New Music Friday: Interview with Americana rockers The Mallett Brothers Band
Let’s talk about the maturation of your sound on the new LP Vive L’Acadie coming out in June! Was there a moment or a specific event that you can recall that pushed the band in the direction you took with the new record, or was it more of a gradual shift?
It was a pretty gradual shift. The previous record was a little different for us, working around old folk lyrics, and we spent a long time working on it. The “Vive L’Acadie” session was also the first recordings with the current lineup, and I think that the live shows with this group of guys had a lot to do with the direction of the songs.
Where did the band draw influence while writing Vive L’Acadie and how natural was it to capture that?
Our influences have always been drawn from a combination of home and touring, and finding similarities between where we reside and the places we travel. The history of these places tends to lend to the subject matter also, such as “Onawa” which tells the story of a Train crash back in 1919. I think that love for the old ways has always been a theme in our music, and the marriage of our music and our lyrical themes have always felt pretty natural.
I’m sure you won’t mind me saying that the title track, “Vive L’Acadie," is just fantastic. Can you give us a little bit of background about song selection and writing?
The writing process seems to be an ongoing thing, constantly weeding through hooks and melodies. It’s always good to come into a session with more ideas than we will need, and we try to capture as much as we can before picking out a group of songs that will fit cohesively into a single record. We do try, I think, to look at a record as a whole. The songs let us know which ones want to go together.
Have you already begun writing new material or are you taking a break to focus on touring with this LP?
We have definitely been focused on touring lately, but I think the writing never stops. I tend to write in bursts, but my brother tends to be constantly trying to hold onto ideas that are always floating around. The road has been a good place for writing, also, and a huge percentage of our songs have come from late nights in some random places.
Artists are often influenced by their surroundings. What is the music scene like in Portland, Maine? How is it living there?
Portland is a beautiful city, comfortable in size, and tends to draw the creative types from all over the rest of the state of Maine. It makes for a really vibrant artistic / music scene here, and we all have a strong sense of pride in our home state and a loyalty to each other. It’s a great place to be a musician, an artist, a chef, or anything else for that matter.
What are some of the foods you grew up with and is Maine known for?
Maine is known for the Red Hot Dog and the Lobster, ha, but the state has given birth to an incredible food scene over the last few decades. At one point we were second in the country for restaurants per capita, next to San Francisco. My favorite trend is the farm-to-table culture, which ties great food with small local farms that have been popping up all over the state. Our generation has taken the idea of the diversified small-scale organic homestead and really run with it, and the restaurant scene has followed suit.
Mmmm….So Maine seafood. What do we need to know?
It’s all good. The old standby tradition is lobsters and steamer clams steamed in seaweed on a beach, with potatoes and corn. Your classic lobster bake scenario. The band tries to hold at least one of these a year.
Who is the bigger foodie in the band?
I think we all have a strong affinity for food, and we all have our favorite things.
I can’t imagine you get a lot of time to cook while you are on tour. When out on the road, who gets to pick where you eat?
Believe it or not, we cook a lot! At one point we discovered that an Airbnb with a kitchen often cost less than a couple hotel rooms, so we hit the grocery stores and take turns feeding the group. We have a full box of hot sauce in the van at all times.
Which three things are always in your home refrigerator?
Personally, I always have avocados, blue cheese, and farm eggs no matter what (among other things).
If you designed your own walking food tour of your favorite city, which restaurants/food sellers would be on your list of places to visit?
They’re all my favorite cities, but Austin, for instance, would have to be the Counter Cafe for breakfast, Tamale House East for lunch, H Mart Lakeland for second lunch, Stubb’s BBQ for dinner, Hill’s Cafe for second dinner, and Magnolia Cafe late night.
Finally, if you could be sponsored by one food/drink brand who would it be and why?
LaCroix, we drink seltzer like it’s going out of style.
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