Jesse Gainer sits down with Katie Weed of bluegrass punk sensation Old Man Markley:
Folk/Bluegrass and Punk tend to share lyrical themes, but what inspired to combine the two genres musically?
The original party where the band formed I think helped set the stage for the combination. The acoustic instruments everyone grabbed to jam really lent themselves to a folk/bluegrass sound.
Had all of you been interested in both genres early on, or did one come before the other?
It’s a mix between the group of us. Most of us grew up liking lots of different kinds of music, and I think all of our tastes have expanded from playing music with each other and for each other. I grew up on classic rock and bluegrass, not punk.
Who are your major musical influences?
Mine are my parents. Growing up, I got to play music with them, and be exposed to all sorts of different kinds of music as a result of what they played for me and how they encouraged me to explore different kinds of music.
You’ve shared the stage with bands like Bad Religion, NOFX, and The Descendants. Were you always well received by traditional punk rock audiences?
We’ve been really lucky that punk rock audiences have been receptive to us. Even if there are some arms crossed in the beginning, I think that people respond to the energy even if they don’t usually feel drawn to fiddle or banjo laced music.
You are in the middle of a Canadian tour that seems to have a pretty grueling schedule. What are the advantages/disadvantages of touring as a 7-piece band?
There are tons of advantages. We all share driving duty and help load, and have toured together for so long now that we feel like a family. The disadvantages are what you might expect: it can get a little crowded and occasionally a little smelly.
Last year you contributed a cover of “Feel Good Song of The Year” to the Tony Sly Tribute album. What did it mean to you to be asked to participate in this project, and can you talk a bit about how you feel Tony Sly influenced your band and the punk scene in general?
We were honoured to participate. We were so lucky to be able to have toured with No Use For a Name and get to know those guys. I can probably speak to them as people (awesome guys, through and through, crew included) more than I can to their influence on the punk scene. But the outpouring and volume of grief after Tony died really demonstrates how much he meant to this community.
Your latest record Down Side Up (2013, Fat Wreck Chords) seems to cover a wide range of themes, from the socio-political protest vibe of “America’s Dreaming” to the far more personal “Hard to Understand.” Who typically handles the lyric-writing process?
Everyone contributes! Joey and Johnny do the bulk of it, along with our friend Todd, and even still previous band members (like the writer of “America’s Dreaming.” I wrote a song on the last album, and John Rosen wrote two.
Is new material in the works and can fans expect to hear new stuff during this tour?
We just put out a new 7″, which we’ve been playing nightly! The A side is a new song of ours, and the B side is a cover of NOFX’s “Reeko.”
Your first full-length Record Guts ‘n’ Teeth was released by Fat Wreck Chords in 2011. Fat Mike’s label has always been a pretty strong taste maker; how important was getting signed by Fat Wreck Chords to OMM’s success and what’s it like to work with the label on a day to day basis as a professional touring band?
Being on Fat opened many doors for us, and it was incredible that it allowed us to tour so much with NOFX. Fat Mike having our back and working so hard to help us get exposure has meant a great deal to us, and everyone on the Fat team has been amazing to work with.
As part of your record deal with Fat Wreck, are you contractually obligated to party with Fat Mike until he is satisfied that enough partying has occurred?
Finally, how old is Ryan Markley, exactly?
Older than I am!
Written and Compiled by Jesse Gainer