Country Westerns cover the Richard and Linda Thompson chestnut “Wall of Death” in the video below. The track is taken from their upcoming covers EP which is out this Friday via Fat Possum.
The songs for the Country Westerns EP were recorded in the garage practice-space at drummer Brian Kotzur’s house, a place that has served as home for Country Westerns since their beginnings. The band’s self-titled debut record was released three months into the pandemic, and without a release show, tour, or any of the usual fanfare that come with new tunes, the band set out to stay active by getting together a couple times a week to work on new songs and learn covers for fun. Kotzur began working on building a recording setup in the practice space, and over the course of several months of playing and experimenting, a handful of favorites and a new original emerged. “Come Down” (Country Westerns), “A Miss of You” (Dead Moon), and “Wall of Death” (Richard and Linda Thompson) were all recorded mostly live, in keeping with the spirit of the band, while “Undeleteable” (Jad Fair and Norman Blake) was recorded later and over the course of several small sessions to allow extra space. The collection of songs brings more of the raw energy, melodic rhythms, and vocal harmonies that people connected with on their debut record, while simultaneously expanding the band’s palette by introducing a home studio, marimbas, piano, and different sides of their sound.
“Come Down”, a new original and the first song in the collection, was penned by singer and guitarist Joseph Plunket. It was one of the first originals that the band worked on after releasing their previous record, and one that came together naturally and quickly as a classic Country Westerns tune. The remaining songs were chosen by Plunket from the many covers the band had played over time. All big Dead Moon fans, “A Miss of You” was a song the band played during a live stream around the time they released their first record in June 2020. Early on in the project, “Wall of Death” was mentioned by bassist Sabrina Rush as being fun to play on bass, one of a large group of songs that she liked trying to play on different instruments as a form of practice. Kotzur and Plunket both seemed enthusiastic to try it out as a band, so they added it to the songs they were playing. “Undeleteable”, by Jad Fair (Half Japanese) and Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub), is largely the result of Kotzur and Plunket’s collaboration, with Kotzur bringing his multi-instrumentalist skills on marimbas, electric and acoustic guitars, drums, shakers, and backing vocals, while Plunket sets the song’s eccentric tone and pace with his fun vocal narrative and searing guitar solos; Rush later added bass. Kotzur fine-tuned all of the tracks and passed them along to friends and collaborators, engineer Daniel Schlett and producer Matt Sweeney. They mixed and added the finishing touches to the recordings at Schlett’s Strange Weather Recording in Brooklyn, the same place where the band recorded and worked with Schlett and Sweeney on their debut record. The songs were mastered by John Baldwin in Nashville, continuing the tradition of collaborating between New York and Nashville.
While they initially did not have plans to release the songs as more than a digital EP, upon hearing the songs, the band’s label Fat Possum asked if they could release the tunes as a small run of 7″s as well. The songs were just long enough that they would not work out on a 7″, so the format was changed to a 10″. While they kicked around ideas for a title, including “One Minute Too Long”, the band ultimately saw the songs as a collaboration on their way to making their next set of originals and simply called it EP. Friend and photographer Tim Song, who worked with the band on the cover photographs, took the image of the phone booth one day when he stumbled across it while at a gas station in East Nashville. It stands across the street from the site where neighborhood record store and local favorite Fond Object once stood, which has since been demolished by developers.The band played and watched friends and favorites play in the intimate backyard setting at the store over the years, from Hans Condor to Burton Greene. The phone booth is a reminder from another time, fitting for a collection of songs that spans the decades and offers a look into the band’s inspirations.