Inspired by FX's Pistol, we give you Chrissie (the biggest talent to emerge from that limited series) and the boys in Austin.
Jun 25, 2022
Jun 24, 2022
By Kevin Broughton
Spoilers ahead, okay?
London, 1975. That’s where and when the punk rock movement really got its groove on, at least in the minds of the suits at FX. (*asterisk: It’s an FX production, but available only on HULU… which is a bit of a rip-off in principle, since I had to re-up my Hulu subscription to watch this pretty good docudrama.) It’s a decent, if (probably) apocryphal account of the shooting-star history of the Sex Pistols, whom many people with shitty taste consider an “important” band.
Let’s do a couple of disclosures: 1. I’m not a punk rock guy. It took very little talent – indeed, less than marginal talent – to have a “good” punk band, especially 45 years ago. That was my impression going into this limited series, and it was only confirmed therein. The band – and their fans – acknowledged that they sucked as musicians. 2. I only care about punk rock to the degree it influenced 30 years’ worth of alt country bands. Johnny Ramone knew about five chords, which is two more than Sex Pistols “guitarist” Steve Jones ever knew. And nobody in the Ramones, or Sex Pistols – or even the Clash, which had actual talent – was as good a musician as anyone in Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown, Lucero, or Blue Mountain.
The general story of Pistol is based on Jones’s memoir, which kinda makes everything suspect; he’s portrayed as illiterate in the series. So, his memoir is probably more of an oral history. It doesn’t make a ton of sense, otherwise.
Jones can’t read, but he can steal. And in trying to boost some exotic clothes from an exotic store, he runs afoul of an ex-pat American chick. Her name’s Chrissie*, and she’s from Ohio. (She’ll go *back* there one day and be *amazed* that the *farms* have *been replaced by shopping malls*.) Y’all can figure this spoiler out, right?
The store’s owner is a bon vivant named Malcom McLaren. He’s a faux-Marxist revolutionary – he doesn’t mind turning a profit on pervy clothing – who wants a band to spread his hypocritical version of chaos.
And he doesn’t give a shit that Jones can’t sing – that was Steve’s original vision: being the next David Bowie (LOL.) He gives him a nice, white Les Paul that allegedly belonged to a member of the New York Dolls, while simultaneously recruiting a similarly untalented freak as a “vocalist,” Johnny Rotten.
Objective viewers might be shocked that everybody, throughout this story, acknowledges that the band has very little talent. Seriously, the consensus is that they suck ass. There’s a strong suggestion that McLaren just wanted to orchestrate something in keeping with his Marxist/anarchist ideal…then pulled the plug when they became too “rock ‘n’ roll.” The best musician, bassist [his name doesn’t matter, does it?] was run off at Rotten’s and McLaren’s insistence and replaced by Sid Vicious who (wait for it) didn’t know how to play the bass.
Predictable results ensued. [OH, WAIT, Y’ALL, BIG SPOILERS AHEAD.]
A few months later, Sid said goodbye to his handpicked version of Yoko Ono by stabbing her in the guts multiple times until she bled out, then O.D.’d when out on bail. And there went the Sex Pistols. What a cool “punk rock” ending, huh?
Here’s the thing:
They were a shit band who couldn’t play worth a damn. They lasted all of two years and change. And yet, they’re some kind of iconic “band?” Whatever.
Truth: Rotten wrote a couple of decent songs. But they were essentially an overrated joke. They made one album. Best part of the series: Seeing a hot version of Chrissie *Hynde in some decent sex scenes. And, in truth, it’s a decent portrayal of a short period in rock ‘n’ roll history.
It was interesting to me in the same way a book on the “Know Nothing” Party of the 1840’s U.S. is to me: Mildly compelling in that particular moment, with several instances of “Dang, I didn’t realize that.” But, far less relevant than conventional wisdom, in terms of the history of rock music.
It really is worth the watch, if you have the time.
But the Sex Pistols were and are a shit band.
