by Lisa Kiser
Into The Future with Lonestar
With the departure of Richie McDonald and the arrival of new lead singer Cody Collins, Lonestar has experienced some tumultuous times of late. I recently chatted with Keech Rainwater, resident all-star drummer for Lonestar, about the new direction of the band and what the future holds.
Country Music Goodness: How’s “The Future” tour going thus far?
Keech Rainwater: It’s going great. We’re running up on the end of our summer tour here but it’s been fun. It’s also our first tour with Cody Collins, our new lead singer. He actually started with us last year and worked on the Christmas album with us, but we had Richie signed on through November so this was Cody’s first time on the road. But it’s been a lot of fun and we’ve been having really great shows. The crowd has really taken to Cody; he’s got the looks and the talent and he couldn’t have worked out better for the band.
CMG: With the exception of Cody, you boys have logged some miles on tour over the years. What would you say was your most bizarre fan encounter?
KR: We had a lady that came up to us at a show and told us she’d named her coop of chickens after the band! She actually named her chickens after the members of the band, so there’s a chicken named Keech running around somewhere! Also, a fan once brought in a truck tailgate – just the tailgate – into a gig for us to sign.
CMG: What are your favorite songs to play? Are there any that you just never get tired of doing?
KR: “Amazed.” I always try to play that song better than the time before. I’m sure someone like Elton John would hate to do “Yellow Brick Road” since he’s probably played it thousands of times before. But I always try to do my best to make the song just a bit better at each show. That’s just the way I am. Of course the more upbeat songs are fun too, as the crowd will respond and feed you energy. There’s a new song we’ve got called “Live, Laugh and Love” right now that I also love to play.
CMG: I imagine being on tour is like a sort of mobile frat house. Is there a pecking order in Lonestar?
KR: Not really, no. When Richie was here, and he didn’t want to go somewhere or do something, we wouldn’t do it. Other than that, we’re just hard workers. We have a better work ethic now than in the beginning. In terms of meetings and decisions about the band, Dean, Michael and I tend to be more involved than Cody, but we’ll get his input too.
CMG: Do your families ever join you on tour? If not, how do you handle being away?
KR: Every once in a while, we’ll bring the kids along for short trips. We’ll call each other and get the okay to bring our kids on the bus; it just helps to avoid surprises. As far as keeping in touch, technology has been a great asset in staying in touch with our families. I keep in touch with my daughter with iChat, so we can see and talk to each other at the same time. It’s the next best thing to being there.
CMG: I think “Let Me Love You” is amazing. When are we going to be hearing more new stuff?
KR: The 1st of the year. Yeah, the new album is supposed to come out around the 1st of the year. It was actually supposed to be out in September but we got hung up in production. We didn’t want to put it out around Christmas, when people are in a rush and everything kind of stops, so it’ll be early next year.
CMG: I hear you guys really dig motorcycles.
KR: Well, not really. We do pull a trailer around behind the bus with our cycles. That way, instead of sitting around the hotel all day and being bored, we can get out and explore. It makes being on the road a bit more enjoyable.
CMG: Something I really admire about the band is your charity work. Were there any benefits that were particularly rewarding?
KR: St. Jude. Most of what we do now goes back to them and they were one of the first we got involved with. St. Jude is a great cause and we’re always happy to help them out.
CMG: Was there a bit of a transitional phase when Cody came on board, or did you guys mesh right off the bat?
KR: Well sure, there was a transition. We had a choice when Richie left that could’ve gone one of three ways. We could’ve gone out and found someone that sounded like Richie. We also could’ve gone and found a recognizable up-and-comer like Jimmy Wayne that has a different sound. We chose to go a different route, though, and found someone totally original and undiscovered, who sounds great and has a strong voice.
CMG: How have your perspectives changed over the years and how has that influenced the songs you write?
KR: Well, the production has changed, but the songs and sound are fundamentally the same. I’d say that Richie’s influence made a difference, as he was a factor in writing some of the more family oriented songs. But we’re trying to get back to our roots, back to “Amazed,” “Smile” and more stuff like the songs on our Lonely Grill album.
CMG: So who are you listening to these days?
KR: I listen to Sheryl Crow a lot. Not so much her last album, but her “Wildflower” album. I’m really into an album with good production. I also dig Fleetwood Mac, Boston and Maroon 5. I think they’ve (Maroon 5) got some really cool, sexy, edgy stuff.
CMG: Should Cap’n Crunch and Count Chocula ever come to blows, which one would be victorious?
KR: That is a good question. I’d have to say Cap’n. Count Chocula is like a vampire, that can only come out at night, right? Being the admiral/pirate, I think Cap’n could take him with the sword.
Lonestar – Live Laugh and Love