Interview with Richie McDonald from LONESTAR
by Steve Cherelle for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show
Country band Lonestar were excited to announce late last year their reunion with their original lead singer Richie McDonald
who left five years ago. Although the band members tried others avenues they came to the conclusion that the band is something meant to be.
To celebrate this they have started recording a new album for 2012. The band announced they would be touring in 2012 and have already four dates overseas in Europe.
The buzz about LONESTAR began when the band sent a Tweet which read: “Big news for Lonestar fans coming tomorrow! 2012 marks our 20th anniversary. What would you like to see and hear from us?”
On Wednesday evening 22nd February, 2012 with just 4 days before the Wembley International Festival Of Country Music radio presenters Roger Day (BBC Radio Kent) and Steve Cherelle (BBC Radio Essex) and Wembley compere hooked up to talk with Richie McDonald before he embarked on his trip to England.
Roger Day – It’s the Country hour here at the BBC right across the south, were excited to be talking to a gentleman from Lonestar, aren’t we Steve?
Steve Cherelle – We are yes, big star
Roger Day– Evening Richie, how are you doing?
Richie McDonald– I’m fine thank you how ya’ll all doing?
Roger Day– We’re terrific, are you over here or in the States still?
Richie McDonald – We leave in the morning actually, tomorrow morning [Thurs 23 Feb], so I’m just out running some last minute errands getting some last minute items for the big trip. We’re really excited about this. It’s been a while since we’ve been over especially with me back in the band; there are a lot of good things going on for Lonestar right now.
Roger Day– Sure, When was the last time you were over here Richie?
Richie McDonald – For me I guess it would have been 2000 when ‘Amazed’ was so big. Amazed was a 9 week number one on the country chart here and it was one of those songs that crossed over and kinda had no boundaries. It was huge over there so we went over to support that and made a lot of new friends and fans, so we look forward to coming back.
Roger Day– What stimulated you going back with the band how did that all happen?
Richie McDonald – Well about 5 years ago I decided to slow down and spend more time with my family and watch my children grow up and just do some other things. It wasn’t because we didn’t got along; we’ve always been like brothers. I just was ready to slow down, so that is what I did. This is the 20 year anniversary of Lonestar since we formed the band and the guys we talked you know. There wasn’t a lot to work out. We just said it makes sense to get back together and do this on the 20th anniversary, so that’s why I’m back!
Roger Day– So that’s the Beach Boys back together and you as well
Richie McDonald – Exactly, how let’s see who else is getting back together. I think The Mavericks are getting back together; there are a lot of bands getting back together, so it’s a good year for bands.
Steve Cherelle – Have you had much time to rehearse Richie?
Richie McDonald – We have actually; I guess it’s a lot like riding a bike as they say. You know the songs but you get back together. Really the reason that we rehearsed was more for the new material than the old material because we’re back in the studio working on a brand new album. We’re excited about that, but more to learn those songs and kind of refresh our memories of the old songs. We’ve rehearsed and done a few shows over here and we’re excited and ready to go.
Steve Cherelle – When you formed the band if you go back when you were playing on the theme park did you all know each other or did someone put you together?
Richie McDonald – Well we kinda one another from other bands. We played in other bands around the Texas area and we knew of one another just in passing. When Dean Sams the keyboard player it was really more his idea to form Lonestar which back then when Lonestar was known as a really awkward name called Texassee, which was a combination of Tennessee and Texas together and when we got a record deal we changed it to Lonestar. It was kind of where it all started, we didn’t really know one another, we felt like after we met it was one of those things that was meant to be because we found out we were all from Texas, you know, it was meant to be.
Steve Cherelle – Tell us about where you are now, you mentioned about time with your family, so away from the music what is your home life and you’re kind of day to day, what is it that you do?
Richie McDonald – Well, I’m a Mr. Mom!