Jun 10, 2022
By Kevin Broughton & Jeremy Pinnell
Let's do the fight stuff first, with a look back before we look ahead. UFC 274 featured the worst title fight of all time, where my gal Thug Rose lost the belt in five rounds of bizarre inactivity. What's worse, her boyfriend/coach/groomer, Pat Barry, told her after every round she was doing just fine. What in the heck can we make of this?
Was she protecting her belt? People hate her boyfriend. It’s really just a bummer. Bad coaching? Probably. I believe I was traveling and I heard how bad the fight was so I didn’t even go back and watch.
Moving on, the company is taking its show to Singapore for UFC 275, which will feature a couple of title fights. Jiri Prochazka -- from the Czech Republic -- is one of the two or three scariest guys in all of MMA. He faces 40-year-old (brand new champ) Glover Teixeira for the light heavyweight belt. My prediction: lots of blood and an early stoppage. Jiri is a 2-1 favorite for a reason; what say you?
I’m not predicting anyone anymore; my picks are terrible! I like Glover because his Jiu Jitsu is strong, but yeah, Jiri is a scary dude. I believe I have a pull with the universe. I lose at gambling, so may the best man win, Kevin.
The co-main event is a battle for the women's flyweight strap. No one has seriously challenged Valentina Shevchenko in her title reign, and she's a nearly 6-1 favorite here. Taila Santos has an impressive 19-1 record, but as Daniel Cormier once said, "There are levels to this game." Any chance for an upset?
There’s always a chance for an upset. It’s a fucking war. But Shevchenko is such a killer. This might be a solid challenge.
Finally, there's an enticing rematch of 115-pound ladies. Weili Zhang and Joanna (I'm too lazy to try & spell her last name -- it's the Polish lady) had one of the most epic UFC fights ever. Joanna got her head temporarily reshaped. Vegas has these odds the closest. Each of these ladies, interestingly, has lost to Thug Rose twice. Who gets her hand raised?
Joanna might be past it? I’ve always like Weili, so I’ll say her -- and we’ll see what the universe does -- and then I’ll know if I have a say or not. Also, don’t be lazy, Kevin.
Fine. It’s Jędrzejczyk. Neither of us can pronounce it, though.
As we pivot to music, it turns out you and I are both big Lyle Lovett fans -- though you more than I if body art is any indication. He recently released his first album in a decade, The Twelfth Of June. I was going to love this album unconditionally, and the jazz/big (or, "Large") band vibes remind me a lot of my favorite record of his, Joshua Judges Ruth. Have you broken your recent musical celibacy long enough to give a listen? Your thoughts?
I am a huge Lyle fan and I obviously listened to his new record the day it came out. But we were in a tour van, and it was drowned out by highway noise so I didn’t get a good read. And no, I haven’t broken my music celibacy. I’m just bored. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.
Closing things out, for this edition: A good writer I know recently did a review of Blackberry Smoke's EP of Rolling Stones covers. Assume you have a week of free studio time and any set of players you could ask for. What five songs -- regardless of artist or genre -- would you most like to put on a J.P. EP?
That’s a tough one. Maybe I’d go with… George Jones, “The Grand Tour”; Merle Haggard, “Misery and Gin”; Billy Joe Shaver, “Ragged Old Truck”; Mel Street, “Lovin’ on Backstreets”; and Bob Wills, “Faded Love.”
How’s that? You wanna pay for it? I’ll give you a co-producer credit.
Hmm. Maybe we can crowd-fund, but I still get a credit for the awesome idea. And geez, a Mel Street reference! What a great way to end this edition.
Kev’s barely over .500 on UFC bets here lately, but his value plays for UFC 275:
Jiri Prochazka, -200;
Jiri by second round stoppage, +450
Jun 4, 2022
May 26, 2022
Atlanta’s Blackberry Smoke released Stoned, an EP of Rolling Stones songs, back in November (as a Record Store Day release) to little fanfare. Under the radar or not, this is the way to do a cover record.
At least that’s what discriminating Stones fans will think. The first thing that got my attention was the track listing for the seven-cut set; Charlie Starr and the boys put some serious thought into it, and it shows in the distribution: Three songs from Sticky Fingers (“Sway,” “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” “I Got The Blues”); two from Exile (“All Down The Line,” “Tumbling Dice”); and one each from Beggars Banquet (“Street Fighting Man”) and Some Girls (“Just My Imagination.”) This last is a cover of a cover, a song first made famous by Smokey Robinson – and the best cover the Stones ever did.
