One-time rocker Richard Schroder looks to Nashville for inspiration and comes up with Drive, a new record that straddles country pop and rock somewhere between Tim McGraw and Blake Shelton, Garth Brooks and Keith Urban.
Like the best country music, Schroder’s work is impeccably constructed and beautifully realized. “Drivin’,” the first single, brings it with a sweet hook and big singalong chorus. "Pray for You" is an acoustic tune that blossoms like a flower in the sun. “Wildest Dreams” is tight and rockin' with a soaring melody and great guitar solo. ”Backseat Love” is a sly dose of sexy nostalgia.
For Schroder, whose hard work and perseverance have him poised for success, the only thing that matters is having great songs. And he has just that—eleven of them—on Drive.
Someone pretty smart once pointed out, “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” No one knows that to be truer than Richard Schroder.
As a musician, Schroder demands a lot of himself. In fact, he’d rather do things the hard way if that means it’s the right way. One of his colleagues, songwriting coach Steve Seskin, a hit songwriter who’s written for many of Nashville’s biggest names, describes him as the real deal. “His willingness to rewrite till it’s right sets him apart from many other singer/songwriters who settle for good rather than going for greatness.”
One thing’s for sure, Schroder never settles. His aptly titled new album, Drive, two years in the making, has been written and rewritten more than a Hollywood script, with the sort of fanatical dedication only a diehard songwriter like Schroder can muster.
“Rich is an excellent writer and singer,” says his producer Brian Charles, who worked on the album at his own red-hot Zippah Recording Studios in Boston. “But it’s his ‘don’t quit till it’s as good as it can be’ attitude that really shines through the whole project.”
Schroder has always had the tools. He’s written, rehearsed, toured and played plenty, with a stockpile of legit songs and a great band to play them with. Then… he started having second thoughts.
After stepping back and taking an honest look at where he was going, he realized he’d become a rock and roll stereotype: “Earnest, hardworking musician has a blast, spins his wheels.” Despite giving a persistent effort, his career never got the traction he sought. “Nothing was happening,” he recalls. “When I realized that, I stopped having fun.” Schroder packed up his guitar and walked away.
In retrospect, he has a pretty good idea what happened. “I was just too young,” he says. “Early on, I didn’t know what I was talking about. I didn’t have much insight. I believe I had the right idea, but I wasn’t writing good lyrics and my approach to songwriting was all wrong.”
He took some time to absorb the change. A growing family, a rewarding business and a book publishing deal led him down a very different, rewarding path. But even then, the flame of making it in music never died. “That goal never faded,” he says. “I knew I wasn’t done.”
Energized by hope and driven by his dream, Schroder rededicated himself to improving his skills and reinvigorating his repertoire. To help him achieve that, he turned to where else? the epi-center of song, Nashville, Tennessee.
With a bunch of demos and a renewed focus, Schroder joined the Nashville Songwriter’s Association and enlisted expert tutelage from some of Music City’s best tradesmen. They coached him, tweaked his songs and set him on the path to making great music. Schroder’s songs benefited enormously from the expertise and enhanced his grasp on songwriting.
Following the old adage, “nothing worth doing is ever easy,” Schroder rewrote and revised, edited and revised, rerecorded and revised. Producer Brian Charles notes, “Making great records requires hard work, and Rich is one of the most committed and inspired people I've ever worked with. His enthusiasm and his quest to make great music is infectious.”
What started out as rough tracks began morphing into gems, with bristling verses, spot on bridges and gleaming choruses. Schroder’s new MO became about putting the time in, doing the work, attending to details, crafting his songs into miniature masterpieces. Each of his eleven tracks became a workshop, where themes, lyrics, hooks and melodies were altered and refined. “I went to school,” says Schroder, about his time in a Nashville state of mind. “I learned something new every time they opened their mouths. With songwriters like that, it’s not about ego. It’s about how you take a song and make it the very best it can be.”
Drive, with its many meanings and connotations, is the result.
A cross between country pop and rock, Drive straddles genres. Nods go to Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks and Brad Paisley as well as current country stars like Blake Shelton and Keith Urban. The record’s single, “Drivin’,” kicks off with a sweet hook and singalong chorus. "Pray for You" starts out a pretty acoustic tune then opens up like a flower in the summer sun, with simmering organ, gospel singing and sassy horns. “Wildest Dreams” is a tight rocker with a soaring melody and a great guitar solo. “Backseat Love” is a sexy dose of nostalgia.
