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STAR Views: Todd Fritsch

By: Estella Pan

You may know Todd Fritsch as a recording artist/songwriter from Texas who has just released his third album. But, did you know that he is also a cattle rancher?! You won't hear this 24-year-old complaining about juggling two full-time careers, though – nor will you find him wasting much time, for that matter! Saddle up and learn about this rising star in this insightful interview!

Todd Fritsch

Estella: At what point in your life did you start pursuing music as a career?
Todd: Probably not until a couple years ago. I started playing in bands after high school and I knew that my target was to do something with my music professionally. But [pursuing] seriously, the past couple years I've been working really hard [toward a career as a recording artist], certainly within the last year for sure.

Estella: Who were some of the artists you grew up listening to?
Todd: Garth Brooks, George Strait. I like Merle Haggard, Earl Thomas Conley, and a lot of the artists who were "big" in the 80s.

Estella: Your self-titled album is your third project. How is this one different from your previous two albums?
Todd: This album contains four of the songs I've written. I've learned a whole lot over the last few years after working on my other albums. Compared to my other two albums, my third album is a step way above those and definitely represents who I am and the music I'm really into – that being the traditional type.

Estella: I have to say, from a music critic's point of view, your self-titled album is thoroughly enjoyable! Every song on it is a strong song.
Todd: I really appreciate that, because we worked really hard on it. We probably cut fifteen or sixteen songs for the album, then selected the ones we wanted.

Estella: When starting any given album, what types of songs do you listen for and what draws you to the ones you end up choosing?
Todd: I usually have a game plan going in for albums depending on what I've written for it. I write a lot of ballads but not many uptempo songs except for maybe a shuffle or a swing tune there. So, I'll go in a lot of times thinking I need two uptempos, one swing song, one shuffle. With ballads, I like ones that lyrically blow me away.

Estella: When did you start writing songs?
Todd: I started writing songs in high school, even before I started picking on the guitar. I guess, when I was about sixteen or seventeen was when I was writing my first songs. Gradually, since then, I've been working with a lot of great writers; constantly growing as a writer is what you've always got to do!

Estella: Speaking of great writers, I noticed that you recorded the Jeffrey Steele tune. How did you get your hands on that one? [NOTE: LeAnn Rimes' "Big Deal," Faith Hill's "When the Lights Go Down," Rascal Flatts' "These Days," and Montgomery Gentry smashes "Hell Yeah," "Speed," and "If You Ever Stop Loving Me" are only a handful of tunes from Jeffrey's extensive repertoire!!]
Todd: Jeffrey Steele is a longtime friend of Eddie Cunningham, the person he co-wrote "Memory Do Your Thing" with. And, Eddie is a friend of mine out in California, so I've been pitched a lot of songs he's co-written with Jeffrey. I've never met Jeffrey, but he's heard my albums and really likes the songs – I actually cut one of his songs for my last album, and he really likes my style. I feel really lucky, because he's one of the hottest songwriters out there! Some people, when they cut a Jeffrey Steele song, don't really how big of a deal that really is!

Estella: It would be really neat if you could write with him!
Todd: That would be one of the best things I could ever hope for in my career. I'm actually heading out to California to write with Eddie in November. He's tried to hook me up with Jeffrey, but our schedules hadn't worked out before. But, I'll be writing with Eddie, so maybe we can get that connection with Jeffrey going.

Estella: You recorded "I Got Mexico," an Eddy Raven hit, on your latest album. He only had good things to say about your version of the song. What was it like having the opportunity to meet him?
Todd: I've been a fan of his forever – I love his songs! Cutting the song, it just kind of happened and it turned out really well. Then, I received an e-mail from him requesting copies of my album. So, I went ahead and mailed it to him then crossed my fingers, because this guy's written song and it was his #1 hit. But, he gave me the biggest compliment in the world for my version and also for the whole album. Finally getting to meet Eddy was one of the things that made me feel really great. We've had some great chart numbers for the new single, "Small Town Radio," but Eddy knows me by my first name! That makes me feel great that I am considered a friend of his now! We haven't gotten together to write yet, but we're planning to schedule something in the near future, so hopefully it'll work out! I'm really looking forward to that –getting to put my name next to his on a song would be a landmark thing for me!

