TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION – “When Good Men Do Nothing, Evil Men Prevail”

April 19, 2023, a year ago

By Aaron Small

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TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION – “When Good Men Do Nothing, Evil Men Prevail”

Heavy Southern rock band Texas Hippie Coalition will release their seventh studio album, The Name Lives On, April 21 via MNRK Music. The ten-track affair kicks off with a beyond catchy, ultra-energetic song called “Hell Hounds”, which also serves as the first single and video.  

THC vocalist Big Dad Ritch isn’t shy when it comes to sharing his recollections of bringing that prodigious number to life. “You know, when I was younger, everybody wanted to be a lion or a wolf or a tiger, a bear. I was pretty content with just being a hound dog. Elvis’ song ‘Hound Dog’, I figure if it’s good enough for Elvis to be a hound dog, it’s good enough for me to be a hound dog. So, I always just stuck with that. My whole life, when I was a young kid, I’ve never been above going and digging a hole underneath a tree, just to find a cool, cold spot. Still to this day, when I eat a T-bone, I don’t care if I’m in public, I’m going to gnaw on that bone a little bit. Get that good meat, you know what I mean. Then when it comes to… I had this trick I used to do. When you pass a bottle of moonshine around in a mason jar, if everybody sips it or pours it into their mouth, you could have a giant circle, and everybody will take a drink. But if you lapped that moonshine out of the Mason jar with your tongue, and you pass it around, most people will just pass. But it’s the other hound dogs in the circle that’ll lap right back at you. So, you’ve got to be careful. All those things about me just make me the hound dog.” 

“And hound dogs are good dogs. They’re lovable, but in truth, they’re hunters. When I was young and we used to hunt varmints, my Papa would take me raccoon hunting, or maybe we even had some coyotes that were coming up and messing with the chickens. We would have to go out and coyote hunt, or something like that. Just those dogs, they become these ferocious beasts in that moment they’re on the hunt. They’re almost unstoppable. They won’t follow command too good. They don’t heel like they should. I’ve chased coon dogs through the woods, all night long, not being able to find ‘em ‘til morning. It happens, and I always say, so many of us are just content with sitting back in our homes, and letting whatever happens, happen. I feel like even worldwide; I’m not speaking about this just nationally when it comes to The United States. But worldwide, we seem to be losing freedoms that so many people have died and shed blood for. I don’t want to lose those freedoms anymore.” 

“It’s kind of like me calling out to everyone, ‘Hey, I know you’re comfortable in your home, and I know you’re a good person. You think that good is going to overcome evil.’ And that’s true. It should always. But, when good men do nothing, evil men prevail. I just think it’s a call for good men, good women, to come forward and start doing everything they can to not only – of course you want to make it better, but my goal is just to keep it as good as it’s always been. If it gets better, well, there you have it. The time has come to release the hell hounds is what I’m saying.” 

“I love the way the song goes because most songs have a verse, a pre-chorus, a chorus, and then it’s done. But this has verse, pre-chorus, chorus, post-chorus; and the post-chorus is so good! Where I take it vocally, it just comes to this great place. The song to me is so reminiscent of bands that I’ve often wanted to be able to represent. When I think of it, I think back to… I know it’s still Texas Hippie Coalition and it’s very modern, it’s who we are. But when you used to listen to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, those songs were like novels. They were so epic! I really wanted to be able to… we do songs that are arena songs and party songs. But I wanted something that could not only tell the story but could come across as a movie you’ll be talking about for years to come.”

Mission accomplished as the video for “Hell Hounds”, which can be viewed below, is presented as a mini movie that needs to be seen again and again. “I really wanted to have the point come across in the beginning that I was coming into town, and the storm was following me – the tornados, the clouds, the rain, the lightning; all of that was coming with me,” says Big Dad Ritch. “You get the foredrawn warning in the beginning with the moon and the dog howling. It’s just set up for somebody riding in to take care of business. The rest of the video is him riding out while everything’s blowing up. The Hell Hounds need to be released, and they were released! It’s one of my favorite videos I’ve ever done, to tell you the truth.”

