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Trick Pony pulls off a hat track

By Robert Loy, November 2005

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They weren't always known as Trick Pony, however.

"We toured for four years before we got a record deal under the name Rebel, which I hated. But we originally took it to show we were coloring outside the lines of Nashville, rebelling against that system, but then people started showing up waving Confederate flags and stuff, which is not what we were all about at all. So when we got a record deal, and they told us we had to change our name I said, 'Thank God' cuz it just wasn't working for us."

"We started looking for names, and Keith called me up one night after he'd had a few beers and watched an old Paul Simon movie called 'One Trick Pony.' He thought that would be a cool name - you come into town, do your one trick and leave. Sounded good to me. Hell, I just wanted a record deal. The record label people said, 'well, you've got more than one trick, how bout just Trick Pony', and that was that."

The band they were compared with most in the early years - and still today - is Highway 101. Which is just fine by Dean.

"I'm a huge fan of Highway 101. Paulette Carlson had such a unique voice. That's one thing I miss on the radio these days is that way when Paulette sang you knew it was Paulette. Nowadays, you can't ever be sure who it is singing. That's what I love about Heidi, when she sings it's unmistakably her. That's something we keep in mind when we chose songs too. We don't want to cut songs that SHeDAISY could cut or Rascal Flatts. We wanted songs that sounded like Trick Pony."

One way the band ensures that happens is to choose all the songs without knowing anything about them, not even who wrote them.

"Keith is a big Conway Twitty fan, and he read somewhere that Conway did it that way, and I think everybody should do it like that. It's too easy to lean toward your favorite song writer or your favorite publishing company. This way it's just the song, and if we love it, we cut it."

"We had a lot more time to work on this album. Our second album was mostly recorded in hotel rooms from here to Las Vegas and back. This time, we had more time to work on arrangements and to count four and play. I think that's the key to getting that Trick Pony sound, cuz we're not perfect. I think music wasn't meant to be perfect. Otherwise we'd all be listening to computers. We're a real rough-cut group, and we play on our own records, which not a lot of bands do anymore. We can sit on the porch and play, and it sounds like our records. I don't think a lot of bands can say that."

Asked to comment on the significance of the new CD's title - R.I.D.E. (Rebellious Individuals Delivering Entertainment), Dean laughs and says, "I knew somehow we were going to get back to Rebel. We're not the cookie cutter type. When we first came out, we had 'Pour Me,' a female drinking song, and a lot of people ragged us about it. The record company wasn't sure if radio would play it. But Heidi's from that old school where women lie, cheat and steal too. They're just better at it. We're all big fans of the outlaw movement in country music. Johnny Cash was like a father to me, God bless him."

"We're all for three minute positive love songs, but we lean more to the whiskey-drinking, lying, cheating, stealing - you know, country music, the white man's blues."

"We just want everybody to forget about their troubles and get into the music for two hours and not worry about baby sitters and house payments."

These days that's quite a trick, but the Ponies pull it off.

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