At the rate they’re going on their seemingly endless tour, The Howlin’ Brothers may just receive the key to New York City tonight when they hit SubCulture on Bleecker Street tonight in support of their latest album, Trouble.
It’s their third trip to the Big Apple in a little over a year, and each time, things seem to be getting bigger for the Nashville-based trio, which is comprised of Ian Craft, Jared Green, and Ben Plasse. It’s an old-school way of making your name in the ever-changing music business, and that’s a compliment. The only question is, how did they find a way to make Trouble in the midst of all this touring?
“That is a good question,” laughs Craft. “It was crazy. Jared, our guitarist, was having a baby, and we made the record and we got right back out on the road immediately. It worked out that we had six, seven days home and we just crammed it in. And (producer) Brendan (Benson) had the same time off, so it just worked out good.”
It most certainly did, with Trouble following up their breakthrough release Howl in impressive style. No, they’re not revamping their sound or style, but it is a clear evolution for the band in terms of songwriting and cohesion as a group.
“I feel like we’re getting more comfortable with being ourselves and trying to just write music and not think about genre-specific music,” said Craft. “We’re trying to write whatever comes to us on the road. That’s what Trouble is all about to me; it’s us all blending our songwriting together and I think it’s starting to get stronger and stronger and we’re becoming more of a band. It’s badass.”
And to think, it was all done in a week, a remarkable feat in a day and age where albums can take years to make.
“It helps being broke,” laughs Craft. “We can’t afford to sit out and take it all in. We’re like ‘all right, get us that next gig, the electric bill’s due.’ But I think that also adds to the element of creativity. I was reading some Hemingway and he was talking about when he was hungry. He would skip lunch and skip dinner purposely and then go look at art, and it was so much more beautiful. And I think there’s something to that. There’s something to being literally hungry and broke that drives creativity and drives art. And we’ve never been the kind to just sit around and get too particular about music. I’ve always been from the school of thought of that’s me, that’s how I played it. If it didn’t totally suck, then let’s use that, because that’s me. I’m not going to play perfect live and I probably won’t play perfect in the studio either.”
So it goes without saying that the band wasn’t spending too much time worrying about how they were going to follow up the critically-acclaimed Howl.
“We had no time to even think about it,” he said. “We just flew in, unpacked our suitcases, recorded the album, and flew back out. We didn’t even really stop to let the pressure build. That’s kind of how it’s been. We’ve been in forward motion for two and a half years now and it’s a good thing because you don’t have time to sit back and start doubting yourself or worrying. We’re too busy just going all the time, and that’s a good thing. Every time we come back from a run or go across the country, we come back and it’s better than it has been. So it’s definitely growing and picking up speed and we’re definitely feeling it in all aspects of what’s happening.”
Now all that’s left are more gigs, more interviews, more magazine covers, and just more Howlin’ Brothers. For the Americana scene, that’s welcome news, and for the Brothers, there’s nothing else they’d rather be doing.
“It’s such a blessing that we got all these amazing things,” said Craft. “That Acoustic Guitar magazine (cover), that was outstanding. Willie Nelson was the issue before, and then us. So it’s very exciting. There’s buzz building and there’s better attendance at shows, and there’s definitely more expectations about everything, but it’s just amazing. We’ve got our heads down, we’re doing the miles and trekking along, so we haven’t really stopped to have a hot tub party or anything like that yet, (Laughs) but it’s been awesome.”
The Howlin' Brothers play SubCulture in New York City tonight, May 21. For tickets, click here