Walking into Midland’s tour bus on a balmy fall night in Chicago, you can’t help but notice a tattered snapshot of the legendary Keith Whitley leaning up against a masculine smelling candle.
“Mark [Wystrach’s] vocal stylings are closest to Keith Whitley,” Midland’s Jess Carson says earnestly about the band’s lead singer. “Keith Whitley meets George Jones meets a screeching cat.”
Laughing ensues, as Midland’s unique sense of humor shows itself in the first few minutes of the interview. But bear in mind, Midland is no joke. In fact, despite some of the country blog chatter out there accusing the trio of being some sort of manufactured group, the members of Midland remain committed to proving themselves to the naysayers.
Of course, Grammy nominations have a way of shutting people up, too, and this group recent landed two of ’em!
“We want to make songs that are going to be around for a long time,” explains the band’s Cameron Duddy, his head down as he devours a steak from catering a few short weeks before Midland would find out they were nominated for Best Country Song and Best Country Duo/Group Performance for their No. 1 hit single, “Drinkin’ Problem.”
“The stuff we listen to has been around for decades,” Cameron continues. “That’s the key — do the songs that are going to be around in 30 or 40 years. The only thing that sucks is that you have to wait that long to see if it lasts.”
And while it remains to see where any of us will be come 2047, Midland is confident that its music will last.
“There has been a bit of a throwaway attitude to songwriting and sound,” Mark weighs in to Rare Country. “With all of us all growing up around music and playing music, that would never do it for us. It has to mean something for us, because this is the greatest life. We love it. This is the only thing we want to do, but its not the easiest life. If you don’t wholeheartedly believe in what you are playing and singing every night, then I don’t understand why you would do this. There are easier ways to make money.”
Indeed, the members of Midland consider themselves part of a new country class of artists like Brothers Osborne and Jon Pardi who truly can be authentic, and succeed.
“I think you are seeing the end of the cycle where something worked and everyone jumped on it,” Mark adds. “It was a very formulaic time. But now, there is a new class. The industry works that way. You need an influx of new every so often, but not everyone lasts. From the last class, there are people that aren’t still making music. You need to find your niche.”
And if anyone found their niche in 2017, it’s the men of Midland.
“I think we have tapped into something that has kind of been nonexistent,” Mark says. “We are all songwriters, and this music comes from us. This music is something collectively we have been working on for, really, 15 years, and all of that is somewhere in the voice of Midland and the musicality of Midland. Midland clearly has filled in something that has been missing. We are trying to write soulful music that means something to us, and there is a part of us in all of these songs. This is not a shtick.”
Heck, you don’t have to convince us. That’s exactly why the country trio is nominated for New Artist of the Year in the Rare Country Awards, and it’s up to you to decide the winner. Vote now through Dec. 13 at RareCountryAwards.com. Winners will be revealed during a livestreamed concert event on Dec. 14 in Nashville.