The MusicNerd Q&A With The Howlin’ Brothers

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Photo by Joshua Black Wilkkins

Let’s just get this settled right off the bat: The Howlin’ Brothers are not brothers. Nor do they howl (that we know of).

What we do know of this dynamic trio is that they play real country music and we’re not talking about the watered down crap that is considered “country music” today. The Howlin’ Brothers mix folk, bluegrass, country and blues in a way that is steeped in tradition. Nowhere is this more evident than on their excellent new record Trouble.

The Howlin’ Brothers Ian Craft recently spoke with The MusicNerd Chronicles about being brought up on rock and roll and why their music will (thankfully) never go out of style.

Was old-time country and folk music something that the three of you were raised on or did you happen upon this music later in life?

We all used to be in rock and roll bands because MTV was so huge when we were growing up. That was what any kid was aspiring to be – a rock star. As we got older though, each of us had developed an appreciation for this style of music we are creating now. Bands like the Avett Brothers and Old Crow Medicine Show have shown audiences that this style of music is just as legit as anything else that is happening out there.

Power pop songwriter Brendan Benson produced Trouble. Was there any hesitation about working with Brendan as opposed to someone who might have more of an extensive resume in the realm of country and folk music?

Working with Brendan was awesome. He was amazing at throwing in these little ideas that would end up really tying the arrangements of the songs together. I think back to having chosen Brendan as a producer and feel that had we gone with a bluegrass or folk producer, I don’t think the record would have turned out the way it did. With Trouble, we really wanted to include a broad range of genres throughout the record. Brendan really has a way of bringing out that uniqueness in our music.

Do you feel as though the style of music that you are performing is making a comeback despite having always existed?

We recently did a show with Matt Andersen and had this very conversation. I actually think that the country music industry is in a cool spot because a lot of people are just getting tired of country artists essentially making pop music. People are looking for a change of pace in the music they listen to and with that, comes expanding their listening horizons to include bands like us and guys like Matt.