Nashville, Tennessee's Blank Range stopped by to play at the Lowbrow Palace over a week ago just before they headed out to SXSW. The band is made up of Jonathon Childers (singer/guitar), Grant Gufstafson (singer/guitarist), Matt Novotny (drummer), Taylor Zachary (bassist). This psychedelic country-rock band also recently released the video for their single "Opening Band", which is on their Youtube channel. Not only that, but they recently did an Audiotree session (which is fantastic) and they even played at Willie Nelson's ranch for the Luck Reunion. Blank Range is on the road and busy, but if you have a chance go watch them live go do it. After seeing them, I can truly say how amazing they are and how nostalgic their music made me for all the right reasons.
I met up with the guys for a quick interview at The Outpost located in El Paso, Texas before they had to go do soundcheck for their show at the Lowbrow Palace that night. I started off by asking the guys what this tour was all about. Grant answered by saying that this tour kicked off because they had a few shows with Margo Price on a west coast run and that was "the core of this tour. These last shows at the tail end have been on our own." Jonathon added how great Margo is and that for those that have not heard/seen her to go check her out. "It's a group of friends from Nashville and her, so it was a lot of fun touring with them."
I then pointed out that I read that although the band is Tennessee-based, most of the of them are from Illinois. My question was regarding their background and living in Nashville and how that has shaped the band itself, especially since Nashville is a hub of many different genres of music. Grant said that, "everybody has a pretty eclectic taste in this band. We synthesize it in a way that comes out as something original. Matt and I actually studied jazz in college and I think we draw on that in many ways." Jonathan added to what Grant said by stating that, "growing up in the Midwest, we had a lot of influence from new music that was good. We had the pop station and the alternative rock station and I ended up listening to that and a lot of classic rock growing up, cause, you know, that's where I grew up. That stayed with me and I still listen to that stuff, but I have gone more towards the song-writer end of that." He added that listening to Jackson Brown, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan over the years had a great influence to him as well.
As this interview took place prior to the band arriving at SXSW, I asked them what their plans where while they were there and Grant was quick to say that, "the intention behind SXSW has become more vague over the years. We are playing a show at Willie Nelson's ranch and most shows at SXSW end up being a wash. There are so many people and so many bands. It can be tough for the bands especially if you are bringing in equipment from a few blocks away and playing at one o'clock to a crowd full of drunk people and then going to the next one. I feel like we did a better job this year by playing a few shows that we feel good about and feel are worth our while instead of playing as many shows as possible." However, to that Jonathan all of a sudden added that the band plans on releasing new material soon. He mentioned that they are in the mixing process and trying to finish everything up. They want release new material so they can tour as much as possible as soon as possible. Awesome!
Towards the end of the interview, I asked Blank Range how they felt about playing at Willie Nelson's ranch for the Luck Reunion that up-coming Thursday and Jonathon said, "It's pretty cool. We kind of found a home in the Americano world in the last year. Our sound can be hard to define. Some people define us as a rock band, but that doesn't get everyone through the door and we don't really belong on commercial rock radio so we have fallen in with playing with a lot of Americano people. We have been opening up for a lot of those bands and a lot of them are our friends and they will be there as well. There are a lot of people we are excited to see, plus Willie Nelson is playing which is going to be cool." He added that the Luck Reunion in the "world we are in" is basically an honor. "The all-star game of sorts", added Grant. As soon as that was said, I got asked where the best food in town was and it's easy to imagine where that conversation went.
A big thank you to Blank Range for their time and kindness! Check them out if you haven't and follow them on Instagram to see what they have going on: @blankrange.
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