Steve Rice of No Justice first tackled our 20 Questions four years ago. Now, he is here to take another stab at them on the heels of the release of No Justice’s most critically acclaimed album, 2nd Avenue from which they are about to release their 3rd single, “‘Gone Ain’t Far Enough”. Steve is known as one of the nicest and funniest guys in the scene and that comes across onstage, off stage and in interviews like this. In this edition of 20 Questions, we cover the growth of No Justice’s music and their songwriting process; as well as, stories about moonshine with the Stragglers, why Gary Busey is not somebody you’d want in your van, and the musical influence of Justin Beiber.
1. You’ve recently released your new album, 2nd Avenue…aside from that what’s new and exciting with Steve Rice?
I have currently been writing for the next studio record and am also about to do a new project with Mike McClure that we are really excited about. It will be something that hasn’t really been touched yet in this genre…I’m very excited about it.
2. After going the independent route for many years, y’all have teamed up with Carved Records. What swayed you to sign with them? Also, in what ways has having a label been most beneficial?
We had gotten to a plateau in the sense that we could really not progress the way we wanted to without some label support. Aside from the financial help, having the label can open other doors and get things done from the business side that can sometimes be intangible to the artists that are out on the road working.
3. Name association:
– Josh Abbott- Giraffes
-Hayes Carll-Freight-train mommas, pistol shooters, my first girlfriend worked at Hooters
-Evan Felker of Turnpike Troubadours- Great buddy and songwriter. We set his guitar on fire in a hotel room once after an acoustic show.
-Drew Kennedy- Nice feller, great songwriter, very funny
-Johnny Cooper- Pop and lock
-Bart Crow – He’s as big of a smartass as I am. (laughs) Great friend!
-Ryan Bingham – Deep songwriter with a very cool style
-Rich O’ Toole – Has never smoked marijuana or eaten jalapenos… which makes him a liar! (laughs)
-Brandon Rhyder – That big ass white Bloomberg trailer. Met my friend James through Brandon.
4. 2nd Avenue represented a strong growth in your artistry as a band. The reviews have all been positive, including the one I did for our site. What inspired y’all to stretch yourselves on this one?
We just wanted to push the boundaries a little bit. Was it the right choice? Yes and no. Will we do it again? Probably not. (laughs) It’s good sometimes to see if you can do something a little more challenging than just making a record because it’s time to make one.
5. Y’all brought in rock producer Dex Green who is most noted for his work with Collective Soul for 2nd Avenue. What made y’all want to work with him? What was he like in the studio?
Dex was just the right man for the job. He was extremely easy to work with and got the absolute best out of us without compromising our sound or style in the process.
6. If you had a run from Beaumont to El Paso with several gigs along the way and had to take one of the following people along in the van…who would it be and why?
–Gary Busey, Randy Quaid or Corey Feldman?
Randy Quaid without a doubt. Any questions? “Ya, where can I get some damn bait?” (laughs). Gary Busey is crazy as hell and would probably kill us all…and Corey Feldman is a $*(#*!
7. Favorite touring memory of the following towns:
-Corpus Christi – REK Texas Uprising…sushi bars and going out to walk the docks.
-Amarillo – Cutting our teeth at the Golden Light Cantina
-San Antonio – First show with Dierks Bentley
-College Station – The debut of my Lucha Libre costume at Hurricane Harry’s.
-Tulsa – Playing the world famous Cains Ballroom and drinking moonshine with the Stragglers. (laughs) I better not tell the rest of that story! (laughs)
-Wichita Falls – Always a great time but I can’t recall any memorable stories…is that a good or bad thing? (laughs)
-Fort Worth – One of my favorite places in Texas and our Live at Billy Bobs recording.
-Stephenville – After-parties on the “Magic Bus” and The City Limits staff.
-Dallas – Joey falling all the way down the hallway at Gilleys…about a 30 foot stumble.
-Houston – The first time I met and played with Billy Joe Shaver. Patron at the Firehouse. Not to mention the pimp versus 3 hookers fight outside the hotel one night.
8. In the past few years, y’all have stretched your touring base beyond the normal Texas/Red Dirt circuit to include stops in the Midwest . What do you enjoy most about playing for crowds who may be unfamiliar with your music?
