Randall King staring into the camera wearing a cowboy hat

Exclusive: Randall King Discusses ‘Into The Neon’, Megan Moroney, Honky Tonk BS Volume 2 and More

January 29, 2024 6:10 pm GMT
Last Edited January 30, 2024 3:04 pm GMT

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When Randall King released his Shot Glass album in 2022 to widespread acclaim, critics hailed the ‘90s-inspired crooner as one of the future stars of country music.

Now, as he readies his hotly anticipated sophomore record, Into the Neon, King has completed his progression from country prodigy to the genre's primary neo-traditionalist flag-bearer.

The Texas native is cited as a key influence in the careers of today's up-and-comers, from Zach Top to Jake Worthington, and in his conversation with Holler, Randall King expresses his appreciation for the classic sound this next wave are championing.

King even chose to cut the playfully wistful ‘Coulda Been Love’, a Jake Worthington co-write, and release it as his final single before the full record arrived on January 26th.

“I love Jake Worthington”, Randall King underlines, “He’s been one of our steady guys out on the road with us, and we’ve had the opportunity to write a couple of times...He and I have similar things that we do with our vocals, and you can definitely hear that on ‘Coulda Been Love’. It’s stone cold honky-tonk country”.

This rousing brand of ‘stone cold honky-tonk’ pervades Into the Neon, with a number of tracks feeling notably rowdier and rough-around-the-edges, harking back to King's Texas dance-hall roots. Nonetheless, those seeking the charm and smoothness of fan-favourites such as ‘Hey Cowgirl’ and ‘You in a Honky Tonk’ won't be disappointed - King is still his suave, swaggering self throughout the album.

King emphasises, “This record is sonically different. With the songs that we cut and the writing style that underpins these songs, they’re a nod towards my debut self-titled record, which was the first introduction to who I am. That project showed off the influence ‘90s country had on me along with a rambling side of me”.

Across Into The Neon, ‘90s country is undoubtedly still the catalyst, but the palette Randall King draws from feels considerably broader this time around, “I think Shot Glass was a snapshot of the growth we had as a touring band through the four years between my self-titled record and that one. With Into The Neon, there’s an edginess - a rawness - that I felt like I hadn’t done yet. I wanted to get to a more dynamic sound and vibe. This record is absolutely that for me: it’s immersed and soaked in steel guitar, with dirty, gritty, honky-tonk electrics”.

As anyone who's attended one of Randall King's high-octane live shows can attest, the Hereford, Texas singer-songwriter has always had confidence in spades. But as he showcases throughout Into The Neon, and indeed his previous releases, he never allows this to spill over into arrogance or braggadocio.

This means he's able to deliver his tongue-in-cheek punchlines, heartbroken laments and lovestruck promises with the same twinkle in his eye that draws the listener in. It's a twinkle that one of King's idols, George Strait, became known for.

Although it's just his third full-length project, Randall King hits his stride on Into The Neon. You can't help but feel you'll look back in ten years and view it as one of the many highlights in a stellar discography from the genre's neo-traditional figurehead.

In addition, Randall King discussed the impact of George Strait on his style, his dream collaborations, the prospect of an upcoming Honky Tonk BS Volume 2 EP and more:

On his dream collaborations:

“To be honest with you, I’m a little upset with myself that I’ve never done collaborations - it's something I really wanted to do on this record, but we just ran out of time...Still, the fact that we can release alternative versions of the songs will allow me to do that.

There are so many great voices I love today, plus a lot of my influences growing up are still making incredible music. I’d love to have John Anderson on a song; Alan Jackson, as well as Miranda Lambert, Megan Moroney and Jake Worthington. Any of my good buddies, such as Zach Top - I love his voice, and I'd love to do something with him. Braxton Keith too…all the guys that have been out on the road with us”.

On the prospect of a duet with the other ‘King’, George Strait:

“I would love to have George Strait sing on a song. That’d be unreal! He's the King of Country Music, he's everybody’s influence. If you want to be a country music artist and you don't love George Strait, then you don't love country music”.

On his favourite track from the new album:

“I think the one that I’m most excited for everybody to dig into is a song called ‘I Could Be That Rain’. That song is sonically and dynamically different from anything I’ve ever done, and it’s the one that stands out the most to me on this record”.

On the songs that nearly got away:

“This record was only supposed to have 15 songs. We kept three in our back pocket, thank God, and we had the extra time when we went in the studio. We were in the studio for two days straight, and our producer was like, ‘Hey, I think we’re gonna end up having quite a bit of time at the back-end of tomorrow. If there are two or three songs that we could squeeze onto the album, let’s do them’. I was like, ‘Absolutely’.

There’s a song called ‘As Far As We Go’, written by Brett Sheroky and Drew Kennedy, and it almost didn’t make it because it came down to that song or ‘Hang of Hangin’ On’, and it was hard, but I chose ‘Hang of Hangin’ On’. I’m so glad we had the extra time in the studio because that’s the sneakiest song on the record. Another song we cut at the end was ‘But It Ain’t’, which I wrote with Ben Stennis and Jared Mullens, and that song is country to its core. Then, Jared, my co-producer, had one that he believed in and he was like, ‘Dude, please let me cut this song on you, it’s gonna be so good,” and that’s ‘Good Feelin’”.

On release plans beyond Into the Neon:

“As far as future projects go, we released an EP called Honky Tonk BS right after Shot Glass. It was five songs that didn’t make Shot Glass that I wish would’ve made it, and I love those songs. They’re so different. I wrote on all five of those, and me, Bart Butler and Ryan Gore just wanted to go in and cut some more songs that didn’t make the record that are stone cold country, and prove why they should’ve made it.

So, in my mind, I think the next project in the works will be Honky Tonk BS Volume Two, and there are a lot of songs that have been sittin’ in my back pocket that I want to cut. There are some I’ve tinkered with and got to where I want them to be, which I’ve been holding onto for the right project and the right time”.

For more on Randall King, see below:

Written by Maxim Mower
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