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Terry McBride’s Latest “Callin’ All Hearts”

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Photo Credit Jason Lee Denton

“Callin’ All Hearts” is country songwriting at its best, with its broken (yet in a lighthearted way) message warning for anyone who happens upon a certain 5’2” baby blues lady…

Born and raised in Texas, Terry McBride grew up in Lampasas, a small ranching community about seventy miles northwest of Austin.

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After receiving a guitar for his ninth birthday from his father it wasn’t long before he was playing in local bands and spending summers on the road with his dad. McBride became a sought after bass player in the local music scene and spent the next few years playing with Texas artists.

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In 1989, McBride travelled to Nashville and the songs he had been writing found their way to MCA President Tony Brown, who would later go on to sign him to a recording contract with the label.

His group, McBride & The Ride, recorded four albums for MCA, racking up several top five singles over the next few years, including “Sacred Ground” a #1 Single in 1992.

After McBride & the Ride disbanded, he began to focus most of his attention on songwriting, and through the years since has had songs cut by other artists. In 2004 McBride co-wrote American Idol finalist Josh Gracin’s top five single “Stay With Me/Brass Bed”. He followed that up by co-writing “Play Something Country” with Ronnie Dunn, which was the fastest rising single of Brooks and Dunn’s career and was also the final #1 song for the award winning duo.

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You’ve posted about the guitar your father gave you for your ninth birthday and the Wurlitzer electric piano that he toured with at one time. How has your family influenced your career?

My father was a huge influence. We always had music in our home growing up and having a guy who could play it, explain it and answer any questions I had about guitar or whatever regarding music was a big advantage for a young kid just starting out. Growing up, my Dad was a touring singer, songwriter and was on the road for long periods of time. But when he was home, musicians were coming and going all the time. It was a creative hub of activity at our house. Rehearsals and recordings were always happening. In the 70’s my dad built a recording studio that he worked out of for years. I eventually worked my way in to being the bass player on a lot of sessions. We had some world class musicians from just down the road in Austin, Texas coming to record and playing on projects at our studio. One of those musicians was Reese Wynans. Reese would later go on to play with Stevie Ray Vaughan and is currently part of Joe Bonamassa’s band. Reese went out of his way to help get me a job playing in a band that he was part of and introduced me to several notable musicians, writers and artists in the Austin area.

You auditioned for your father’s (Dale McBride) band after you graduated high school. His biggest hit was “Ordinary Man” in 1976. What are some of his deep cuts that stand out for you?

As a freshman in high school, I was playing in a really popular band in our hometown of Lampasas, Tx. After graduation my dad was touring and having some radio success and he was looking for a new bass player and part time bus driver so I auditioned along with two or three older guys. My dad let his piano player decide who got the gig. Fortunately, I knew the material better and ended up getting the job, but it tells you a little bit about my father. He certainly didn’t play any favoritism when it came to who played in his band. You had to earn it and at the time I probably didn’t get it, but I do now. I became a better musician and a pretty good bus driver as well.

He had a song called “Getting Over You Again.” I really liked that song a lot, and it was actually written by Eddie Rabbitt who was riding a huge wave of success in the 70’s and 80’s. The song was a classic country shuffle with a cool melody and was one of several singles that my dad released during that period in the 70’s.

Saw you were thinking about putting together a playlist of your favorite 90’s country music hits. Which up-and-coming singers most remind you of the 90’s artists?

Well, there are a few out there now, Midland, Jon Pardi, Luke Combs. There are several young Texas artists that I’ve been writing with or have had cuts with, Cody Johnson, Josh Ward and Triston Marez. Drake Milligan on Broken Bow is an up and comer and I have a few songs on his debut record. His love and knowledge of classic country music is impressive and refreshing. He’s certainly one to watch in 2021. Hailey Whitters is another artist that I’ve had the pleasure of writing with lately. I really like her genuine and honest approach to singing and songwriting.

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Your band McBride & The Ride toured with The Judds, Wynonna, and Sawyer Brown in the early 90’s. A standout memory from those tours?

Yeah those Judds tours were pretty life changing, if not career changing, for sure. We went from complete unknowns to opening up in front of 15,000 people overnight. One memorable night was playing the legendary venue The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. As a young musician from a small town in Tx, the Greek Theater seemed like a place you only read about but it was an amazing moment standing and performing on a stage where so many of my heroes had played and it was a little validation that maybe our band was on it’s way. The Sawyer Brown tour was so much fun. Great crowds every night. It was a Crown Royal Tour and we’d just had our first couple hits and things were really starting to take off. We couldn’t wait to take the stage each night. I think we played over 200 shows that year.

You’ve written for Brooks and Dunn, Garth Brooks, Reba, and George Strait. Three of those songs topped the chart. How different is it to write for another artist versus penning a song for yourself?

