Roping In Rock,
"You meet people who don't wanna have you succeed. Then, you have those who love your sound and they wanna help you, and we wanna help them."
By Abbe Davis, December 16, 2020
Texas 223 hails from a town that is way West in Texas: Lubbock, Texas. Some trivia here: The sound of Rockabilly came out of Lubbock back in the day, and before this interview, I had no idea that Brittan Church would tie into that, and Buddy Holly. Texas 223 was formed in 2015 by founding members: Brittan Church (Lead Vocals / Guitar) and Chad Russell (Lead Guitar, Vocals/Screams). They began writing and recording music in 2016. Drummer Benjamin Villalobos, and bassist Kolton Westbrook joined after that. In 2017, Chad and Brittan teamed up with Grammy Award winning producer/engineer, Chuck Alkazian, to produce their self-titled debut record. Texas 223 is influenced by all things Metal, featuring gutsy riffs from Chad, and Brittan’s no bullshit approach to songwriting and singing. Passion and friendship, and good songwriting, is how Metal is done the Texas way. I caught up with frontman Brittan Church to talk about their new tunes and what is going on:
AD: Hey, how's it going with songwriting during this interesting time?
BC: It's OK. We are rehearsing, writing a lot of new material, working on our new record right now. It's a lot of writing and really cool stuff coming out in 2021.
AD: Good to hear. I like your sound, the lyrics, the intros. I love the song "Five Times."
BC: It is the fifth song on our first, self-titled record. It's pretty much the ballad on the record. That's pretty much where it dips off
and, it is the softer side of us.
AD: How did you and Chad meet up?
BC: That's a pretty good question right there, me and Chad have known each other forever. Chad was my first instructor when I was 15 years old. He taught me music theory, guitar, everything that I know, pretty much. I was inspired about playing for my grandpa. He's a recording artist. Terry Nolan, he was the first signed to Norman Petty's Clovis, NM, studio. (Noland's real name is Terry Nolan Church; he and Buddy Holly first began the Rockabilly sound from the late 30's).
AD: Wow! That is incredible. I remember hearing his name, legendary! I love Buddy Holly, too, and that Rockabilly sound.
How is he doing? Have you gotten to play Music with him?
BC: No, I've never jammed with my grandpa. He's still alive. We'll get together and mess around, and talk. He's so old-school, so Rockabilly, we've thought about doing a record together, maybe stuff we co-write. I hope some day I can make that happen.
AD: Well, this is so cool. Just get it done. As someone who misses her grandparents (who were like my other parents to me), I have to say, do it as soon as you can. Time flies and those are opportunities. Then you'll always have it, that memory. When he's gone one day, you will have that forever.
BC: That's a good point. I need to get on that. I appreciate that.
AD: I'm not trying to pressure you or anything, ya know.
BC: No, it feels good though, (laughing)
AD: Yeah, I'm a pain in the ass. (laughing)
AD: Maybe ya gotta be like that to get things done.
AD: How is it to be from Lubbock, with Texas Tech University. Really, how is it to grow up and do Music in Lubbock?
BC: It is West Texas, so Texas Country rules here. There aren't a lot of Rock bands, yet there is a scene. It's really tough to
get going for a lot of these new bands, yet once you get out there ....When we began in 2017, we just stuck with it, and all of a sudden other bands were helping bands out. The Metal scene is mostly in Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin. Pre-COVID, there were like three or four places to play. There are ampitheaters, but ya know.
AD: Well, if ya pack a theater, things are probably moving forward.
BC: For sure.
AD: When did you find Music?
BC: My grandpa gave me my first guitar when I was about 14, and I just kind of piddled with it and could never figure it out. I finally started taking lessons with Chad when I was 16, that's when I really started getting into it. About 6 months in I figured I could do it. Pretty much over time, you'll naturally be an artist, and so I started to do records and worked my way up thru the scene. The time was right, I was in my prime, and in 2015 Chad and I got together. He is a music theory genius. He said, "Hypothetically, what if we wrote a song?" and the rest is History.
AD: How do you guys work on your music?
BC: Both of us come up with elements, and the song is born seven different ways. We like to improv a lot and that's how we do it.
AD: That's a great way to do it naturally.
BC: We get it to work.
AD: You have a clip of Trump talking in an intro to your song, "Suicide," are you political?
BC: I don't wanna get into politics and we both have decided to stay away from all Politics. We just liked the song "Suicide," it was mid- record when we came up with it. The thought of America slowly killing itself, we want people to wake up. Not on any one side.
