Little Texas, known for chart-topping hits such as "Some Guys Have All the Love," "Kick A Little," "Life Goes On" and "Amy's Back in Austin," as well as the No. 1 singles "What Might Have Been," "God Blessed Texas" and "My Love," is celebrating its official 20th-anniversary tour. Four original members remain Duane Propes on bass guitar and background vocals, along withlead guitarist Porter Howell, vocalist-guitarist Dwayne O'Brien, and drummer Del Gray.
With such a rich history and close friendship bonds, Little Texas members always knew the band would reunite at some point. Currently in the midst of the tour I caught up with Duane Propes to talk about the success of the band, the current schedule and future plans.
Bev: Duane, thanks so much for taking time out of your schedule to visit. Of course I grew up listening to Little Texas and still enjoy the songs like so many others. Let's talk about the group Little Texas today, is it just the four of you?
Duane: Yes it is the four of us and all are original members.
Bev: I know you are doing some shows labeled the Triple Threat, with Restless Heart and Diamond Rio, how did that come about?
Duane: We actually started this in 2007 and the original lineup was Blackhawk and Restless Heart. To shake things up we wanted to bring in another act, so we asked Diamond Rio to come on board. We wanted three bands, and we wanted someone who recorded their own material and was sincerely the real deal, what you heard on stage was the same thing you heard on the records.
Bev: I am sure for you guys it is fun to get together and spend time, since you were all so busy on the road and going your own directions before.
Duane: We have done about four shows together this year and we have a blast. We love the time we get to see them on stage. I was overwhelmed when I saw them the first time and realized the talent they have and how great the music is.
Bev: When I looked at the upcoming tour schedule, there were a lot of casino dates on there, are you trying to do those types of venues ?
Duane: It really is not up to us, we rely on the booking agent to fill the schedule. We are open to fairs and other settings as well. Right now, with the economy as it is, casinos seem to have the budget so we play where we can. We are not targeting any specific venue.
Bev: You were in your early twenties when the band was hot and chartingsongs, how have things changed now that you are back out there with thereunion tour?
Duane: We see a lot less tour dates, but that was an intentional . We consciously made a decision to not go out on the road 200 and 300 dates a year. We all have families or other commitments and a life we want to enjoy, so we schedule most of the performances on weekends.
Bev: Are you recording any new songs?
Duane: We are very busy writing. We are actually still under contract with our now defunct label, so we cannot record anything until all of that has been settled. We are very excited to get back into the recording studio and put some new material out there.
Bev: During the time you took off from performing, what did you and theother members do?
Duane: Del Gray is a great song writer and he had several hit songs for Trace Adkins and Gretchen Wilson he wrote with Shannon Lawson; Dwayne O'Brien went back to college and got his masters degree from Vanderbilt in Sound communication and I went into the corporate world for a couple years and worked in Houston for a couple years before moving back to Nashville and working with Gibson in the artist relations.
Bev: Your latest album "Missing Years" has been out for a little while, canwe expect anymore singles to be released from this ?
Duane: We can’t unfortunately since the record label has gone out of business. We would love too.
Bev: Can you offer any digital downloads or anything from the album?
Duane: No it is not under our ownership, so our hands are tied on that project.
Bev: What has been the best thing you have experienced with the reuniontour?
Duane: Seeing a whole lot of our fans from before. Especially those who were really young then, who come back now with their families and are raising them on our music. That feels great. It is so neat to see the next generation and to know that our music touches them as much as it did their parents.
Bev: Have there been any surprises on the tour?
Duane: No big surprises. We have all been in the industry for so long. One of the nice things was just how easy it all came back and how simple it was to fall right into the groove again.
Bev: Going back to you mentioning the label, how does that affect your touring and the budget etc?
Duane: We always have done our own. Even back in the day, our label did not offer tour support, so we do not know any other way.
Bev: Have you noticed any major changes in the touring industry as far as how things work behind the scenes or not?
Duane: No, everything has been the same forever really. Once you have a date and a contract you show up and play. It is not rocket science, although some people try and make it that way. It is what we know and what we do. We do not even have a road manager.
Bev: I am sure touring with friends you have had for so long, there arebound to be some pranks and joking around, can you share any of those?
Duane: Del had a birthday last month, and we had some radio interviews scheduled so we made arrangements ahead of time for the radio stations to have fans come and get autographs and bring him Little Debbie snack cakes and Twinkies instead of birthday cake. One of the best and biggest was a joke we played on Clint Black in the early 90’s. He had a giant rock arch like the Mohave arch in Utah, and at the end of every show he would dive through it, on the very last night of the tour covered the stunt mat in shaving cream and baby powder and when he got up he looked like Casper the ghost. Of course he is dressed in all black. That was the pinnacle of pranks we played.
Bev: Which venue has been one of the most memorable for you?
Duane: To me it has been at the Target Center. It sold out 360 and right behind the Eagles Tour. We sold more tickets than they did and it was just a very cool feeling to know that.
Bev: Does the group have any kind of pre-performance ritual you do beforetaking to the stage?
Duane: No, I am afraid we are incredibly boring when it comes to that. We have always just grabbed our guitars and headed out to the stage. Nothing special we do.
Bev: Of all the songs recorded by Little Texas do you have a personalfavorite? Why?
Duane: My personal favorite is “Kick A Little”, during the guitar solo when I was doing the base line on it I actually threw in a little bit of Ozzy Osborne’s “Flyin’ High Again” and I think it is hilarious every time I play it that country radio was playing Ozzy.
Bev: Which one seems to be the fan favorite?
Duane: There are two. “What Might Have Been” and “God Blessed Texas”. They are the two we get the most requests for and hear from the fans about. Some of the newer ones are starting to creep up there as people get to know them more.
Bev: I know you have said the songs are real because you have lived them andtherefore the fans probably have too, and that helps them relate, does thegroup try and use that as a guideline when choosing songs to record?
Duane: It has to be real to us. It is hard not to put a personal part of us in there. When we listen to other material, it has to be believable.
Bev: What is next for Little Texas?
Duane: We will keep touring and doing what we have been, and of course writing all we can. We are looking forward to being able to get back into the studio again and recording. Summer is always our big season, so we are looking forward to seeing all the fans.
Bev: Thank you so much for visiting with me today and I look forward toseeing you perform soon. Is there anything else you wanted to add?
Duane: We are glad that we have the opportunity to keep doing what we do and that people still want to hear our music. I appreciate you taking time to do this and look forward to seeing you at a show sometime soon.
For more information about Little Texas, including upcoming tour dates, visit http://www.littletexasonline.com/.