Being on the road with Brooks and Dunn, I did try to bring ideas that I thought would fit Ronnie and Brooks and Dunn. I mean, I was on the bus 24hrs a day and sometimes for a week or two at a time, so I definitely tried to make the most of it and come prepared with as many ideas as I could. Ronnie and I both loved those stories and melodies and classic sounding types of tunes that a good singer could sing, which Ronnie is, so that was fun for me. Every year my friend and co-writer Marv Green and I would try writing something for George Strait. One of those songs was a tune called “Always Never The Same” which went on to be the title cut for one of George’s albums. With Ronnie Dunn our tastes were very similar and we had a lot of things in common especially when it came to music, songs and artists so that was a big help when it came to sharing ideas and writing songs. Being on the road with a group for thirteen years you get to know each other pretty well and I could gauge what type of tunes Brooks and Dunn were looking for and I had complete access to the guy who was singing those hits. I ended up having close to thirty cuts with Brooks and Dunn and thirteen singles. We probably wrote ninety percent of our songs going down the road after a show in the bus. We used that after show energy you get from a great crowd and on more than one occasion we channeled that energy into a hit song.

Now I’m trying to figure out what I want to say and write for myself. I want it to be something different and personal moving forward as an artist. I’m looking forward to spending a little time by myself and writing some songs that fit me for where I’m at in my career and where I’m at in my life.

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“I’m at a point where I think I need help”. For you, rehab gave you back your life from the grip alcohol had on it for many years. What advice would you offer someone struggling to regain control of their life?

I think with addiction of any kind the first step to recovery is realizing you have a problem. You can have a serious problem and still be in denial, which goes hand in hand with addiction. At one point in my career, when I was having the most success, I was also abusing alcohol the most, so it was confusing and a tough decision to want to put the brakes on my lifestyle at the time, but I could see the toll it was taking on those around me and finally I got to the point where I wanted something better for them and for myself and it had to start with me realizing I had a problem. I don’t miss it, or long for it and I don’t miss all of the time wasted dealing with. For me, being sober is a freeing feeling. Now I’m in control and I like it instead of being completely out of control like I was for so many years. I’ve been sober for ten years now and I’m a better person because of it. Everybody is different but recovery all starts with realizing you have a problem and wanting to do something about it. That’s where I was. I couldn’t just talk about getting better anymore I had to actually do something and getting help was the first step.

“Callin’ All Hearts” is from your upcoming solo album “Rebels & Angels” (October 23).

How did you choose it as the first single? And what is the backstory of the track?

It’s the first song we actually wrote with Luke Laird and it sort of got the ball rolling and it led to booking another day and writing another song and then another and another. I feel that “Callin’ All Hearts” is the best example of a guy from the 90s still recording something today. It’s got a classic vibe with a contemporary modern arrangement which is a combination I really like.

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Luke Laird produced your new work. You’ve known each other for close to 20 years. Of his 24 #1 songs which is your favorite?

It’s one thing to have one #1, let alone 24 but some of my favorites would be, Jon Pardi’s “Head Over Boots”, Kacey Musgraves’ “Space Cowboy”, and Eric Church’s “Drink In My Hand.” That leaves about 21 other great songs that I didn’t mention and those are just the number one’s!

You said you wanted your new music to have “a sound with a little bit of an edge and a coolness”. How was Luke able to create this?

Well first of all, Luke is just a cool guy. Musically he’s brilliant, and cool things come from people that are that creative. He did a great job of casting the sessions which helped create the right vibe and feel for the session. It was a cool experience, with cool tracks, and it was over way too soon for me. We all had a blast and that’s always a good indicator you’re doing something good. I love those types of moments and that’s what you live for as an artist, musician and singer.

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You returned to the stage after close to 20 years away. Why did you decide to come back when you did?

Really it was through the encouragement from the team of people I had around me at that particular time. They were very adamant about me doing some kind of recording project. I was really comfortable not performing, because if you sign on to create and release new music it’s quite a commitment. It’s a commitment to tour and support the record and I knew in order to do that it would require a lot of rehearsing on my part. I was a little apprehensive at the beginning, 20 years is a long time and those days of playing 200 dates a year were obviously way behind me. When you’re constantly touring, you’re polished and it’s routine and you’re at the top of your game, but taking 20 years off, it takes a while to get that back and I knew I’d have to put the time in, which I did. Singing is one thing, but my shows are a 90 minute set with just me and my guitar, so I wanted to be strong vocally and equally as strong with my guitar playing. I played about forty dates last year and I got better with each show but I’m still practicing and working on getting even better.

“Are You With Me”. What songs have helped you through the indefinite pause on touring as the pandemic continues?

Just continuing to be able to write some and having a close group of friends that are great writers and artists has helped a lot, especially while touring and traveling isn’t happening at the moment. This record has come along at a great time and has allowed me to pour my thoughts, energy and ideas into creating ways to get the message out about my new music. I’ve got a great team of talented people helping me on a daily basis and I feel very fortunate to still be recording and releasing new music.

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