’re an independent artist who plays an all original show. Central Texas and the Hill Country on the other hand promote artistic creativity. It’s a place where you can hone your skill and have an audience who listens. Now, before all the north east Texas people get pissed off I wouldn’t discount the fact that I may live in the area again someday when it’s time to settle down. That is if you’ll have me.

14. Have you had the perfect gig yet? If so, describe it. If not, tell
us about one that came close.

Not even close. Still working on that one! Maybe 2006 will give me this gift!

15. Without burning any bridges and naming names, tell us about the biggest nightmare gig you’ve ever had. You know the one where the sound guy wasn’t there, you didn’t get paid, the crowd was boring and what have you.

I had a bar owner, who’s no longer in the biz, cut my pay because the band started 30 minutes late even though we played a three hour show straight through. He left and asked the bartender to pay me. I wouldn’t leave the premises so the bartender called the owner who showed back up to the bar drunker than he had left. I invited him outside while he berated me telling me I wasn’t the next Garth Brooks. I didn’t get the extra pay, but I didn’t go to jail either. All I remember hearing was Kelli in the background screaming “it’s not worth it Brandon, don’t hit him”.

16. Many people who see you in concert for the first time are surprised to hear such a booming voice coming from you. When did you first realize you had such a God-given gift?

Truthfully, it wasn’t until the last year and a half or so. When my last band and I decided to go separate ways I began touring acoustically with the thought of putting a band back together in a month or so. A month turned into a year and I truly believe it was the best thing for my career. When you step on stage void of a band you have to do something special or you lose the crowd. I practiced continuously on the guitar and writing and vocally putting “it” out there. And oh, by the way, when you do shows with prominent singer/songwriters you better bring your “A” game or you’ll look silly!

17. Is hearing your song on the radio as cool as one would imagine it to
be? Is it as cool the last time as it was the first time?

It’s always cool to hear yourself on the radio. Singing that is. I don’t like to listen to pre-recorded interviews. People tell me that my answers to questions are great, but I don’t like to listen to myself talk. Goofy maybe, but it’s the truth.

18. Compare/contrast the genuine, soulful, heartfelt music you’re making with the stuff you hear on mainstream country radio and CMT.

There’s some good stuff coming out of Nashville these days, just as there is some good stuff coming out of Texas and Oklahoma. There is a trend that’s taking shape in Nashville that encourages me as a singer/songwriter because more and more artists are being allowed to put a lot of their own material on their records. A song for me consists of inspiration. I think that’s where words like genuine, soulful and heartfelt come from. When I’m on stage I’m not trying to sell something I don’t believe in, and furthermore, the crowd sees that and wants to know more about the song and why I wrote it. It may not be honky tonk badonkadonk, but it’s what I do.

19. Rapid fire:
-Fav BBQ joint? Cooper’s in Llano, Texas
-Spurs or Mavs? Mavs Baby!
-Major Applewhite or Vince Young? Both have the determination, but Vince has the natural God given talent.
-Vegas or Shreveport? I may gamble with my career, but never with money!

20. Favorite George Strait song.
The Chair

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