It spans a decade of Stones history (1968-78), with one song each from the Brian Jones and Ron Wood eras, and a supermajority rightly plucked from the band’s golden (a/k/a “Mick Taylor”) age.
The tributes in song themselves are exquisite in form and true to the Stones’ blues-based vision of rock ‘n’ roll. “All Down The Line” kicks the record off with a faithful sendup of Keith’s stop-go riff for six bars, and the rhythm section falls right into the pocket. “Tumbling Dice” is so true to the original that you can appreciate why Blackberry Smoke is one of the few bands who could credibly pull this off; they’re just that good, top to bottom. (The Black Crowes could have done this once, but Robinsons.)
My favorite cut might be the aforementioned cover/cover, “Just My Imagination,” one I was exposed to as a 15-year-old on the Tattoo You tour. “What the heck,” I thought. “Why is Mick playing a guitar, and how have I never heard this Stones song before?”
As faithful as the Stones were to Smokey, Blackberry Smoke is to the Stones. And on “Sway” and one or two other numbers, the rough edge to Starr’s melodic voice adds a hint of Keith to all the vocals. So much in fact I found myself wishing for a cover of “Happy” or “You Got The Silver” or “Before They Make Me Run.” For that matter, Blackberry has but scratched the surface; Stones fans should be reasonably optimistic about a sequel. Because for all the great renditions on this seven-song EP, they can now envision at least twice that many for any follow-up effort(s).
Stoned is available on Spotify, Amazon, etc.
May 7, 2022
From a 1972 rehearsal, The Stones perform a classic cut from their masterpiece, Exile On Main St. So maybe it's not 100 percent authentic -- we don't see Bobby Keys or any horn players, yet we hear them -- but what's better than the Glimmer Twins singing into the same microphone? Keith's harmonies aren't the purest, but they're damned sure rock 'n' roll.
May 6, 2022
Stars of mixed martial arts’ premiere promotion will again come out Saturday night, so that means Kevin Broughton & Jeremy Pinnell are back to hold forth on a grab-bag of topics. And our Kentucky troubadour is feeling his oats. Let’s mix it up.
KB: Let's do the pop culture stuff first. We recently posted a video of Tyler Childers fronting Bobby Weir's band, doing one of my favorite Dead songs, "The Greatest Story Ever Told." Not sure I would have pegged Tyler as a Dead Head, but you never know. (I myself saw the Dead for the first time in the Bluegrass State; Freedom Hall, 1989.) Pick one living artist or band you'd love to step on stage and jam with, and the song. (And why?)
JP: How many hippies does it take to screw in a light bulb? None. They just sit around and watch it burn out then they follow it for 30 years. Never understood The Dead or the fascination. Especially when there are people like Freddie King or Albert King. I don’t know, crucify me I guess but you know I’m right.
My pick for a dream performance would probably be with one of the last greatest songwriters, Mr. Willie Nelson himself. Most of my favorites have passed, sadly, but he might be the GOAT?
KB: Hmm. I’ll put you down as “undecided” on the Grateful Dead. You do share a sentiment with a fellow pop-culture icon, though:
Moving along, at your suggestion, I've started watching Tokyo Drift, er, Vice. Tokyo Vice, on HBO. It's grabbed my interest; it's well-written and -acted, and based on a true story. I haven't researched anything, to avoid spoilers. What drew you to this series? Is the "yakuza" thing just a different flavor of the classic American mob tale?
JP: I really dig stories of the underworld. It’s just such a fascinating subject. Japanese culture is fascinating by itself, but add some criminal activity and you’ve got my attention.
KB: One of the things that’s impressed me about it is that with few exceptions, all the characters – even the criminals – have some endearing or sympathetic qualities. That’s a mark of good storytelling.
If you can listen to only three albums the rest of your life, what are they?
JP: I can do this one, Kevin. Waylon Jennings, Honky Tonk Heroes; Guy Clark, Texas Cookin’; and Danzig, Lucifuge.
