Midland are releasing a documentary film and accompanying album that tells the origin story of the band, five years prior to landing on country radio.
Midland are releasing a documentary film and accompanying album that tells the origin story of the band, five years prior to landing on country radio with 2017’s platinum-certified and double Grammy-nominated Drinkin’ Problem. Titled Midland: The Sonic Ranch, the documentary will feature never-before-seen footage and original recordings that transformed three friends into one of country music’s most dynamic trios.
Proving they've never done anything according to textbook standards, Midland formed in Dripping Springs, Texas. They had met separately around Los Angeles, where Jess Carson (guitarist/vocals) and Cameron Duddy (bass guitar/vocals) had formed an earlier band. They later reconnected at Duddy’s wedding in 2013, where lead singer and guitarist Mark Wystrach and Carson acted as groomsmen.
After Duddy’s honeymoon, the trio went to Texas’ iconic Sonic Ranch – a studio nestled along the dusty American side of the Rio Grande outside El Paso – to experiment and record a few songs in their unique style of music, that is often now described as a hybrid of neo-traditional country, honky tonk and country rock.
Duddy says, "We weren’t 100% when we walked in the door beyond Mark and Jess were going to record these songs and see what this sound really was. By the time we walked out, all three of us knew this was a sound that didn’t exist, and it was a kind of country music we really loved.”
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Carson explains, “We’re all vintage people, whether old concert t-shirts or rhinestone suits, and recognising what’s beautiful in the past set us up for this sound that we found out we had, a sound that borrowed from Gary Stewart and Mickey Gilley, Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam, Buck Owens. Once we knew that, we wanted to chase it across the skyline. Now people can see our journey.”
The Midland: The Sonic Ranch soundtrack features the original songs that were recorded during that time — including Fourteen Gears, which was later re-recorded and included on their sophomore album, Let It Roll.
Wystrach adds, “Midland was not so much a band as an experiment fuelled by an assortment of spirits, but mostly tequila and the possibilities painted in our imaginations. We had no record label or manager and we had never played a show together. These recordings capture three friends, at a live-in studio in the desert, trying to make a dream come true.”
The trio took their name from the Yoakam song Fair to Midland, and released their first song Fourteen Gears in 2015. The song, according to Duddy, was "another one of the early moments that defined and solidified the band."
A year later, they signed to Big Machine Records, releasing a self-titled EP and later, their debut album On the Rocks in 2017. Let It Roll was released in 2019, which peaked at #72 on the ARIA charts. Midland: The Sonic Ranch will be their fourth album after last year's Live from the Palomino release.
1. Fourteen Gears (Adobe House Version)
2. Cowgirl Blues
3. Worn Out Boots
4. Champagne For The Pain
5. Will This Life Be As Grand
6. Fool’s Luck
8. She’s A Cowgirl
9. Runnin’ Wild
10. Texas Is The Last Stop
11. Cowgirl Blues (Jess Carson Vocal)
12. This Town
Midland: The Sonic Ranch documentary will premiere on CMT Australia on March 19.
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Image: via Facebook