Posted On 26 Apr 2016
MIDLAND from Dripping Springs, Texas, includes band members Mark Wystrach, Cameron Duddy and Jess Carson and they are bringing back the best of what made 1970-80’s country most renowned. (Fun fact: Duddy is the director of Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” video)
MIDLAND‘s ballads, honky-tonk, and self-reflective songs are classic country. The band just signed to Big Machine Label Group and to celebrate the band recently played at SXSW to kick off the celebration!
The band is now on tour and if you’re lucky enough to be in California, you can check MIDLAND out at the STAGECOACH Music Festival in Indio (more info + tix here) .
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa had the pleasure of catching up with Mark, Cameron and Jess between gigs. Enjoy their chat below!
Hey Mark, Cameron & Jess! How are you today? What’s on the agenda besides our interview?
Cameron - Nothing crazy for me, just enjoying the calm before the storm that is going to be Midland’s 2016! My wife and I live on a small farm in a little town called Dripping Springs, TX. I’m watching our dogs harass our herd of goats through my office window at the moment.
Mark – Doing well, enjoying some pretty incredible weather here in Austin. Just ran to the store on my Harley to grab dog and cat food and now running out to Jess’s ranch west of town to write with our friend’s Liz Rose and Trent Willmon.
How did you guys all meet and what was the catalyst for you to start a band with one another?
Cameron: Back in LA, I played in bands with Mark and Jess separately for years. We all ran around the same circles and shared band members and a rehearsals space (next to a topless bar on Santa Monica Blvd)
The catalyst may have been my wedding a few years back (of which both Mark and Jess were groomsmen). I actually just found footage of the first time we sat down, just the three of us and played on my mother in laws front porch. There is something special that happens when we play and sing together, so after a few more miraculous circumstances we all moved to Texas (where Jess was living) and took a chance on Midland.
What was the inspiration for your new single, “Fourteen Gears”? Did you also help come up with the treatment for the video?
Cameron: Jess wrote the breadth of “Fourteen Gears”, which was another one of the early moments that defined and solidified the creation of this band.
“As for the video, I’ve always loved Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz. The scene where they play “The Weight” on that sound stage with the Staples Sisters… it’s so heavy. We basically wanted to do a Midland version of that. Minimal lighting, dolly moves, zoom lenses, cross fading transitions, in camera light cues … it really puts you in a time machine.”
Mark – Jess wrote the breadth of the song, I wrote the bridge and we all helped arrange it when we cut it back out at The Sonic Ranch in El Paso…I think Jess was writing from the point of view of a character he had created who was clearly a truck driver…the song is like that character’s theme song that’s keeping him sane while he’s out on the road away from who he loves.
You guys are bringing back the best of what made 1970-80’s with your classic country ballads, honky-tonk, and self-reflective songs. What have you learned from previous bands, collaborations and playing live that you felt you wanted to infuse into your own music?
Cameron: I grew up on Rock and Roll and soul music. Country music came to me through the California filter so it wasn’t until I met Mark in my early twenties that I was exposed to “classic” country. Jess is also an audiophile, so just when you thought you had heard it all, he drops something obscure in your lap. We were just in the studio recording with Shane McAnally.
“Whilst working on tones and “intentions” we were referencing Jerry Reed’s “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” , The Stones “Tumbling Dice” mixed with the story telling of Steve Earl’s “Guitar Town” and the harmonies of Eagles. Right there is a slice of Midland’s influences and the bar we have set for ourselves.” ~ Cameron
Mark – That you simply have to write and play songs from an authentic place that affects you, that makes your soul stir. With Midland, we are writing and playing songs that do just that, which is what makes this project so special to us.
You are all talented in your own right with other various projects. What have you learned from your other professions that have helped or inspired you with MIDLAND?
Jess: I never finished college but I went for a while as an English Literature major. Songs are like short stories so I probably was able to take something from there by creating a narrative in three minutes. I also designed clothing and jewelry for a short time. I think music is very visual and closer to aesthetic design than some people realize.
Mark – Just to be the guy having the most fun with the best attitude and the hardest work ethic…I try to draw perspective everyday and remember just how lucky I have been and how amazing it is that I get to create and perform music for a living. I’m living the dream and that is not lost on me!
If you could hang out with a legend, living or dead (musician, artist, actor, etc.) who would it be? Where would you go and what would you do?
Cameron: I just want to hang with Tom Hanks all the time. Is that too much to ask? I would love to have met Glenn Frey and ask him a million questions. I believe he is my single biggest inspiration.
Jess: I would hang out with Gary Stewart. We would just sit in a dive bar somewhere because that was his natural habitat. He’s my musical hero.
“I would hang out with Magnum P.I. on Oahu in the 80’s and help him solve a case or two while taking in the joys of the island in his Ferrari GTO.” ~ Mark
Nowadays, everything is so instant…you press a button and it’s yours ala Spotify, Soundcloud, iTunes etc. What was the first album, that you can remember saving up your hard earned cash and purchasing for yourself?
Cameron: Van Halen’s, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge .
“I know the first cd I bought was a Jimi Hendrix greatest hits cd. I also remember going in and trying to by Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” but they wouldn’t sell it to me because I was too young.” ~ Jess
Mark – It was a cassette of DEF LEPPARD when I was probably around 8 years old. My brother and I were already really into music at that point as we had asked for and received a cassette boom box for our 7th birthday. Up until that point, we just stole cassettes from our parents and our older sisters. I remember how cool I felt going to the record store with my Mom and picking out Def Leppard!!!! Hahahaha.
What was the first song you fell in love with and why?
Jess: “Winds Of Change” by The Scorpions. I think it was that whistling part that got me.
Mark - For me it was a Townes Van Zandt song called “Pancho and Lefty” performed by Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. It was my Mom’s favorite and we listened to it on repeat driving in our old stock truck hauling cattle from Arizona to Montana. That song’s emotion and melody truly captured my young imagination and I could see the characters living this tale as I gazed out the window and saw the ever changing majestic scenery of the USA roll out before my eyes…from that point on country music was sacred to me.
Who is in your current playlist at the moment? Anyone we would be surprised to find in there?
Cameron: There’s a singer song writer named Steve Young (not the football player) that I just uncovered. His stuff has been difficult to find! Someone help!
Jess: The only thing maybe surprising in my playlist is some stuff from the 1920’s and 30’s. I’m very into early American songbook stuff. Folks like Jimmie Rodgers and Hoagie Carmichael.
Mark – I’ve been listening to a lot of Jerry Jeff Walker and Don Williams…the one that you may be surprised with is Jonathan Wilson…absolutely love this guy and would love to work with him as a producer some day. I think he’s a genius.
What’s on tap next for MIDLAND? What are you guys most excited about for this year?
Mark – We just signed with Big Machine Records ! We are thrilled to just get our music out there for people to hear and to tour!
To stay connected with MIDLAND , visit their socials below!
Website / Facebook / Twitter / Soundcloud / YouTube