An Interview With Bob and Scott Cerny Known As THE CERNY BROTHERS All About Their Latest Album, ‘Looking For The Good Land’!
Posted On 10 May 2019
On their latest album, Looking For the Good Land, Bob and Scott Cerny known as The Cerny Brothers bring an epic edge to their music, expanding far beyond the folksy acoustic based sound of early albums to embrace the storytelling, supersized hooks and cinematic punch of American rock ‘n roll.
The eclectic 12 track collection, released last week on May 3rd is an organic, honest to God heartland album anchored in the anthemic spirit of Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp and other blue collar artists.
The album’s first two lead singles, “I Wanna Love You” and “Days of Thunder” have over 100,000 streams on Spotify. In the wake of their success they signed with newly relaunched Cleveland International Records whom at one time was run by legendary music business executive Steve Popovich. Label owner Steve Popovich, JR. says of The Cerny’s, “On behalf of Cleveland International Records, we are beyond excited in welcoming The Cerny Brothers as part of the Cleveland International family. You’d be hard pressed to find another band with the all around talent as these two guys. They work hard and play even harder. They are everything that embodies the spirit of Cleveland International and we look forward to championing their continued career.”
The collection was tracked at Cowboy Jack Clements’ iconic studio, where they brothers captured a high-energy sound — including Bob’s pounding piano, Scott’s electric guitar, plenty of vocal harmonies, and the insistent heartbeat of a four-on-the-floor kick drum — in the same room that once housed country icons like Johnny Cash.
“I think deep down, we’ve always wanted to make an American Rock n’ Roll album,” says Scott. “While our music will always have roots tradition, our new songs were made to be played with the electric guitar and piano. Over the past three years since moving from California to Nashville, we tried to be as honest as we could, writing and playing songs that best represent us as people and as Americans. Songs like ‘Denver,’ ‘Tennessee’ and ‘American Whore’ combine experiences we’ve had all over the country in a record that means a lot to us on a personal level.”
Discussing the duo’s new production approach, Bob adds, “Most of our songs before this album were songs written for acoustic guitar and banjo. Our last album, Sleeping Giant, started to see the emergence of electric guitar and a more rock edge to our roots sound. We grew up playing piano, and when we made the decision to buy a keyboard, we started writing songs for the piano and electric guitar and found a new means of expression that tied our adolescence with our lives now.Looking For The Good Land is a culmination of the people and places we’ve come across while traveling across the country as a true working band.”
Since releasing their debut, Dream, Scott and Bob Cerny have built their audience on the road, traveling far beyond their homes — including rural Illinois, where the brothers were raised; Los Angeles, where they sharpened their chops during the band’s early years; and Nashville, where both siblings currently live — to play a string of dive bars, living rooms, clubs, and theaters. It’s been a musical trial by fire.
Traveling from town to town also opened the brothers’ eyes to the diversity of U.S. society. They made friends in liberal cities, conservative towns, and everywhere in between. Along the way, Scott and Bob took note not only of the things that make each American unique, but the connections that pull us together, too. They realized that regardless of an individual’s past, everyone seemed to have one thing in common: they were searching for their own peace of mind. Looking For the Good Land nods to that universal journey, examining what it means to be part of the American story.
Connect With The Cerny Brothers Here:
Learn more about The Cerny Brothers in the following All Access interview here:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day for you both?
Bob: My wife’s aunt is coming into town. We’ll probably cook out and enjoy the temperate Nashville weather before it becomes a tropical swamp and bars you from really doing anything.
Scott: After this I will hopefully fall into a deep sleep until tomorrow morning. I’ve been up since early working, and we’ve been busy recording a bunch of new songs we are really excited to release at some point in the near future.
Now that we are well into the 4th month of the year, how would you say that 2019 is treating the band so far? What are some goals that you have for this year? How are those New Years Resolutions going?
Bob: I think there are pros and cons. The last couple years it has been very hard for us to get on a major tour, and at a lot of points people in the industry just ignore us. But then we play in this town or that, and we’re not ignored at all. So I think continuing to build our base in a grassroots way will be a pro in 2019. We are signing a deal with Cleveland International Records, and this is a definite pro. I think that will help get our music our there in a way we haven’t before. We have a great publicist, and a manger to reign it all in and make sure the team is effective and moving forward. This is the first time we’ve had such a good team of people working for the band, so I think good things are on the way.
Scott: I think 2019 is going to be a year of solid growth for the band. We finished recording our album “Looking For The Good Land” two years ago, and after a very long journey, it is just now coming out. It’s a very personal album for me and Bob. We are excited for people to finally hear the songs and hoping that they give us some wings and help us to continue playing music all over the country. We’re excited to partner with Cleveland International Records and be a part of their legacy moving forward.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this band together? Has anything surprised you about this musical journey so far?