Just seeing that first time “holy shit!” reaction. (laughs) It is always cool to spread your music to new people.
9. A couple years ago y’all were involved with a tv pilot for CMT called “Red Dirt Live”. How’d that come about and what happened with that project?
Who knows… the best lesson I have ever learned is not to bet on something until it happens. It’s probably in a pile of other pilots on the desk of a terminated employee or something.
10. If you were put in a time machine and your 3 destination options were the following, which would you pick and why?
–Motley Crue’s tour bus in Cedar Rapids, Iowa -1985?
-Michael Jackson’s Thriller recording sessions in Los Angeles-1982?
-Hank William’s Cadillac in Shreveport, Louisiana-1952?
Gotta go with the Crue circa ’85! It would probably be the best night that I would never remember…but that only seems to happen in Wichita Falls (laughs). I like a good shindig. Plus, I could maybe have said something to prevent Vince from taking that “Skating with the Stars” gig in the future.
11. While at home you enjoy cooking. If Steve Rice were to host a cooking show or put together a cookbook, what are the dishes or recipes that you would consider your specialties?
I have several…my famous Dirtyrooster salsa and guacamole, or my bacon wrapped rosemary pork tenderloin, Habanero Deer Chili, Deer Jerky, Deer sausage and cream cheese stuffed jalapeno peppers. I like to eat!
12. You are a proud parent, do your kids really understand what you do for a living or is it like the old Rodney Carrington bit where he says “my kids think I work at the airport…they drop me off on Thursday morning and they pick me up on Sunday afternoons.”?
They have come to a few shows and think that we are way bigger than what we are. (laughs)…so that’s very cool. They both want to be rockstars when they grow up and love music, which I am super thankful for…but it is still extremely hard to leave every week.
13. If you were a rapper, what would your mc name be…Vanilla Rice…Rice T…?
MC Toof Ache…because I make your heads hurt suckas! (laughs)
14. Stories behind the following songs:
-Don’t Walk Away – Song about about thinking twice before ending a relationship and resolving issues before you give up on things.
-Just Get Going – Spare me the insignificant details and get out of my face so I can get on with my life.
-Red Dress – The struggle between having to go on the road to do your job while leaving the ones you love behind.
-Coming Up The River – Getting busy.
-Love Song – Small town romance and trying to get back to where you once were with a lover.
-Bend But Don’t Break – The title speaks for itself. (laughs)
-The Toast – A look back at friendships and relationships. It’s about seizing the moment and living without regrets.
-Going Nowhwere – This one is about how the one you love in high-school is all that matters at the time, before really knowing what matters in life…not being able to see the big picture for being blinded by love.
15. In our last interview we covered your extensive Red Dirt influences from people like Mike McClure and Cody Canada. But, outside of Red Dirt music, who are your biggest musical influences?
Man there are so many…Martin Sexton, Lyle Lovett, Ray LaMontagne, John Hiatt, Justin Bieber, Matchbox Twenty, Steve Earle…I could go on for a long time…did I say Justin Bieber?
16. What’s the songwriting process like for No Justice? Are you the chief lyricist, while everyone else works on the music? Or is it more of an equal process for everyone?
I usually write and come up with the melody, then everyone adds their touch to it. It’s kinda like me baking the cake and putting the icing on it, then the guys come in and decorate it. (laughs) It’s always cool to see what they do to a song or how they interpret something I’ve started and make it into something complete.
17. If a movie was made about your life, who would you choose to portray you on the big screen?
Probably Chuck Norris or Jean Claude Van Damme. The reason: you would laugh at their horrible acting and then get the piss beat out of you. Bring it!
18. Rapid fire:
-Czech Stop or Whataburger? Czech Stop
-Blackjack or craps? Craps
-Family Guy or South Park? Neither
-Chappelle’s Show or Tosh.O? Tosh.O
19. The last time we did this, I copped out and asked you what your favorite Garth song was…but not we’re back to the real question. What’s your favorite George Strait song and why?
“Run”. Love that song…just a catchy melody and a great message.
20. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the music business from the time you first started out to now?
The roads have gotten worse…the Stillwater music scene has died down quite a bit. Everyones gotten fatter (laughs)…myself included…must be those damn truckstop diets!