Terry McBride met Grammy winning songwriter and producer Luke Laird 20 years ago, in the late 1990’s, when he was out on the road working with Brooks & Dunn, doing meet and greets and selling merchandise for the duo. McBride was on the road with them, hanging out with Ronnie Dunn and writing songs.
“At that time he was just a young guy, and I had no idea he was a musician or songwriter,” McBride says of Laird. “He never shared that with me, I just liked him personally. He would ride the bus with us sometimes and we would sit and talk on those long trips. Later on, he asked me if I remembered the time we went to Canada and Ronnie and I wrote ‘That’s What She Gets For Loving Me?’ I told him I did and he said he was knocked out at how quickly we wrote that song.”
Things changed and the two lost touch. It was several years before McBride and Laird crossed paths again, at a CMA Awards show. Laird came up to McBride and said they should go to lunch, and that was when the two of them started writing songs together. The first song they wrote, “Calling All Hearts,” became the first single off McBride’s new album, Rebels and Angels, out today (Friday, October 23, 2020).
“We wrote a few more songs and Luke said we should go in and cut them. They turned out so well Luke thought I should turn it into a project, so I asked him if he wanted to produce it,” McBride says. “He said ‘Absolutely’ and it went forward from there.
“Luke is so versatile, he doesn’t do just one thing. He cut his teeth on 90’s country music and he really liked McBride & The Ride (McBride’s trio that had hits including “Sacred Ground” and “Going Out Of My Mind”) so it was a good fit.”
Laird and his wife, who founded Creative Nation, home to some of the Nashville’s top songwriters, producers and artists, partnered with McBride on the album. While they didn’t know where it would lead when they started the project, they all believed in each other and worked hard to pull in outside songs as well as tunes written or co-written by McBride and Laird. McBride went back on the road last year while they were working on it and discovered that there was still a lot of interest in him and his music, both that from the trio and from the solo EP he released in 2017, Hotels & Highways. In fact, McBride had bookings in 2020 but they were cancelled when the pandemic hit the world. He hopes to carry those dates into 2021 and already has a few on the books for next year. There is even talk of McBride & The Ride getting together for a few dates next year if things open up again.
“Going out on the road last year was a test to see how I would hold up,” McBride now admits. “It was no glamour tour for sure, but it gave me a lot of confidence to move forward, to feel I can make a difference. My social media presence is growing I have a lot of original fans, then their kids are new fans, and I am getting a whole group of new fans.”
McBride believes this album will continue to introduce his solo music to a new audience. The first single opened some doors and the second single, the title cut from the album, featuring Patty Loveless, was co-written by McBride and Chris Stapleton.
“Luke asked me what I would be interested in bringing to the record, and I had this song I loved that I had written with Chris Stapleton,” McBride tells the story of how Patty got involved on the record. “I loved that song, and I knew it would never be recorded because it is so country and it’s a waltz– it was such a throwback.
“I was listening to the story line of the song one day and I realized it lends itself perfectly for a duet, being all about rebels and angels. I thought wouldn’t it be cool if I sang the first verse and a female sang the second verse. One of my favorite singers is Patty Loveless. The first tour I did with McBride & The Ride was Desert Rose and Patty and us. So I sent the song to Luke and said I’d love to have Patty on it, and he emailed her and then she called me.
“I was like being a fan boy talking to Patty, and she told me, ‘I sang on Bob Seger’s album last year and this year I’m gonna sing on your album.’ She was so gracious and so sweet. Even to this day she shares all about the song on socials, and it gets a lot of response to that in the streaming world because of Patty’s involvement. We are on over 300 playlists at the moment. Her fans are over the top excited about it.”
Loveless is not the only guest on the album. Delbert McClinton, whose band McBride was in for a couple years, recorded “Went For One,” a song McBride and Brice Long wrote specifically about the days he was in McClinton’s band.
The chorus says it all … “we went for one and stayed for two” … and McBride admits the songs is truthful to the days he was on the road with McClinton. “It tells you where we were in those days,” he says with a laugh. “I wanted the song to be more light hearted, because we had fun together. When we were on the road he would dare me to do something after we’d been drinking tequila and then he would film it. The second verse of this song is true.
“He was gracious to come over and record this with me. I love him. We did wonderful things when I was with him. We did Farm Aid in 1980, toured with Huey Lewis when he was on top of the world. We did 30 dates with John Fogerty, went to parties with Dan Ackroyd — it was wonderful. Delbert was that kind of artist, he got in on some wonderful things.”