The artwork for the “Hell Hounds” single is so good, that could have been the album cover if the record was called Hell Hounds, as opposed to The Name Lives On. “Man, I’m telling you, we have had this character, named Bob Wire, which is the character that you see there. We’ve had him for a long time; we use him here and there. But Samuel Santos, he’s the artist. He does some great stuff! His pictures of Batman, his post-Star Wars era Luke Skywalker, are some of the best I’ve ever seen; it’s gorgeous! When I told him about Bob Wire, and we went over how we wanted the artwork, he was able to piece this together… they say that all artists, no matter what your art is, 73% of us or more are mentally offset. He reached into his brain, and he pulled up a great piece of artwork. I absolutely love it! And I agree, if the album was Hell Hounds, that definitely would have been the album cover. But the title track being The Name Lives On… actually, the album cover, to me, because I’m so heavily influenced by country music, Southern vibe music, Americana, that when I see that album cover that we have there, it just hits me, it’s like home. It feels very comfortable.”

Big Dad Ritch elaborates further upon the Bob Wire character. “You know, Mötley Crüe’s got Allister Fiend, there’s Eddie from Iron Maiden. I’ve always wanted to do something like that. And when it comes to our name, Texas Hippie Coalition, we’re THC – a band of outlaws. Pantera was CFH – Cowboys From Hell. I just kind of flipped it, where the initials come from the name. You just learn from others, and take what has been successful for others, and try to make it work for you. When you say THC now, when you Google it, we’re either one, two, or three.”

Texas Hippie Coalition underwent a lineup change prior to recording The Name Lives On. It’s the first THC album to feature Joey Mandigo (Locust Grove, Deity) on drums. Joey replaced Devon Carothers, who left the band in January 2021. “Devon came in after we lost Timmy Braun. Devon filled in. He wasn’t on the album, but we brought him in for the pictures,” explains Big Dad Ritch. “I use Devon with my country band, Stoned Cowboys. Devon is a great drummer, but he was never the perfect fit for Texas Hippie Coalition, and Joey is. Joey gives us the mentality that we needed from behind the drum kit, which is someone that could drive everything forward. He’s a beast! He hits so hard. When we were in the studio working with (producer) Bob Marlette, Bob has quite often had trouble with drummers we’ve brought in, in the past. Even when I worked with (producer) David Prater, he had problems with the drummers. But it seems as though Joey was delivering everything that Bob asked for. I feel like he did a fantastic job. It’s actually some of my favorite drums, on any album, ever. I have to go all the way back to the first album, which had Cowboy Scott Lytle on it. He was perfect for THC, with his kind of lazy, drunken style of Southern rock drums. I’d have to say since Cowboy, Joey’s definitely done the best job.”

Joey plays what needs to be played; never too little, never too much. “Yeah. That has a lot to do with… his style is just to give the song what it needs. But also having Chris Marlette and Bob Marlette there to – the reason I work with these guys so much is because this is the way I think when it comes to the songs: lend to the song what it needs. Don’t try to do something that is going to be above it or below it. Always try to make sure it’s lending itself to the song. One thing that I have in my lead guitar player, Cord Pool, he is perfect at that. He always makes sure that he delivers right in the sweet spot. I’m lucky to have these people to work with.”

