Blake Sager, drummer of the Ft. Worth-based Grady Spencer & The Work, joined us right before the end of the year. Often, the lead vocalist, frontman, or chief lyricist–typically the same person–is the one who most fans hear when it comes to interviews. Often, those are the ones who represent the ideas and thoughts of the band. Speaking with Sager, you’re able to get another perspective and viewpoint from the band. On this episode, Sager and I go into the creative process of GS+TW and how he approaches the material Spencer brings to the band. We also go down the rabbit hole of some of our favorite indie rock bands of the mid-2000s, Kendrick Lamar’s album DAMN., and theorize on why certain sounds of the ’80s have circulated back into pop music.
On episode 41, Mike Harmeier, lead vocalist and chief lyricist behind Austin’s Mike & The Moonpies returns. On this episode, we talk about our favorite George Strait songs, the band’s upcoming album Steak Night at The Prairie Rose (in which they worked with Adam Odor at Yellow Dog Studios), writing the song “Country Music’s Dead” with Odor and John Baumann, Evan Felker of Turnpike Troubadours’ writing process and style, and the band Midland.
On Episode 40, Texas singer-songwriters Parker McCollum and Koe Wetzel join me. They were both in town this past weekend so we all met up at The Blue Light on Saturday afternoon and recorded. We discuss their rise as artists within the scene–something that isn’t as overnight as one would think. We talk about their mutual admiration for one another as well as their friendship and how they’re able to maintain it while being out on the road on opposite ends of the state each weekend. We talk about McCollum’s latest release, his sophomore album, Probably Wrong as well as what to expect from Wetzel in the coming year. We round out the conversation about discovering Texas music as teenagers and the impact friends and family have had on the two as songwriters and artists.
Grant Gilbert is yet another up and coming singer-songwriter out of Lubbock. Gilbert was raised in the small town of Santo, Texas but came out to Lubbock to attend Texas Tech University. Like many of his contemporaries, Gilbert had already been picking and playing before heading off to Lubbock. But it wasn’t until arriving that Gilbert truly began honing his craft as a songwriter and performer. On this episode, we talk with Gilbert about paying his dues in Lubbock, being invited into the 806 Songwriter group, his debut EP, his upcoming full-length album, and the music that has helped shape his style, sound, and writing. At the end, he performs the song “Hub City Shakedown.”
Episode 038 is with Texas singer-songwriter Zac Wilkerson. The Panhandle native was recently back at The Blue Light the weekend before Thanksgiving. In typical New Slang fashion, we recorded this hour-long conversation right after Wilkerson and company soundchecked that evening. Wilkerson elaborates on his time up in Amarillo, winning The Blue Light Fall Singer-Songwriter Competition, his writing process, and the very personal and touching tribute (“Scar” on Dustbowl Soul) to the late AJ Swope, a fellow Amarillo singer-songwriter who tragically passed away a few years ago. Wilkerson opens up about how long and painful–but also necessary–a journey it was to write the tribute to his friend.
For Episode 037, I’m joined by a trio of songwriters–Erick Willis, Austin Meade, and Judson Cole. The three were on the final night of a week-long acoustic run. We sat in an empty Tom’s Daiquiri to record the hour-plus conversation that ranges from the pros and cons of vinyl and digital music, the various paths of discovering artists and songwriters, and what new material the three have as solo artists. All three are currently prepping new material for 2018 with Cole having already released an EP titled The First Three which came out this past August. At the end, they each perform new songs.
On Episode 036, we are joined by singer-songwriter Jamie Lin Wilson. On Tuesday afternoon, Wilson and I sat down in an empty Blue Light for a lengthy conversation that touched on the previous night’s Singer-Songwriter Competition (which Wilson had judged), writing songs with Evan Felker of Turnpike Troubadours, her numerous other collaborations over the years, what she looks for in a song and story, among other various songwriting topics. At the end, she performs the newly written song “Lonesome & Sad.”
On Episode 035, our very first podcast guest, Evan Felker of Turnpike Troubadours returns. Their fifth studio album, A Long Way From Your Heart, finds the six-piece Oklahoma outfit hitting their stride as in-depth, honest storytellers and top-tier musicians. They’re pushing their boundaries and gaining new territory on all facets of their craft while still staying true to their early intentions as artists. There’s an earnest, workman-like quality to these songs. You hear their hours of shaping, molding, and forming these soundscapes of sharp, rich tones and textures. As a lyricist, Felker is in a league very few folks achieve. Part idiom and expression appreciator, part cautionary storyteller, and part mythos building architect, Felker is able to take common occurrences, tragedies, and broken hearts and make them into special moments that feel larger than life. Still, they remain personal and as intimate as ever. After speaking about the new album, Felker plays standout “Pay No Rent.”
On Episode 034 of The New Slang Podcast, we talk with Brad Rice, drummer for Oklahoma staple Jason Boland & The Stragglers. As nearly 20 years in, Boland, Rice, and company have simultaneously helped establish and further Oklahoma music, their Red Dirt roots, and regional storytelling through a country twang lens. Last week, while in Lubbock, we caught up with Rice in the green room of Charley B’s. During this conversation, we discuss The Stragglers’ upcoming yet-to-be-titled ninth studio album that’s currently in the works, how Boland and company have kept their music fresh and creative 20 years in, the Oklahoma singer-songwriter, Millennials vs. The World, how social media has impacted the music industry, fan interaction, and our world in general, Rice’s love for the Oklahoma City Thunder, why Russell Westbrook is going to be the 2016-17 MVP, anti-intellectualism, and the current state(s) of the music scene in Texas, Oklahoma, and Nashville.
Like Jason Boland & The Stragglers on Facebook here. Follow Boland on Twitter here. Follow Rice on Twitter here. Find Squelch, their latest album, here. For more on Boland & The Stragglers, click here.
This week on the podcast, we’re joined by singer-songwriter Ryan Beaver. After a healthy dose of time living and touring in Texas, Beaver moved up to Nashville some four years back. This past year, Beaver released his third album, Rx, a 12-track record that ranged from dark, shadowy rooms to moments flushed with warmth and a velvet touch. Beaver’s Rx found the songwriter delivering his best, most well-rounded material to date. Bookends “Dark” and “If I Had a Horse” make the album come full circle with sombre reflections of life passing you by while songs like “Rum & Roses” and “When This World Ends” has Beaver serving up scorching statements of longing, love and/or lust. During this conversation, we discuss Beaver’s ever-evolving development as a songwriter and artist, what moves and motivates him, the changes in the music business, the making of Rx, and where he goes from here.