No more apologies for Rodney Parker: Texas singer relishes freedom of following his own instincts
By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
No matter what Rodney Parker may have been apologizing for on his last two albums, he's finished saying sorry now.
Parker — frontman for the DFW-based Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward — will celebrate the release of the band's latest album, Bomber Heights, with a slew of concerts, including one at 10 p.m. Thursday in Amarillo's Golden Light Cantina, 2906 S.W. Sixth Ave.; cover is $5.
His last two albums — 2010's The Apology, Part 1 and 2012's The Apology, Part 2 — are now firmly in his rearview mirror, and when listeners hear the new music, Parker hopes they hear a new spirit — one without any expressions of regret.
"Yes, that's a good way to put it," Parker said. "All that does is make it worse when you try to put some limits on your creativity. I don't care what we do, as long as it's not that."
On The Apology EPs, Parker was trying to capitalize on the national breakthrough of his sophomore album, 2008's The Lonesome Dirge.
"The past couple of albums ... was us trying to follow the rules that people tell you about to get, especially, radio success — stay under four minutes (per song), get to the chorus in 30 seconds, don't make it too complicated lyrically," Parker said.
"Tell Me What It Is," Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward
It wasn't that the band wanted to make "saccharine pop country hits," but even trying to fall under the mainstream Texas country umbrella required compromises Parker is no longer willing to make.
"In this business, when you start getting some traction or whatever, that's when people start telling you stuff about how you have to be to take it to the next level, so maybe you start believing it or taking it seriously enough to think there's some truth to it," Parker said. "There are parts on each one that I dislike and parts I really love and parts that I was thinking even when I was doing it that I'd never do this again."
The difference is clear on Bomber Heights, Parker hopes.
"Once someone hears the record, it'll be obvious," Parker said. "It kind of expands in ways we haven't before.
"There's stuff that sounds pretty country, stuff that sounds very rock 'n' roll," he continued. "We have a horn section on some songs ... and a bunch of crazy instrumentations. ... There are some songs that are longer than anyone thinks they should be — except us."
It's not that the album was made "just to see how crazy we could make it," Parker said — just ways that, he hopes, make it better.
And if that means he's not Texas country anymore — well, that's fine, too.
"That genre and the definition of that genre is changing a lot, very fast, and in different ways," Parker said. "I don't know if we still fall in line with it or not. If we do, we're barely on the edge of the umbrella."