Looking at the tracklisting for The Name Lives On, “License To Kill” immediately brings 007, James Bond, to mind. Upon listening to the song, it’s clear that Ian Fleming’s secret service agent was not the inspiration. “Yeah, I mean it’s so hard to use a title these days that hasn’t already been used. But I’m a big Bond fan, of course. I think that ‘License To Kill’, this song, it’s just about… in the lyrical content: ‘I ain’t saying I have, I ain’t saying I will, but I’ve got a license to kill.’ If you don’t want to ever admit to something,” chuckles Big Dad Ritch. “The song is just about… you may not want to be a killer, but sometimes, when it comes to the defense of your family, or you standing up for what is right… you might have to not turn the other cheek. You may have to turn and fight. When it says, ‘Run and tell your little sister,’ everybody’s got to be involved: momma, daddy. Sometimes you’re in that position where everyone has to go to war. That’s one thing I try to express to people at shows, I’m at a war to keep families together. I think family creates morals; morals create better people. Your family may not be blood kin, your family may be dysfunctional, your family may be this or that. But if you have a family, that’s the beginning of a core thing that can help you through life. I love my family so much! I wish I could be more to ‘em and more for ‘em, and I strive every day to be a family man. It’s hard to do when you’re on the road all the time, but I try my hardest. I hope to instill in others – work on that family unit. A stronger family, a stronger home. A stronger home, a stronger house. A stronger house, a stronger community. A stronger community, a stronger state, a stronger nation.”

“Hard Habit” appears as though it could be about alcoholism. “It’s kind of about everything. It does touch base on alcoholism. But it’s actually more like… I kind of, in my head, I picture a club, a bar, a tavern, a saloon that everybody goes to. Then the pandemic hit, and you can’t go there; it’s closed. It’s a hard habit to break, going to this place and being a part of it. When I think of a video, that’s kind of what I envision. People driving by and being mad that’s it’s not open. Then when it opens, everything goes crazy. When Bob Marlette was talking to me about the song; he’s the composer on this one, he helped me write it. When I was writing the lyrics, he was like, ‘Were you… what’s the habit?’ I said, the habit could be the girl. She’s the habit. He doesn’t want to – you’re a hard habit to break. You’re something I just can’t shake. But it could just be the alcohol. It is the smoke. It is whatever enjoyment in life. I really want to leave it wide open for the listener to put their meaning into it.” 

“If you have a habit, why just have a habit? Make sure it’s a hard habit,” continues Big Dad Ritch. “Different kinds of people have different habits. If there was a video to it, a woman comes in, the music stops, and she tells him it’s me or the alcohol; and the club just opened back up. They’re all just now getting back in there after the pandemic. He gets up, she’s walking towards the door, and he’s walking towards the door with her. He opens up the door, she steps outside. And when she steps outside, he shuts the door and locks it, and turns around. The music comes back up loud, and everybody starts drinking again. But I just want everybody to know that I really left it open for the listener’s take on it. My dad sat me down a long time ago and talked to me about alcohol. He said, ‘Do you understand what I’m saying?’ I said, ‘Yes sir. I’m going to be a beer drinker and a hell raiser when I grow up.’ Then he started talking about the effects of drugs and marijuana. He said, ‘Do you understand what I’m saying now?’ I said, ‘Yeah, you’re telling me that I’m going to smoke weed ‘til the day I die.’ He just started laughing. Life is life, and life comes with habits. We’re creatures of habit, habitual beings for sure.”

It can’t be all party, all the time. “I Teach Angels How To Fly” is undoubtedly the most emotional song on the album. That could be the “Ride Or Die” from The Name Lives On. “Yeah, man. That song means a lot to me, for a lot of reasons,” admits Big Dad Ritch. “I touched on it earlier that most artists have some mental issues. I definitely felt like I have struggled mentally with so many different things throughout my life. There’s a lot of people out there that struggle with it. Sometimes the mind can be totally chaotic, and uncontrolled chaos causes for a sick person. I just wanted people to know, there’s a lot of us out there. You’re not the only one. To control the chaos is a very hard thing to do. I do the best I can, and I know other people out there struggling with some kind of mental illness are doing the best they can. In the beginning of that song, when it talks about ‘I ride into the storm,’ it’s letting you know that you can’t stop me. This is how it is. No one can keep you from going into the hurricane, jumping into the tornado. That’s where the struggle is mentally; it’s so hard to help someone. The best I can do is just let people know that are doing that to try their best to help themselves. I think the song, it’s chaotic how it starts out in the beginning, and then where it goes to, it has a great deal of meaning for me.”

(Photos courtesy of Colt Coan)

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