The real challenge is financing the thing in the brave new world of self-publishing. Controlling his own product seems like an idea whose time has come, but it’s stressful to operate with no corporate safety net. At one point, Trooper floated the idea to his fans – an intensely loyal cohort – of soliciting funds from them to cover the costs of the new album. The response was a resounding “yes,” but Troop finally backed off that idea. “Then what do I do down the road — go back to them and ask for more money for the next album? That just seems like an upside-down business plan.”
Underneath that casual demeanor, Trooper admits to feeling pressure. Five years have elapsed since his last studio album, the wonderful Make It Through This World, which – thanks to the guiding hand of Dan Penn, the legendary Muscle Shoals producer – revealed a new soulfulness in Trooper’s singing. The desire to make this new album “worth the wait” hangs over the project.
“It’s not like it’s taken me five years to write the songs,” Trooper confesses, smiling. “It was more like, ‘It’s time to make an album, I’d better get writing.’” Knowing he could turn them out as needed – that’s the mark of a professional.
When it came time to record, Trooper had no trouble rounding up a crew of longtime bandmates to join him in the studio. The new wrinkle was adding his teenage son on drums on a couple of tracks. “He’s actually turned out to be a pretty good musician,” Trooper says. “Who’d have guessed?” Hmmm — could be something in the genes?