Exclusive Interview: Turnpike’s R.C. Edwards

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This weekend College Station welcomes the Turnpike Troubadours at the Wolf Pen Creek Amphitheatre. They will be performing on October 1 with William Clark Green and Shane Smith & The Saints. To get more insight, we talked to bassist R.C. Edwards.

MW: Hey RC! Thanks for talking with me today. To start off, can you tell me which artists have influenced you?

RC: Mostly Jason Boland & the Stragglers–they are kind of our ‘big brother’ band. They helped us get started, they’ve been great friends and great influences. We kind of grew up where there were a lot of cool bands from Oklahoma: Cross Canadian Ragweed, Jason Boland, and The Great Divide. They made it cool to play this kind of music and turned people like us onto it. And then it leads on to their influences, and you go down a rabbit hole and end up at John Prine and the big Americana influences all the way to Hank Sr.

MW: That’s a huge range of influences, and really cool that you guys had a band help you along in the beginning phases of your musical career. Where do you think the genre of Red Dirt is headed?

RC: That’s a good question. Half the time I don’t even know what the genre of red dirt is. It’s more like a community than a genre to me. There’s everything from garage rock bands to country swing bands to honky tonk bands and everything in between. So it’s always headed a lot of different directions.

MW: Because the genre is so huge, there are a ton of other great bands in it. Who would you like to go on tour with?

RC: American Aquarium is always a go-to and we’re playing with them at a festival this weekend and they’re one of our favorites. And we love doing shows with The Stragglers. One of our favorite bands that we’ve been playing with is Shane Smith & the Saints; they’re a great band. We’re fixing to do a tour with them and that’s going to be a blast.

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MW: What influences you the most when writing a song? Are any songs based off of personal stories of yours?

RC: That depends on what the song is about, and that could be anything, like a story you heard or something that happened to you or happened to a friend of yours. Almost all of them are based on personal stories. Some are fictionalized but 90% of them are about friends or family members and then we take some poetic license with that.

MW: What of those songs you’ve been able to write would you say fueled your career?

RC: The first one that really did get on the radio was “Every Girl” so I guess that’s when stuff started taking off and never looked back from there. But they’re all meaningful and have fueled our career. We’re a very song-driven band so I’d say all of them.

MW: So what do you think will be your next move after this tour wraps up?

RC: Next year we’re got some studio time and the European tour during the first several months of next year. We’re going to do another album and the European tour and we’ve been there a handful of times.

MW: All bands have a story of how they found each other. How did Turnpike Troubadores get together?

RC: We were all playing in different bands around Oklahoma and it’s not a very big place or a musical scene, so you get to know everybody, and at some point, we just kind of joined forces. Most of had our own bands, we were the front men from different bands, and kind of teamed up.

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