Mitch McBain and Blake Myers seemed destined to play music together. They met senior year at Cy-Fair High School during football season and quickly became friends.
“We’d hang out, light a fire, (talk) and have a good time,” McBain said. “We’re still best friends 11, almost 12 years later.”
McBain went to Texas State University in San Marcos and Myers attended Texas A&M University in College Station. They came together to form Texas High Life, which eventually morphed into the duo Rosehill. The turning point? An impromptu guitar jam and Pat Green’s “Nightmare.”
Debut album “White Lines and Stars” (2009) spawned several regional hits and earned them video play on CMT. “Crooked Thoughts” followed less than a month ago and seems poised to build on that momentum.
“We have a really, really good working relationship. We split everything, as far as Rosehill, right down the middle,” McBain said. “We try to avoid a lot of the pitfalls of so many traditional duos. We play real well to each other’s strengths.”
Both are 29-years old and still live a half-mile from each other in Cypress. They have no plans, despite so much early progress, to take it to Austin or Nashville.
“Blake’s the talker, and I’m the rocker,” McBain said. “We can be yelling at each other, and people are like, ‘Oh, my god, are they gonna fight?’ Two seconds, later we’re laughing again. We just work.”
Part of their success can be attributed to a strong sense of self and family. McBain is married with a 4-month-old daughter,while Myers is also married with kids. Despite a hectic schedule — the past week included dates in Bryan, Galveston and San Antonio — they make sure to get home often and leave the music onstage.
“The way I’ve normally done it is to section things out. I knew I was going to get home at 4 a.m. both of these mornings. You play your show, you hang out with the band, you talk to fans, you go home,” Myers said. “I knew I’d have two hours with my wife and kids. We laid in bed together for awhile and let the kids watch cartoons while we caught up. I went and got Shipley Do-Nuts for the family, and then it was time to get on the road.
“I wasn’t thinking about anything else for those two hours. I was only thinking about the three of them.”
“Crooked Thoughts” benefits from that same kind of focus. It’s a sonically varied album, incorporating elements of country, rock, pop and Texas red dirt. But the dozen tracks are an easy listen, thanks to the pair’s no-frills chemistry.
“There’s more of a rawness and more of Mitch and I understanding how the process works now after going through the freshman record,” Myers said. “Personally, this new record is the best thing I’ve done since getting married and having kids. It’s time away from family. You have to break some of that passion off and give it to the music, or it doesn’t work. It’s gotta be honest and believable.”
Del Rio’s Radney Foster worked on both Rosehill records, giving them both a commercial sheen. He also offered words of wisdom that resonated far beyond the recording studio.
“We’ve learned so much from him,” McBain said. “Some of the best advice he gave us had nothing to do with music: ‘When you’re off the road and home, be home.’ Don’t just be there physically. You’ve got to turn it all off. Be a good husband. Be a good father.
“We really found our voice in between then and now as a duo. Blake and I, we wrote songs that we really wanted to write, and had been trying to write, searching to write, wanting to write for a long time.”
Rosehill is content whey they are at, but wouldn't mind going bigger.
“We just want to write music that everybody loves,” Myers said. “If it stays here in Texas, that’s great. We’re happy with that. But if it goes beyond and bigger, that’s awesome. We just want to make good music that people dig and want to share.”
with Cory Morrow
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Firehouse Saloon, 5930 Southwest Freeway
Tickets: $15; 713-977-1962; rosehill-live.com