THE WARDEN RELEASES DEBUT, SELF-TITLED SOLO ALBUM OCTOBER 9TH VIA IDOL RECORDS
"There is a gag order, so I can't tell you no more," sings The Warden on "Salvation," one of the twelve tracks on his debut solo album, set for release on October 9, 2015 via Dallas, Texas indie label, Idol Records. "Salvation" is a story of touring the country in a struggling band, drinking way too much, and the glory of youth. One of the many honest, intriguing stories of The Warden's adventurous life, documented on his debut record.
"[The song 'Salvation'] allows me to relive my 20s," says The Warden, at a ripe 37 years of age. "I marvel about going on the road now, like I used to, when I was a teenager. That being said, when I was actually on the road, sleeping in a van, in January in a Home Depot parking lot, in Ypsilanti, Michigan, it wasn't necessarily living up to my expectations. 'Salvation' is a nice slice of nostalgia mixed with a little bit of a warning message."
Now, you're probably asking yourself, "who is The Warden?" He is East Dallas, Texas resident musician Ward Richmond, a fixture on the local scene who has toured internationally with projects such as Slick 57 and Boys Named Sue, among others, where he's held down the bass, songwriting, management duties, and sometimes vocals of these local music legends. This time, though, he's picking up the guitar and making all of the decisions by himself.
While still an active member of Dallas' country outfit Boys Named Sue (voted "Best Country Band" in Dallas, Texas - 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010), he ended up writing a handful of songs on his own, inspired by the birth of his daughter, Betty Sue, and recorded them with just his acoustic guitar on his iPhone. Eventually, he handed his tunes over to his longtime friend, and musical cohort, Robert Jason Vandygriff (from notable Dallas bands The Von Ehrics and RJV & Hell County Revival), and Jason talked him in to making a solo record.
"These songs are all pretty personal so I didn't really want to create an opportunity for three other dudes to modify songs that I was already perfectly content with," he says of his decision to make a solo record. "Boys Named Sue is a very collaborative effort and these weren't the right tunes for that project."
After about a week and a half of recording, at the legendary Echo Lab in Argyle, Texas (where Old 97's, Centromatic, Polyphonic Spree, and Slobberbone have worked), magic happened.
"It turned out better than I expected," he says with joy. "Jason had the vision and executed above all expectations."
Self-described as "East Dallas honky tonk," the record mixes foot-stompin' honky tonk and authentic, Texas-style storytelling with a slight dash of Southern punk rock, resulting in a countrified memoir looking back over the past fifteen years of The Warden's life, presenting tales of lifelong friendships, falling in and out of love, and the wild-ass adventure that happened along the way.
"It's pretty much lyric-driven," he comments. "Our goal was to up the quality of the music in order to kick a little extra ass, and add some excitement to the lyrics. Basically, it is a tonked up autobiography with a little fiction thrown in for good measure. It's much easier for me to approach it this way, as a tonk album - and probably more entertaining for others - than attempting to write an actual book."
He didn't do it by himself, though, which is something he wants to point out.
In addition to Vandygriff producing the record, and Echo Lab's Dave Willingham behind the boards, he enlisted the help of a blistering honky tonk orchestra made up of his friends (not to mention, some of the best damned talent the State of Texas has to offer), including Chad Stockslager (The Drams, The King Bucks, Hard Nights Day), Bruce Alford (Jack Ingram, 1100 Springs, Stoney LaRue), Dan Phillips (True Widow, Slowride, Reverend Horton Heat), and Burton Lee (1100 Springs, Mike & The Moonpies). He also convinced local stalwarts Madison King, Leslie McDonel (American Idiot), and John Pedigo (Slick 57, Boys Named Sue, The O's) to join him in the studio.
McDonel's gospel vocals make "County Line" come alive. A love song about new beginnings, it's rollicking rhythm section melds perfectly with The Warden and McDonel's hard-charging vocals. Meanwhile, the old Slick 57 punk tune, "Bullets," gets re-worked into a country duet, with The Warden and Madison King's voices melding into a warm, though still ragged, hungover, regretful number.
The album isn't all honky tonk, though. The Southern rock of "Little Darlin'" and the piano-filled, hometown anthem "Livin' In The EDT," gives you a taste of rock from the eyes of the South.
One thing is for sure; after listening to The Warden, you will want to live vicariously through the album again and give it another spin. Sit down and have a beer with The Warden and you'll likely hear tales about opening for Waylon Jennings, sneaking onto Willie Nelson's tour bus, and joining Billy Joe Shaver onstage to sing "Honky Tonk Heroes."
A true Texan, proudly born and raised in East Dallas (The EDT), this debut album is a testament to the fact that The Warden works hard each day at the art of livin' life properly.
Famed tattoo artist, and friend, Oliver Peck even designed the logo for the cover art. Originally, this album was not self-titled; yet, after seeing Peck's logo design for him, The Warden decided to just make the record self-titled.
"Oliver came up with a sweet logo, and I felt like it was good looking enough to ditch the album title," laughs The Warden.
As he sings in "High Life," "Miller High Life is the cure for when we are not sure of if we'll get some money in the bank," this record is the cure for anyone that doesn't feel like they're living life to the fullest. Put this on, get inspired, or just laugh and drink, and experience The Warden.
Remember, he's just an East Dallas boy that woke up one day and wrote a handful of songs to put a smile on your sweet mouth.