Professional songwriters don’t always make the leap to the big stage, but for Randy Houser the transition was natural. After gaining recognition for co-writing chart-topping country hits for Trace Adkins and Justin Moore, Houser recorded his debut album Anything Goes for Universal South Records. Several CMA award nominations, television appearances and national tours later, he is a major player on the country music scene. This summer, he’s on the road with Willie Nelson for the Country Throwdown Tour and preparing new songs for his third studio album. OurStage caught up with Houser to talk about the inspiration for his most recent single, his experience breaking into the Nashville scene, and his method for achieving a unique sound in the studio.
OS: You recently released a new single called “In God’s Time,” which has a pretty powerful spiritual message. Could you tell us more about the inspiration for the song?
RH: “In God’s Time” came at a time when I really needed to hear from God. He more or less kind of popped me upside the head and said, “Hey, you need to think about things a little bit,” and I think that’s what I did. This song had been in my heart for a while. It’s really about slowing down and letting things happen instead of trying to make things happen. It’s not like you’ve got to quit working, but a lot of times we expect things to be the way we want them, and we expect to have things happen when we want them and how we want them. Sometimes that’s just not the case. Sometimes God has a different plan for us. So in that song I was learning to chill out and handle a lot of things that I had originally called problems.
OS: As the first single from your next album, does “In God’s Time” give a preview of what to expect from the sound and themes of the rest of the tracks?
RH: I’m not sure yet, really. At this point I’m just writing and I’m not sure what the next album is going to be. I’m just writing a lot of songs and then I’ll put them together after that.
RH: It was tough, but I had already spent so many years playing and recording music down in Mississippi. I was twenty-five or twenty-six years old when I moved to Nashville, so I had been doing music for a pretty good while before that. When I moved there, I had a pocketful of songs and I got a publishing deal pretty soon after. I was able to make a living writing songs for other people, which really helped. There was never a big transition from songwriter to performing artist because I had already played music for so many years that it was just natural.
OS: Speaking of the transition from writer to performer, do you find there’s a difference between writing songs for others behind the scenes and performing your own songs onstage?
RH: Yeah there is a difference. As a songwriter for hire, you’re just writing songs and predicting what other people want to sing about. When I’m writing songs for myself and when I’m going to record a song, it has to be something that directly relates to my life or I won’t record it. I’m not up there trying to act like somebody else or trying to play a part. What you see is just my songs and myself.
OS: You’ve mentioned that in Nashville, everybody uses the same production techniques, and that you want to break from this standard sound in your recordings. How have you done that?
RH: You hire different musicians and you hire different engineers that have different visions. Like with our last album, we used Charlie Brocco to engineer the record. He knew a little bit about what the Nashville sound was, but he comes from a more rock and roll background. We made a country record with a guy that does rock and roll, and it’s not a big, loud, slamming guitar record. “Whistlin’ Dixie” is probably the closest thing to that on my last album, but [Brocco] didn’t actually engineer that song. He did the rest of the record, though. We’re really just making a little departure from the same sound that everybody expects.
OS: You’ve recently been playing alongside Willie Nelson on the Country Throwdown Tour. What has that experience been like?
RH: It’s been the most awesome experience ever. I can’t think of a better way to spend my summer than touring with my biggest musical hero. Simply put!
Check out Randy Houser’s upcoming tour dates on the Country Throwdown Tour here, and take a listen to his new single “In God’s Time” below!