Elsewhere, “Nashville Girl,” is endearing and sweet, and highlights Schroder's sublime lyrical simplicity: ”One song and I was hooked/She sang as pretty as she looked.” “Someone Else” features a poignant lyric about a lost love, adorned by a melancholy cello. Each of Drive’s songs is worth talking about. It’s an expertly crafted, accessible work that is immediate even as it reveals enchanting layers with repeated listens.
It also helps that the record stars the best musicians Schroder could get his hands on, including guitarist Duke Levine (Peter Wolf, Aimee Mann, Roseanne Cash, Mary Chapin Carpenter), keyboard player Jamie Edwards (Sara Bareilles, Michael Bublé, Lori McKenna), bassist Annie Hoffman (the Field Effect) and drummer Steve Chaggaris (Amy Fairchild, Ken Clark Organ Trio). There were also a number of additional musicians and back-up singers to round out the recording. “Everybody on this album is a better musician than me,” Schroder laughs. “I had to work way harder than everybody I was with. They have natural talent and they still work their asses off.”
The finished tracks traveled to Portland, Maine, where Bob Ludwig put on the finishing touches. If anyone knows how to derive top quality sound from a recording, it’s the Grammy-laden sound engineer, who has worked with Springsteen, McCartney, Hendrix and Zeppelin, along with names of a younger generation: Beyonce, Beck and Carrie Underwood.
“The reward has been in the journey,” Schroder says, finally content to take a step back and appreciate this accomplishment after an incredible period of reconstruction and rebirth. Schroder wanted to write great songs and he now hopes that these new creations will simply take on a life of their own, not to mention get to work on a follow-up. “If you don’t have great songs in this business,” he says, “Nothing else matters.”
November 4th, 1:00, Food Truck Festival, Cranford, NJ (opening for alden Street)
October 29th, 1:00, Ramapo College, Mahwah, NJ (opening for alden Street)
October 28th, 7:00, Crossroads, Garwood, NJ (opening for alden Street)
September 25th, 8:00, Loretta's last call, Boston, MA
September 19th, 9:00, Main Street Cafe, Concord, MA
August 7th, 7:30, Loretta's last call, Boston, MA
July 21st, 6:00, The Country, Nashville, TN
July 20th, 10:30, The Commodore Lounge, Nashville, TN
July 9th, 8:15, The Madbatter, Cape May, Nj
The following College Radio Stations are playing the Drive Album!
|AM1700||Community Radio Michigan||Ypsilanti||Michigan|
|KCR||San Diego State University||San Diego||CA|
|KDHX||St. Louis Community Radio||St. Louis||Missouri|
|KKCR||Kauai Community Radio||Hanalei||Hawaii|
|KMUD||Redwood Community Radio||Redway||California|
|KNDS||North Dakota State University||Fargo||North Dakota|
|KSJS||San Jose State University||San Jose||California|
|KSYM||San Antonio College||San Antonio||Texas|
|KTCV||Kennewick High School||Kennewick||Washington|
|KUOI||Universtiy of Idaho||Moscow||Idaho|
|KUWS||Universtiy of Wisconsin||Superior||Wisconsin|
|MET||Metropolitian State University of Denver||Denver||Colorado|
|WARY||Westchester Community College||Valhalla||New York|
|WBNY||Buffalo State College||Buffalo||New York|
|WIPZ||Universtiy of Wisconsin - Parkside||Kenosha||Wisonsin|
|WLFR||Richard Stockton College of NJ||Galloway||New Jersey|
|WMCO||Muskingum University||New Concord||Ohio|
|WSIA||CUNY Staten Island||Staten Island||New York|
|WUDR||University of Dayton||Dayton||Ohio|
|WVCW||Virginia Commonwealth College||Richmond||Virginia|
|WXIN||Rhode Island College||Providence||Rhode Island|
|WCVF||SUNY Fredonia||Fredonia||New York|
|Radio Phoenix||Phoenix Center for the Arts||Phoenix||Arizona|
|WAYN||Wayne State University||Detroit||Michigan|
|WMUC||University of Maryland||College Park||Maryland|
|BearCast Radio||University of Cincinnati||Cincinnati||Ohio|
|KEUL||Glacier City Radio||Girdwood||Arkansas|
|KLCZ||Lewis Clark State College||Lewiston||Idaho|
|KMNR||University of Missouri-Rolla||Rolla||Missouri|
|KRFP||Moscow Idaho Radio||Moscow||Idaho|
|KSLU||SE Louisiana University||Hammond||Lousiana|
|KUNV||University of Nevada||Las Vegas||Nevada|
|KWCW||Whitman College||Walla Walla||Washington|
|KZMU||Moab Community Radio||Moab||Utah|