Scott: We decided we wanted to play music together when we were really young. I think I was 12 and Bob was 13. We already did so much together. It just felt right. It got slightly more complicated when we introduced other members in the band, because they didn’t grow up with us, they didn’t know everything about us going in. Maybe they always felt a little bit outside the circle. I don’t know. As far as if anything surprised us about the musical journey, a Coldplay lyric comes to mind “Nobody ever said it was easy, nobody said it would be this hard.” I think we’ve both reached points that were so difficult that it really makes you question a lot of things. It’s not even about how much you love music anymore and making that choice to keep pursuing it. It’s more… do you want to survive? Do you want to be healthy?
Bob: We wanted to start a band when we very young, probably about 12 or 13. It was kind of our nature to work together and make music, or that’s what it felt like anyway. Nothing to surprising about the journey so far. I would say I never really thought about how the music industry works, and how you really do have to have a team of people working for you, and that nothing happens out of nowhere. A lot of acts that become successful sometimes appears to simply be someone who take a chance on them. And unfortunately politics has a lot to do with it. Such as, what is culturally cool at the moment? And I don’t mean music. Are their girls in your band? How do you dress? Are you pushing the right political brand? All that has to be right for the big ups to put some money behind you. Which, unfortunately kind of kills the whole idea of art.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound and how you both carry yourselves in this band?
Scott: I think it took us moving out to Los Angeles and living there for a while to realize that we were Midwestern through and through. Growing up in a small town gives you a very different perspective on people and the world, and it forms your identity very differently than someone who has been around cities their whole lives. That being said, I’m not sure if growing up where we did necessarily influenced our sound. We were exposed to most of the music that was popular to everyone else. We were very much children of the MTV era. I remember watching music videos with Bob in the morning while eating cereal before going to school just idolizing all of these cool bands they were marketing to us.
Bob: It shapes our music and our lyrical themes for sure. And at the bottom of it all it shapes who we are, and so everything we see or express is kind of filtered through our upbringing.
Let’s talk about your brand new album, “Looking For The Good Land” for release on May 3rd. What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process? How does this collection show the growth that you gone through over the years?
Bob: Usually me and my brother write whatever is on our mind at the moment, and usually a certain number of songs from a period in our lives starts to take shape on their own. And then when we notice certain themes we nudge those a little, and mold them in a way so they’re more pronounced. Looking for the Good Land happened organically like that. The songs came from our experience on the road, and mostly from meeting all the different types of people we did. We would play house shows and have a chance to really meet and understand people from all different parts of the country. That was really the bedrock of the songs on this album.
Scott: We wrote most of these songs towards the tail end of us living in Los Angeles. And some of them we wrote once we moved to Nashville. I think that most of them are about our experiences with allsorts of people on the road and our struggles as we decided that we had to move from Los Angeles. And what that meant for us as men and artists. It wasn’t a triumphant exit. It was a realization of failure to a certain extent. We realized that what we were trying to do wasn’t working out there, and we needed to do some soul searching, and start over in some ways. Whenever we write songs, we try to be as honest as we can possibly be, and I think we achieved that with this album. It’s a very personal album for me and Bob in different ways.
How would you say that your first released tracks “I Wanna Love You” and “Days of Thunder” prepare listeners for the rest of your album? What was the inspiration behind these two songs in particular?
Bob: Those songs do show what the sound of the album is sonically. My brother wrote I wanna Love you, and we both wrote Days of Thunder, which is a song about being in a tough spot, but realizing that life is always a tough spot. And you either stand up against it and keep moving or you crumble and fall.
Scott: Both of these songs feature that in-your-face, heartland rock sound that we wanted to strive for on this album. In hindsight, it’s quite a difference from our last record. “I Wanna Love You” was about an experience I had with someone I knew from college that I reconnected with on the road after a show. I had unconfessed feelings for this person, and it turns out she had the same. Being on the road and playing music for someone who lives states away from you and only having one night to connect with them can be incredibly romantic but also incredibly bittersweet. We had a really great night together, and it made me feel so alive and inspired. It didn’t last, but I still got the song out of it, and the memory stays as well. The song came really quickly, and for that I’m always grateful.
Where do you think you are both happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
Bob: If the situation is right, both studio and stage are the places I feel most comfortable in. But, performing live is a like a strange drug that you can’t experience anywhere else.
Scott: We love all aspects of it. A cheering crowd at the end of the night shouting for an encore gives you a high that is hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it. Being on the road, having incredible conversations with people, seeing the country, and playing great shows makes you feel like you can accomplish anything. There’s some dull moments during the day on tour, but rarely at night. It’s incredibly rewarding when it goes well. Sometimes if we haven’t played shows in a while or been out on the road, we both get sort of restless. Even if life is busy and stuff is happening, we yearn to be out there constantly moving. That being said, we also love recording demos and writing new songs back in Nashville. One of the happiest feelings I can ever get is when we finish recording a demo of a new song and I get a feeling that the song is honest and says exactly what we wanted to say. Regardless of if anybody gets anything out of it, I know that I’ve achieved something for myself, and it is tangible as a recording. One of the hardest parts about being an artist is the worry that you’re not accomplishing anything concrete or measurable.
