With a video in heavy rotation on CMT (“Midnight America”) and a critically acclaimed debut album, the duo of Rosehill is making a name for themselves in Texas and beyond. Blake Myers and Mitch McBain first made waves on the Texas scene in their band Texas High Life, and have evolved into Rosehill under the guidance of their mentor Radney Foster. Read along to get to know them better and find out the stories behind taking shots with Darius Rucker and why Dallas always makes Blake think of H-Town rap legends Swishahouse.
1. Y’all recently released your first album as a duo, White Lines and Stars. Since that release, what’s been new and exciting in the world of Rosehill?
Everything! Every day is something new and exciting. For one, getting the “Midnight America” video on CMT.com and CMT Pure and the response it’s getting is incredible. CMT Pure is really getting behind the Texas scene and will soon have some all-Texas programming. Which is exciting that we will have an avenue for the nation to view and hear our music. We have just signed with AUE for booking and we are just trying to play as much as possible.
2. You made your initial waves in the Texas Music scene as a band called Texas High Life. What prompted the change to duo status and the name Rosehill?
Radney Foster. It was his idea when we got together to become a duo. He used to say, “you are already a duo, you just didn’t know it!” Since the entire dynamic of the group and music was being transformed. It was only fitting to change the name as well. We must have came up with a million different names and just couldn’t settle on any of them. One day we were writing at Mitch’s house and he just blurted out, how about Rosehill? I said it works for me. We grew up on Cypress-Rosehill Road so it just made sense to us.
3. Name association:
-Mike Eli – Amazing vocalist. Hometown guy.
-Bleu Edmondson – Big Brother. We’ll never forget the day we buried our original drummer Keith and that night Bleu played at Side Car. He played an extra half hour acoustic set just for us because he knew we weren’t ready to go back to reality. We’ll never forget that.
-Rich O’Toole – Old friend. Used to go out and help Rich with his rehearsals back in the College Station days. Great entertainer.
-Roger Creager – Kicked out. We were 17 years old when we went to a Creager show at Tin Hall. We were tricked into spraying our beers everywhere when Roger hit the chorus of “Beer”. Needless to say, we got kicked out!
-Fred Andrews – Side Car Pub. Honeybrowne was the first band we opened for and Fred’s been a friend and mentor for 8 years now.
-Cory Morrow – First sold out show. We opened for him as Texas High Life in ’03 down in Kingsville. Fire Marshall almost shut it down. Crazy good songwriter and entertainer.
-Sean McConnell – Better than all of us. Simple as that!
-John Evans – The Man! Buddy Holly is looking down saying “Damn he’s cool!”
-Hayes Carll – A Craftsman, a true poet!
-Ryan Beaver- Killer vocalist. You wont forget that name either!
4. You make your home base out of Houston, while much of the music scene is rooted in Austin or New Braunfels. What are the pros and cons of running your business from Houston?
Well, the con is we feel out of the loop sometimes. The pro is family. Both of our families are here and help us with Rosehill all the time. This is a hard business and trusting who is in your camp is key. Plus, Houston is ever-changing. New people arrive from all over the world so it is nice to have new people to play for every time we are out in Houston.
5. Radney Foster produced your album. How did you get hooked up with him? And, what was it like to work with such a legend?
We scaled back shows toward the end of Texas High Life to focus on songwriting. We just weren’t enjoying the music we were making and we wanted to be better. After about 6 months of writing, we recorded a 4-track acoustic demo at Mitch’s house. Radney was playing at Dosey Doe in the Woodland’s that weekend and a friend of ours slipped him a copy of the Demo which we had dubbed “The Bathroom Tapes”. Two days later he called and asked us to hop on a plane to talk about making a record.
The rest is a blur. Still can’t believe that. Working with a legend is inspiring, magical, frustrating, eye opening, rewarding, and just plain tough at times. It was an opportunity of a lifetime to improve our craft a thousand fold and to create life-long friendships and experiences that we will cherish forever.
6. Along with Radney, Phil Pritchett has been quite the mentor for you guys. Why do you think Phil doesn’t get the same amount of recognition that other guys from his era do?
Good question. I don’t know. He has been a great mentor for us and I still think he is one of the most interesting and entertaining guys in this scene. His shows are like a 3-act play. He is brutally independent. I’ll tell you, though, he is respected by all those guys from his era and he can still go anywhere in Texas and have diehard P2 Phans in the crowd.
