Micky Braun on dream collaborations, the Everly Brothers and the Austin music scene
|Photo by Purifoy Photography|
Micky & the Motorcars includes brothers Micky and Gary Braun, both themselves the younger brothers of Willy and Cody Braun of the popular Texas alt-country group Reckless Kelly. The family's musical history extends back to their grandparents -- and all four brothers performed with their father, Muzzie Braun's western swing band from an early age, including two appearances on the Johnny Carson show. Each summer in Idaho, the whole family, brothers and uncles alike, throw the Braun Brothers Reunion Festival, celebrating the best in Western Americana music.
Gimme Noise chatted with Micky Braun, songwriter and frontman of Micky & the Motorcars about their current tour (dubbed the M = MC2 Tour) and the band's 2011 record Raise My Glass. Since the album's release last year, the band hasn't been home much -- playing over 200 shows a year, including a recent trip to Europe. Micky did, however, take a few weeks off end of spring after the sudden accidental death of longtime bassist and childhood friend Mark McCoy.
GN: So sorry to hear about the loss of your longtime friend and former bassist, Mark McCoy, this past spring. It must have been incredibly difficult to get right back on the road after such a tragedy. Are you the type of person to take solace in your work? Does it bring you comfort during trying times?
Micky: Yea, it does. That particular situation, I hadn't ever really lost anyone that was that close to me, as far as the band goes or in life. I didn't pick up a guitar for a while. Once we did actually start playing again it did help out a lot. Mentally, it was a good way to grieve, actually. There are some moments and shows, really early when we first started playing again that were some pretty tough moments... and every day now, there's a definitely a moment in every show and more than that he really makes me smile.
GN: How have things changed on the road as you've grown? I've read stories of rowdy bar brawls just a few years back... is life still that crazy five records and over a decade later?
Micky: [Laughs] I would say it's slowed down considerably....we're gettin' older, going back to the hotel room after the show is a little more appealing than going to a rowdy college party.
GN: Any specific Twin Cities memories?
Micky: Oh yeah, the first time we went to Lee's we were traveling with Reckless Kelly and their van broke down about seven hours outside of town. So we left their road manager and all their gear on the side of the road to wait for AAA. We crammed all of them into our van, though we were all pretty good since it was their van and gear sittin' on the side of the road, not ours. My brother Willy and Cody and Gary and I got all in the back two benches and just drank beer the whole way back to Lee's while everyone up front was all pissed off at life. We got to Minneapolis and had a great time. We were half drunk when we walked on stage at Lee's.
GN: Have you had any funny experiences where the opening band was completely different/off-base from what you do?
Micky: That actually happens more often than you think...There was a band one time, I kid you not, their name was Pickled Pink. They had a big pink banner behind the stage. Oh my gosh. It was awesome. 80s cover band.
GN: Does Austin still have the same energy for you, with its constant influx of new musicians?
Micky: I don't feel like Austin has the same energy as when we moved there. I don't know if that's because I'm older and don't go out enough to see the new bands, but it seems like reading the Chronicle, watching the news, I feel like Austin is kinda at a stale point and is kinda stuck. It's been awhile since a new band has hit town and opened everybody's eyes and got the buzz going. It usually happens every 6 months -- some new band, some new songwriter or just a badass guitar player and I don't feel like that's happened in a long time. That could just be me being on road so much, or being out of the loop. But it seems like the same people are playing the same Sunday through Sunday gigs. And all everyone talks about is the festivals -- SXSW, ACL... now they've got the racetrack going in. I dunno. It just doesn't seem like it's about the music as much.
GN: You and the band have been on the road for the past year supporting your fifth album Raise My Glass. The title track to that album is a rather dark song. Would you care to elaborate on the story behind that song?
Micky: That song actually is... the first and only time I've co-written a song with three other people. A lot of brains and a lot of ideas going at the same time. It was mainly a story. A story of a guy whose life gets away from him at a younger age with his girlfriend. They get in a car wreck and she doesn't make it. It's mainly trying to get past that, and instead drinking and partying and being depressed. Always constantly haunted by that memory of that night.
GN: What what the energy during the making of this record that lead to centering around such a somber tale?
Micky: The whole album is kinda dark, there's a lot of sad songs on the record. It's not a theme record, but it kinda develops towards slower, darker, more story-telling songs. It's definitely not a party album. And we really liked the name of that song "Raise My Glass." I think it gets people's attention. It gets my attention. You don't know which way it's gonna go. You think of people toasting at weddings, bars, people toasting to positive things. It's a twist on that. You raise a glass to all the memories.
GN: If you were to collaborate on writing a song with anyone, in a dream situation -- living or dead -- do you have a short list?
Micky: I do, I do have a short list. John Prine is one of them who's alive. I'd do anything to get in a room with him. I mean, I'd love to, but I'd be nervous as shit. Gram Parsons would be my number one person on the deceased list. It'd be a real treat to sit with that person all night, drink wine and play piano. I would really actually love to write with Patty Griffin. I don't know if she collaborates with a ton of people. She's always been one of my favorite songwriters... and Steve Earle... but I could go on and on.
GN: You cite the Everly Brothers as a major influence, specifically a concert your parents took you to when you were kids? Can you describe that experience in more detail?
Micky: I remember a lot of that night. There were a few key moments. We were huge Everly Brothers fans. I was like 6 or 7 years old. I remember that they were both playing matching black guitars which I thought was bad ass. And at one point, I don't remember if it was Don or Phil, but he broke a string and took off his guitar and just threw it -- it was one of the coolest things I had ever seen in my life. The guitar tech on the side of the stage caught the guitar- obviously they had done that before. It was awesome. The piano player was playing a white piano, he was playing a big solo and got down on his back, doing all this crazy shit, playing with his toes. Amazing.
GN: You and Gary are part of quite the musical lineage. Was it just a given that you would end up making music your life?
Micky: Um, not 100 percent but I'd say 75 percent for sure. I started playing music at such a young age. I broke off for a while and tried my hand at a few other things. I had to make my own money without the band supporting me. My personal musical career wasn't exactly blossoming at the time. But once I got the Motorcars going, I was definitely, from then on out, a lifer.
Micky and the Motorcars perform with the Mike McClure Band at Lee's Liquor Lounge Saturday, July 21st at 9 p.m., $15.
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