“If you’ve seen him or if you haven’t, do yourself a favor and go see him and his band. I learned a lot from him about how to pace a show. A couple of years went by way too quick. I loved all of it.”
McBride has an interesting background. He played in several bands while in high school and upon graduation in 1977, had to audition to play in his father’s band, Dale McBride and the Music Masters.
“Dad was on Con Brio Records at the time, a label out of Nashville, and we were serious full-time touring. The band had to choose which of us who auditioned was going to get the slot. I had been around dad so long and I knew all the material, so they hired me. I became the bass player and the bus driver. It was a great opportunity and wonderful situation for a guy wondering what he was going to do next. We were serous full-time touring act, and we had a wonderful run.”
“Dad passed away in 1992. He was such an influence on me; he was my inspiration. I knew I wanted to be like my dad. He was a great musician, very accomplished. He got me my first guitar when I was 9. It was a tough guitar to play because it was not made for a kid. I made my way with it, and once he saw I was serious, he helped me. He was deeply knowledgeable and could answer anything about music if I had questions.”
In tribute to his dad, McBride recorded one of his hits, “Corpus Christi Wind,” for the new album.
In addition to writing songs for himself, McBride has a string of hits by others, including John Anderson, Garth Brooks, Hank Jr., George Strait, Easton Corbin, Cole Swindell and Gretchen Wilson. As Dean Dillon is to George Strait, Shel Silverstein to Bobby Bare and Bob McDill to Don Williams, McBride is to Brooks & Dunn. He has had 13 singles with the award winning duo and 30 total cuts, including “If You See Him/If You See Her,” “Play Something Country” and “Cowgirls Don’t Cry.”
In 1992, McBride & The Ride was nominated for new group of the year for the Academy of Country Music along with Diamond Rio and Brooks & Dunn. He met Ronnie and Kix there and found out Ronnie was a fan of his. The feeling was obviously mutual, because once they met the two of them hit it off and it wasn’t long before they were writing songs.
“We connected on every level; there were lots of similarities in our upbringing, our musical tastes were very similar and our vocal taste was the same when it came to writing melodies — the rangier the better. Ronnie could hit all the notes that I could. After we started writing he told me that he now had his own bus, and he invited me to come go with him on the road so we could write. The first trip I went out on we were gone 15 days and we wrote 10 songs — “He’s Got You” and a couple other things. We had so much fun.
“Ronnie said, ‘When the bus is rolling just get on it, and that turned into 13 years of going out and writing with him. My role was to keep coming up with ideas. We wrote about 95 percent of everything they recorded on the highway. When he came off stage, if I had a good idea, we could channel it into a songwriting session. I love Kix, he’s treated me so good. I had the first single on his first solo after Brooks & Dunn split. I just became one of the guys they liked having around. We just had a ball. I couldn’t have been in a better situation. It was very organic the way it developed. That was the beauty and success of it, it came from a real place and it wasn’t ever forced.”
Another song off the album, “Love Me Some Texas,” pays tribute to McBride’s native ground. Numerous hit songwriter and artists have come from Texas, from Guy Clark and Willie Nelson to Mac Davis, Joe Ely, Rodney Crowell, Michael Martin Murphey, Bob McDill, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Doug Sahm, Jerry Jeff Walker, Miranda Lambert and Buddy Holly. McBride has his own philosophy as to why so many great artists call that state home.
”It’s interesting, you know. Texas is so big and vast, and music is such a way of life down there. Not that it’s not anywhere else but Texas is known for its live music. There is a honky tonk in every town of any size. Red Dirt Music is so big, with a lot of the new artists having lots of success. I’m fortunate I’m grandfather in on the Texas thing because they embrace me and I love that. Growing up I had exposure through dad. I grew up 60 miles from Austin and Willie was the biggest influence on me outside of my father and he was living right down the road and that was mind blowing for me.
It’s unbelievable the amount of venues and bands that are in Texas. In other states you love music but you would have to travel to find it. In Texas, back in the day there was a country band in every stop you wanted to make. And then there is that undeniable talent, so much stuff coming out of Texas inspired me. The area where I grew up, my dad played with Gaylon Christie and when I was born, he was lead vocalist with Jimmy Heap. There was live music everywhere.”