AD: Yeah, it is about getting both sides to meet across the aisle. Work together. That's how things get done.
AD: So, "Texas Death Toll" Tell me about that tune. It is a strong, catchy song. It stood out for me.
BC: It was the last song written on the record. It was a frustrating song, cause it's Metal, and us saying, "We will do our tunes
how we wanna do them, and if you get in the way, we will take your death toll ticket. Join us or get rolled over. That was our mentality at that time.
AD: Is this cause your tunes and sound was getting criticized back then, and, cause you were in Lubbock? (laughing)
BC: Yes. (laughing) It's tough, it is. It's hard to get outside sources, break out of Lubbock, and be "in" to the outside scene. I've
worked hard with Chad. You meet people who don't wanna have you succeed. Then, you have those who love your sound and they
wanna help you, and we wanna help them.
AD: Well, if it's any consolation, many major bands in the business, usually they pay it forward helping other musicians. 'Cause they are so cool about keeping Rock music alive. So, when you played out what did you hear about your own sound?
BC: Well, we'd be rocking. Some people loved us, and some people hated us. When TEXAS 223 came out, I was excited because finally I could express my anger that we had on the world. (laughing) It was like, I went to the best studio here in town, and the guy (years ago when I was 24), told me I wasn't good enough.
AD: These stories amaze me. How anyone would say that to someone.
BC: Well, now I go by and tell him, "Thank you so much," cause he pushed me.
AD: Yah, maybe it would have been better if he had said, "You still have a lot to work on."
BC: Yeah, no doubt. He was like, "Get out of my studio!" Then he stole $300 from us, and never gave us our recording.
AD: He sounds like a wonderful guy, karma will greet him.
AD: How did you guys get to work with Grammy Award winning producer/engineer, Chuck Alkazian? I mean, he has worked with Pop Evil, Jason Hartless, how did you get him?
BC: Before we were Texas 223, we had gigs with BoboFlex. This was 2013 or so. We opened up for them, hung out, and became buddies with them, and I'd ask them who they used for production. They didn't wanna give out any info, but on some Forum, Chuck Alkazian said something to them so I saw it. Nature and everything lining up, we were supposed to record with someone in Houston, and it didn't work out. So finally, I called him up. I called him like ten times cause he wouldn't answer the damn phone, and he was like, "WHAT?!"
AD: (laughing) That's awesome.
BC: I was like, "Don't hang up! Dude, I'm in a band" I laid it out, and was like, "I"ve got the best material I've ever written..." and he said, "I'll tell ya what, email me, tell me why you wanna do it, and I'll call ya back." I sent him some songs and that's how we pretty much hooked up.
AD: When you got with him, how could you afford it? He's top level.
BC: Dude, I sold my boat.
AD: Whoa, what kind of boat?
BC: It was a '94 Fish & Ski skeeter boat. I'm a lake dog, I love the water, it's where I spend my off time. So, it was a big deal for me.
AD: I'm seeing it now, you record with Chuck, and then when you go to the lake you're on some little dinghy, is that how it was?
BC: (laughing) Pretty much (laughing)
AD: Wow, well, it's worth it cause then, after that...
BC: We hit FM radio after about two years, but it was a great record. Now I was like, "How do I get the world to hear it?"
We were pretty much giving away our records not downloads, but like $5 each. We made like $1.50 off of each one. Finally, we got radio play and breaking out into each station, and we grew.
AD: Paying the dues. So now, what's up for 2021? The new album, and how many tunes?
BC: We aren't exactly sure how many, probably 8-10 due to costs. After the intros, it ends up being about 13 tracks. It's
going to be heavier than the other records. We're looking forward to it.
AD: Send us some of your music, go check out bandivious.com. Check that site out, PR and labels go to it all the time thru this
magazine, so use it, and enjoy it. Our goal is to promote and find Rock bands. Glad we found you guys and can't wait to hear your new music.
BC: OK, Abbe, it's been good talking with you.
AD: Good talking with you, too, best of luck in Lubbock!
BC: A-ha. Cool, I'll talk with ya soon.
Abbe Davis, Editor of TRR
Abbe Davis is the Chief Editor at TRR; promoting bands and supporting Rock music. She is also the lead singer/songwriter of Hard Rock band, Sordid Fable. She has performed alongside of Buddy Guy at the River Walk Blues Festival, and is recording an album with her band for release in 2021.