KB: One of these things is not like the other. Nice.
Let's get to the main course, because UFC 274 is the best card -- on paper, anyway -- I've eyeballed in more than a year. At the bottom of the main card, there's a career-sunset bout between Cowboy Cerrone and Joe Lauzon. Next up, it's 40-year-old Shogun Rua (he lost the 205 belt to Jonny Bones in 2011) vs. OSP -- probably a "loser retires" match. Then there's Michael Chandler against Tony Ferguson -- a once-great fighter on a 3-bout losing streak.
My favorite UFC fighter, Thug Rose Namajunas, looks to cement her claim to greatest strawweight fighter of all time against Carla Esparza. And in the main event, Justin Gaethje is a slight underdog to champion Charles Oliveira. A fine menu; let's take it in chunks:
(a) Who do you like in the main event? Based on the recent history of both guys, I'll go out on a limb and say this one doesn't go the distance.
JP: Aaaaaaaannnnd IT’S TIME!!!! I’m a Gaethje fan although I like Oliviera. But Justin is a banger! He will give Charles a hard time and give us a great show.
(b) Does Cowboy make it out of the first round? Hate to put it like that, but he's lost five of his last six, and it hasn't been pretty. He's a betting favorite, but Lauzon is a smart fighter.
JP: Dang, man. I like Cowboy so much so he’s my pick whether it’s a good one or not.
(c) Chandler won his UFC debut against Dan Hooker, then ran into the buzz saws who'll fight in the main event Saturday. Two guys really needing a win here. Does Ferguson have a shot? He’s a 4:1 dog.
JP: I’m not a Chandler fan, but I think he gets the win. But a Ferguson victory could turn things around for him and really make things interesting.
(d) Thug Rose: She seems to be cleaning out the straw-weight division with two wins each over Joanna and that bad ass Chinese chick. Does Esparza have a shot?
JP: I’m not sure why Carla is fighting Rose who has the belt right now, but whatevs.
Jeremy Pinnell is touring his ass off. Catch a show, but don’t request “Uncle John’s Band.”
Kevin’s plays for UFC 274, which are worth exactly what you’re paying for them:
Rose Namajunas (via decision) - +165
Joe Lauzon over Cowboy Cerrone - +150
Lauzon via submission - +700
Charles Oliveira over Gaethje - -172
Apr 8, 2022
By Kevin Broughton
This weekend marks another UFC pay per view event, so we check in with Brother Jeremy Pinnell. Fresh (well, maybe not so fresh) off a Thursday night gig opening for Dale Watson in The Bluff City, our partner was a little sassy this morning. (Note to self: don’t hassle a dude about deadlines if he could choke you unconscious.)
Let’s mix it up.
Since last time, I’ve had a chance to listen to The Wilder Blue's self-titled album, and Ian Noe's River Fools and Mountain Saints. These seem like some hot rocks to me. Your thoughts?
I absolutely love that Ian Noe record. He’s an amazing songwriter. I haven’t had too much time to dig into The Wilder Blue but the harmonies are killer and they sound like some talented folks. It’s also 9:00 a.m. and we’re in Memphis so I’m a little out of it. I’ll apologize for my answers after being berated by you last night for a slow turn around.
Hahaha! If I saw said guy approaching, I’d probably close the distance. I’d maybe shoot a double leg and go side control to mount. I’d control the position until security came or just try to keep distance. But I feel like that is a pretty threatening act which would call for immediate action.
I wasn't crazy about this UFC 273 card at first, but you kinda changed my mind. I think the Korean Zombie is kind of a weird matchup for Volkonovski. That could be a good fight, with the Zombie's length. The rematch of Yan vs. Sterling ought to be lit – given the controversial way Sterling “won” the belt.
And Burns/Chimaev has potential for a great fight. What are you looking forward to in this PPV?
I was stoked on this card as soon as I saw it. Volkonovski is a banger but Zombie is a murderer. I think everyone knows Sterling doesn’t deserve that belt; he said it without saying it when they put it around him. His pace in the last fight was awful. I’m not a fan. Yan is obviously a way more measured fighter.
