By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
Big Dad Ritch wasn't so sure at first that he liked the label his peers slapped on his band, Texas Hippie Coalition.
"Red Dirt Metal." Sounded like a joke.
"It got back to us, and we thought it was funny," Ritch said. (Big Dad? Not sure how I should attribute him, but that's my problem, not yours.)
But it started to stick. Cody Canada used it. Kevin Fowler used it.
Finally the band accepted it: "It looks like we created a genre here," Ritch said of their thought process. "We might want to quit making fun of it. Now, it's a badge of merit for us. We wear it with honor."
By melding the distinctive style of Texas/Red Dirt country and a screaming metal beat, THC — which recently released its latest album, Dark Side of Black — can find itself commanding any number of stages for a broad range of audiences — such as its upcoming return to Amarillo for a 9 p.m. Wednesday show at Midnight Rodeo, 4400 S. Georgia St. Also performing are Shaman's Harvest and Amarillo/Pampa rock band City Will Shake. Cover is $16 in advance and $20 day of show.
"We get to take stages with bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Nazareth and Bad Company and then get to do shows with bands like Judas Priest and Mötley Crüe and ... not only that, but we've done shows with Gary Allan, David Allan Coe, Cross Canadian Ragweed. We can pretty much cross over all genres," Ritch said.
The band's name is no accident, Ritch said. (Nor, presumably, are the initials, though Ritch wouldn't bite when I implied it might be a reference to cannabis.)
"We're from Texas, and that's something I'm very proud about," Ritch said. "I think Texas is one of the greatest nations in the world.
"The 'Hippie' part is a tribute to my fathe and mother. They never cut my hair, and I grew up having to whip people's a-- who asked if I was a boy or a girl," he continued. "And it's that hippie way of life, too — always trying to be there for others, to just enjoy life and be real tribal.
"And 'Coalition' is so fans can feel like they're part of the band," he said. "Our fans are really just an extension of our family."
And the family is widespread.
"We probably spend at least 150 to 200 days on the road," Ritch said. "We put more miles on our tires than any motorcycle club in the nation.
"Man, you know, at a young age, my dad was a gypsy. We were all over the place," he continued. "So for me, it's pretty much the norm."
Ritch, who looks like a super-sized member of ZZ Top, compared the band's show to a Mötley Crüe show: "We get the party going."
"The difference between a THC show and another show is like if you watch a hockey game on TV, it's just a game, but if you're there in person and with the energy in the room and everybody going crazy, it's just that much more intense," Ritch said. "I can tell sometimes when we have an hour-and-a-half show, you can see people start to wear out like a fat George Foreman in Round 10.
"But the energy they give us, we feed off of it like sharks. Our show is one of the craziest shows."