Wade Bowen

Wade Bowen and his band West 84 are quickly becoming THE must see act in this music scene. With the songwriting of a poet and the stage show of a rock n’ roller, Wade is separating himself from the crowded field of musicians playing this kind of music. With a new cd on the distant horizon and growing crowds at every show; get to know Wade and his music a little better with this edition of 20 Questions.

1.What’s new with Wade Bowen & West 84?
Really right now just trying to write, write, write to get a new album out. We are going in here in the next couple of months but don’t get excited yet. We are going to take our time with it so there won’t be anything new for a long time. But at least you know we are working on it.As far as shows, in May we have a show coming up with Pat Green and Gary Allan which I’m really looking forward to. I like what both of those guys do. I also heard rumors this weekend of a show with Leon Russell and Ragweed in San Angelo sometime in October but we’ll see….who knows. All I can say is keep on the website for cool shows.

2. Who are the 5 greatest influences on your songwriting?
Bruce Springsteen, Guy Clark, Willie Nelson, Robert Earl Keen, and all of my friends in the biz that influence me everyday like Cody Canada, Mike McClure, Randy Rogers, Bleu Edmondson, Stoney LaRue, Brandon Rhyder, Matt Powell, Jason Boland, Pat Green, Jack Ingram and so many more. I spend too much time with them all and appreciate what they do too much to not be influenced by them.

3. Y’all started out as much more of a straight up country band and have evolved with seemingly every gig into a more rock sound. To what do you attribute this evolution?
Mainly my band for opening my eyes to a whole new world of music. With the addition of Kevin, our guitar player, we really had no option. He is so rock influenced it’s not even funny, and bad ass as well. I just feel really comfortable with that sound and listening to that music. I watch the crowds react better to it as well. It develops into this energy that you can’t find in just simple, straightforward country music. But, my roots are imbedded in country music and they always will be.

4. Name Association:
-Seth James–He bleeds soul and is the only person I can say I ever met that is too humble.

-Jason Boland–Has a way with words.

-Randy Rogers–Enjoys the music life more than anyone.

-Bleu Edmondson–Hard to keep up with.

-Matt Martindale–One of the most genuinely nice people I’ve ever met.

-Brandon Rhyder–Powerful ballads.

-Matt Powell–As talented as they come.

-Pat Green–Knows exactly what he wants and goes for it. Actually, he achieves it.

-Cory Morrow–Always has a good time

-Django Walker–He spends his life trying to bring happiness to everyone he’s around

-Stoney LaRue–The funniest person around at any event and has more God-given talent than most I know.

-Cody Canada–One of the most influential people in my life. He and everyone in the Ragweed crew are as good and honest as people can be.

5. Your band’s twin lead guitar attack is very powerful. Almost Skynyrd-esque, but with more of an edge. Have there been any club owners that booked y’all and didn’t know what they were getting?
Not with the twin guitars. We also have a country side and a mellow side that we have fun with as well. So, it’s not always rockin’ ass. Before Kevin came along we did get kicked out of Blanco’s in Houston because they didn’t “like our style.” Blah! Blah! Blah!

6. Stoney LaRue has a habit of hopping on your stage and putting Kevin on his shoulders much like Brian Johnson does to Angus Young in AC/DC. I say the next time you and Stoney play a gig together y’all should each get a girl on your shoulders and have a chicken fight onstage. Whoever loses has to cover a Toby Keith song. Sound fair?
We’ve actually had some chicken fights after some shows and it seems like Stoney always wins. He seems to win at everything he does, bastard. I don’t think you could ever get either one of us to cover a Toby Keith song though ….sorry to disappoint!

(No disappointment there–Brad)

7. Speaking of cover songs, y’all do a wide variety of them. Each one you play seem to fit your band really well and y’all bring something new to the song. How do you decide what to cover? And what are your favorites to cover?
I don’t do a song unless we can find a way to add our own unique attitude to it. In choosing a cover song, I just simply listen to the song and decide if it’s something we can do or not. Sometimes the band brings it to me and suggests it and other time it’s just something that influenced me in some form or fashion.

8. Not to rehash too much old history but y’all started out as just West 84 and added your name on the front a few years into your career. How’d y’all decide on the name West 84?
I really don’t know man. We just thought of it about 5 minutes before our first gig. At that time I had no clue that everyone In the world was going to name their band after a highway or we never would have done it.

9. Favorite touring memory of the following towns/clubs.
-Ft. Worth–The Clubhouse Concerts

-Stephenville–Getting cussed out across the bar from a bar owner there for being 30 minutes late to a sound check!

-Huntsville–Paying an acoustic show with Bleu Edmondson that we both hardly remember!!!!

-Corpus Christi–Singing “Whataburger by the Bay” with Django after one of our shows there.

-College Station–Stoney got sick during our “Farewell to Sanity” tour here and couldn’t play. So we just jammed with his band all night in his “honor”! I guess you had to be there to understand this one!

-Waco–When we had our first cd release party there for “Just For Fun” and all of our family and friends were there. We sold like 100 cd’s that night…bad ass!

-Lubbock–There’s way too many to list.

-Houston–Not too long ago we played the Firehouse and it was a small crowd on Super Bowl weekend. The Ragweed crew showed up just as drunk as we were and just had a big jam session all night.

-Dallas–I really enjoyed the Mardi Gras show this year. I wasn’t sure how it was gonna be for us being on the outside stage…it was a blast!

-Gruene Hall–First time we played there.

-Saengerhalle–The Waylon Tribute.

-Woody’s–This show is always fun for me because it’s close to my sister, so she always comes out and brings my nephews with her!

-Adair’s–Everytime I play there!

-Wormy Dog–Playing an acoustic show there with Cody Canada….still one of the best nights of my life.

