Roger Creager stampeded onto the Texas scene with his 1998 album, Having Fun All Wrong, featuring signature tracks "The Everclear Song" and "Fun All Wrong." Over the next 14 years, the Corpus Christi native released four more studio albums and one live collection that souped-up his catalog with crowd favorites like "Long Way to Mexico," "Things Look Good Around Here" and "I'm From the Beer Joint."
If you've ever seen Creager in concert, you know why he's got legions of fans who flock to his live shows. The hardest working — and playing — man on the circuit never fails to deliver his distinctive brand of country music, infused with a broad vocal range, instrumental variety and perpetual energy. When you hear a Creager-branded song, there's no confusing it with anyone else. Creager may not be getting the radio airtime he deserves, but that hasn't stopped him from deep cutting things his own way. His latest album, Road Show, drops later this month and has a message for anyone willing to listen: "To hell with country radio."
In Rolling Stone Country's new interview series, "5 Minutes in Texas," we talk to Creager about doing things his own way.
You just got back from a weeklong show at a resort in the Dominican Republic with Jason Boland, Charlie Robison, Cory Morrow and Randy Brown. Sounds like a pretty good party.
It was a blast. That was my first time to go down there. Every evening we played an acoustic show in the theater or on the beach, depending on the weather. Each afternoon there was a show at the swimming pool. It was pretty much an around-the-clock party for everyone who went. It was pretty amazing.
You and your band used to do something like that at a resort in Mexico, right?
Yeah, it was very similar. We quit doing it about five years ago when the border violence got really bad and the economy went down and the swine flu was breaking out. We took a little break from it, but I think it may be time to start that back up.
Your new album, Road Show drops on July 22nd. How is it different from your previous LPs?
For starters, it's only got seven songs on it, which I think is perfectly fine nowadays. It's got some different things from me. Typically, I've played more traditional Texas Country. This album has more of a different sound. It's got a New Orleans jazz feel. It's got a Seventies rock & roll feel to it. It's something where I decided to basically say, "To hell with country radio, I'm going to make songs that I think are relevant and sound cool. I don't care what country radio thinks."
You're known for your live performances. Where do you get your energy from every night?
I sleep all day. [Laughs] People used to joke and say that I didn't need to work out or exercise because I used so much energy on stage. When I was cutting my teeth on the scene, it was just part of the gig. You weren't allowed to just stand there and sing. You had to really bring it every night. There was no record deal. There was no Texas radio scene. You had to earn every fan you got. It served me well having that attitude because it really made me work hard on stage for it. Like everything else, the more you put in, the more you get out. By working hard, it's become more enjoyable for the fans and me.
You obviously love performing, and it must run in your family because I've seen you pull your dad, Bill, and brother, Randy, on stage before.
My dad comes to about 25 percent of the shows. He's a complete show stealer. He's up there singing in Spanish and clicking his heals. At 80 years old, he's more energetic than I am. My brother, Randy, lives in Arizona, so it's pretty rare that gets up on stage to sing with us. He's a better singer than I am, so it's a treat for me to perform with Randy every once in a while, and I think the crowd enjoys that too.
Do you remember picking up your first guitar?
I was 14 years old and in a van on a church trip. We had three or four hours in that van, and my buddy started teaching me some chords.
So there is something to be said for going on church trips.
Yeah, and the truth is, the first several songs that I learned where at church. They were gospel songs. Eventually, my friend and I got good enough that we would get up and perform at church.
What's the best compliment you've gotten as a singer-songwriter?
Ray Wylie Hubbard said I was a great songwriter.
That's something you should put on your tombstone.
Yeah, exactly. I think I walked on clouds for two months after that.
Who are some artists who have influenced you over the years?
There's a whole mix of them. Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Jerry Jeff Walker and Jimmy Buffett. Robert Earl Keen was a huge influence for me when I started. But also Frank Sinatra, and I was a big fan of Queen and Van Halen growing up. It's a mixed bag of artists who have helped shape me.
Who's an up-and-coming artist that many people may not know about who impresses you?
Cody Johnson. He's getting back to the basics of cowboys playing country music. Imagine such a thing! [Laughs] He's beginning to get popular with the younger crowd. I think big things are coming for him.
"The Everclear Song" from your 1998 album, Having Fun All Wrong, is still one of your most popular songs. Do you ever get tired of playing it?
Do you enjoy a good shot of Everclear?
Absolutely not. Don't try that. That stuff is flammable.
What's your favorite adult beverage?
I'm pretty simple. Give me a cold Bud Light.
You're one of the hardest working guys on stage, but you also play pretty hard. You've climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, surfed in Costa Rica, and been scuba diving with sharks. Where's your next adventure taking you?
Possibly around the world. I've got a couple of friends who want to fly around the world, so we may go do that later in the year. We're putting our heads together right now to figure it out.
I know you're a fisherman. Tell me about the one that got away.
Oh yeah, of course, that was the biggest fish I ever hooked, right? The one that got away is always the biggest. But I fought a fish from 1 a.m. to 2:25 a.m., 120 miles off the shore of Galveston, Texas. I believe it was a yellowfin tuna. I've never had to fight a tuna that long, but when I got it up to the boat, it broke off. That's the one that got away.
As a Texas A&M graduate and a big football fan, are you worried about the Aggies without Johnny Football?
No, I'm a big fan of Coach Sumlin. I like him a lot. He runs a great operation, so I think we'll be just fine.
I heard you are trying to break the world record for a river float in late July.
July 23 through July 26, we're playing four nights in a row at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, Texas. On the 26th, we are going to break the record for the world's largest river float trip on the Guadalupe River. That is going to be so cool. I don't know how many people are coming — we may have 400 or we may have 4,000. Either way, it's going to be a great time. Come on down.
What's on your schedule for the rest of the year?
We've got a busy tour schedule. We're taking August off, which is when I may do the around-the-world trip. After that, we are hitting it hard. We don't just play in Texas. We just got back from touring Arizona and New Mexico. Next, we're headed to the Midwest and then to the Northeast. We're touring all over the country and loving what we do.
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