May 22, 2012

Striking it Rich... O'Toole

Photo by Last Call Photography
    This week here at RDBC we had a chance to chat with Houston Texas native and Texas artist Rich O'Toole. Rich is an up and coming star on the Texas Music scene who was, when we talked to him, starting out on a West Coast radio tour to promote his latest single "Drunk Girl." He has a smooth voice, the looks, and great songs. If there is anybody in the Texas Music scene that was ready to break out into the world outside of Texas Music, he is. Here is what he had to say.

RDBC: So first thing, the latest album  "Kiss of A Liar" is great, the current single "Drunk Girl" is doing well on the Texas Music Chart, and you are out west doing radio promo for it. Where are you and where all are you headed on this radio promo tour?

Rich: Well we just left Bakersfield, and are heading over to Visalia, CA. Then on to San Jose & Sacramento, CA before flying over to Salt Lake City down to Phoenix and back over to Oklahoma City.

RDBC:That's a heck of a trek, really making the rounds out there.

Rich: Yeah

RDBC: You have had decent success in Texas. But with songs like "Drunk Girl" & "Marijuana & Jalapenos" on this new album, is it hard to get the kind of radio play you are really after with what your website bio calls "intriguing" song content?

Rich: I don't know. Ya know, sometimes my songs do push the envelope a little bit but nothing really too bad. I stay away from profanity and things like that that could hurt a career. And I still try to write great songs that country radio will love.

RDBC: Are the stations outside of the Texas & Oklahoma region a little more open to edgier content?

Rich: Ya know I'm not sure. We are still kinda playing by ear out here but I hope so.

RDBC: You have had a fair amount of success, despite not receiving a lot of radio play, do you think that stems from word of mouth due to a loyal fan base?

Rich: Oh absolutely. Especially in this scene, radio play is hit or miss sometimes. Guys like Kyle Park who haven't had a ton of songs on the radio sell out great venues and do really well. So yeah a lot of it is from the fans just loving and spreading the music.

RDBC: What has been one of your highlights as an artist so far?

Rich: Oh man, getting to open for Willie Nelson last year and getting to meet him. I mean that guy is a living legend. But ya know for me, every week is cool. We just played down in Midland, TX (Crude Fest) and there were thousands of people there. And that was a dynamite show, ya know having 3000-4000 people singing word for word for 4 or 5 of our songs was awesome. It shows that people really listen and care about the music down there.

RDBC: How about a little peak inside your head. What made you want to be a musician?

Rich: I started going to shows when I was like 16, and I saw Robert Earl Keen and Pat Green, and I saw what those guys were doing and I thought 'Man, I would love to be able to do that' but I was into sports and played baseball. But baseball didn't really pan out for me. And I am a pretty passionate guy so I wanted to put my 100% into something else so I bought a guitar. I started writing and getting in front of people and I really love to entertain. A lot of people don't know that I write my own music, and when I write my goal is to entertain and tell stories. I just love being an entertainer. I look to one of my idols in Springsteen and what he does, and wanted to try and mix a  little of that into country music. I never want to get away from country music, I just want to bring something fresh and new to it.

     I can vouch for Rich when he says he loves entertaining. I saw a Rich O'Toole show recently. Just a couple of days after he played in front of thousands at Crude Fest, he played to a much smaller crowd in Oklahoma. I doubt that there was much of a difference in the 2 shows. His energy, and stage show were phenomenal that night at that tiny bar in front of just over 100 people. That in itself speaks volumes about Rich as an artist and entertainer. He puts 100% into every show whether its for 100 or 1000.

     Rich has had the chance to play with/ open for/ write with some of the best and biggest names in the Texas music scene. So, I asked him who he hadn't yet, but would like to work with.

Rich: I think that overall, if I had to keep it on the Texas music side of things, I would say Joe Ely. I would love to sit down and write a song with Joe Ely. Alejandro Escovedo would be someone else that would be great to write with.

RDBC: What is there about your music that people don't know that you can tell us?

Rich: Well I try to take the formula from REK where you write half fact and half fiction. Anytime you hear a love song, or a love story from me its pretty much a true story. But also, one of my favorite poets is Shel Silverstein and he actually wrote "A Boy Named Sue" for Johnny Cash. He was actually a really great song writer, and all of his lyrics were straight fiction. So I try to find the same way to write fictional lyrics. Like "Marijuana & Jalapenos" and "Pancho Villa." You know I didn't actually know Pancho Villa so that's ridiculous
 He added:
"I love mixing the fiction and the non fiction together when I write to keep it fun"

    To close out the interview I asked him, just to give us a little insight, if he could speak with one artist, in any genre, past or present, who would it be?

Rich: 100% Bruce Springsteen. I would love to just sit down and talk music with him. I kinda feel that sometimes people are afraid to meet their idols, because they always want to hold them in the highest regard. But I feel there is no way that Bruce wouldn't be a great guy and I would love to just pick his brain."

     It seems to me, that Rich has all the pieces in place for great success. I expect his will be a name to remember for a while. Not just here on the Texas Music scene, but watch for him on a larger more National scale. It looks like he is on the right path and the guy has nothing in his way to slow him down.
twitter @RichOtoole

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