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Michelle LaRose speaks with Hughie Thomasson for Road To Jacksonville
Photographs by Michelle LaRose
Outlaws made a name for themselves with such hits as There Goes Another Love
Ghost Riders In The Sky and most notably Green Grass And High Tides.
it seem that The Outlaws have been absent on the scene, they have. Founding
Hughie Thomasson spent nine years performing with his friends Lynyrd Skynyrd and has now
put The Outlaws back together for their triumphant return.
were able to speak with Mr. Thomasson as he was preparing to leave for
the Arrow Rock Festival in the Netherlands.
[A phone is ringing]
We leave tomorrow to go play a festival over in Holland so its crazy
That was my guitar tech calling me to make sure we have all the guitars that we need.
Theyre coming to load the bus today because when we get back from Europe were coming straight to Clearwater on the third of July.
RTJ: Youre going to the Arrow Rock Festival in the Netherlands.
Thats exactly where were going. I believe we play on Sunday. Its
either Saturday or Sunday. I know were leaving tomorrow, we need a day
to acclimate and then we play.
Im pretty sure its on Sunday.
RTJ: Have you ever done this festival before?
No, not this one. Not that I recall Ive done many other festivals between
Skynyrd and The Outlaws over the years. In fact Skynyrd went over twice or
three times when I was with the band. We did festivals each time we were over
there. Its always great. They really appreciate
RTJ: You guys are coming right back, youre not going to have any down time to check things out.
Hughie: Nope. Not at all. We get off a plane in Orlando, the bus picks us up and we drive straight to Clearwater. Were doing a free show at Coachman Park with Starship.
Everyones holding their breath waiting for the new album.
When might we see the new album?
Hughie: Well I can tell you that I mastered it yesterday. It is done. Were just about done with all the packaging that goes along with it. The title of the record is Once An Outlaw then you turn it over and its Always An Outlaw. A little play on words there. It should be a couple of months still until it hits the stores because were not sure who were going to sign with yet. Weve got several offers on the table and I have my own record company as well. Were going to wait and see what happens but one way or another we will get this thing released. We had a lot of fun doing it, there are great songs on it and weve been working on it for about a year and a half. We wanted to make sure it was the best it could be. Were sorry for the wait but its going to be worth it.
RTJ: So you may put it on your own label.
Hughie: Yeah. Yeah, why not? Everybodys doing it. You dont have to have a record company these days to get your product out to the people who want to buy it and listen to it. They can download it. They can buy it from Amazon, they can buy it from our web site, and we even have them at the shows. Well make sure its available to the masses.
RTJ: What can you tell us about the new album?
Hughie: Well I can tell you that if you like the old Outlaws stuff youre going to love this. Its reminiscent of our first three or four records but its got a little more edge to it. Its got a little twang to it. I feel we put a little country in the rock. There are some ballads on it; Once A Cowboy is one of the songs. Theres another song that I wrote Color Em Gone which is about Nasscar guys. Rippin Through Kentucky is a great song. We did a song by a songwriter by the name of Jeffrey Steele, we did some of his songs and we have a lot of our own songs on there. Randy, my bass player, Randy Threet, he wrote a song, he and his wife wrote a song called Almost Home which we did which talks about the truth but in a really positive way without being, how can I put this, without jumping on the bandwagon. It was just really done well and its written very well. I think everybodys going to get the message. Chris Anderson, my other guitar player brought me a song called Trail Of Tears that he wrote which we were doing for a while and I asked him to go back and re-write the lyrics. If he was going to sing about The Trail Of Tears we needed to be more accurate so as not to insult the Native Americans in any way. So he did. He went and did his research and came back and the song turned out fantastic. Its just great respect for Native Americans and were proud of that. Theres a little bit of something on there for everybody.
RTJ: I saw the video for Trail Of Tears on your web site.
Hughie: Yep. Thats it then. Youve heard it.
RTJ: Thats an excellent song. Speaking of videos in a recent interview, you spoke of a possible DVD. Has this come to be yet?
Hughie: No but weve been shooting just about every show that we play for the rest of the summer. Im hoping that we can get one while were still on the Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam tour. Im hoping we can get that together. Our management is talking about that right now and trying to work things out. In the meantime we take our home cameras and video each other.
Hughie: You get a lot of good stuff that way.
The Outlaws have two drummers.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of having two drummers?