Roger Day& Steve Cherelle – (Laughs), were playing that
Richie McDonald – I’m a Mr. Mom, no, my home life is basically the kids are older now so they’re more independent than they were back 5 years ago. My oldest is 16 and he’s driving now and my middle child Mollie is 13 and Maisie is 10. So they’re at ages that’s a little more independent and fend for themselves. I think it’s just a matter of Dad being around and spending quality time with them and just doing things with them. I was still doing shows over the past 5 years by myself but I was spending more time at home and doing things with them.
Steve Cherelle – Are any of them musical, any of them getting into what they’re Dad is in to?
Richie McDonald – You know what they are, my son [Rhett] is 16, played piano from five to eleven and at eleven years old he broke his wrist and he let that heal but he never played the piano again but he picked up with the guitar and picked up from where he left off on the piano and I tell my son that he is kind of a freak because he is one of those kids that it just comes natural, you know. It’s scary how good he is at 16 now. His influences are John Meyer, Stevie Ray Vaughan and loves that kind of blues music and he can play it very well.
Steve Cherelle – Have you had him onstage with the band?
Richie McDonald – He has been on stage with the band before. That’s what he want to do this summer to come out with us and grab his guitar and play right beside Michael Britt [lead guitarist]. Mollie my middle girl she sings as well and Maisie she sings also. They are all very musical I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree as they say.
Roger Day & Steve Cherelle – (Laughs)
Steve Cherelle – Richie we’re going to play the ‘Amazed song’ because it was such a massive worldwide hit for you and has done wonders for you and we know you will be performing this over here in the UK, won’t you?
Richie McDonald – Absolutely, Like you say this song like you say was massive and went beyond boundaries that really surprised us and guess it goes to show that music can be a universal language, no matter what style it is, where it starts, it just kind of morphs into something even bigger.
Steve Cherelle – This is Lonestar and “Amazed” [Youtube Official video]
Roger Day– Richie a song that you wrote that I love actually, I mean I love that but “I’m Already There”. The version I really love is the one that someone puts some interviews and voice tracks from the serviceman’s wife’s and kids. We’re you anything to do with that or was that someone else that put that together?
Richie McDonald – That’s actually called the “Message from Home” mix [Youtube track]. It was about 2001 when that song came out. This was a song that I wrote from a phone conversation that I had with Rhett when he was about 3 years old and we’d [Lonestar] been gone for 6 weeks. And Rhett in a squeaky little voice said “Daddy when are you going home”. I remember hanging up the phone and basically crying in my hotel room there in Southern California just wishing I was home and just thinking I was already there, you know mentally not physically.
Roger Day– Sure
Richie McDonald – The song that I wrote from that little phone conversation turned out to be so much bigger with the men and women in the military basically after 9/1. That’s what happened all these spouses of men and women in the military were calling radio stations and requesting that song and leaving messages for their loved ones, so that just kind of happened.
Roger Day– Every time I listen to it, it cracks me up, you know I like to think I can handle myself but it moves me to tears when I hear those people sending messages to their loved ones abroad. It’s such an emotional song isn’t it?
Richie McDonald – It really is. The military did adopt that song to help them through a tough time. That’s what’s music is meant to do, make you laugh or make you cry and get in touch with your emotions and that song definitely did that.
Steve Cherelle – You’re getting together for this 20 year that you have known the lads and music that you’ve been producing, so what happens after this? You said you were in the studio, is this just for a small period of time, you’ll do some work, do the 20-year thing and then go your separate way again?
Richie McDonald – Oh no, this is for good actually. I think you reach a point when you realize that one thing is not good without the other and that’s kind of the point that we reached. They [Lonestar] were out there doing their deal with another lead singer that was singing the songs that people didn’t really connect with because it did not sound like me. The guys were just trying to keep going and me doing the same. But you know what its just one of those things that isn’t as good without the other and we realize that, I realize that now, and we’re going to do this for as long as we can and make this album. We know we’re not spring chickens anymore were not 16, 17 or 18 years old.
Steve Cherelle – But your as good as you once was
Richie McDonald – Well yeah, thank you Toby [Keith]!
Steve Cherelle – Yeah, that a good line. This new album you’re writing the songs and putting it together. Is there anything on there you think is going to come out and hit the level of these other songs that you’ve had like ‘Amazed’ and ‘Already There’?