7. Favorite touring memory of the following towns:
-Austin – First time we played Saxon Pub. Getting to hear Monte Montgomery.
-Fort Worth- Woody’s Tavern. Having the La Quinta in the same parking lot was the best and worst thing for us. In the early days, we definitely out-drank our pay!
-Dallas – First time we played Dallas, the rap group Swisha House was staying in our same hotel. I don’t remember much after that.
-Corpus Christi-Brewster Street comes to mind. The first place we heard the crowd singing our songs back to us. Love that town!
-Lubbock – The only time I have ever had laryngitis. Got sick on the 8-hour drive up. Was not driving that far to cancel a show, so I just played guitar and Mitch sang lead the whole night.
-Oklahoma City -At the Wormy Dog and thinking the show was going to be dead on a Sunday and turned into a party. I love those kind of shows.
-Wichita Falls -Scotty P and the Outlaw stand out. Scotty isn’t there anymore, but that station always made us feel at home.
-Houston- The old Side Car days. The room was small and not very clean, but damn did we have some good times there. It was the first place we ever played and Peron, the owner, has been a trusted friend ever since.
-College Station -Being at The Hall of Fame with Kyle Park. I never thought that many people could fit into The Hall. Just insane backed full of people ready to have a good time.
-New Braunfels -This past year’s Greenfest acoustic show at the Floathouse. We almost didn’t make it and we were completely exhausted from two weeks on radio tour, followed by a full weekend of dates, but to see so many good friends hanging out, intently listening and drinking cold beer on a Sunday…all that made it one the best events we have been to.
8. Blake, you spent a great deal of the band’s formative years in College Station. There is a great lineage of songwriters that were Aggies, people like Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, Dub Miller and Roger Creager among many others. What do you think it is about College Station that fosters good songwriting?
Broke and bored! The names that you have listed are all major influences to us as far as songwriting. College Station as we all know is a town based on traditions, that applied to being a songwriter as well. There are many venues in town that allow young artists to stretch their legs and perform to the public. I believe that student population contributes in a major way to the growth of songwriters for the simple fact that they will get behind young aspiring artists and help push them to excel.
9. Since you are an Aggie, what is the best Aggie joke you’ve heard?
Well, because the Ags can’t win a bowl game, I’ll go with this one: What is the difference between the Aggies and Rice Crispies? Rice Crispies know what to do in a bowl!
10. As someone who does their own tweeting (@ROSEHILLLIVE), how much of a cop-out are ArtistData tweets or tweets sent by PR/Management?
I think it’s a cop out for sure…people and fans crave that personal connection and interaction. With advancing technology, it is too easy to post on Facebook and Twitter. I know we are all lazy musicians, but come on.
11. Duos have always been a mainstay in country music. Yet, there have only been a handful in Texas Music with acts such as Harris and Ryden and Blake and Fallon. Why do you feel there haven’t been more duos and why do you feel they haven’t been more successful? How can y’all change that trend?
That’s a tough one. I never got to see Harris and Ryden. Blake and Fallon I saw and played with many times…they were awesome! As to why they weren’t more successful, I don’t know. I do know it is hard to be a duo. There is no king of the castle so to speak.
We are in it together and there isn’t a third party involved to shift the vote if we can’t agree. We get through it with trust and problem solving. We have been friends for 11 years now. We know we always have each other’s best interest at heart. Trust is everything in this business.
As for problem solving, we have a rule, don’t bitch about a problem unless you can provide an idea of how to fix it. That rule has helped us every day. As to if we can change the trend, the jury is still out. I believe it is our work ethic that will help us rise above and continue to move forward and progress.
12. Stories behind the following songs:
-West of Sunset – This was one of the first songs we co-wrote with Radney, and it is about where we were in our career at that time. Tired of the same trivial things, with larger than life dreams and having the courage to act on them.
-White Lines and Stars – I wrote this about a drive I make with my wife every year. It’s not a long drive, but it is at midnight on Christmas Eve. There is no one on the road at midnight on Christmas Eve, so it always felt like it was just the 2 of us, the road, and the radio.
-Away From Me -Ahh…reaching back to the Texas High Life catalog (laughs). This is gonna make me look bad! (laughs) I had a girlfriend in college that I dated for a few months. We were at my house when I broke up with her. I literally couldn’t get her to leave. It was like a Seinfeld episode. So I wrote a song that basically said get out of here. Brutal, but effective!
