No, That Whole Midland Thing Isn’t an Act
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With Midland, what you see is what you get. No, really — this isn’t a case of the clothes making the man. The hot country trio are doing what feels comfortable.
Their debut album On the Rocks (Sept. 22) finds them singing about what’s comfortable, which in this case is classic country themes of heartache, drinking and white-hot love. Guitarist Jess Carson says it’s where they are right now — at the end of a journey that first brought them to Nashville nearly four years ago on a mission to make allies.
“I feel like when we started we were a little more ’60s country influenced,” he says. “This sound has evolved and grown over the course of three or four years.”
Perhaps the reasons Midland seem to have come out of nowhere is because their look and sound is so distinct that surely we would have seen them coming. “Drinkin’ Problem” is the dark horse hit of 2017, coming at a time when fans were responding passionately to a more polished, pop-friendly sound. They went from being critical darlings to certified hitmakers in under a year, and the follow-up “Make a Little” is poised to move quicker. Shades of Dwight Yoakam and his guitarist Pete Anderson and George Strait come through, but as singer Mark Wystrach says, “It’s not as derivative … It’s inspired, but not copied.”
“Everything comes through these tones that we have discovered and our voices, that’s always going to make it Midland,” he adds.
Midland’s look is also true to who they are collectively. “It’s funny,” bassist Cameron Duddy says, “every time we show up in a town where there’s a guitar pull … typically they put you up at the same hotel and we’ll show up at like 7:30 in the morning, coming straight off the plane and there is a smattering of other artists waiting to get into their rooms and they’re always shocked when we walk in.”
The reaction is akin to, “You mean it’s not a costume?”
“I have holes in my jeans and this is from sliding around on stage,” Duddy says. “I’m waiting for these things to disintegrate right off my body.”
Midland have seen the tweets and heard the whispers that maybe, just maybe, their act isn’t as honest as it seems. Some wonder if it’s a ruse, and Wystrach admits they understand why. They just hope they can convince you otherwise. Genuine is a word you can use to describe Midland’s music and brand.
“We also have a an appreciation for design, and we love vintage,” Wystrach says. “These are all our passions that are being manifested live in front of people.”
“I manifest these jeans onto my body,” Duddy quips. “Who would do this on purpose?”
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