Hughie: Well the advantage is one of the drummers is able to play percussion when needed and thats quite often. A lot of times they play together and both these guys were original drummers in the band, David Dix and Monte Yoho. So to me its nothing but an advantage. I dont see any disadvantage as far as that goes. I enjoy having both drummers in the band. They take turns playing different songs and they play together on a lot of songs and theres percussion stuff they do back and forth they even do a drum solo on Waterhole. People seem to love it, they get a standing O every time they do it. So its a lot of fun! Its got the big band sound.
You are re-releasing your solo album So Low under a new title
Why did you decide to re-release it and why did you change the title?
Hughie: Not yet I havent. In fact were still discussing that. Were probably just going to leave it the way it is because everybody knows it that way. Thats probably going to be re-released about the same time as this record, Once An Outlaw. Without going into details we ended up in arms over copyrights and publishing, which we ended up coming out settling and we got everything back. To keep it from being more complicated we pulled it and left it on the shelf since that was over with a year and a half ago. Weve just been waiting for the right time to re-release it and Im even considering talking to either distributors, record companys or management and myself whoever we decide to do this product with and maybe adding that so you get two for one so to speak. I thought that might be something nice to do for our fans.
RTJ: So youre going to keep the title So Low.
Yeah. Why not? I thought about it and said, Why change it?
Its so low you can afford to buy it!
RTJ: Do you think youll be doing another solo album?
Hughie: Oh I certainly hope so. I had a lot of fun doing that one. It was a lot of work. It was a lot of work doing this record with The Outlaws as well. A pernicious project. We did it here in Tampa. We did it at Morris Sound Recording Studios. Two of the guys Ive known for probably thirty years Jim and Tom Morris. Weve always wanted to do a record here but for one reason or another companies always had us going somewhere else like Miami or Los Angeles or Atlanta. Anywhere except home. Ive always wanted to record a record in the town where we live. Basically where we started, where we came from. So we finally got to do that. Thats another reason that Im really pleased with this album. It came out really, really well.
RTJ: You were in Lynyrd Skynyrd for nine years. What was the best part about being in Skynyrd?
Hughie: Oh man everything! I mean I love those guys! Theyre my best friends, Ive known them since before gee, probably all the way back to 1972. We played shows with them before we did our first record actually. I actually played in a band with Leon Wilkeson their bass player before they did their first record. Him and I were playing in a band together called King James Version and we were playing in Ft. Lauderdale at the Runway Lounge and it was just a gig and he happened to be the bass player and I got a call and I went down and joined in the band and played for about a week and a half there. It was kind of a house gig and then Leon got a call from the band saying look we got a deal we want you to come back. Leon came and said, Look, my band called, I gotta go! So we go way back. I knew Ronnie very well, we were great friends. And of course Allen as well. I used to jam and play with them all the time. They invited me to come up and play so it was like playing with old friends. I knew them. It wasnt like walking into something that I didnt know. They made it really easy and it was a lot of fun and it was a great nine years. I look at it like I got to play with two of my favorite bands. Whos that lucky? Ya know. I wrote thirty-two songs with those guys, multiple CDs and videos and everything else and it was a blast, it really was. Yeah hopefully some day, Im hoping well get to play together again. Weather its The Outlaws and Skynyrd or whatever. I think that would be a fun package.
RTJ: That was my next question; do you think The Outlaws will ever tour with Skynyrd?
Hughie: I dont know. Youd probably have to ask Gary Rossington that question!
Hughie: I can only speak for us and say that wed love to. Our favorite place to play is wherever theres an audience. Weve played for five hundred, five thousand, fifty thousand. We still play the same. You dont change what you do just because it may not be as big a crowd as you want or you think your something special. You should give it all you got all the time and thats what we do.
RTJ: How has life on the road changed from the way it was way back in the early years?
Hughie: Oh in a lot of ways. We were young and crazy back then like a lot of people. Weve had to grow up. Responsibility came along. We had to stop a lot of the bad things we were doing. Its a good thing. Theres nothing bad about that at all. We lost a lot of friends to things that they shouldnt have been doing and we were lucky enough to survive so it was time to say, Thats it. So its actually changed dramatically at least on my part and in the band Im in, even when I was with Skynyrd. Its not the wild party and craziness that it used to be. Its real serious. Its about the music. Its about writing songs. Its about being on time. Making sure you meet-n-greet and say hello to your fans. Spending our time that way instead of doing what we used to do. Were much happier, all of us are, and healthier. I have to say its a lot better now. It feels good to be able to say that.
RTJ: Thank you for speaking with Road To Jacksonville today.
Hughie: It was my pleasure.