Richie McDonald – Well we’ve cut 4 songs so far and we want to go back in and cut 8 more and finish the album in March but we feel like all 4 songs that we’ve cut are very passionate about. We think that any one of the 4 could be a big hit. There’s a song on there called ‘Countdown’ that we absolutely love, there’s a song called ‘If It Wasn’t for You’ that I wrote with Dean that I love.
I think we’ve covered the fun song to the serious love song and kind of covered the gamut so far. So I don’t know we just feel like if we put out best foot forward and cut great songs that hopefully the rest will take care of itself. It’s crazy that we’re working as much as we’re right now. I think there’s still a fan base out there for Lonestar that wants to hear the old hits, ( SC – very much) and also they’re interested in hearing some new music as well.
Roger Day– Will you be doing songs at the show over here, new songs from the album?
Richie McDonald – We are, we’re definitely doing some new songs.
Steve Cherelle – Richie, we’re chuffed to bits over here that your coming to the UK but your also playing on the Wembley stage, the festival you know your sharing the stage with Reba McEntire, Asleep At The Wheel and some other good names like Ricky Skaggs. So do you enjoy that when your sharing the stage with other big artists or do you prefer being on your own?
Richie McDonald – You know what I couldn’t imagine it being any better than what it’s going to be when we get over there with Reba and Ricky Skaggs and is it Little Big Town?
Steve Cherelle – No, they’re not on but Asleep At The Wheel are on and George Ducas will be there.
Richie McDonald – George is great, Asleep At The Wheel they are from Texas and were really good friends with them. You know what for all of us to come over and represent country music there is a wide variety of music and there is not a better Entertainer out there than Reba McEntire. So no, we enjoy sharing the stage with multi acts and just being a part of it. We’re honored to be involved with something so big and honestly to start our 20-year reunion world tour over there is just amazing for us.
Steve Cherelle – And you go from London to Ireland and a couple of other countries but the first date is Wembley. It’s in 4 days time on February the 26th of February. Richie, thank you for taking some time out of your day. What is the time over there?
Richie McDonald – Right now it is 4pm
Steve Cherelle – And what are you doing tonight, what is on your agenda?
Richie McDonald – Right this very second I was heading to the mall and looking for a couple of shirts. I was checking the weather I just want to make sure that I’m dressed appropriately for the weather. It looks pretty mild but I just want to make sure I have that right.
Roger Day– Well this weather changes a lot over here it could be freezing by the time you get here.
Richie McDonald – If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes?
Roger Day– Yes that’s right and I must just translate something Steve said , he said “chuffed to bits” that means VERY PLEASED in plain English by the way so they you go you might not of run into that expression before.
Steve Cherelle – Richie, I’ll be there on the day hosting some of the events and I’ll be back stage there’s Carmel, Karen and Fara that are going to be looking after the bands backstage and they are ecstatic about meeting you guys, as our many of the fans. Will you be out there talking to some of the fans as well?
Richie McDonald – Absolutely, without a doubt that’s why were coming over. We just want to meet as many fans as possible that we have time for and play some music and have the time of our lives.
Steve Cherelle – Richie thank you, good luck with your shopping today. We’ll see you in a few days time. From me and Roger have a safe flight over and we’ll see you in a few days at Wembley.
Richie McDonald – Alright Steve, thanks to Roger, thank you so much
(Interview ends) with song “Mr. Mom” played.
About Richie McDonald– Richard Vance “Richie” McDonald was born February 6, 1962 in Lubbock, Texas. From 1992 until his departure in 2007, he was the lead singer of the group Lonestar. They recorded seven studio albums on BNA Records during his tenure as lead vocalist. McDonald co-wrote several of the band’s singles, and sang lead on all but one of them. Outside the band, he has charted twice as a guest vocalist on others’ songs, in addition to releasing two independent albums and four solo singles.
Website – http://www.richiemcdonald.com/
SOURCE – BBC Radio Kent Interview (Conducted Wednesday 22 Feb, 2012)