Country music is undeniably having a moment with heavy rock right now. Stephen Wilson Jr. leans into the grunge bands he grew up listening to and Jelly Roll could easily slip unnoticed onto a playlist of noughties rock ballads, while HARDY’s the mockingbird & THE CROW basically sounds like a cross between Morgan Wallen and Marilyn Manson.
Predating this current wave of artists who have been influenced as much by heavy rock as classic country by a good few years, Pecos & The Rooftops have been redefining country rock ever since the release of their break out single ‘This Damn Song’ back in 2019.
So, as new artists of the week go, they may not be that “new”, but with their major label debut making a lot of noise right now it seemed as good a time as any to make sure you were all tuning into this Texas-based six-piece.
Having recently signed to Warner Records, their blend of noughties era hard rock and confessional country songwriting means they find themselves very much in the right place at the right time in country music.
“I think it feels good to have something different going, but it’s not even intentional,” says the band’s frontman and primary songwriter, Pecos Hurley. “We're just making music that we like.”
Making the music they like has already racked up nearly 400 million global streams and earned the band a Platinum certification, and in June they released their most concise collection to date.
“This is the best music we've ever put out,” Pecos says. “It would be ideal for shit to just absolutely pop off even more.”
Popping off is exactly what it’s doing right now.
Named in part for the rooftop they often hung out on, the band got its start in 2019, when four original members met attending college in Lubbock. It’s a West Texas creative oasis known mostly for its alt-country scene and for being the original home of Buddy Holly and Waylon Jennings and more recently Wade Bowen and William Clark Green.
Pecos & The Rooftops might have been raised on everything from hard rock and blues to grunge and nu-metal, but somehow the country music that they’d grown up surrounded by seemed to seep into their songwriting too.
“My mom loved older country,” Pecos explains. “So, I grew up on everything from Waylon and Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash … plus a ton of Alan Jackson and George Strait.”
Their latest self-titled album was produced by Andrew Bayliss (Jelly Roll, Austin Snell) and recorded at The Boneyard Studios. What you end up with when you throw all that into the melting pot is a mix of country ballads that owe as much to Creed and Tool as they do outlaw country and meaty anguished rock anthems that literally explode out of the speakers like Soundgarden and Alice in Chains used to.
Lyrically the songs on the album belong very much in the shadows. There are songs about loss, missed opportunities, tackling inner demons, self-destructive tendencies and the crippling cycle of addiction.
“I mean, I’m married now and happy – I'm in love and shit,” Pecos says with a laugh. “But I still love sad music and feel like it helps people.”
The three chords might be a lot more distorted but the truth is absolutely classic country.
Holler sat down with Pecos & The Rooftops to talk about their influences, making the new album and what to expect from their live show.
Where are you from and how did that influence you?
I was born in Sulphur Springs, TX and grew up outside of Paris, TX most of my childhood. I learned about hard work early on in life but also learned how to enjoy each day. We were a pretty close family. We always roped after school, went fishing or went and picked pecans and sold some of them. Us and my dad rodeoed when we were growing up so we were on the road a lot and had a lot of fun times. I think the way I grew up prepared me in a way for this lifestyle and helped me to remind myself to always stay grounded.
What did you grow up listening to?
A little bit of everything really. A lot of country music, classic country, classic rock, rap/hip hop. just about any genre I was interested in.
How would you describe your sound?
Like if you put 2 cups red dirt country, 1 1/2cups of rock n roll and 1/2 cup of blues into a blender with some ice and tequila.
Who are your biggest influences?
Waylon, Willie, Led Zeppelin, Stevie ray Vaughan, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Vince Gill, the Eagles. I’m sure I could think of a ton really.
What can you tell us about the latest album?
It was a lot of fun and hard work to put together and I’m proud of every song on it. I think it’s some of our best music for sure and I’m excited to see what it does for us.
Where’s the most unexpected place music has taken you?
It almost feels like I have that feeling damn near every weekend just because I wouldn’t be going to a lot of these places if I wasn’t doing music, but I would have to say Mexico.
What is a Pecos & the Rooftops live show like?
It’s energetic, it’s fun, we have a lot of good moments with our fans, and we play each show at 110%. We always want to make it a point to give the folks a show that is worth their money and makes them want to come see another one. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t get to do what we love to do for a living.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you all be doing?
There is honestly no telling. I would probably still be trying to get through college and bartending. Zack would probably be teaching and coaching. Brandon would probably be a jet pilot in the marines. Kalen would be an engineer or a comedian. Garrett would probably be running sound for a bar in Fort Worth somewhere. And Hunter said he would be stuck in the oil field being miserable.
If you could time travel back to any time, when would you travel back to?
Probably the 70s or 80s.
Which person from history would you most like to meet?
Doc Holiday or Billy the Kid. Or Einstein. Or Frank Sinatra... or Hank Sr.
Do any of the band have any hidden talents?
Hunter can sound exactly like a cricket. Kalen thinks he’s the funniest on the bus. Brandon does a good Australian accent. Zack is good at GTA. Garrett can read minds when he’s drunk. I am ridiculously nasty at mowing the yard.
What’s next for you?
We’re just going to keep doing our thing. Keep playing shows wherever they’ll have us, keep writing and recording new music, and try to stay as healthy as possible so we can keep doing what we were called to do.
The album Pecos & The Rooftops is available now on all streaming platforms before a full release on CD and vinyl in November.