The recent inventive sounds from Sylvan Esso and friends have turned our attention toward the southern landscapes of Durham, NC. Meet Loamlands: fronted by Kym Register of Midtown Dickens with Will Hackney, also of Midtown and of Bowerbirds and of Mount Moriah, who were recently joined by Kyle Keegan and Megafaun's Brad Cook. Currently on tour through June 22, Loamlands brings a southern heart of hospitality on the road and into our ears with their new album Some Kind of Light, slated for release June 10 via Trekky Records.
On the lead single “Another Reason”, Kym, Will and the band stomp up a song of confidence, encouragement and friendship. The rusted driving wheel of life is given a voice in the slow, steady and tin-pan growl of guitars that are propelled by the strumming of acoustic rhythm chord. Legend has it that Kym's first guitar was given to her by her grandfather, a regular at the Grand Ole Opry where Loamlands continue to push that Nashville bandstand's legacy into a new eras.
Stream the premiere of “Another Reason” here. Scroll down to see what Loamlands' Kym Register has to say about the musical magic that is in Durham's water.
Playing with members from Megafaun, Midtowns Dickens, Bowerbirds and Mount Moriah, how did these experiences contribute to the rustic trad-lands of Loamlands?
It's quite the scene around here. People sharing music, gear, bandmates. I feel as influenced by these bands as I do by the music I grew up on. We'd been leaning towards playing a more southern/classic sound and found friends that could help us do that. Riding around with Brad in a van blaring JJ Cale, bartending with Heather sharing stories…these bands are some of my favorites. We're just influenced by the company we keep and because we hang out with all of these guys, we get to hear the music that influences them. It's really a beautiful thing.
The “gotta keep on walking” journey drives the rationales of “Another Reason”. Can you all describe the process of constructing this song?
When we started this band, Will and I decided to pare down from the instrumental web of our old band and just play electric, but I actually wrote this song on a lap steel. I do a lot of writing on banjo and various other instruments, then translate to electric guitar. Keeps it creative, keeps it interesting, for me. “Another Reason” was written for a friend that I love deeply. It's a song of encouragement for someone who is one of the most brilliant and kind people that I know, and who had lost the light for a while. It's driving because that's what this person needed at the time, and that's what I wanted to give them.
Being labelmates with Sylvan Esso and having Megafaun help out with the rhythm section, how do you describe the creative kinship that you share with all these groups?
Aw, these guys are the best. When we started this project we wanted to make sure we worked with people that we respected and trusted to execute our vision. Luckily there are a ton of folks in town that can do that. We've known the Megafaun dudes pretty much since they moved down to Durham. When I saw them at our sweet Durham record store, Bull City Records, I fell in love with Phil's banjo playing, Brad's upright bass and Joey's drums. We pretty much fell for each other's music and it's been a mess of love ever since. Playing with those guys feels like a family affair each time.
In some ways in your sound, I can hear faint traces of a more stripped down, folk rendering of some of Sylvan Esso's music. Is there a lot of insider secrets shared between you all?
Well we share space, musical and physical. I'm sure in that way we trade ideas and influence. I love all of Amelia and Nick's projects that I've heard but that's probably about it.
Kym, can you share any stories associated with your family's connection to the Grand Ol Opry and any special, secret powers associated with your heirloom guitar?
My grandad was the only person that I knew that played music. In a way, he demystified the idea of being a performer. The first time I was on a mic was at his house, with his buddies jamming together in a dim lit room. I sang, they played, and I still remember that feeling. I was six. He also gave me my very first guitar. We didn't have the deepest relationship but something about my desire to play music and to be on stage connected us. He was so supportive. When he died, I found a picture of him at the Grand Ole Opry that he'd hung up above his living room/studio, along with 80 or so tapes of music he'd recorded. I'm still trying to go through those. The vibe is right. Just a bunch of folks hanging out in a room playing Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Bob Willis, etc. I didn't know him well but he was one of my biggest influences and somehow validates this road I'm on. Using his guitar just brings this all back.
Give us a snapshot of what recording Some Kind of Light in rural North Carolina was like.
Kearnersville was perfect for this record. It was just far enough away from the city in a flawless studio with very cool gear we could use. We lived/worked/wrote all day and all night. It was great to get out of the studios that we've worked in before. The change of scenery got us out of our old routines and gave new life to this project we were conceiving. But we did get to record with Scott Solter again, who we've worked with in the past. Scott has seen Will and I through a lot and can push us in the best of ways.
Paint us a picture of what Durham, NC is like. The scenes, landscapes, people, etc….
It's mind blowing, really, how much Durham is changing. I grew up here, so I've seen quite a few years of transition. I opened a rock club five years ago when the streets of downtown were empty. They were empty because of a mass gentrification and economy boom and fall that happened in the 60's and 70's. We started our club on Main St. because it was pretty much the only space that we could afford. Now buildings are filling up, high rises are being erected and droves of people are moving from the North and the West Coast because Durham's vibe is chill but there's a lot going on. Sometimes I miss how punk my town used to be but there's still an element of that here. Durham's roots are solid, queer, punk and dirty. I just want to make sure we preserve space for that vibe as it changes.
Loamlands' album Some Kind of Light comes out June 10 on Trekky Records.
21 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg &
22 Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall &
05 Denver, CO – Gothic Theatre *
07 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court *
08 Boise, ID – Knitting Factory *
10 Seattle, WA – Showbox *
11 Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom *
13 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill *
14 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill *
15 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill *
17 Los Angeles, CA – Mayan Theatre *
18 Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom *
20 Denton, TX – Dan’s Silverleaf *
21 Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s Upstairs *
22 Austin, TX – The Mohawk *
*=with The Mountain Goats