Red Dirt Star Stoney LaRue Talks Velvet, Growth and The Grateful Dead
Stoney LaRue is a house hold name on the Texas/Red Dirt Scene thanks to his rough tour schedule, sharp song writing and originality. Stoney headlined the ATO Gator Fest on Friday, September 2nd, here in Lubbock. That's where we got the chance to sit down and play six years of catch up with the Red Dirt pioneer. We talked everything from the release of his new album, Velvet, to working with Frank Liddell to musical influences.
Here is the interview, in its entirety, from that evening.
99.5 The Bear: Six years is a long time between albums. What was the wait on Velvet?
Stoney LaRue: It’s quality and not quantity. It’s still art. That goes along with touring 263 days a year.
99.5 The Bear: Since your last album and your newest you did your Live at Billy Bob’s record. What did that album mean for you?
Stoney LaRue: It was kind of a launching for a career. It was a first goal for a lot of musicians to try to come down to the south and play in Texas. That’s defiantly one of those things you want to do. I put a band together and two weeks later we recorded Live at Billy Bob’s. So we went from nothing to everything pretty quick.
99.5 The Bear: I talked to Sean McConnell a few weeks back and he was mentioning that it’s awe inspiring to walk into a place like Billy Bob’s and see the wall with everyone’s name on it. Did you check a little choked up or nervous about playing Billy Bob’s and doing the record?
Stoney LaRue: Not so much choked up, I had this go getter attitude like I planned on it. Obviously I’m very blessed and I look at that every day as me giving my thanks, but I defiantly have my goals too.
99.5 The Bear: Your new album, Velvet, came out just last week. What does this album and it finally being released mean to you?
Stoney LaRue: Well it was collaboration with a great group of guys and gals. The actual art of the CD is velvet. We kept the writing on the case to a minimum so people can look at the album and think it’s cool. It’s a reflection of what’s inside. It’s simple but also awe inspiring to see something like that. It’s a quality…I don’t want to say product. It’s a piece of art.
99.5 The Bear: You mentioned working with a great group on this record and one of those is Frank Liddell? What was it like working with Frank [Miranda Lambert, Lee Ann Womack, and Chris Knight] on this album?
Stoney LaRue: He’s worked with quite a few people. He started a record label with a couple of people, myself included, and it’s called B Side Records and I’m the first album on it. I don’t know how much of that I can release but I can say that we started a label.
99.5 The Bear: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen musically over the span of the past five or six years?
Stoney LaRue: I’ll say growth and I think the road reflects that. It reflects it in writing but maybe not stylistically because it was a new venture. When you challenge yourself open your “nut shell” if you will. Your willingness to do more things is more acceptable. To you, it’s not a fear or anxiety anymore.
99.5 The Bear: How many changes do you think you made in the last three years? You mentioned it took three years to do the album but do you think changes came quicker in those three years than the three years prior?
Stoney LaRue: It’s always change. It’s always constant. I started writing for the album a couple of years ago, but the initial meeting with Frank, seed to grain, was about four years ago. I still continued writing with the same people I had been writing with; not to say that’s good or bad. I started collaborating with a guy named Mando Saenz from Corpus Christi but lives in Nashville. He writes with Frank and after I started collaborating with him I realized we had this awesome thing going on. Nine out of the ten songs I wrote on the album was with Mando. “Wire Grass” I wrote with Adam Hood.
99.5 The Bear: What’s the story behind the single “Velvet?”
Stoney LaRue: I’ll give you part of it because I want you listen to it and grab something out of it because I don’t write just for me. It’s a reflection of what I see; the culture of music if you will. Not to get too spaced out and cosmic, but it can go as deep as you want.
99.5 The Bear: Is there anyone out there you still want to work with, either behind the scenes or on a track?
Stoney LaRue: Always. I haven’t made a list but there are people who I run into and say they want to do something. It’s going to be a big part of my career; the production side of music. That’s either going to be my own or someone else’s.
99.5 The Bear: What are the biggest changes you have seen in Red Dirt/Texas Country scene?
Stoney LaRue: This is a hard one. Red Dirt, whenever Texas started recognizing it about 10 years ago, started out with one common theme. It was a group of people who traveled around and helped each other out instead of battling each other. It’s more of spirituality than a surface genre. Now people jump on a band wagon, and that’s cool. Music is for everybody, but to be a part of something at its creation is the most beautiful and sacred part.
99.5 The Bear: Who are some of your favorites on the Red Dirt/Texas Country scene?
Stoney LaRue: Band of Heathens, Jason Boland and I guess all my pals and people I knew to begin with. Sean McConnell’s music is great. God, I’m going to be martyred for this because I’m going to leave people out who I didn’t mean to. Turnpike Troubadours and Whiskey Myers are great. These are guys doing their own thing. It follows a rootsy, organic application; whether it is rock and roll or folk or bluegrass or country.
99.5 The Bear: Outside of the Texas Scene, who do you like?
Stoney LaRue: I listen to the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan and Neil Young.
99.5 The Bear: Do you hear those bands come across in your music, either on purpose or accidentally?
Stoney LaRue: It has to in some way, doesn’t it? It’s just a reflection of the soul and you’ll see that in a lot of the writing. Mike McClure is a big part of that too. In fact, a song that I just finished about three weeks ago we did on stage and we went to the refrain and I thought it sounded like a Mike McClure song. It had that big of an impact on me at an early age in my writing.
99.5 The Bear: Let’s switch gears and do a little name association. You say the first thing that comes to your mind when I say an artist’s name.
Brandon Rhyder – Golden Throat
Wade Bowen – Muse Face
Jason Boland – Conspiracy Theory
Robert Earl Keen – Oracle
Willie Nelson –Busted (Stoney laughs while answering)
99.5 The Bear: Will you be taking six years to make the next album?
Stoney LaRue: I don’t know, man. I’ve never been good at telling the future, but this is a growth process for me. It’s just like whenever you’re in a certain part of a light; people will expect and anticipate and will have their opinion and two cents about it. I guess that’s necessary to have a fan base but I don’t think it will take that long. I already have enough music for two more albums.
99.5 The Bear: What’s left for 2011?
Stoney LaRue: I guess that will be more writing, growth, application and hopefully a lot of good times, smiles and gratitude.