Red-the color of blood
Metal- high-energy rock music
Texas Hippie Coalition hails from the land of blood-colored earth, the land notorious for its country music and twangy guitar sound, and combines the sounds of the South with high-energy rock music. The result of a marriage of two genres, Texas Hippie Coalition is a lovechild of incredible volume and force.
In their latest record Dark Side of Black, released April 22, THC chose to explore the metal side of their custom-made genre. Take track two, called “Angel Fall,” which has less of a Southern feel than prior albums. Beautiful arpeggios and a soft drumbeat will lull you into a comfortable, dreamlike state, before bass and drums scream, “HAHA JUST KIDDING!” Big Dad Ritch himself, blasting full force, follows this wonderful introduction, balls out and guns blazing, ready to slam your ears with a voice made of liquefied steel and Texas dirt.
Despite his talent and awesome hair, Exall is a shockingly normal dude, willing to chat about Smoke Hollow, food, the new THC album, Sons of Texas, and his family.
“We got together with these cats named Jason Williams and Ralf Mueggler and we started churning out some music and it really turned into something,” started Exall. Set to release in early June, their debut album is still being eagerly awaited.
“We wanted to make sure it didn’t sound like Texas Hippie Coalition and it didn’t sound like Kill Devil Hill,” Exall said of the upcoming album. “It’s got its own legs, man. It’s going to be awesome. It’s hard to describe because I get all excited! I get all tongue-tied about it!”
Exall also mentioned the exciting news of a Smoke Hollow tour after THC’s summer on the road, so keep all eyes peeled for some fall dates from SH.
“I’m more of a meat-eater myself,” laughed Exall. But Big Dad Ritch, Exall recalled, “goes and gets this big thing of soup. I don’t know how he does it, but my boy can put it down. The raw fish stuff—if it’s not cooked, I’m not eating it.”
He will, however, eat food that’s still alive, but if it’s dead, it’s got to be cooked.
Big Dad Ritch also has Red River Red’s hot sauce line, including his ‘Buckin Crazy Bar B Que Sauce,’ which is dubbed ‘sauce for outlaws’ and is ‘BDR approved.’
Exall said about Big Dad Ritch’s spicy sauce, “I don’t do very hot stuff, but I tried it one time. I dipped a little piece of chip in there and I thought I was going to die!” He laughed, saying, “I can’t eat that hot stuff. He’ll just sit there and eat it and sweat. I’ll sit there and shoot fire out and freak out.”
It turns out that THC stays very well fed because BDR is quite a cook.
“The dude can cook. Every time we go over, he’s got something new going on,” said Exall. “His steaks are awesome. We’re from Texas so we know how to cook pretty cool.”
Since THC is from Texas, and Texans do know how to cook pretty cool, I had to ask Exall the best place to get barbeque in his hometown of Sherman.
“There’s this little roadside stand, and there’s this old retired cop who makes us barbeque and that’s where I go.”
All this talk about food made me pretty hungry, and I assumed Exall would be, too, so I offered him some goldfish. However, he had to refuse on the grounds that he has a severe goldfish addiction and didn’t think it’d be right to eat all of them.
“[We] went back to our roots… There’s still some Southern rock on it, but we stepped it up. You can go from ‘Knee Deep,’ who’s got that slow Southern feel, and then you bust out on something like ‘Angel Fall,’ which is just more metal,” he said. “We really wanted to spread our wings, man. And that had a lot to do with getting to work with Sterling Winfield. He’s worked with the great Pantera, he’s done Damageplan, he’s done Hellyeah… He’s really opened up the doors for us and made us focus on this album. I’ve got much love for him.”
I asked Exall what song he’s most proud of on the album, but he says he’s proud of the whole album, that he can’t pick just one song.
“Cord Pool, our guitar player, really stepped up his game, and just killed it,” said Exall. This led to one of at least two Cord Pool cheerleading sessions, where Exall and I both gushed fangirlingly about Pool’s incredible guitar skills.
“He’s 26 and doesn’t even know how good he is yet,” boasted Exall like a proud father. “I keep telling him, ‘I don’t know when you’re going to get with a real band, but when you do, you’re going to be BADASS!’”
The familial adoration Exall has for Cord Pool reminded me of THC’s ‘younger brother,’ who hails from McAllen, Texas: Sons of Texas. Having toured with THC and playing a similar Southern rock style, Sons of Texas easily appears like THC’s baby brother (which does mean THC is Big Brother, but I wouldn’t worry too much about that).
From electrifying guitar riffs in “Bury the Hatchet” to soothing yet heart-wrenching vocals in “September,” Sons of Texas demonstrates promise on every musical front.
“We just got off tour with those guys last night, and I was sad to see them go,” said Exall.
Exall recalled the final night on the tour when everyone from Sons of Texas jumped on stage for the final song, “Pissed Off And Mad About It,” and ran around with THC.
“I am going to miss watching them every night,” said Exall. “I learned something every day.”
“They’re all musically inclined,” Exall said happily. “They all like to sing and play, and my son likes to act. He’s in all the drama classes at school.”
It is a known difficulty, having a family and being a touring musician. “I get to do something I love, but I’m always away from my family. It’s the way I keep a roof over their heads and shoes on their feet, so it’s an even trade,” he explained.
But when it comes time to head home after a long tour, Exall said he can’t wait to come home.
“I’m ready to hug my kids, kiss my wife, play with my dogs, and go to sleep. All at one time,” Exall said.
“I like to think of myself as timeless.”
--John Exall, 2016
Zoe Adler is a music journalist from Long Beach, California. She is the editor and founder of TeenView Music and editor-in-chief of her school’s newspaper, as well as a dedicated musician. As principal flutist of her school’s orchestra and band as well as a bass trombonist in jazz, she believes that she would not have a life if it weren’t for music.