In recent years, country music has definitely undergone an evolution. Indie country has become one of the most popular facets of the country scene. In the past, most country up-and-comers would travel to Nashville to gamble on being discovered. Now, bands are taking a more active role in their career by touring relentlessly and spreading their sounds.
Austin’s Moonlight Social is one whose reputation has exploded beyond the boundaries of their hometown, and their versatile debut “Heading South” is generating more fans with each listen. Now, the duo comprised of Jeremy Burchard and Jennica Scott is bringing their modern country sounds to the Azalea City and giving Lagniappe a preview of what’s to come.
SC: You guys hail from Austin and the Austin music scene is mostly associated with indie rock. What’s it like in Austin for an indie country band?
JS: It’s definitely unique. When you go downtown in Austin, there’s always music playing on every corner and in every bar, but most of it is cover bands and rock stuff.
JB: I think it’s one of those deals where right now, what’s been brooding here for a while now is a lot of indie and alternative rock, but the town is still known as a hotbed for all this great talent of all different types. You’ve got places like The Broken Spoke and The Continental Club that have been fostering really great country music and Americana music for a long time. This town is so eclectic that it’s just a good chance for us to show people that we are different. We have a lot of energy and focus on our vocals, whereas most bands focus on a certain aesthetic.
Being from Austin is great when you’re outside of Austin. People hear the city name and respect it. While you’re in it, it’s a great place to meet musicians and incubate, but being from Austin is great as long as you’re out of Austin.
SC: How did you know that this duo was meant to be?
JS: When the two of us met and became friends, we realized that we liked to play music. So, we decided to do a show. Jeremy had a bunch of original music, so I sang with him and did a few of my own songs and did some covers. We invited a bunch of our friends and our parents out. At the end, everybody was like, “What’s your band name?” We were like, “Um, is this a band?” After that, we realized that people seemed to like it, so we decided to explore if it would work.
JB: It was really an organic process. I just knew I wanted to get her singing some original stuff in front of people. For a really long time, I wanted to produce and be an engineer and work on the other side of the glass. Once we started working together, we realized that our weaknesses and strengths played off each other and helped us grow and became overall strengths. It became very apparent that if I was going to play music, then it would be with her. From that point on, we kept writing and trying things out and finding our voice, and people started taking notice. Our team we have built up has been organic as well. We started with one person, and they brought in someone else. Then, we talked about management and booking agents. All of a sudden, we’re operating this professional outfit all based off of us coming together.
SC: I’ve noticed that more and more up-and-coming country acts are hitting the road and touring. In the past, people have decided just to go to Nashville and play as much as possible until someone discovers them. Why do you think more country up-and-comers are hitting the road?
JS: I think that it’s an easy way to spread your music and make some new fans and be out there. People flock to Nashville and Austin, and there’s an overabundance of music. Sometimes, you have to spread your wings.
JB: So many bands and so many people are out there doing their thing. If you just sit around and play your town, then it’s not going to happen for you. It’s fun to tour. We get in the van, and we bring the guys along with us and have a good time. We see a lot of different places and meet a lot of great people. It’s super humbling to have people thousands of miles away from us to know our music when we get there. That’s a great reason for bands to get on tour. Second, nobody is going to give you a career in this industry anymore. People aren’t going out with money to put behind music and looking around town for who they’re going to spend their money on. You have to realize that what you have is worth it and what you do is worth it.
SC: You guys got an alt. rocker named Matt Novesky (Blue October) to produce your album “Heading South.” What made you go with him as opposed to someone with a country background?
JS: We met Matt through our music lawyer. He was a great guy, and we clicked on a lot of levels. We had two really good conversations, and even when we were doing pre-production, we realized that he had a good vision for where to take our music. When we went into the studio the first time, we thought we knew who we were and where our music was going. We grew while we were in the studio with Matt. Part of that is how comfortable we were with each other.
JB: I had talked to a lot of different producers through several processes, and we felt really comfortably with him. He had a really great philosophy on the music, and he even said that we were finding our sound and that he had a great way to get there. We’re extremely proud of our first record, and we’ve grown since then, as well. He’s been right there alongside of us and checking on our progress and rooting us on. He’s a generally great guy, but he knows his stuff. He’s an artist in a multi-platinum rock band. He understands what it’s like to be an artist and a producer.
SC: Judging from the music on the album, you have a versatile country sound. You have a firm grasp on your country roots, but you also delve into rock with songs like “The Finer Things in Life.” Was this a goal, or did it flow naturally?
JB: We’ve always said that we want to write things that we enjoy. So, we never set out to say that a song needs to be a particular way, one way or another. That one actually started with the post-chorus, instrumental hook, and the rest was built up from there. When I brought some of it to Jennica and we finished it together, we knew that we’re not going to release an album with 12 of the same songs on there. We’re also getting back to the times where more country artists are taking risks. In some case, it’s hurt us. Some people will hear this record and say that we aren’t country enough. Whatever, you take it with a grain of salt. We continue to grow and try new things. Our conscious effort when writing music is making sure that it’s something that we believe and how the crowd will react and what kind of emotions will the crowd have.
SC: What’s next for Moonlight Social?
JS: Immediately, we have a photo shoot this Friday, which I’m super excited about, because I love taking pictures. We’re also playing a lot of shows.
JB: We’re headed out through Georgia, Mobile and New Orleans. We’re going to finish up this year and at the beginning of January, we’re going to do a radio tour around Texas for “Heading South,” which is exciting because it will be the first time that we’ll put it out to radio listeners. While that’s all going on, Jennica and I have been writing steadily, and we’ve got a handful of songs that we’re ready to cut and put on an EP and see where they take us.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 22, 8 p.m.
Venue: Saddle-Up Saloon, 9 N. Jackson St., www.saddleupmobile.com
Tickets: $5 at the door