Estella: The last track on the album is a song you wrote as a tribute to Chris LeDoux. Being a cowboy and a recording artist yourself, was his music and lifestyle a significant influence to you?
Todd: Yes, definitely! You know, Chris – he cut records, had hits, and did his thing in Nashville. But, he wasn't going to follow [what many artists do] and live in Nashville. That's something that really struck a chord with me. I like living the cowboy life, and that's what he liked to do. No matter how many shows he did and how much he traveled, he still came home, got on his horse, and did work on the ranch. That's the thing that I respect most about him. He wrote and sang what was in his heart, no matter if it was a ballad or a really rockin' type honky-tonk tune. That was his thing and people knew that he was real. Writing "Cowboy Legacy" for this album was the least I could do for him.

Estella: That song gives you chills, and listening to it, you can almost feel his presence!
Todd: Thank you! It was inspired by his death and also the fact that the only thing a cowboy has left to leave is his legacy of what he's done. You don’t leave some big thing behind. That's what being a cowboy is all about.

Todd Fritsch

Estella: Speaking of being a cowboy yourself and the fact that you've been promoting your album, how does that figure in with your cattle ranching?
Todd: It's really intense, but that's how I wanted it to be. Like, we were on a radio tour, where we were hitting three states in a day to meet these stations. And, my booking agent was like, "Are you sure you want to do interviews so early? Most artists don't like that!" But, I told her if I'm not working at the ranch, get me out on the road! I'm used to getting up at three or four in the morning anyway, so if I have to sing at 6:30-7 in the morning, I'll do it! If I have to drive three or four hours to do an afternoon interview, then go do a gig later that night, I'm going to do it! I'm always as productive as possible. I just came off the road a few days ago, go home, and worked all day the next day. Did a showcase the other night. Worked all day yesterday and had a meeting to go to. I've been up since six today, roping and working cattle all morning. As soon as I'm done with this interview, I've got to pack up and head to a private gig.

Estella: How do you get the energy to keep it all going?
Todd: I’ve always been like that. When I'm not singing, I'm out with my brothers and dad – they do so much with our ranch, too! All I've ever known is just to work, work, work. It's hard sometimes, because I've got to watch my vocals and things like not being too tired when I do a show – but, it's also knowing that you've just got to do it. Because if you don't, and [the cattle] die or get sick, it could really cost you.

Estella: When you've got any down time, what are some things you enjoy doing?
Todd: I don't know that I've got much downtime. But, if I get the chance, I like doing ranch rodeos. It's not like a regular rodeo – you've got a team of four cowboys and do ranching events. And, you're timed by how fast you complete each event. Kicking back and spending time with my family is what I enjoy the most, though. If we get done working the ranch at eight or nine at night, it might not be a lot of downtime, but it's just enjoying the fact that I can spend time with my family.

Estella: Going back to your music, what are you most proud of about your self-titled album?
Todd: I really like "Small Town Radio," which is my latest single. And, I really like "I Don't Live Here Anymore" and how that song turned out to be, it being a ballad. But overall, I'm just so pleased how the whole album turned out. We've got some swing songs, ballads – we've got a full mix of what is going on with me and the kinds of songs I really like.

Estella: You've set your CD release party for October 27 in Houston. Are you excited?
Todd: Yes, I'm really excited about that! That club is one of the big-time hottest places in town! To get the gig – it took a while – but, when they called, I told them, I don't care what week it is. There's been a really good buzz about it, so we're planning on really doing a jammin' show that night and get us some big exposure in the Houston market! All my band is excited, I'm excited about it, and it'll go down in the books as one of my favorites, one of the best times I've ever had, I'm sure. [NOTE: Check http://www.ToddFritsch.com for details to the event!]

Estella: Do you have a favorite track off the new album?
Todd: Oh, wow! One of them is "First Date for the Last Time," a song I wrote with a good friend of mine, Randy Sarver. That song means a lot to me because I wrote it with him and it's a part of my album. He was my best friend, my guitar player, and my co-writer, then he had a heart attack and boom, he was gone unexpectedly, just like that! So, that song strikes a personal nerve with me. After that, "I Don't Live Here Anymore" is just a song that I heard driving my truck. It kept getting on hold, but nobody had cut it. So, we went in and cut it and it turned out to be a strong song.

Estella: What is something interesting about yourself that you'd like to share with fans?
Todd: It might not be all that interesting, but just the simple fact that I cowboy for a living. Not many people do it anymore, but I'm real gung-ho about it. I go from doing gigs to jumping on the back of a horse. I get asked which one I'd choose over the other, and really, I can't. It's a tough balance, but without being out here working and doing what I do, I wouldn't be the person that I am.

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