Randy Houser started off the month of October with his first European tour playing shows in London. The month ends with a one-night only show in Charles Town, West Virginia.
Such is the life of a country artist.
“It was fantastic!” Houser said in a recent phone interview of his London tour. “It’s wonderful to be able to expand your horizons a bit. Country music is growing and expanding there.”
It was a busy couple of days across the pond but Houser and his wife, Tatiana, were able to hit some of the tourist-y spots on the last day, seeing Big Ben, Parliament and the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.
Charles Town may be “slightly different” than London, he said. “But I’m excited to be coming back.”
Houser returns to The Event Center at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, in Charles Town, for one show at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28. Ticket are $60 to $105 and you must be 21 or older to attend.
He racked up three consecutive No. 1 hits with his album “How Country Feels,” including CMA Song of the Year-nominated “Like a Cowboy.” Other hits include “How Country Feels,” “Runnin’ Out of Moonlight,” “Anything Goes,” his first Top 5 “Boots On,” and “Goodnight Kiss,” which was the first No. 1 he wrote and recorded. He’s been a co-write on hits for other artists including Trace Adkins’ “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” and Justin Moore’s “Back That Thing Up.”
Houser added a fourth No. 1 to his catalog with “We Went,” from his most recent album, “Fired Up.”
While that album was “pretty good,” Houser admits he was not all that fired up about it. “I’m glad that album cycle’s done,” he said. “I didn’t have the time to write like I normally do.” It released in 2016 and it had been three years since his last album.
“Now I’m working on the next album. I’m a lot more excited about this project,” he said. “I’m in the studio now. We’re still recording it.” No release date is set, but he hopes it’s early 2018.
“‘Fired Up’ had a little more modern sound than I’m used to. I found it wasn’t my thing,” he said. “It wasn’t very successful, although we did have a No. 1 on it. I’ve moved on and am ready for the next project.
“We’re testing new songs (at live shows). A great gauge is to go out and play them. Some go over great, some are scrapped.”
He said the next album will have more of a rootsy sound; “it’s not a big party album,” said the 41-year-old Mississippi native. “Music has to grow with you. I’m not going to be a 20-year-old pop star, and I’ve got a little more wisdom now.”
Houser joins friend and fellow singer/songwriter Jesse James Decker in the lead single from her album, with both releasing Oct. 13. The song is “Almost Over You,” featuring Houser.
“We’ve been friends for 15 years. When she first came to Nashville, we wrote songs together. We’ve just been friends ever since,” he said. “She had this song she really liked and needed someone to sing with her. She asked me, so I was glad to do it.”
Back to “Fired Up.”
This 17-track album features five songs co-written by Houser. It may not have a sound he’s comfortable with, but he pulls it off flawlessly with his soulful voice. Some of the songs are a bit reflective, like “Back” … looking back at life and seeing if you measured up — “Did I fill my boots with every step I made, Did I walk all over my daddy’s good name, Am I gonna see the me I was born to be from where I’m at when I look back”; and “Little Bit Older” a here’s to the good times and being “a little Budweiser” song.
Several of the tracks were co-written by his best friend Dallas Davidson (“Mine Tonight,” “Lucky Me,” “Fired Up,” “Gotta Get You Home” and “Same Ole Saturday Night”). You can add brother-in-law to those relationships. In May 2016, Houser married Davidson’s sister-in-law (they are now married to sisters), Tatiana Starzynski.
They met through Davidson and his wife when Tatiana came to the States from Australia for the birth of her nephew, now his nephew too. “It was love at first sight,” Houser said. “She’s my best friend.”
Houser has a son, 5-year-old West, from a previous marriage. “He’s in kindergarten and doing very well. He’s just a blast, just a fun guy,” he said. “He’s a little reflection of me. He reminds me of the innocence I had as a kid.”
And, he admits, it makes him a little scared.
“It makes me scared for him thinking of how things have changed over the years,” Houser said. “What kind of place are we going to leave for them. We need unity, a little more love and to stop drawing lines.
“I pray we can find some middle ground.”
No doubt, thoughts of the recent violence at the Route 91 music festival in Las Vegas are heavy on his mind.
As a kid himself, Houser said he was around 6 years old when he started playing guitar. His dad was a musician and there was never any doubt in Randy’s mind that he would be a musician/singer when he grew up.
“I really can’t remember not listening to music,” he said. “I knew from a really early age what I wanted to do. There was no Plan B. It’s what I was put here to do.
“I never thought I wanted to be a huge star. I’m just happy to get up there to play. That’s what I get paid for and, luckily, some days it does pay!” he said with a laugh. “That’s just the nature of what we do. It has its ups and downs.”
I asked Randy who was the artist that most inspired him.
“Willie Nelson,” he said without any hesitation. “He’s my lifelong hero and has always been my biggest influence.” His favorite all-time album: “Red-Headed Stranger.”
“My dad was a Willie fan, so it probably came through him,” he said.
“I’ve always been a fan of guys who write their songs,” Houser said, noting he got into songwriting as a teen.
“I’m just doing my thing now.”