“I tend to soak up everything around me and that’s why my interests are so varied,” Tinsley says. “I’ve had some great personal influences over the years to help me along the way, too. In my youth it was definitely my stepdad, who formed who I am as a man. It ended up being from the influence of mom’s patience and creativity, along with the traits of my biological father (who is also a musician), that I picked up the music bug.”
Spurred on by downtime in The Hectic’s schedule, Tinsley started pre-production for a solo release as Ronnie Dean Tinsley & The Dark Horse Rodeo. Revisiting a catalog 10-15 years in the making, the hard southern arrangements came easily as Tinsley began work with well-known musicians Anthony Sapp (bass), Steve Allison (drums), Brian Thomas (steel guitar, banjo, dobro), and David De la Garza (piano, organ) alongside Brian Baker of Houston’s Sound Arts as engineer/ mixer.
“As part of a band or as a solo artist, I think we all want to put something very special out there for people to hear without compromising our own musical tastes,” he states. “For me, that carries over no matter the genre. The emotion and creativity in my writing intentionally blurs the line between country and rock. I’ve only recently started exploring my ‘southern roots’ and I’m currently writing songs that those of us who like to toggle between genres will enjoy.”
Kicking things off with “Must Be Nice,” which is as southern as the day is long, this song was born from the snarky phrase uttered under one’s breath when someone shows off a new ride, fancy clothes or brags of some other coveted possession or activity. Its tongue-in-cheek delivery targets the working class and announces Tinsley’s outlaw presence.
“Everyone thinks it! I just turned it into a country song,” he jokes. “It’s quirky, funny and sarcastic and makes sense to us hard working blue collar folks. It sounds like a hard version of ‘Good ol’ Boys’ from Dukes of Hazzard with a heavy honky tonk sound that is really twangy with big choruses garnished with Texas-style banjo and pedal steel guitars.”
A look at being a product of the south, and all that goes with it, the album takes on families in the touching “Rowdy Ass Family” while “Nashville Tonight” is a biographic song about Tinsley’s father and his musical mishaps. The more alt-rock songs, like “Renegade,” the cinematic “I Ain’t Got No Halo,” and the road trip tune, “San Antonio,” bend the norms of country music while maintaining universal themes and dark dramatic moments of outlaw country swagger.
“I want this record to sound like a greatest hits collection,” he muses. “I want the listener to get the vibe that they are hearing tracks collected from different points in my career and, more importantly, my life. Ultimately, if a song makes the hair on my arms stand up, I’d want to share it with you.”
Tinsley’s influences are as varied as his talents, running the gamut of classic and modern yet always “standing out as something different from everything else in its prime.” Citing crooners Frank Sinatra and Hank Williams to the heaviness of Pantera and Alice in Chains, Tinsley recognizes the importance of mood and timing. Employing vaudeville and theater stage techniques learned from artists like Alice Cooper, Kiss, Garth Brooks and Stephen Tyler, he creates moments that have audiences mimicking signature moves and singing along.
“The right mood requires the right jam in my opinion and this is true in a live show most of all,” he states. “It’s so important that artists are engaging and commanding! I have not been successful unless I’ve put the entire audience in the palm of my hand, wrung them out and left them emotionally and physically drained and thirsty for more.”
Bringing an “out of the box” concept to the musical landscape, Tinsley’s RENEGADE is an endeavor that will feature live shows to define his role in Outlaw Country/Americana. Looking to artists like Shooter Jennings, Jamey Johnson, Aaron Lewis and Hank Williams III, Tinsley aims to travel down a newly worn path of the modern outlaw movement with alt-rock vocals and gritty southern arrangements that are all his own.
So, in true southern fashion, raise a Mason jar or beer and make a toast to breaking all the rules with RENEGADE from Ronnie Dean Tinsley & The Dark Horse Rodeo!