Micky and Gary Braun of Micky and the Motorcars have long lived under a formidable shadow. These two brothers are the younger siblings of Willy and Cody Braun, who make up the core of the stellar Austin-based roots-rock outfit Reckless Kelly. Born into a musical family in Idaho, performing has long been in the brothers bloodlines. But even with a handful of albums to their name, including a fantastic new one called Hearts From Above, and a recently completed tour with their older brothers' band, Micky and Gary are out to define themselves and their music on their own terms.
Micky and the Motorcars are swinging through town this weekend for a show at Hank's Texas Grill in McKinney to celebrate the release of their new baby, and we had achance to chat with Micky about life on the road, the limitations of writing country-rock songs and how happiness has helped his creativity.
DC9 at Night: Your Livers of Steel tour just ended with Reckless Kelly and the Departed. How were the crowds for you guys on the west coast?
Braun: Absolutely awesome! Being out on the road with my brothers Reckless Kelly and our great friends the Departed is always a great time. I think the crowds really had a great time as well.
How did the format of the shows work?
We did something a little different from the normal tours this time around and did a seamless set. We opened the show with myself, Willy, and Cody Canada doing an acoustic version of Guy Clark's "L.A. Freeway." Then Cody had his band join him for about 45 minutes, then he brought out me, my brother Gary and our guitar player Dustin Schaefer for a few tunes that eventually turned into the Motorcars show.
The bands on that tour obviously share a long history. What is an average "post-show" night when you guys are on that tour?
We hung out every night after the shows. Usually closing down the club, then a night cap on the buses. That usually turned into more jamming in the back lounges and telling old stories, laughing our asses off and then some more night caps. I'd say at an average we got to our bunks by 5:00 a.m. That of course was the average.
I've read where you're engaged now. Has your happy love life had any effect on your creativity?
Not at all, it's actually the opposite. It's made me write songs with a style I haven't done a lot of in the past. It's been great to be in a very positive place in my life. It's also very inspiring having such a wonderful person in your life to write about.
How do you as the artist keep new material fresh while working in such a classic musical framework?
Mainly that's where the producing comes in. It's a really fun part of making our music and it pushes me to write creatively. I also like to branch out and co-write with different artists as much as I can. It's always great to get a different perspective on an idea or melody for a song. I think that's a big part in keeping things fresh.
Do you ever feel limited or constrained by whatever boundaries may lie in the country-rock format?
I really never have. I feel like if anything, it makes you work harder to maintain your sound while continuing to put out stronger records.
Brian Keane and Jason Eady helped write on this album. Did you all actually sit down together and work some songs out in-person?
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We actually sat down and wrote together. We have always been more traditional in the sense of writing. We all feel like sitting down face-to-face is so much easier and more creative. I have sent ideas back and forth in email before, but it just doesn't feel right. Not to mention we are really good friends and a lot of times it's our only excuse to get together and have a few beers and a few good laughs.
The lineup of your band has changed in the past couple of years. Did you ever consider ditching the Micky and the Motorcars name?
No. We have spent 13 years building our name and sound. I feel like it would have been like starting over but playing the same songs. I've seen a lot of bands over the years either change their names or break off and start solo careers. It seems to always take a toll on your fans that have been so dedicated for so long. I also feel like as the new band members joined the band they were excited to be joining a band that was already established with a good name and a great fan base as opposed to be starting from scratch.