Robert McCreedy on high praise and needless malaise

Categories: Q&A

Robert McCreedy, former member of the reverb-drenched country outfit The Volebeats, will mark the release of his second album at the Turf Club this Friday. McCreedy was introduced to country while working in his grandpa's record store in the Detroit suburbs. He played in psychedelic garage bands as a teenager, but when Marty Stuart, Johnny Cash's guitar player at the time, came in to scoff at the store's country section, he offered McCreedy a chance to meet the Man in Black. "Me and a buddy waited for him on a couch in the lobby of the hotel where he was staying," McCreedy remembers. "Johnny came in with June Carter--they were so tall--they walked right by us and said, "Morning, fellers." We just sat there holding his albums." McCreedy's new record, It Might Kill You, was recorded with producer Mark Stockert and features a rotating cast of musicians including Martin Devaney and Bellwether's Eric Luoma.

City Pages: Did Ryan Adams really call you "the best songwriter in the country"?

Robert McCreedy: I didn't hear that. But that's probably close to what he did say on the album where he's wearing that football jersey on the cover. In the liner notes, he wrote, "The Volebeats are the best band in America." I was still in the band when he said that, so I’ll take it as a compliment.

CP: How did you wind up in Minneapolis?

McCreedy: I left The Volebeats and I moved to St. Cloud to help open up a health food store with a girlfriend. I was starting to write my first solo record [2001's Streamline] there. The store went south first and I moved down here and started working at Dow Foods, then the relationship went south and she moved back to Detroit and I stuck around.

CP: Melancholy drifters used to gravitate toward retro songs about boxcars, but this record has distorted vocals and scrambled radio frequencies and a lot of synth. Beautiful, but what gives?

McCreedy: Adding some more color to the color wheel. I guess I was getting burned out by playing and listening to the same instrumentation over and over.

CP: Are you making fun of your alt-country brothers with the lyric "It might kill you/to see me smile" on the title track?

McCreedy: Everybody has that relationship where a friend might be getting depressed or something, and if you're in a good mood and they're not in a good mood, you might be like, "Snap out of it." But if they're never in a good mood after years and years, nobody can be in a good mood around them. I'm not referring to anybody in particular. -Steve Marsh


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