Off the back of their acclaimed debut album “On The Rocks” which included their breakout smash hit “Drinkin’ Problem” the neo-traditional style and energic live show energy of Midland, quickly began to captivate the imagination of fans all around the country music world.
The United Kingdom is no exception to this where the trio of Mark Wystrach, Jess Carson and Cameron Duddy were looking to make visiting our little island a priority since their debut at Country 2 Country in 2018. They next visited the UK in December 2018 and now at the fourth time of trying (following a postponement in 2019 and further rearrangements due to the pandemic) their long-awaited return to Europe is finally happening!
However, it is not just a tour for fans to get excited about, but the trio have just released their third studio album “The Last Resort: Greetings From” in advance of their trip over. We caught up with Jess via the magic of Zoom ahead of the tour to talk about the new record and how this tour as finally about to take place. “We’re doing it. There’s no turning back this time! We’re coming over and we’re excited, you know. Obviously, it’s had a few delays but we’re ready to get back on the regular schedule of coming over there. It’s one of our favourite places to play, some of our favourite audiences and we just can’t wait.”
The tour is finally going to be happening at the fourth time of asking, me and Jess joked about whether they wouldn’t actually believe it until they got on the plane. We shared how open things are in Texas and here in the UK where the month of May has been pretty crazy with a lot of rearranged tours now heading over. “We usually like to be there first, but I guess we’ll have to get in line behind Brothers Osborne, who are one of our favourite groups and collaborators actually, on this album. John Osborne has a co-write and played guitar on three of the songs.” Their last visit was the back end of 2018 and since then the trio released their sophomore record “Let it Roll” whilst they are now moving into the cycle of it’s follow-up. I asked is it interesting to be in this position where fans may be craving to hear their last record whilst they are now into a different musical era? “We still lean heavily on those two records for sure and they’re a big part of the set. We’ve already been playing the front half of the new album for so long but depending on where we’re at and the length of the set, we still do a lot of stuff off “Let it Roll” and a lot of stuff from “On the Rocks”. People will get to hear songs from all of the records and even some “Sonic Ranch” stuff too.”
“I guess one of the things I think about when playing in the UK is that people listen to the full album, so people sing along to the album cuts which is one of the things that we appreciate about audiences over there. Maybe, it’s because country radio isn’t such a dominant force over there but we’re less subjected to that than a lot of bands her in America because we don’t live and die by radio. It will be cool to see what songs people respond to because we haven’t been over there for so long.”
“Let it Roll” came out in 2019 and whilst the trio have shared a pair of extended plays since then, this marks the next full chapter and we talked about whether the process for creation was following their last album or whether it had begun more when the pandemic was underway. “It was both really. We were working a little bit towards it before that but a lot of it was written during that time. We did a lot of Zoom writes and some in person co-writes but it kind of was born form that time period, as a lot of peoples albums were. It gave you time to write and it gave you time to focus on just writing a lot of songs then cull those songs down into an album. It gives you the freedom to form a story and a concept out of a larger group of songs which is really what you want to be able to do, back in the old days people would take two years off to make an album which is not really the way it’s done anymore.”
Was there ever concern about overthinking the project with all of the time on the cards or it even becoming a “Covid” album? “I wouldn’t say so and I definitely don’t think of this as a covid album. It wasn’t a narrative on separation, loneliness and stuff like that. It really was the story that we want to tell with The Last Resort and that imagery, that direction and that place still has that cinematic thing that we try and go for whenever we’re writing. We went back to a lot of the same collaborators like Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne and Rhett Akins then some new people, but we didn’t really rewrite the process you know, it’s a Midland record in the traditional sense.”
Jess mentioned their regular collaborators Josh Osborne and Shane McAnally who along with Dann Huff have been involved with all of Midland’s projects. I asked him what it was about these three guys in particular that the band enjoy working with so much? “We just have such a shorthand relationship with Shane and Josh, we’ve known them for so long and we’ve written so many songs with them. We tend to get a really good batting average with them as far as writing goes. Dann Huff, producing, there’s a reason why he’s one of the top guys in country music, when he’s in the studio, he hears every little thing. If there’s a snare hit that is out of place, he notices it so he can be both macro and micro in the studio. When I’m playing guitar in the studio, I’m thinking about my part and trying to make it as good as possible.”
Outside of music the trio have also been sharing something else since their last visit with the launch of their own premium brand tequila Insólito which Jess shared more details about. “Well, for all three of us, that’s our drink so we decided that we wanted to do it and have our own tequila then we found these brothers that have a distillery in the mountains about two or three hours outside of Guadalajara in Mexico. They have this beautiful distillery there and we got to taste all of these different elements then create the flavour profile of the tequila which there’s three different types and it was a long process, it was years from that to designing the bottle and everything to production but now it’s finally out here in a number of states. It has been really cool for us and it’s higher quality, a premium tequila and hopefully it will be over there soon so you all can sample it.” The UK isn’t as renowned for tequila, so we finished up talking about pub culture and what their tipples change to on this side of the Atlantic. “Well, when we were in Ireland, of course you’ve got to drink Guinness and there’s a lot of the thicker beers over there. I wouldn’t say it’s super different but the whole pub culture is one thing that I really wish America had. I don’t know what it is about over here, but everything is like loud music and you can’t talk but a lot of the pubs we went into were really quiet where everyone is talking and having conversations. We love that! If we had the time, we would sit in the pub for three hours just talking to people and that’s a beer culture, which it must be tailored to because people want to hang out there for a long time. Drinking tequila, you get way too drunk, too quickly so we definitely get involved with that when we are there.”
THE LAST RESORT: GREETINGS FROM Track List:
The Last Resort | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
If I Lived Here | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
Two To Two Step | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
Take Her Off Your Hands | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
Sunrise Tells The Story | Jess Carson, Jessi Alexander, Aaron Raitiere
And Then Some | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
Longneck Way To Go (featuring Jon Pardi) | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Rhett Akins, Ashley Gorley
Life Ain’t Fair | Jess Carson
King Of Saturday Night | Jess Carson
Paycheck To Paycheck | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Rhett Akins, John Osborne
Bury Me In BlueJeans | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
Adios Cowboy | Jess Carson, Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach, Marv Green, JT Harding
Fri May 20: Kingston-upon-Thames, St John’s Church Sat May 21: London, Roundhouse Sun May 22: Birmingham, Institute Tue May 24: Belfast, Ulster Hall Wed May 25: Glasgow, Academy Thur May 26: Sheffield, Academy Fri May 27: Manchester, Ritz The new Midland album “The Last Resort: Greetings From” is out now through Big Machine Records and is available HERE. Their long awaited return to the UK begins in Kingston on Friday May 20th with full dates shown above and you can find all the ticket information on their WEBSITE plus you can follow the guys socially on TWITTERINSTAGRAMTIKTOK or FACEBOOK.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks