Prophets & Outlaws (Matt Boggs, Stevie G., James Guckenheimer, Jamie Ringholm and CJ Thompson) are a band who seamlessly blend country, soul and R&B into a sound they call "Texas Soul;" it's a sound which is on full display on their fifth EP, the aptly titled V. Filled with serious grooves, Bogg's rich and rugged vocals and the band's tight harmonies, the EP, released on March 25th, showcases their unique style which is expanding their fan base throughout the Lone Star state and beyond. Boggs, Ringholm and Stevie G all kindly hopped on the phone to talk about the album, working with producer Jason Burt and more.
Congratulations on the release of V! I heard you guys had to turn people away at the door at the House of Blues release show, which was a sellout.
It was definitely surprising. We were happy to sell it out, but were sad that people couldn’t get in. We had such a fun time at that show because we had so many fans that knew our older songs like “Country Music Gold” and “Texas Home," but many people hadn’t heard the new album, which has what we feel are some of our strongest songs. It was great to look out and see people bopping along and moving their bodies to the new songs, which is exactly what we want from them.
The EP debuted at a respectable #21 on the R&B/Soul charts. Is that where you would place it genre-wise?
To be honest, we are typically under country, but this album leaned a little more soul than country, so it just fell there. We get played on country radio, but we have this R&B and soul influence that we like to call "Texas Soul." We like to be all over the place with those genres.
You do blend those genres really successfully and Texas radio has definitely embraced it.
It’s pretty cool. It’s great they accept us as we are and don’t want us to sound like everyone else. They’re ready for something new and fresh and are excited to hear what we do next, which is very encouraging. We’re Texas born and bred through and through, so regardless of how you pigeonhole it, we make Texas music and I think they feel that. Above anything else, they want honesty and our music is just that. We write from the heart about what we know and I think our fans appreciate that.
Where does the basis of that blended sound come from?
I think from Dallas-Fort Worth. I think we are a combination of the people coming out of those cities. We grew up near Eleven Hundred Springs and would watch them load up. Jack Ingram used to live in the neighborhood. Fort Worth has Kirk Franklin, Dallas has Erykah Badu and then there's Leon Bridges. If you look at the music coming from those cities, I think that’s where we come from.
V contains five songs. Did you write them all and if so how does the writing process work? Do you all contribute?
We wrote them all. Matt and I [Steven] are the main songwriters. We’ll bring lyrics and melody to the rest of the band and from there everyone gets involved to adapt the songs to what they become.
You guys worked with producer Jason Burt on V, who helped adapt those songs even further.
Usually, Steven takes on the producer role, so this is the first time we’ve used an outside producer. Jason’s a mad scientist (laughing) who comes from a very different background. We gave him control and said, “Let’s see your vision.” It was a frightening experience, but I think well worth it. He really brought a fresh outlook to the songs with some crazy and brilliant ideas. As we’re writing songs, we have an idea as to what the vision for the song is, but it’s kind of fun to relinquish the control a little bit and let fresh ears come in. Some songs have minor changes, but others like “Lonely” which started out as a country song, totally changed. It is scary, but also fun and exciting especially when you hear it and say "Wow I never imagined it could sound like that!" It’s a good feeling especially when everyone likes how it turned out.
V ends with “We're Gunna Make It” which is very much like an anthem.
When I wrote it I had this idea for a song that had crowd participation with the whole arena singing together. The idea of the song is to definitely bring people together, to unify them under one cause. It can apply to whether you’re in a band or any scenario where you’re the underdog. It’s a song for anyone trying to accomplish a goal, struggling and working hard trying to make it in their own way
“Country Music Gold” (from Texas Home) is still on the Texas charts, but will there be a single from this EP?
It’s still in the Top 25, but yes “Party Like You” was sent to radio last week, so probably mid-April people will start hearing that one on the radio. We’re excited to do a video for this one. It’s basically a party song so we want to invite a bunch of people over and capture that. It’s a good excuse to throw a party. (laughing)
The artwork for the album is really unique and cool. Who designed it and what does it signify?
It was designed by a senior art major friend of ours. We wanted to do something different because we feel this album is a more mature version of us. He took the country elements which make us who we are and drew them in a non-country manner. There’s the gun, the rose, and the Texas flag which shows our country roots, but it’s done in a way that’s a little different. We’re really happy with what he did.
Last year PAO played on the main stage at Larry Joe Taylor (LJT) and NYE at the American Airlines Center. Your touring schedule looks pretty packed for the remainder of the summer.
We are playing Drinko, LJT and then we’ll be out there promoting the cd all over the place. We’re excited to get out there and see the reactions from the fans.
Finally, I always like to know--what current release are you guys listening to?
Matt: I really am into Anthony Hamilton who is an R&B artist with the coolest voice and really cool grooves.
James: Ghost Note
Steven: I’ve been into the California Honeydrops and Jason Isbell
For tour dates and more information visit PAO's official website
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Watch the video for "Country Music Gold" here
Purchase V here