-Blaine’s–This is where the “peanut” became our lucky charm.

-And besides recording your live cd there, The Blue Light–When everyone in the band finally crowd-surfed for the first time…that was awesome!

10. Your hometown is Waco. You went to college at Texas Tech. You started a band. You live in Austin. Another guy did the exact same thing. Whatever happened to that guy? And was his blueprint something you intentionally followed?
I assume you are talking about Pat. I did’t know Pat actually until I got out to Texas Tech. He was just starting and it was cool to follow his career to where it is now. But I made my decisions because of what I thought was best for me at that time and it just so happened to follow right along with his plan as well.

11. Just how long have you known Matt Miller? I met Matt the summer after my freshman year in college at a party in Waco. He was just sitting around playing guitar for everybody. I was looking for someone to start a band with and the rest is history, so they say!

12. Stories behind the following songs:
-Tired of Being Alone–I wrote this song about my high school sweetheart and because I really was tired of being alone at that time. I was going through a hard time when it came to women. I had so many walls up and this was a good way to start breaking them down…good therapy!

-Just For Fun–I wrote this song after meeting an incredibly fun lady in Lubbock at school. I got home from partying about 5 or 6 in the morning and wrote it all in about 30 minutes.

-Try Not To Listen–This song started out as a poem. I had gotten inspired from a show we had just gotten through playing. I got home on Sunday and just started writing about what I had experienced the night before and what I had experienced in my young career up to that point. I’m a fan first and that’s the perspective of this song…I simply love music and that’s what this is about.

-Mystery of a Woman–This song started out as a “hatred towards women” type song. But after trying to write about hating them, I realized that the only reason I was really pissed off was because I couldn’t figure this one out. It amazed me! “Oh how I wish I knew what they knew!”

-Not Finished Yet–This song was given to me by my producer Alex Lipsitz by a songwriter named Richie Sessions. He’s got a lot of great stuff but this one hit me right from the start.

-Red Headed Woman–Sitting on my back porch. I had this vision the entire time of this gorgeous woman with big red hair laying naked in bed, sheets covering up just enough of her body, smoking a cigarette and watching this man walk out of her room, both knowing they had done something wrong.

13. You recorded the “Try Not To Listen” album in Nashville. How’d that come about?
We are actually recording the next record there as well. That is where our engineer and producer wanted to do it. They were familiar with the studio and felt they could get the most “bang for our buck” out there. I really enjoy that town. Good people and lots to do.

14. “Who I Am” has turned into the enultimate modern day Texas Music wedding song. It has replaced Guy Clark’s “Coat From the Cold”. When you wrote it, did you know what you had?
No way man. I still sometimes forget about it. That was one of the first for me. I think everyone is kind of skeptical about their first few songs. So, for that reason, I never pushed it on anyone…not even my band. But the crowd was a different story. Still, to this day, every night we have someone ask us to play that song. I get stories all the time about people that I don’t even know playing this song at their wedding or it just simply being this or that couple’s song. Nothing is cooler than that. Nothing puts a smile on my face quicker than people letting me know that a song means that much to them. That’s why I write them.

15. I saw you at a songswap with Bleu and Stoney about a year ago, in your hometown of Waco with your parents in the audience. Stoney pulled out a cigarette and offered you one and then said “Oh yeah, Wade doesn’t smoke in front of mom.” The crowd thought it was funny but I’m not sure you did! When I started putting this interview together I remembered that, and it sparked me to ask: What have been your most embarassing onstage moments?
I hope I didn’t come across wrong to the crowd that night. I don’t smoke and I guess I just didn’t read much into it. Stoney has created lots of funny moments like that for me onstage…him and Bleu both. We have a great time trying to embarrass each other. My most embarrassing moments probably just come from forgetting words to songs. I hate when that happens.

16. Must have items when the van hits a truck-stop late at night.
Dr. Pepper, water, candy bar, Nacho cheese Doritos

17. Rapid Fire:
-What kind of guitar stings do you use?
Elixir light

-Big Red or Juicy Fruit?
Big Red

-Zeppelin or The Who?

-Beatles or The Stones?
The Beatles

-Best driver in the band?

-Worst driver in the band?

-Marsha Sharp or Bobby Knight?
Bobby Knight, good quesiton!

-Doug Moreland or Holly?
Definitely, Holly…even Doug would answer that!!!

18. You’re sponsored by Budweiser/Bud Light. Yet sometimes along with your beer, you’ve been known to drink whiskey for so-called “health reasons”. Is this a new diet or doctor approved?
Doctor approved man. It’s a good thing to do every now and then. You should try it. Just one month and see what difference it makes. You never know til ya try. Plus, you’ll be surprised what else you find that you enjoy to drink!! But it has helped me to feel better and get my voice back on track.

19. Favorite George Strait song.
Honky Tonk Crazy

20. Compare/contrast the music being made by you and your peers with the stuff Nashville and LA are pumping out.
I really try not to. I hate that everyone does. I just want to make music. Who cares where it’s made. Yes, I’m frustrated with country radio. I think everyone is in some form or fashion. But there’s still some great stuff coming out of Nashville like Alan Jackson, Dierks Bentley, etc. I’d like to think our stuff compares in some way, but when I go to record a new record, I focus on getting the song across…not who’s it gonna appeal to. And I want to be able to play any kind of music from rock to honky tonk and pull it off. Music is music and there’s so many great ways of getting it out there. I think we need to get rid of the boundary lines and just enjoy it!

Brad Beheler

Raised in Waco, refined in the Hill Country, escaped from DFW. I've worked in just about every facet of the music business for 20 years. I like to write about it all. e-mail Brad Editor-in-Chief

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