Texas Country Act "Perfect Stranger" Gives Nashville Second Try
Perfect Stranger Signed to Curb Records A Second Time
Perfect Stranger, a country band based out of Texas, was active on the charts in the mid to late 90’s. Their biggest hit was the ballad, “You Have The Right To Remain Silent." Their first CD was released on one of the largest independent labels, Curb Records out of Nashville. You Have The Right To Remain Silent, contained other chart hits, including "Ridin' The Rodeo," "I'm A Stranger Here Myself," and "Remember The Ride." For the past three years they’ve been touring around the United States and the world. They were back again in Nashville when I met with them, touting their second CD on Curb Records, The Hits, released in September. I met with lead vocalist Steve Murray, bass player Shayne Morrison and guitarist Richard Raines to talk about their new CD and to get to know them a little. The Hits features 10 new songs and a remake of “You Have The Right To Remain Silent.” Like their stage shows, The Hits contains a variety of solid songs and musical and vocal workmanship from these time tested road warriors, sure to please any country fan out there.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Welcome, Perfect Stranger, to the MusicDish. Thanks for stopping. Would you introduce yourselves?
Shayne Morrison Hello, I’m Shayne Morrison. I’m the bass player for Perfect Stranger. I’m from Texas and I’m an aspiring songwriter!
Steve Murray Hi, I’m Steve Murray. I’m from Texas and I’m the lead singer of Perfect Stranger. I’m just happy to be here.
Richard Raines Hello, I’m Richard Raines, lead guitarist of Perfect Stranger and I’m also from Texas.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] You fellows developed your career in a way that doesn’t happen a lot anymore in Nashville. You played locally for quite some time, created a regional following, put out an independent album on Pacific Records, became a regional hit in the Southwest, and eventually worked your way up to a label deal in Nashville with Curb Records. Many artists today move to Nashville without doing much performing or road work, sing demos for songwriters and hang around Nashville, trying to get a label deal.
Richard Raines We did it the hard way. We played all around Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana for years and years, and never really thought about trying to go and get a label deal. We were happy playing the clubs. But then we kind of changed gears and we thought, well, maybe we ought to get some stuff together and try to get a deal.
Steve Murray You know, the regional part of it – it’s OK to be a hit in your region, in your hometown. We started in our home and reached out to the surrounding counties and states. We did a little at a time, until we finally hit Nashville.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] When did you finally reach Nashville?
Shayne Morrison We actually came to Nashville and tried to shop a deal, but nobody was interested. So, we recorded our own album. I guess we finished that in ’93. It was on Pacific Records, a regional label. We brought it back to Nashville, let everyone hear it, and they still weren’t interested. So, we started pushing songs off of the album to radio ourselves. We finally got some play and got written up in Billboard Magazine, and then the labels started to get interested.
Richard Raines We were signed to Curb Records for three years and then we were off the label for a year, and then we went back with Curb. This is our second record deal with the same record label.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] What is the first single on “The Hits”?
Shayne Morrison Our first single off the CD is the title cut of our new CD, and it’s called “The Hits.” Have you heard it?
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Yes, I heard it. It’s great! When I first heard it, I thought, what a great idea for a song!
Steve Murray Yeah, it’s fun to be back in the swing of things. Perfect Stranger is still out there, we’re still making records and playing for people. We just love doing it!
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Do you write your own songs?
Shayne Morrison We all write.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Each one of you came to the group with a different set of musical influences. How does that play out when you’re picking your songs, when you’re putting your material together for a show or for a CD?
Shayne Morrison I think that the only time that it’s an obstacle is when we’ve only got one CD player, and everyone wants to play their music! (Laughter!)
Steve Murray But, this is such as democratic thing, we really don’t do anything in the band that we all don’t agree on.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] You’ve been together as a band for quite a while now.
Steve Murray I’m the new guy in the band and I’ve been in the band 11 years.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] That’s a long commitment to each other. A lot of folks would have gotten discouraged after the first round of rejections by the Nashville record labels. And then, you went back, you put your own CD together and you tried again and got rejected again. Then you finally got the label deal with Curb, and lost that. Now, you have a record deal with Curb again. How did you keep yourselves motivated to keep trying?
Richard Raines We’re filled with humility. We never were the big stars, even when we had top five songs. You know, the music business keeps you humiliated! (Laughter!)
Shayne Morrison We’re a fine example of “if we can do it, anybody can.” That’s how we feel about it, we’re not stars, we just happen to make music. We’re glad to be where we’re at right now. We’re happy with our independent CD, You Have The Right To Remain Silent, because it turned into a major label CD. Curb put their name on the CD and got it to radio.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] So, the record label didn’t have to do anything to your CD other than put their cover on it?
Steve Murray No, they actually took two songs off the CD and added two songs that they chose, and they supported our ability as musicians. We actually played on the CD. Curb was so happy with our CD that they did little to change it, so we’re proud about that.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] What are you doing right now to get ready to promote your new CD and single, “The Hits”?
Shayne Morrison Actually, this is the first week that we’ve been out to talk about it. While we’re here in town, we’re looking for some more songs. We’ve recorded 13 or 14 songs, but we’re looking for some more. We hope to release it this summer.
Steve Murray We’re also doing all of this Country Radio Seminar stuff, talking to people like you, doing things with the label, so it’s a busy time, but it’s exciting. Like I said earlier, it’s cool to be back in this position.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Do you have any plans to do any touring?
Richard Raines We always tour. We don’t really take any time off. We go out every week. We never really stay out for any extended period of time. We’ll go out four or five days a week and then go home for a day or two.
Steve Murray We’re a band. We like to play. Usually here in the winter, when everyone else is at home, trying to stay warm, we’ll get those jobs that say, “Come to Canada!”
[The Aspiring Songwriter] So, you said that you were here in town, looking for some more songs. That must mean that you’re looking for songs for the new CD that you didn’t write. How do you go about selecting songs from outside writers?
Shayne Morrison Well, we stick it in the player and we expect it to blow us away. Does it take us somewhere where we can really live the song?
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Do you like to have an overall feel or direction when you’re putting out an album, like your new album, The Hits?
Richard Raines The only thing that you can go by is if you think that the song is a hit, because nobody really knows what a hit is.
Steve Murray You might put a song on an album, and you’re listening to it, and one of them might jump out at you. You might say, “I don’t understand why they put that song on there.” Coming from a band, we’ve had to learn to play everything and have an appreciation of everything. If it’s good music – that’s our judge.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Speaking of songs, I’d like to ask a question for all of the aspiring songwriters out there. If an aspiring songwriter had the chance to pitch one song to Perfect Stranger, what would have to be in it for you to pay attention?
Richard Raines I don’t know if there is one particular thing. We just kind of go with it if a song grabs us. We try to imagine if that song would be a cool thing for us to do, because there are a lot of great songs that we hear, but they aren’t necessarily something that you’d play.
Shayne Morrison When you write, the song has to be passionate. If the song isn’t passionate, then the singer can’t sell the song. That’s the main thing. When you sing it, you’ve got to make people believe in it.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Well, fellows, I know that you have a really busy schedule and I really appreciate your visiting with me today. Are there any parting thoughts that you’d like to leave with us before we go?
Shayne Morrison Well, we’re pretty much just trying to get the message out that we’re still around. We may not have been on radio for a while, but we’re back with a great record.
Richard Raines We’d love to come up to the Northeast sometime and visit with all the country fans up there!
Steve Murray Thanks, Anne, for talking to us and say hi to everyone up there!
[The Aspiring Songwriter] And thank you to Perfect Stranger.
Visit Perfect Stranger on Curb Record’s website at www.curb.com.