Also, Chimaev - Burns is gonna be a war. There’s so much hype with Kazmat right now and, I’m really stoked on that.
If you were able to competently play one instrument besides acoustic guitar, what would it be, and why?
I’d probably play piano, if I could be a modern-day Mickey Gilley or Jerry Lee. Maybe you can buy me some lessons for Christmas.
Mar 26, 2022
From their 2018 sophomore album Songs From The Deluge, here's Western Centuries performing "Wild Birds" live at KEXP.
Mar 9, 2022
By Kevin Broughton
“Man, we played Macon last night, and I kinda blew my voice out,” are the first words out of Brent Cobb’s mouth during a brief tour-bus visit before a late February show in Atlanta. And why wouldn’t it happen? Macon’s just 70 miles up the road from Cobb’s hometown of Ellaville; what to expect, if not a rocking show?
“The response on this tour has been overwhelming,” says Cobb, who recently released an album of Southern gospel standards, And Now, Let’s Turn to Page… “In places like Manhattan, even, they love it when we play the gospel record live, beginning to end. You’re gonna like this show.”
And yet, there’s one more tour stop, tomorrow in Nashville. Our boy was gonna have to dig deep.
And dig deep he would. Atlanta’s a good bit further from Ellaville than Macon, but there’s a partisan Cobb crowd on hand. It’s largely respectful of the opening act – rising country star Gabe Lee – but there’s a sense of anticipation bordering on rowdy.
As the moment arrives, Cobb and the band make quite the entrance: the front man in a shiny, mother-of-pearl-colored jacket with raised paisley, his bandmates sporting Kelly-green blazers of their own. The night is actually three concerts in one, as most of the songs from the gospel record make an appearance. After a quick jacket swap – as mother-of-pearl gives way to mustard corduroy – there’s a brief acoustic solo set, followed by a full-band, secular rocker to close things out.
It’s not until the last leg that Cobb’s vocal fatigue peeks in. “So, we played Macon last night, and I kinda blew my voice out,” he tells the crowd, before addressing the sound man. “Could we double up the vocal monitors, please?” And he soldiered on, including this live version of his 2020, tongue-in-cheek “Shut Up And Sing.”
Unsurprisingly, the lights come on after the last song of the set, signifying there’ll be no encores. Nobody complains, knowing they’ve watched a native son leave it all on the stage.
Mar 4, 2022
Welcome to the inaugural edition of Mixed Music Action, a hybrid back-and-forth between Jeremy Pinnell and Kevin Broughton that touches on the worlds of music and mixed martial arts…and whatever else may suit them.
When Kevin interviewed Jeremy last fall in advance of the release of his phenomenal album, Goodbye L.A., he was delighted to learn that Jeremy practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu and, like himself, is a big fan of the UFC. Two guys, two great topics and a platform like FTM? To quote UFC ring announcer Michael Buffer – though much more succinctly – “It’s time!”
KB: I caught a show with an artist last weekend -- the second-to-last show on this tour. He was really struggling with his voice, and I didn't envy him on the next night's show. That has to be a common problem in your line of work. Do you have a go-to, emergency throat remedy, beyond gargling salt water?
JP: First of all I want to say I’m happy we’re doing this. Gonna be fun.
So, losing your voice happens a lot. When you’re singing two hours a night -- and we’ve done four-hour nights -- it’s unavoidable. I supplement while on the road: Vitamin C, Vitamin D… I try not to smoke cigars. Throat Coat has been proven to work when necessary. But you have to go hard.
KB: When I recently asked you what's good to listen to these days, your first answer was the new Cactus Blossoms album. They remind me a lot of the early Jayhawks, right down to the Minneapolis roots. What about them do you find so appealing?
JP: I just dig their Everly Brothers sound. The harmonies, the hooks, the songwriting, etc. I also dig the Jayhawks and have seen them twice. Once when I was 16, they opened for The Black Crowes at Riverfront Coliseum 1993. The lights were on and people were strolling in when The Jayhawks played.
