The Texas singer-songwriter talks about his new album, Barstool Stories.
With more than 20 years of making music, with hits like “Pound Sign” and “Here’s to Me and You” to his credit, Texas red-dirt artist Kevin Fowler is out with a new big album.
Tales of heartbreak, drunken nights, and friendly camaraderie — Barstool Stories, available August 23, is an album worth raising a glass, or a few glasses, to.
Recently, we caught up with Fowler to talk about the new record.
Cowboys & Indians: You’ve been gearing up for the August 23 release of Barstool Stories. What’s most exciting about putting out new music for your fans?
Kevin Fowler: Releasing new music is always exciting. You spend so much time making a new record. From the songwriting to the recording to the artwork and the months it takes to finally get the new music to the fans, it’s at least a year-and-a-half-long process. By the time the fans finally get the new music there’s been a lot of hard work and anticipation. The hardest part for me is waiting for people to hear it. So, when they finally do get to hear the music it’s pretty exciting!
C&I: How does this latest compilation of work compare to your other albums?
Fowler: I think this record is very strong. I think the songwriting, production, and everything are stronger on the project. We really worked hard on this record. It’s been a long time since I put this much time and effort into a project. I think it shows in the final product.
C&I: You co-wrote six of the songs on the album. What was that like?
Fowler: I like co-writing because I feel like it makes me really push myself. Working with other writers also helps me shake things up a little bit. The other writer will usually hear things differently than I would, and I think it helps change it up. Keeps things fresh. I think all of the writers bring something different to the table. Some are better lyricists. Some are better melody guys. I write with different people depending on what I’m trying to write.
C&I: What went into the song-selection process?
Fowler: When I was younger, I would write or co-write 12 or 13 songs and that was the album. I didn’t really entertain material that I didn’t write. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve become less stubborn about it. Now I just put all of the songs that I’ve written and the songs that other writers have sent me in a pile. I then try to just pick the best songs and not worry about who wrote them. It’s hard sometimes to admit that one of the songs that I didn’t write is better than one of my own. That’s always a hard process for me.
C&I: Tell us a little bit about the recording process. Any stories to share about how certain songs came together?
Fowler: My buddy Trent Willmon produced this record. I also got to do a song with my good buddies Roger Creager and Cody Johnson. It’s always fun making music with people you enjoy. With that crew in the studio it’s never a dull moment — lots of stories we can’t talk about in public.
C&I: Barstool Stories has a very prominent overall theme, yet manages to still cover a lot of subject matter like heartbreak, love, and alcoholism. Is there a particular song you feel the most connected to or are most proud of?
Fowler: You’re right. I think that subject-wise this project has a little bit of everything. It’s a well-rounded record. I love a song called “Heaven.” It’s one of the songs on the record that I didn’t write, but it’s definitely at the top of my list. It’s a beautiful song. It’s about living in Texas and how it really is my own little slice of heaven. I think a lot of people who aren’t from Texas don’t understand our fascination with our state. I guess it just a “Texas thang.”
C&I: Is there a specific song that’s really been resonating with audiences?
Fowler: We’re on our third single off of this record, the latest being “Better With Beer,” a fun little up-tempo party song. “Beach Please,” which we released last summer, seems to be a crowd favorite. All of the new stuff seems to be doing well with fans. It’s always nice to have new material in the live show.
C&I: Are there any songs that didn’t make it onto Barstool Stories that we can expect to hear down the road?
Fowler: We had an overabundance of songs for this record — both stuff I’d written and outside material. I think we had over 40 songs on the short list. Deciding which songs to cut is always the hardest part for me. You constantly second-guess yourself. You love all of the songs and wish you could record all of them, but you can’t. It’s a good problem to have, too many good songs.
C&I: What can we expect from your upcoming live shows?
Fowler: If you’ve ever seen us in concert you know that our live show is very upbeat and fun. We try to keep our shows very entertaining. My motto has always been “If you wanna listen to the record you can do that at home.” We want our live shows to be an experience, something more than just getting up there and playing the songs.
C&I: What are some of your favorite places to visit when you’re back in the Lone Star State?
Fowler: I love that we have so much cool stuff to do and see [in Texas]. It’s hard to narrow it down. But a few of my faves are Port Aransas, Fredericksburg, Gruene, the River Walk in San Antone, Palo Duro Canyon. … The list goes on and on. One place that I haven’t experienced and is on my Texas bucket list is Big Bend. I’m going to try to spend some time down there soon.
C&I: Anything else before we go?
Fowler: I just feel totally blessed that I’ve been able to make a living playing music for over two decades. The whole “Texas/red dirt” music scene is an amazing thing unlike any other genre on the planet. It’s been really cool being a part of it and seeing it grow from its infancy into the industry that it is today. It’s been one hell of a ride. If it all ended tomorrow I couldn’t complain.
For more information on Kevin Fowler, visit his website.
Photography: Natalie Rhea