|WDWN||Cayuga Comm. College||Auburn||New York|
|WGLS||Rowan University||Glassboro||New Jersey|
|WHFR||Henry Ford Community College||Dearborn||Michigan|
|WMPG||University of Southern Maine||Portland||Maine|
|WNSU||Nova Southeastern University||Fort Lauderdale||Florida|
|WNYO||SUNY Oswego||Oswego||New York|
|WOJB||Woodland Community Radio||Hayward||Wisconsin|
|WSIN||Southern CT State||New Haven||Connecticut|
|WTCC||Springfield Technical Comm. College||Springfield||Massachusetts|
|WXAV||Saint Xavier College||Chicago||Illinois|
|WWSU||Washington West University||Dayton||Ohio|
|WWUH||University of Hartford||West Hartford||Connecticut|
|WHWS||Hubart/William Smith College||Geneva||New York|
|KBBI||Alaska National Public Radio||Homer||Alaska|
|KCSU||Colorado State Univ.||Fort Collins||Colorado|
|WGMU||George Mason University||Fairfax||Virginia|
|WIDR||Western Michigan University||Kalamazoo||Michigan|
|WNIA||Nash Community College||Rocky Mount||North Carolina|
|WRRC||Rider University||Lawrenceville||New Jersey|
|CHMR||Memorial U of Newfoundland||St. Johns||Newfoundland|
|CJAM||University of Windsor||Grosse Pointe||Michigan|
|KAOS||Evergreen State College||Olympia||Washington|
|KNSU||Nicholls State University||Thibodaux||Louisiana|
|KPUR||The Armadillo||Forest Grove||Oregan|
|KRZA||National Public Radio Colorado||Alamosa||Colorado|
|WSOE||Elon College||Elon College||North Carolina|
|WUTK||University of Tennessee||Knoxville||TN|
magazine Interviews / other
Vents Magazine - Read Full Review
FULL ALBUM REVIEWS
"Drive is a masterpiece!"
Warlock Asylum - Read Full Review
"A meticulously crafted set of songs that have quintessential country elements with Schroder’s own unique spin on them."
"Richard Schroder is a country music storm cloud ready to break!"
TunedLoud - Read Full Review
"There are moments of songwriting virtuosity which, without a doubt, will help to boost this album to its rightful heights."
Buden Bay - Read Full Review
“Richard is a perfectionist country singer, which comes through strongly in each of his pieces. His great lyrics and sound urges us to continue listening and won’t let us stop.”
Music Industry News Network - Read Full Review
“On “Drive” Richard Schroder touches upon the true spirit of rock and roll with a great glorious rush of energy..”
Beach Sloth - Read Full Review
“This is a slice of country-pop in all the best traditions of modern radio-friendly tunes.”
(Ireland) Lonesome Highway - Read Full Review
“Drive features a collection of exciting songs with a timeless feel and unique take on genres as diverse as rock, country, and pop.”
The Band Camp Diaries - Read Full Review
"Drivin'" SINGLE REVIEWS
“An embracive track, that captures the mind, heart, and soul.”
Nataliez World - Read Full Review
“The lyrics of this country music by Richard Schroder are second to none.”
Skope Magazine - Read Full Review
“Schroder is a talented musician with a passion for great melodies and vibrant arrangements.”
The Bandcamp Diaries - Read Full Review
“Richard Schroder balances tenderness and determination on the fantastic “Drivin'”, a song that lingers in the mind with perfectly catchy infectious hooks.”
Beach Sloth - Read Full Review
“The country music world’s diamond in the rough."
Warlock Asylum - Read Full Review
“Great country sound, with a fullness that doesn’t skip a beat.”
Music Industry News Network - Read Full Review
“A contagious, memorable hook carries itself over a delicious sound bed of awesome guitar tones and radio-ready pop appeal.”
Middle Tennessee Music - Read Full Review
“Richard Schroder’s voice has a genuine, heartfelt tone – it’s an accessible sound, not claiming to be on some other plain to the listener, but rather, expressing as if this is precisely the kind of person they can relate to.”
Stereo Stickman - Read Full Review
“It feels like a classic right from the first play through its simple but effective hooks, addictive chorus, clean but impressive guitar lines, rock driven urgency and groove some country vibe.”
Dancing About Architecture - Read Full Review
“As a listener, you can’t help but feel the authenticity in Richard’s words.”
Ratings Game Music - Read Full Review
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