Q&A with Michigan Rattlers: "The Future Looks Bright"
2017 has been a busy year for Michigan bred, LA-based group, Michigan Rattlers. Filled to the brim with tour dates, festival appearances, the release of their new cover EP, Wasting The Meaning and even the addition of keyboardist Christian Wilder, this year has been Graham Young and Adam Reed's biggest yet, but when looking toward 2018, it only feels like a warmup for bigger and better things to come.
Fresh off the release of Wasting The Meaning in November, Michigan Rattlers are already gearing up for the new year, which not only promises more tour dates, but also the release of their debut full-length, which listeners can expect early on in 2018. In the meantime, get to know Michigan Rattlers a little better and listen to Wasting The Meaning below!
Interview by Dom Vigil
Can you tell us a little bit about Michigan Rattlers for any readers who might not be familiar?
Michigan Rattlers is an alt-country/rock band from Petoskey, Michigan, now based out of Los Angeles. Most people know us as an acoustic guitar and upright bass duo, but we just added a third member, Christian Wilder, on keyboards.
You’ve had a very busy year of tour dates, festivals and the surprise release of your new EP - what has been the highlight of your year so far?
Hands down, the best part of this year was the couple of weeks we spent touring in Michigan and the Midwest. It was pretty cool to be on stage at Bells, Blissfest and Sonic Lunch (among others) because we saw some of our first concerts at these places.
Wasting The Meaning is your new EP of covers that you surprised listeners with earlier this month. What inspired you to do a cover EP? What do the songs you included mean to you?
It was really a spur of the moment thing. We were hanging out in Michigan this September when we heard Johnny K was interested in doing a weekend session at his place in Chicago. Instead of working on songs for our first full-length album, we decided to use that time to make some tracks from start to finish and work on our recording chops a little bit.
We chose the Leonard Cohen, Tom Petty, and Haim songs because we wanted to pay homage to some of our favorite songwriters.
Not only is this EP different because of the song choices, but you had a much bigger time frame than your last EP to record these songs. How do you feel this affected the EP?
Our first release, Michigan Rattlers EP, is really a live record - five songs recorded in twelve hours. Wasting The Meaning is three songs recorded in three days. While for proper studio recordings that’s still pretty quick, it still afforded us enough time to work on instrumental parts and test out different instrument/microphone combinations. I hope that listeners who are familiar with the first EP will hear a more thoughtful, developed band sound.
What were some of the most exciting or rewarding moments of working on the EP?
Working with Evan Pinter (electric guitar) and Craig Frank (harmonica) was exciting. Also, our high school buddy (and now Michigan Rattler) Christian Wilder came along. He plays keys principally, but he also sat in on drums for all three recordings.
The three songs on Wasting The Meaning are all very diverse as well. What goals did you have in mind when tackling these songs?
Our plan from the outset was to treat the songs like raw material, without worrying about how close we came to the original recordings. That’s how we landed on the title, “Wasting The Meaning” (a Tom Petty lyric). It’s a play on the idea that when something is remade, the real context and meaning are lost. The best songs seem to stand up to even the worst renditions, so we had that going for us.
With the year winding down and Wasting The Meaning out now, what is the future of Michigan Rattlers looking like? Do you have any big plans for 2018 yet?
The future looks bright. A lot of things are still unfolding, but you can expect to see us on the road for a lot of next year.
Can fans expect any more new music soon?
Our debut full-length record should be out at some point early next year. We have yet to begin recording, but you can hear lots of new songs at our shows.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d be remiss if I failed to thank everybody who’s supported us by sharing our music and buying tickets to our shows. Really, the level of engagement we enjoy with our listeners is incredible. It keeps our wheels turning. I think 2018 is going to be a very good year.