Todd Fritsch Interview
(Real Country Music from a Real Cowboy)

He’s shared the stage with the likes of Marty Stuart, Aaron Tippin, Gary P. Nunn, Pat Green, Roger Creager, and Pauline Reese.

He partnered with the Armed Forces Entertainment for a 3 week tour of U.S. bases in the Caribbean.

He wrapped up his third tour of France in Lyon on September 22 nd 2007, where he was honored with the “Independent Artist Of The Year” Award from the French Association of Country Music.

His name is Todd Fritsch and we kicked things off by talking about that French Tour.

Q – You’ve actually done 3 tours of France?
A – Actually France and Europe to make it correct. We’ve traveled to 7 or 8 countries over there.

Q – I wouldn’t think France would be a “hotbed” for Country Music.
A – All of Europe and I guess you could say this about the U.S., people like certain styles of music and the ones that do really love it when it’s something you or I don’t like. The people that are Country Music fans are die-hard. They’re people that want to know everything about you, the music you recorded, where it was recorded, even what studio musicians played on the albums. We went over there I guess it was in October and did two sold-out shows. It’s been great for us. The more I go over there the more I realize other artists that do go over that the U.S. is unaware of. Pat Green, Joe Nichols, Clay Walker-----they’ve all been to Europe.

Q – You went over to entertain the troops in the Caribbean, but, you had to cancel some dates to do that. Is that correct?
A – Yes, sir.

Q – Does that get you into hot water with the promoters who maybe spent a lot of money advertising the shows?
A – Yeah, we had to negotiate. I had to give and take a little. Some of ‘em were club dates that we frequent every 120 days or so and they were looking forward to us coming back. All I did was promise ‘em a date that we’d shuttle and let ‘em know what it was all for, kind of help the situation out, not just canceling for the sake of canceling, but canceling to go visit the troops. It just gave us a good excuse to shuffle some of those dates. Everybody was pretty understanding and I’m thankful for that.

Q – At what age did you know that you could sing?
A – I didn’t even start singing I guess until I was 15, 16 years old. I’d gotten into it because my sister had been a singer and played piano for years. I did it just for fun, did a few contests. After I went to a junior college for 3 years and graduated and had always been on a ranch. I told my Dad I’m gonna give this a pretty strong run. I think I want to do this, and see what happens. One thing led to another. I’m 26 now, but for the last 2 ½ years I’ve been doing it professionally and it’s been good to me.

Q – Did you have to play the usual honky-tonk circuit?
A – We have done that inside out. I have been in every smoky honky-tonk. Around here, you do a lot of private parties. If you want to be in the music business in Texas you play a lot of weddings, lots of festivals. You start out as a true cover band and that’s what I did. I played covers, everything you can think of. Songs that I’ve forgotten that I’ve done, 2, 3 nights a week. Now, I don’t even touch some of those songs. We did the regular circuit. I went about paying my dues, playing the honky-tonks where you lose money some nights, next night you make a little bit. You’ve got to have your goal in life to realize that you’re gonna have to go through a bunch of those things.

Q – You were born in Willow Springs, Texas.
A – Yes.

Q – Do you have to be from the South to sing Country music? Can you be from Michigan or New York?
A – To me, there’s just something about the South that facilitates a person being able to speak about all the things we sing about or live the scene of the true honky-tonk two-stepping scene where there is a good dancing crowd, where people want to hear that music, or want to hear good Swing music stuff that originated down in the South. I think that’s what has driven it so much. But, there’s Country people all over that live the farm life style or work out doors everyday. There’s just something about the South that makes it come alive. Since the demographics of the people who buy CD’s of the listening crowd are so heavy form the South, it helps to grow more artists. The fans that are gonna buy my music are pretty quick. If you heard it down here, you’d say ‘There’s some Yankee trying to sing swing music’. That’s what somebody would say. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a way of life.

Q – Todd, I spoke with a guy just a few days ago from Syracuse. He moved down to Nashville to get a deal. He played the clubs four nights a week, but couldn’t get the industry people to come out and check his act out. He said you either have to go on “American Idol” or have a lot of money behind you. Is that really the way it works today?
A – There’s a lot of good in what’s going on and a lot of bad in what’s going on. That’s two different subjects, totally different subjects. The ‘American Idol’ and ‘Nashville Star’ have helped to grow people that were nobody’s that haven’t paid their dues, but yet have made them stars and made ‘em somebody and allowed them to have millions of people viewing them. Even a guy like me can’t compete with that. I can honky-tonk all I want to. I can play lots of shows. I can build a fan base. But, I cannot surpass what they do at the time. It may take me longer my time to surpass what they do, but it can be done. The other part of getting money involved-----that’s all true. In my business it takes money to make money. I tell people all the time if you want to have a nice restaurant, and do it right and draw people in, you got to invest some money. That’s what I’ve done in my career and a lot of people do. You gotta put some money into it, put together a product, make it nice, make it right, hone your skills and hopefully people take to it. If they don’t, you’re gonna put a Closed sign on your business and fold up your career. It’s all Big Business. It’s a tough business. But, there still is a basis of good songs and good music will help you have a career with longevity.

Q – Have you found that since getting a deal, the business is more about marketing your product than singing?
A – It sure is. I have since Day One been involved with my co. which I own half my label. There’s day to day stuff that I take care of, and even if I don’t take care of it I see it all at the end of the day or the end of the week. I do everything. There’s just so many guys out there who have no idea what a radio promoter is, what a publicist is, who makes every radio stop happen, who makes free t-shirt give-aways happen and don’t realize it’s just a big loan for record labels on you. Slowly I’ve gotten smart now. Guys have been on labels 15-20 years and have made just a working man’s wage while they’ve sold millions of records. Everybody finally said with technology we can go ahead and grow our own career and maybe not be as big an artist, maybe sell a couple hundred thousand records and be better off than we were selling 5 million records. Everybody has realized that and wants more control over their destiny.

Q – You opened for Lee Ann Womack and Trick Pony. How did these people treat you?
A – They were great. Lee Ann Womack, I’ve known her husband for awhile. She just loves that I’m Country. It’s good to hear that from those people. We’ve done a lot of stuff with major artists and their biggest compliment and they know how hard it is for a young guy to just go ahead and say, ‘You know what? I’m gonna be Country whether you like it or not. And, I’m gonna be traditional and not say, well I’m gonna change my clothes and my hairstyle because I want to be something else. That’s not something I want to do’. They look at me and I just keep forging ahead at what I’m doing.

Q – In 2006, the European Country Music Association honored you by naming your album “Album Of The Year” and you with “Male Vocalist Of The Year”. What is it going to take to get the Country Music Association to notice you? Is this the first step?
A – You know, if does help. It opens a lot of eyes to us. That’s what we hope for. In Europe, it’s about the music. It’s not about who spent the most money, who has the best style, who’s doing their hair the right way this year. It’s about the quality. That shows. I think where most labels miss the boat is the longevity of the careers is from an artist who stayed his roots. You look at the icons from Merle Haggard to Alan Jackson to George Strait, these guys that have been true to themselves. I think it should give a lot of labels in the States an eye-opener. The European fans are fans of a lot of old country music, of traditional music, people that are just true to their roots.

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