What has been a favorite show of yours to date? What do you think makes an ideal performance for this band? Where are you excited to play at next?
Bob: One of my favorite shows is still a show we played at Joshua Tree out in the desert. There was dancing in the night, dust and sand flying up as everything moved their feet, and then camping afterwards. It was kind of an electric night. An idea performance happens when we have a sound engineer that cares, and we have the time to sound check and so are able to hear what we’re doing. That’s the first step. Because there are so many touring acts a lot of clubs are just completely overloaded and they don’t really care from one act to the next. But, that being said there are a lot of places out there who really do care, and those are the best ones. We’re excited to play at the Ryman this week!
How do you think being musicians and in this band gives you all the most joy in life today?
Bob: To be honest, most of the time it’s not very joyful at all. It’s hard, it’s relentless, it’s confusing, and sometimes it’s hard to stay happy when you see everything going on around you. Like I said before, the industry will ignore you, and then they’ll raise up someone else who is selling more tickets, even if the music is really bad. But I guess taste is all relative. Anyway, it can be tough getting in someones ear. But I do find that the most happy moments are when me and my brother are in a room and writing together, or when we’re on the road and playing. That’s why you try to swim through all the other garbage. You’d be surprised how hard it is just to write songs for a living.
Scott: I think that this is what we were made to do. As hard as it has been and as hard as it continues to be, I still feel like we are fulfilling some ideal within us. And we have chased our dream and made it as much as a reality as we could within our power. I think that I am most joyful when I am working and progressing towards our goals.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period? If you don’t think it is, why is that? Would you say that other musicians are making music that has been influenced by this climate?
Scott: think its a little impossible to escape the polarizing climate we live in and be unaffected by it. The news is rarely boring. I feel like we are experiencing some level of a revolutionary era – where things are shifting in ways that they haven’t shifted before. Nobody really knows where things are going. We used to be afraid to say anything featuring politics in our songs, but I think we are evolving on that a bit. I still think there’s a level of respect an artist should have with the audience. I don’t ever want to force our fans to think one way. I don’t think we will ever be blatantly supporting one political candidate or another at one of our shows, but I think it’s important as an artist to say what you think about the world and express that clearly through your music. We try and be very thoughtful and intentional with all of our lyrics. We have a whole series of new songs circling around the idea of America that we are excited to release at some point that definitely delve into political themes.
Bob: Our music is most certainly influenced by the times. Unfortunately a lot of what I see from other artists and musicians is mostly the same message over and over and over, and it starts to look like group think. For example, Trump is awful, resist. In my opinion, the group think can be a bad thing for art, and I’ve seen a lot of artists I love and enjoy make bad political art. I think it’s hard to make something unique and original when everyone is just saying the same thing. Human beings are more dynamic than that. So the times are confusing, because you have musicians all saying the same thing, while a lot of the parts of the country we travel in are happy about what is happening. A lot of times those people live in the middle of the country, and a lot of the music out there doesn’t connect with them at all. So our music is reflecting more about what I just said, instead of the Resist message which isn’t even really a message but more of a branding campaign that would feel more at home on a Target ad then effect any real change.
Who would you love to work with in the future? Who are some of your favorite artists right now? What do you think would be a dream collaboration for this duo?
Scott: We’ve wanted to open for the Avett Brothers since we saw them for the first time in Iowa. It would be really cool to meet them and hear about their journey from them as people and not just through their songs. I listen to a lot of older music. Most of my Spotify is music that came out before 1985.
Bob: I would love to go out on the road with Aaron Lewis. I grew up listening to Staind and his country music is awesome! Who knew that’s what he’d be doing now.
Where would you love to hear your music being played? A TV show, a movie, in your favorite store, etc…?
Scott: We’re both huge fans of film, and I think we would both love to have our song in a great film by a great director. That being said, TV is where so many of the great artists are at these days. Netflix and others are putting out some pretty amazing content that we’d be honored to be a part of in some way.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
Bob: I just hope people are moved by it. I hope they feel something.
Scott: I don’t know if our music necessarily has an overall message, but I hope people can get to know us as brothers and men if they listen to our music. I hope they can sense that we are honest and straightforward, and we’re just trying to figure everything out like anybody else. There’s so much that life can hit you with, sometimes it’s just nice to know that somebody else can feel the same exact way about it that you do.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about your music?
Scott: We’re really excited to be finally releasing our record “Looking For The Good Land.” I think it will be an important album for us, but I also have no idea how people will react to it. Hope for the best, expect the worst? Not sure what the best strategy is these days. But I’m excited for people to hear the songs. For what it’s worth, I think it is definitely the best album we have ever made.
Bob: Don’t think so! Great questions! That about covered it!