Texas native Bill Archer might not be a name one everyone's lips yet, but he could be soon enough. That little fact doesn't deter him from making the music he loves and reaching out to fans. To-date, the singer-songwriter has released a well-received EP, titled "Cancun," and as he looks forward to the new year, his plans of releasing his debut full-length record are slowly coming to fruition.
Even without a label or manegement representation, Archer tells Nashville Gab that great things are already in motion. "I don’t have a label. I don’t have a promoter other than myself," he explains. "Everything I’m doing is me. I’m my own manager, my own booking agent. And I’m doing it. Here in Texas, I’m getting the shows. I’m booking them myself."
He continues, "I’ve got shows coming up here in 2014. I’m gonna be a part of this Rockin’ Country Tour with Steven D, and we’re doing shows with names like Colt Ford, Joe Nichols, Clay Walker, Joe Singletary, Jack Ingram. We’re going to do some opening stuff for these guys along the way in Virginia, West Virginia and over in Maryland. There’s a lot going on, that’s for sure."
His current single "That's The Way We Roll Round Here" has Archer stretching his talents into relatively new territory. Given the nature of country radio, he notes that he had to write what people want to hear. "I had to write a song that was competitive for the radio. That’s why I wrote this song. I had the lyrics, and I went home and started putting down the beat to it. Before I knew it, my wife walked in and said ‘who sings that one?’ She had never heard me sing a song like that. She thought it was Brantley Gilbert or somebody. I want to be competitive in the market, so I’ve got to write what people want to hear."
The rock-infused song is only a taste of what's to come. He is expecting to have a full-length album out. "
I have all the songs written for it. I just have to get everything cut now. It’s going to be called ‘Honky Tonk Highway.’ It’s a 10-song album. It’ll have one or two bonus tracks. One being ‘Cancun’ and another I wrote called ‘Heroes,’ which is a tribute song to the men and women in the armed forces. I’m also hoping that by this time next year, I’ll have my Christmas album out. I have a full list already but haven’t recorded yet."
"I’m hoping to have [the record] done by February. Right now, it’s coming down to funding. Nothing is free in this world, especially music. I’ve got a few different places trying to get me in there to record in Nashville."
Amidst this project, he recalls his CMA Fest experiences and how that has helped previous musicians gain a big break on a national scale. "I’ve been down to CMA Fest the last three years, and things are now starting to click. I’m going to actually play some of the bigger stages this coming year. I already have some people that are going to promote Steven D and I. I’ve played the Hard Rock Cafe stage in 2011, and that was a blast."
He adds, "I met Florida Georgia Line, and I met Parmalee, and I met all these guys. I actually opened for Tyler Farr, and he opened for Cowboy Troy. I was actually on Cowboy Troy Entertainment for a year. So, all these guys that I knew are huge now. I’m now where they were a couple years back. So, hopefully, we’re getting there."
Previously, he released an EP that found him realizing that traditional country wasn't exactly the perfect fit. He detials, "I recorded my first six songs and then never did anything with it. They were a little too old fashioned for me. When you step into the studio for the first time and you’ve never heard your songs to music, it’s the greatest thing you’ve heard in the world. This was before I was playing. Randy Corner, who is a great guitar player (he plays for Janie Fricke still), is much older. Everything he wanted to play was classic country, which is fine…for him. It really wasn’t what I wanted."
"I didn’t realize that until it was too late. You sit down in the studio, you sing your songs, and they start putting music to it. I gave them my money, and had the CD made. I was sitting there listening to it and was like ‘man, this is not what I wanted.’"
As far as when his love for country blossomed, he came from humble beginnings, being raised by his grandmother who owned a bar. "My love of country started when I was seven years old," he says. "My grandmother owned a bar. I was actually raised in the bar. I’d get out of school and go to the bar till two or three a.m. everyday. I started singing with the house band early on."
"They asked me, ‘hey, what song do you like?’ At that point in time, my favorite song in the whole wide world was ‘All The Gold In California,’" he reminisces. "So, they had me learn all the words to it and sang the song with the band almost every Friday and Saturday night. As a teenager, I was writing songs, but I didn’t have the country look. I was into the ‘80s rock-n-roll and metal scene. I had the long hair, and every time I would sit down and right song, it would come out country. I couldn’t write rock."
His first complete song he wrote and composed was "Cancun." He tells the story of how it came to be and he came to first play guitar, "There was another guy in [the studio at the time], and he told me ‘you’re not a songwriter.’ I looked at him a little ticked off. ‘You’re a lyricist.’ Songwriters write the music to the song, as well. I heard the song completely in my head, and I could tell him how I wanted it played. He was right in a way. I went out the next day to a pawn shop and bought a secondhand takamine acoustic guitar. It came with a book that shows your basic chords."
"‘Cancun’ was the first song I wrote and composed. It was in the matter of three days after I got the guitar that I figured out how basic progression worked. 2006 is when I started playing acoustic guitar. I’ve gotten to where I’m stretching the boundaries of what I do, but I’m not Brad Paisley. And I’m never gonna be Brad Paisley. I just want to do enough, play enough to get through writing my songs."
Of course, with the music industry, there comes often brutal life lessons every artist must learn, including people taking advantage of another's talent. "Later on, I got roped into a little bit of a contract with a guy who basically did not want any competition. I was naive. I didn’t know what I was doing. He said, ‘I like what you’re doing. I want to sign you to a two-year deal, and I want you as the opening act on the road.’ I read over the contract and it all looked good. I signed up with him, and I basically did nothing for him for nearly two years, from 2005 to 2007. Anything I would have done would have been his, according to the contract. I eventually got out of that, thankfully."
As a U.S. Army veteran, he says the desire to serve the country runs deep in his heritage. His father, who happened to be absent for most of his life, passed on that notion to him. "Like I said, I was raised in a bar by my grandmother till I was 18. My father wasn’t in the picture at all. Surprisingly, that’s one thing I’ve never written a song about. I haven’t had the notion to do, or I haven’t had the desire to. That’s just how much of a negative he was in my life. It doesn’t bother me. My mom always asked me, ‘when are you going to write a song about how your dad made you feel?’ I just don’t have it in me. There’s nothing there for it. There’s a great song there, but I just haven’t found it yet."