A Long Way From Your Heart is the latest album from Oklahoma’s Turnpike Troubadours. Based in Tahlequah, the collective began its career in 2007, playing country bars and building a reputation for high-energy live performances and an adherence to traditional country sounds. By the release of Goodbye Normal Street in 2010, the band was gaining notoriety outside its home state and reaching into the Billboard charts.
A Long Way From Your Heart has, to date, reached the top position on the U.S. indie and folk charts and has been in the top five in country music sales since being released on Oct. 20. The band celebrates the release of the record at Wichita’s Cotillion Ballroom on Thursday, Nov. 9.
Bassist RC Edwards speaks about the making of A Long Way From Your Heart as well as the group’s unexpected success in the United Kingdom.
Jedd Beaudoin: I wanted to back up for a second, go back to 2015. The band released a self-titled album that year that did quite well. Can you talk to me a little bit about some of the cool things that happened in that time?
RC Edwards: That record, like you said, did well. It took us out of the regional area and started spreading us out around the country a little more. We started getting a lot more of a following on both coasts, places a long way from Oklahoma.
The last time you guys went into the studio, for the self-titled album, you recorded in Northern California [at Prairie Sun Studios]. What went on with the recording process this time?
We did the majority of it at the Sonic Ranch outside of El Paso, on a pecan plantation down on the Mexican border. Kind of out in the middle of nowhere. We lived at the studio, stayed there during the whole process, the whole band huddled together. No distractions. One big difference this time was that we brought in a producer. We’ve never really used an outside producer before. Ryan Hewitt, he’s a great producer. We learned a lot. It was like having a whole new band member. A whole new perspective. He really pushed us to get the most out of every song and out of this record.
Was there a particular song where you felt like it was his production and his way of pushing the band that made it come around in a way that you hadn’t seen before?
The whole project, really, was like that. There were a lot of things, arrangement-wise, parts-wise, even lyrically where, before, we would have said, ‘That’s good. Let’s move on.’ He was, like, ‘I think we can come up with something better than that’ or, ‘Let’s try something else. We’ve already got this.’ Just pushing us to our limits, more than we would have been able to do without him for sure.
You’ve seen some chart success with this record again. You’re based in Oklahoma and, like you said earlier, you’re starting to break out into other territories and people seem to be really grasping it and embracing it.
It feels good. I guess that’s always kind of the goal, to keep spreading out farther and getting your music to more people, kind of connecting with more people. It’s a pretty neat thing to go to New York City and sell out a show or go to California and do the same thing. And for your music and your songs to resonate with people so far from home. We did our first U.K. tour earlier this year. It was the same way over there. It’s pretty amazing. I guess it’s the age we live in, the way technology lets people have all the music in the world at their fingertips. People will find you who you think should have never found you or wouldn’t have before.
It seems like the U.K., especially in the last decade or so, has really embraced Americana and country music and especially stuff from this region, whether it's John Moreland or Samantha Crain. What do you think it is about American music that appeals to people in the U.K. and so forth?
It doesn’t seem like the pop country or that kind of stuff sells as much. Or they’re just not into it. So, more of the traditional or genuine country music is kind of what they tend to gravitate toward more over there. I think that’s a real good thing. They’re looking for the real thing instead of a bad pop band.
How’s everybody’s family feel about all of this? Have you guys always had family support or was this something where you had to kind of convince your families, ‘Hey, it’ll be worth it. You’ll see. There’ll be a payoff.’
A little bit of both. I think my folks are a little skeptical. You quit your day jobs and jump all into stuff like this. That’s what parents do. They worry about you. They were supportive too. Everyone’s supportive now, too. They’ll remind you when they think you’re getting too big-time, too. They’ll knock you down a peg.
Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin.
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