Episode 44 is with the Panhandle Music band No Dry County. This was originally recorded roughly a month ago in the pool room of The Blue Light with the four-piece NDC. While we typically try and keep interviews to being with one or two individuals, we invited the entire outfit for the conversation that touches on the band’s Lubbock roots, the music of the Texas Panhandle, their upcoming album they recorded with Adam Odor, and guitarist Bristen Phillips’ time in Dallas’ pioneering rock band ODIS. No Dry County is Matt Newson, Trent Langford, Dub Wood, and the aforementioned Phillips.
by: Thomas D. Mooney
Lubbock country-rocker outfit No Dry County released The Night Before–their first full-length–roughly a year a back. The 12-track album displayed a band who had found a thought out, concise central theme and vibe after years of experimenting and testing their way through packed dive bars and rough honky-tonks on their ever search for the right pieces and places.
The Night Before was a genuine account of life on the road–the highest of highs and the lowest of lows–a band finds on the open, lonesome highway. More than anything, you found an earnest five-piece looking to push themselves as far out as possible without falling off the proverbial cliff. You have to keep the home fires burning somehow. You can’t let their glimmer disappear completely. “Till the Wheels Fall Off” captures that anxious hesitation of losing touch with what, and more importantly, who are left home.
“I ended up writing that song for my wife,” says lead vocalist Trent Langford. “It was about four or five months before our wedding and I was questioning her decision-making skills based o her acceptance of my proposal. I remember thinking that her parents couldn’t have been overjoyed when she brought a musician home–which led to the line ‘I ain’t the one you mama prayed for’–but it ended up being a love song admitting that I’m incapable of being what she deserves, but that I’m in it for the long haul.”
This summer, NDC and Oklahoma’s Chance Anderson Band are teaming up for a 23-date co-headline tour–including The Blue Light this Saturday, April 30. We caught up with Langford earliest this week with five questions about their Red River Revival Tour with Anderson, The Night Before, and where the band goes from here.
Watch the new lyric video for No Dry County’s newest single, “Till The Wheels Fall Off” above.
New Slang: It’s been a little over a year since the release of The Night Before. That record really captured the “NDC sound” that you guys had been searching for. Has that turned into confidence for you and the band when it comes to new songwriting?
Trent Langford: I do think in the process of making the last album we found some vibes we hadn’t captured before and a lot of that has to do with the producers we worked with in Jay Saldana, Josh Serrato and Alan Crossland. They were able to pull certain nuances out of the band that we really latched on to. That, paired with the continued maturation of this group, the consistency of having the same guys working together creatively over four years has played a huge role in establishing a sound.
NS: You guys have really been a champion of Panhandle Music–establishing it as a way to not only describe your sound, but to describe what’s been coming out of the region. So much of The Night Before is about the struggles and temptations of life on the road. In there though, there’s a lot of longing for home and family. Is describing and finding a sense of home the natural progression–whether that’s your real flatland roots or figurative state of mind
TL: I’m not sure we made a conscious decision for the material to have any specific theme. We did however want the storytelling to be brutally honest to what we were seeing in our own lives, as well as within our scene and society in general. A good majority of that album was written on a six-week tour of the east coast, which was pretty rough living and I think writing within that atmosphere naturally led to a longing for what we left in the Panhandle.
NS: You went up to Turkey, Texas a few weeks back to work on new material and get ready for this Red River Revival Tour. How’d that charge the batteries for you guys?
TL: It really was refreshing. Bristen [Phillips] and I have some deep roots in Turkey and spent a lot of time there growing up so it’s always fun when we can get back. It’s tough to get significant writing done when we’re playing 3-4 shows a week. Plus it’s hard block out distractions (and keep from going to Blue Light) when we’re in Lubbock, so we like to find somewhere away from everything, without cell service and unplug for a while. We locked ourselves in a room at The Lumberyard for about 36 hours and did a lot of constructive arguing. We liked what we came up with, so we added six of those new songs to the set to try out on this tour. We’ll see if they have any legs or I guess its back to Turkey.
NS: The Red River Revival Tour with Chance Anderson Band kicked off last week. It covers places you’ve played before, but also ventures into a lot of uncharted territory. Where are you most excited to get to?
TL: I get excited to play new markets, especially college towns, check out the foodie joints and do some sight-seeing. The cool part about this tour is about a third are places we’ve never been, a third are places Chance has never played and the rest we’ve both been playing a long time. I’m sure we’ll find some new favorite spots along the way but aside from our hometown shows at The Blue Light and Wormy Dog, I’m looking forward to getting back to Denver and Nashville. Both places have really unique scenes and rarely disappoint.
NS: It’s a lot of time on the road. You binge watching any shows? Taking some books? How are you filling the time on the actual road?
TL: Binge watching Homeland, The Blacklist and some CNN documentaries. Reading The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom and The Coward by Kyle Bullock. Playing golf when at all possible.