Talk to any independent artist and you’re likely to hear some iteration of the following: it’s nice to be able to release the music they want to release and to be in control of their career. It’s a whole new level, though, when you’re earning praise from the likes of Luke Combs, amassing millions upon millions of streams and receiving awards in your home state within two years of releasing your first album.
The Wilder Blue can check each of those items off of their lists. And with a fanbase eager to snatch up their next offering and pack venues on any given night, the special ride that the quintet have began shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
We chatted with the band about the strong response to their debut album, their current single, “Picket Fences,” new music on the way and more!
Pro Country: Each member of the band has been active in music either from a solo, performance or studio standpoint. Can you talk about how The Wilder Blue came together and why you were each at a point in your career where a band was right for you?
Lyndon Hughes: Well, this project certainly didn’t happen by chance. This was Zane’s brainchild from the beginning. It was his idea to create a band where everyone could really sing and play, so he used this new thing called “the internet” to find the Singin’-est, Playin’-est musicians in Texas, and that’s exactly what he did. I was a studio producer and engineer out of Houston for 12 years, and wasn’t exactly looking to go out on the road again. The recording studio was (and is) my life. But as a singing drummer, this was way too exciting of a project for me to pass up. We were able to snag THE Paul Eason from the Kevin Fowler band, The Boogieman Himself, Sean Rodriguez, and the man who can play anything with strings, Andy Rogers. All of these guys could easily be the frontman of this band. We are beyond blessed with an overabundance of talent.
PC: Two of the singles from your debut album, Hill Country, have gone on to earn more than seven million combined streams on Spotify alone. As a band who was releasing music for the first time, what was it like to see the almost immediate success and positive fan and industry response to “Palomino Gold” and “Dixie Darlin’”?
Lyndon Hughes: We were honestly floored by the success of our debut album. This little thing called COVID-19 happened right before we were slated to go on tour for our album release, so we just decided to release our music to the people and let the chips fall where they may. Nothing huge happened at first, but then Luke Combs found our album via SavingCountryMusic.com and decided to tweet a glowing review. We were quite taken aback as we didn’t know him at the time, but it really set things in motion for us. Since then, it really hasn’t stopped. People all around the world are still listening to the music, and that is really satisfying for us.
PC: You released “Wave Dancer” as the lead single from your self-titled album released earlier this year, which landed at number one on the Texas Country Music Chart and the CDX Traction Texas chart. How encouraging was it to keep the momentum from the Hill Country record rolling and open your sophomore album with a radio hit?
Andy Rogers: We knew “Wave Dancer” was a special song from seeing the crowds react to it every night at our shows. Hearing it on the radio and seeing it climb the charts is a good feeling, because we know it’s getting out there to a lot of new people. And it makes Dad look pretty cool in front of the kids when it comes on in the mini-van.
PC: What went into the decision to release your new single, “Picket Fences,” after the success of “Wave Dancer”?
Zane Williams: Picking radio singles is often tough because everyone has different favorites. Or they’re like me; I like all the tunes for different reasons, and just want to pick the one that will make the most impact for us. In general, we definitely listen to the opinion of our radio promoter, Jen Redding, since she deals with the stations every day and has a good sense for what has worked for her artists in the past. “Picket Fences” is a fun, up-tempo tune that people always clap along to in the live show. It shows off the harmonies, and it’s pretty short, which allows radio stations to fit in more songs. So we gave it a whirl!
PC: “Picket Fences” was a solo write by Zane as he reminisced about his old family farm. Can you take us inside your head and what it was about the farm and its atmosphere that stuck with you and inspired “Picket Fences”?
Zane Williams: The farm I was writing about actually belonged to my uncle, and it’s about 45 minutes outside of Nashville. It’s the most secluded and beautiful piece of property I’ve ever spent much time on; bordered by the Harpeth River on one side and some tall bluffs on the other. It’s like the land that time forgot. I wrote the song pretending it was my place, and my wife Jodi and I spent many a weekend there pretending it was our place during our nine years in Nashville [laughs]. Sadly, my uncle sold it recently, so I doubt I’ll ever visit it again. But now it can be someone else’s beautiful retreat. The last time I drove out there, I listened to “Picket Fences” while driving down those country highways, and it was a nice moment to remember.
PC: The Texas Country Music Awards took place at Billy Bob’s, where you had multiple nominations, including Country Band of the Year, Country Album of the Year, with Sean and Paul also nominated for Bassist and Guitarist of the Year, respectively. What do those nominations and wins from within the industry mean to you?
Sean Rodriguez: Well for starters, it is an honor to be nominated in an organization from our home state. Not to mention that we were able to walk away with two awards. I think it just goes to show that we’re making great progress in getting the name out there and really spreading the word about this relatively new project. Hopefully it exists in a long line of gaining the respect of our peers and our fans.
PC: You’ve earned praise from both Luke Combs and Jess Carson from Midland. What does it mean to you as a band to get stamps of approval from some of the biggest acts in the genre?
Andy Rogers: You can’t really put a price tag on respect. One of the best feelings in the world is meeting or sharing the stage with an artist whose music you love, and having them say nice things about the stuff that you’re putting out. That’ll never get old.
PC: You’re a fan-funded, fully independent group. As artists who have each been involved with music for many years, how much do you enjoy both the creative freedom as an independent group to make the music that you want to make and have such a loyal fanbase that enjoys your vision and supports it the way they do?
Sean Rodriguez: I think there’s no greater freedom in the music industry than to have fans who are as supportive as ours. We’re always striving to make the best music we can, and I’m pretty sure the fans know that and are continually excited to hear what we’re cooking up. Giving them a peek of what’s going on behind the scenes really just strengthens their interest and support overall. I’d say we enjoy it to no end!
PC: What are your plans for the rest of 2022 and going in to 2023?
Paul Eason: In December, we’re spending a few weeks in the studio recording our third record. In the past, we’ve recorded a song or two at a time, but this time, we plan on doing it all at once and leaving with a mostly complete album. It’s exciting to have new music to release in 2023, and we have a bunch of great shows booked all over the country to help promote it.
*The Wilder Blue’s music is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*