KB: Two poignant answers there. In a subtle way, you let me know that I’ve got a decade-plus on you, and now I’m jelly that I never saw the Jayhawks open for the pre-implosion Black Crowes. Whose idea was this feature, again?
Anyway, what's up with JP these days? You touring, raising young 'uns, rolling in the BJJ studio? A little of everything?
JP: I’ve been able to hit the Carlson Gym a little more, but touring is picking up quite a bit. I’m looking forward to summer. Yesterday was open mat at the gym, and my son and I went down, and some surrounding gyms showed up and everyone rolled for a couple hours. It was really cool seeing my son use the things he’s learned and enjoy himself. He’s seven, by the way. He and I have been enjoying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu quite a bit.
KB: Looking ahead to this weekend's UFC 272 card: The main event has "must see" written all over it, and to say there's bad blood between Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal is like saying Jon Tyler dabbles in conspiracy theories. Covington is a sizeable favorite, and his only recent losses are to Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman. Jorge is a fan favorite who needs a win.
Your thoughts on the matchup, please, and give me the winner and method of victory. I'll even go first and say Covington by unanimous decision; his wrestling's too much.
JP: So I talked to my BJJ instructor and asked him his thoughts. I’m a Jorge fan obviously, but he said Colby will probably wear him down by using his wrestling, and probably win by decision. But the cool thing about a fight is, anything can happen! I think Jorge is fighter’s fighter. I don’t think anyone will like Colby even if he does win.
KB: Hmmm. Going to a ringer for advice on picks? I mean, I’m not calling Brent Cobb or Leroy Virgil for advice on what music questions to ask, but whatever.
Finally, pick me another winner on this fight card.
JP: I like Kevin Holland, but Alex Oliviera is fierce. I’ll take Alex. I’m also taking Edson Barboza over Bryce Mitchell, even though I like Bryce more. But who knows?*
*Solid, underdog picks from the Kentucky Troubadour here, ladies & gents. Serious value plays.
Feb 11, 2022
By Kevin Broughton
Caught halfway between amplified Americana and heartland roots-rock, Jason Scott & the High Heat create a sweeping, dynamic sound that reaches far beyond the traditions of their Oklahoma City home. Too loud for folk music and too textured for Red Dirt, this is the sound of a genuine band rooted in groove, grit, and its own singular spirit, led by a songwriter whose unique past — a Pentecostal upbringing and years logged as a preacher-in-training — has instilled both a storyteller's delivery and a unique perspective about life, love, and listlessness in the modern world.
While his bandmates — Gabriel Mor (guitar), Taylor Johnson (guitar, keys), Alberto Roubert (drums), and Ryan Magnani (bass) — grew up listening to popular music, Jason's childhood was shaped by the sounds of Sunday morning church service. He sang in the choir and eventually learned to lead his own congregations, often turning to music to get his messages across.
A multi-instrumentalist, producer, engineer, and session musician, Scott launched his solo career with 2017's Living Rooms. The 5-song debut EP introduced him as a folksinger with a knack for "fun little earworms" (NPR), and he spent the following year balancing his time between the road and the studio, where he produced albums for Americana artists like Carter Sampson, Ken Pomeroy, and Nellie Clay. Things began to expand as he assembled the High Heat, a band of multi-faceted musicians and roots-rock Renaissance men who, like their frontman, juggled multiple artistic pursuits. Together, Jason Scott & the High Heat have since become a self-contained creative collective whose talents include songwriting, music production, photography, video direction, and more.
Castle Rock marks Jason Scott & the High Heat's full-length debut. "Quittin’ Time" makes room for a dual-guitar attack, a barroom piano solo, and a storyline about a hardworking man's fruitless attempts to escape his limited horizons, while "Cleveland County Line" flips the script, delivering a narrative about a prodigal son bound for home after a dark spiral of Kerouac-worthy travels. Lead single "Suffering Eyes" — with its twinkling keyboards, chugging power chords, and cascading guitar arpeggios — is heartland rock at its modern-day peak, as panoramic as the Oklahoma plains themselves.
This album will remind you of a lot of your favorite artists, yet every song is original. Jason Scott may be a man of few words, but his music has a lot to say.
