Self-described punkgrass and married duo, Grace and Tony (brother of John White of The Civil Wars), are gearing up for their debut full-length album release of "November" in the same month. The album will release through Rock Ridge Music, with distribution through ADA. Grace and Tony have performed at venues to large audiences who instantly are drawn to their music; these venues include the historic Crockett Theatre, as well as performing on the critically and fan-acclaimed, "Daytrotter Sessions," Balcony TV, and Knoxville's "Blue Plate Special." They also are played regularly on The Country Network. We got the chance to chat with the duo around the time they were heading off to the Americana Music Association Awards and Festival. They chatted with us about their music, which murder mystery books influence their writing, the trend of the rising singing duo, and much more. Check out their video to the left of this article for their single of their soon-to-be-released album, "November." Read on to discover more about this fascinating couple:
Why did you both decide that "punkgrass" was a good fit for you, and what made you want to call it that?
Tony: I was coming out of a punk band called "What's Below" and all that was left of the band was an acoustic guitar and all these punk rock tunes. When I met Grace she was playing Banjo & Mandolin. So when we started playing these punk rock songs on bluegrass instruments it just made sense to call it Punkgrass. The genre invented itself.
Grace really likes English literature and old-style murder mysteries; which ones are her favorites and the most influential in your music together?
Grace: My favorite books are the Elizabeth Peters Peabody Emerson novels about Egyptology combined with a murder mystery. The ones that influence my writing the most are the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt novels by Anne Perry about the social elite murdering people with great twists in the end.
With the increasing trend of duos (Shovels & Rope, The Civil Wars, Over The Rhine), do you think being married to one another strengthens your music together, or is it the opposite on some occasions?
Grace and Tony: It definitely adds strength to our band, being as we already know how to work well together, and emotionally we are connected. On the downside, we fight like cats and dogs when we write. We both want to defend our own creative vision, and we definitely butt heads at times. We have learned to keep a disagreement we have over a song separate from our everyday lives.
What was the recording process like for November?
Grace and Tony: We recorded "November" at Villain Place out of Nashville, with Lloyd Aur Norman (Producer) and Stephen a Jones (Engineer). It was the first project we had brought players in on and it was definitely a lot of fun. Villain Place was the perfect setting for us to feel comfortable and creative at such an early stage of our careers.
How has your recording and writing process evolved from your early EP, Inside a 7-Track Mind?
Tony: "Inside a 7 Track Mind" was mostly pre-written punk rock tunes played on acoustic bluegrass instruments, whereas "November" was written in the style created on our first EP. It was a real team effort between Grace and myself. I feel like the songs were a natural evolution, and are a little more "grown up."
What was your first concert and do you have a favorite?
Tony: My first concert was Allen Jackson in Nashville, but my favorite was Pantera at "The Tabernacle" in Atlanta. I don't know if you can describe any Pantera show as an intimate setting, but the place is relatively small and I could feel my eyebrows singeing from the Pyrotechnics...Badass.
Grace: First concert was Audio Adrenaline. Favorite concert was watching the Nashville Symphony.
What are five albums or bands you wouldn't want to live without?
1. James Taylor (Any album)
2. Pantera ("Vulgar Display of Power")
3. Tool (Any album)
4. Cake (Any album)
5. Middle Brother
1. Punch Brothers- "Who's Feeling Young Now"
2. The Les Miserable Soundtrack
3. Anything Danny Elfman.
4. Anything Hans Zimmer.
5. Mudvayne "LD50"
What was your first album on CD, vinyl and/or cassette?
Tony: First Tape- Poison "Look What the Cat Dragged In"
Grace: First Cd- Hootie and the Blowfish "Cracked Rear View Mirror"
Do you have a guilty musical or entertainment pleasure?
Tony: Colbie Caillat
Grace: Hanson...Though she doesn't feel guilty about it, she probably should.
Is there any music that makes you cringe in a good or bad way?
Grace and Tony: If there is a such thing as cringing in a good way, classical music makes us do that:)
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