On the Edge: Rich O’Toole

Some call him a “loose cannon.” Others a “live wire.” On Twitter he’s both, but he’s mostly passionate. Passionate about taco trucks, big butts and making great and brutally honest music. And the artist named Rich O’Toole makes no apologies.

His newest project, Brightwork: A Manifesto by Rich O’Toole, is another installment of his truth. “All these songs are based on my ex-girlfriend, going through what we had to go through, splitting our ways after five years,” he explains. “And it was so hard. Writing the music and performing and making this record was my own version of therapy to get these thoughts and emotions out of my head and heart.” 

This is no collection of tear-in-my-beer songs, though. Rich puts the emphasis on the good in the lost relationship with most of the tracks relating positive memories that anyone who has ever loved, been loved and lost, or even had a summertime fling, can understand.

There’s even a touch of tongue-in-cheek humor with songs like “Summertime Girls.” He co-wrote about half of the songs and found others he could relate to by outside writers expressing their own relationship joys and angst. And he pays tribute to one of his musical heroes with a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.” 

If romance and love aren’t your cup of tea, however, you may want to check out one of this Houston boy’s other projects. He’s been doing this since he was a student at Texas A&M. While his 2006 debut, Seventeen, captured regional attention with the Springsteen-flavored “Summertime,” it was his 2011 project, Kiss of a Liar, with its single “Marijuana & Jalapenos,” that got tongues wagging. 

Rich has also generated buzz with his declaration of independence from the music industry earlier this year. Parting with his record label, forming his own company, then launching into a Twitter rant defying format classifications positioned Rich as a bit of a rebellious bad boy to some and a crybaby to others, when really what he was doing was defending the diversity of the Texas music scene. “It’s so hard to define a genre,” he explains. “There’s no reason to hate on anybody about anything. Everyone out here is an independent artist. Just support what everyone is doing, let them release music. Put out the best thing you can possibly put out. That’s what that was about.”  

To follow Rich’s Twitter feed is to glimpse a Renaissance man with a great sense of humor. He tweets about songs he is writing, people he has met, his beloved Houston Astros . . . and, more often than not, big butts and taco trucks.

He laughs and explains, “When I want awesome comedy, I [follow comics] Rob Delaney or Jenny Johnson. When I want to look into sports, I go to Josh Abbott’s Twitter page. And [my Twitter is for] if you want to know what taco stand to eat at.”

And the big butts?

“God made women to have curves and look like that and I’m fascinated with it,” he says unabashedly. “I want to date a girl that has great curves.” 

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