-Midnight America -Just about what we all do in this industry. The hours we generally work are between 10pm and 2am. A lot goes on during those hours. We just wanted to point them out!
-Beauty Queen -Another ol’ THL song. I wrote this about a girl I knew in high school. You know, the one that won “most beautiful” of the senior class and she was thought to be loved by everyone. I saw her years later and those years had not been good to her. So I wrote a song about her. Man, we are starting to look like assholes! (laughs)
-Picassos for Pesos – This song was written by Radney Foster, Chip Boyd, and Jay Clementi. When Radney played us this song, we immediately said “we want to cut this”. We didn’t care that we had not written it. Music is about evoking emotions and this song hit home for us. We felt like the lyrics would connect with a lot of people. It’s about selling priceless things for nothing and not realizing it until it’s too late. I think everybody has done that in some form or another.
-Believer – This song was written about love. About finding that special person in your life that makes you melt to your knees and ask for forever.
-Glass of Whiskey – It’s about a character that may have a little too much fun at times and has a hard time telling whether the glass is half full or half empty.
-Yellowbird – Keith.
13. What is the worst day job you’ve had to endure to chase your musical dreams?
One summer I worked at a driving range. I was the guy in the cart on the range that everyone got a kick out of hitting me with their drives. Dicks!
14. You co-host a podcast that spans all facets of the music business, Texas scene, sports and pop culture at large. What made you want to start a podcast? And, who is your dream guest?
Well, we just thought it would be fun. I always listen to the P2 podcast and love it. We just wanted to do a condensed version. They are never longer than 20 minutes. We do a Rosehill state-of-the-union and then get right into the topic for the week. It’s just a better way to show everyone our personalities than if we just blogged every week. Dream guest…if we’re talking alive or dead it would have to be Townes Van Zandt.
15. Your video for “Midnight America” has received an impressive amount of airplay on CMT. Video as we knew it is a diminishing tool of promoting music. What was the motivation behind releasing a video? What was the process of making it like?
We didn’t want to do it. We actually thought it was a waste of time. Boy, were we wrong. We always thought that that song would make a good video and we had a friend that really wanted to shoot it, but we just didn’t know what we were going to do with it. We were convinced by friends to do it. They kept saying that being a new band you need as much online material as possible. So we did it. The process was pretty fun because we had a friend directing and everyone that was a part of it was really happy to be there. There wasn’t any “I don’t want to be here” type attitude flying around. Shot it in 2 days with a very tight budget. Also, we feel that the Texas Music community has really gotten behind it and helped push it.
16. Related to that, how surreal is it to see yourself on TV sandwiched between the likes of Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley?
A trip. It just shows the power of Texas Music fans. I mean, we are a new band and the fans here pushed us right up with the big boys. We have the #10 video on CMT Pure right now. That is crazy and it is all do to passionate fans!
17. Who is the most famous person you’ve met? And is there a crazy story that surrounds the circumstances of that meeting?
Watch out…names are dropping! (laughs) Darius Rucker. We were at Radney Foster’s 50th birthday party in Nashville. There was a bunch of famous folks there. Dierks Bentley, Vince Gill, Lee Roy Parnell, etc. Darius stood out because we were out in the crowd and Radney started playing “Crazy Over You”. Darius came up and put his arms on our shoulders and said “this is why I wanted to play country music”. And then he bought us a shot. Oh, and I am a huge Hootie fan. What are ya gonna do? (laughs)
18. Rapid fire:
-Oilers or Texans? Texans
-Lil’ Troy or Fat Pat? Fat Pat
-Dixie Chicken or Dixie Chicks? Dixie Chicken
-Vinyl or Digital? Vinyl
-Favorite tailgating food? Brian West’s Ribs
19. What’s your favorite George Strait song and why?
“Marina Del Ray”. Just a great song. My first dance was to that song so that probably has something to do with it. Every time I hear it, it takes me back to that time in my life. It’s amazing the power that music has to create picture frames in your mind of exact events in people’s lives.
20. The music y’all are making embraces the rough-hewn authentic qualities of Texas Music without losing all commercial sensibilities. What do you think makes your music unique?
For one, we are a duo. That automatically sets apart from the majority of music that is coming out of our scene right now. When recording the record, it was very important to use not to loose that “Texas” edge or grit in the recordings. We didn’t set out to make a Texas record, we wanted to make the best record we possibly could. We wanted to make a record that showed who we are. In the words of the great Gary P. Nunn, we want to take Texas to the world!