Folk rockers Michigan Rattlers will be returning to Nashville on Saturday, when the group headlines The High Watt.
The band is coming off the release of a new single earlier this month, it’s first since its debut album, “Evergreen,” in 2018. The new song features a new sound for the guys, one that delves into more variety on instrumentals.
Prior to its first full-length album, in 2016, the band, just a two-piece at that time – comprised of lead singer and guitarist Graham Young and bassist Adam Reed— released their self-titled debut EP. That six-song collection, led by debut single “Illinois Sky,” received high praise, including being featured in Rolling Stone as one of “10 New Country Artists You Need to Know.”
A year later, the band grew a three-piece, bringing in Christian Wilder on piano and released its second EP, titled “Wasting the Meaning.” That short three-song EP featured three cover songs that the band wanted to attempt. Included in those are, HAIM’s “Want you Back”, Leonard Cohen’s “On The Level,” and Tom Petty’s “Time to Move On.”
Now three years later after its debut EP debut, Michigan Rattlers have now added another member, bringing in Tony Audia on drums. Currently the band is working on its second full-length record. However, a timetable for that release has not been given.
Prior to Saturday's show in Nashville, The News was able to talk to Young about the upcoming tour, new music, what the future holds and about how he crafts a song.
Well, I know you guys are on tour already. You got a couple dates already kicked off. How have the first few shows gone?
They were great, yeah. We were in New York City last night. Yeah, I think that was the fifth show, and we got about two and half more weeks. Yeah, it's been a lot of fun.
A couple of days ago you guys released “Desert Heat.” So, talk to me a little bit about that song. I'm just curious how much time maybe you guys spent on recording that song? And I’m also wondering about the meaning behind the song?
Yeah. I think this record was really written with more instrumentation, kind of a bigger scope sonically in mind. A lot of songs on “Evergreen” were really just written acoustically, and didn't really have a clear grasp of where they were going to go or what the band was going to look like, but a lot of these songs were all written with the whole rock and roll band in mind. I think the song, lyrically, I think we all get bogged down in all the day-to-day stuff, and it's hard to get out of that. I think the song is about having that moment of clarity and realizing where you are in the world, and make me appreciate these little moments, and they make me appreciate the bigger overall picture in general.
You mentioned the new album. So, there is going to be a new album coming soon?
Yeah. We're not totally sure just yet about the release date for that, but yeah, new record at some point.
You mentioned some of the experimentation that you're doing on the new record. Maybe expand on that a little bit. What are some of the things that maybe you did differently than Evergreen?
It's a lot more electric. I mean, yeah, the saxophone to Desert Heat which, had you asked me a year ago if there was going to be saxophone on the new release, I would have definitely said no. And just a little fun sounds on the guitar, and that's always good.
Whenever it comes to actually the song writing process, about how long does it take you guys to maybe craft up a song, or is it still one of those processes that still takes a while?
I mean, it varies song to song. They all start out with just me and the acoustic, and then I write the items. Then I'll bring them to the guys and we'll sort out an arrangement fully. A lot of times though, what happens as well is that we think we have the arrangement down, and then get to the studio and record it and then listen and be like, "Oh, okay. This group changed a little bit." Then we go strip things down, and add things here. But it definitely varies a little bit, song to song. Some songs, I'll play it for the guys once, or I'll jump in. It's like, in the end, playing the album the first time that's easy for me.
How about from a lyrical perspective? I know a lot of your songs felt heartfelt. Whenever you develop the lyrics for some of these songs, are they firsthand experiences, or how do you go about coming up with the story lines on some of those?
A little bit of both. I mean, a lot of the stuff is definitely personal. I think 100 percent of the stuff is personal, even if maybe the story isn't exactly firsthand experience. At the end of the day, I'm always trying to bring it back to a feeling that I've had, and I'm just going to... Yeah, I try to write a song that I would want to listen to and that makes me reflect.
So are you continuing to write while you’re on tour, or are you just enjoying this run?
I'm writing always. It is a weight lifted off of the shoulders when you go on tour and you've recorded everything, and you get to breathe for a second, but that doesn't really last long. I mean, you always like to have a few songs in your back pocket. It's a blast now that we're starting to play these now for people.
Have you thrown “Desert Heat” into the live mix?
Yeah. I guess we played it for the first time yesterday, I think. We’ve been figuring it out in sound check and then we busted it out last night, which was fun.
How did the first take go?
It was good, it was good. We don't tour with a saxophone player, so we had to rework it a little bit. It's a fun song.
Last question, because I like hearing the different answers on this one. You guys will be performing in Nashville on Feb. 29. Is there something special about getting to play Nashville specifically?
Definitely. To come to a town that is so musical, and that has an entire culture based around good musicians and love and appreciation for live music. It's always really exciting to come to places that we know people are going to come out and sing along and be passionate. So, it's always good coming to Nashville.
Tickets for Saturday's show are still available, starting at $15. Those wanting to purchase tickets can do so here.