Sure, yeah. Well, those two for sure, Tom Petty and John Prine. I like James Taylor a lot. I like songwriters: Guy Clark, Townes, stuff like that. And just about everything in between, really. Hip-hop…Kendrick Lamar. I’ve got a bunch of old Dean Martin Christmas records, too, so I like a little bit of everything.
You’ve been producing records for a while. How did that help with the efficiency of the recording process, and implementing your vision for this album?
I actually went to school for some “studio stuff” at ACM here in Oklahoma City. I’ve just been in and out of studios for the last 15 or so years of my life, and several of the guys in my band are in that environment, too. Taylor Johnson, who plays guitar for us, is an incredible engineer and producer. So yeah, having a team around you like that certainly helps in the start you get from start to finish, that’s for sure.
An interesting nugget from your bio: You grew up in a Pentecostal household and were actually training to be a pastor before dealing with – and I’m quoting here – “a crisis of faith.” Expound on that a little; how has it affected your writing, and familial relationships, for that matter?
I definitely had an “I’m Leaving” moment, and that put some distances in some friendships and relationships for sure. Most of the ones who count are still people in my life. But going back to songwriting, you know, the Bible is full of good stories, so being a Pentecostal certainly influenced me in my writing.
When I heard the tag line, “Ain’t nobody gonna roll the stone away” in “The Stone,” it initially conjured images of the first Easter. But that’s a song about a veteran and his wife coping with PTSD. Tell us how that song came about.
For a while, I’ve been startled with the amount of suicides in the veterans’ community. It’s not a song about a specific couple, but it’s something a lot of households have dealt with the last couple decades. And to be honest, those numbers haven’t improved that much. And I think I just wanted to say something about it; I mean the song doesn’t really offer any solutions, just more of an “it is what it is” situation. I have some friends and family who are veterans, too, so that influenced the song or at least wanting to make the song.
I’m a sucker for pretty harmony. Who’s the lady with the voice?
I have a couple of girl friends on the record. Abbey Philbrick has a band here in Oklahoma City – and they’re just amazing. And then Carter Sampson is a long-time buddy – I actually helped produce some of her records, way back – and she’s on “Castle Rock” and “A Little Good Music.” There are a lot of great girl artists here in Oklahoma City.
You just led me right into my next questions. “A Little Good Music,” may be my favorite cut. It’s full of good advice; what was its inspiration?
Uhhhh…my wife. (Chuckles) We have two kids, and sometimes life…well, it’s easy to get stressed out. I don’t know if there was a specific moment that inspired it, just the last nine years generally.
Tell me about the preacher raining down fire at the beginning of “Sleepin’ Easy,” and how they’re tied together. And I’m wondering if this is the first time Ambien has gotten a shout-out in a country song?
Hmmm. I don’t know. There’s probably something out there about it. But “Sleepin’ Easy,” too, incorporates being a parent and stressing out. Being a parent in today’s climate – politically, economically, all of that – is part of the stress in that song: Just trying to keep your head above water, and everybody seeming to need something from you. And [including the pastor at the beginning] wasn’t meant to be a slight, more an acknowledgment that if you go to church, you have to pay to attend, in most places.
That final cut on the album is where we hear the phrase “Castle Rock,” which I understand is somewhere you lived upon taking your leave of the church. Care to explain?
Yeah. My mom & dad split up when I was about 12, and I went to live with my mom in Castle Rock. And without going into too much detail, it was a crazy time in life for me and my two younger sisters. And I basically got to do whatever I wanted; there was definitely less focus and attention on the kids. For the first time in my life, I was doing stuff outside of a church building. Castle Rock was a time of change of me, so it was important to include some of those experiences in this group of songs.
With as crazy as the past couple years have been, have y’all had a chance to road-test any of these songs, and are there plans for a tour after the release?
Yeah, we’re in discussions with a pretty well-known booking agency right now, and we’ve got shows starting in February. And we’ve absolutely played these songs live and gotten miles out of them in many different places. But hopefully we’ll be able to add a bunch more dates really soon, and I’m definitely excited for that.
Castle Rock is out today!