Can You Talk to us more about your latest single “Bootleg”?
The first single “Bootleg” is an homage to Appalachian culture of making and distributing counterfeit liquor, also known as moonshine. It is a fictional story told from a man’s view as he remembers, returns, and tells the story of his aﬃnity for his birthplace, the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. He talks of his past, the faults of his father, learning the art of making liquor, as well as his inevitable return to the love he always knew, homemade, bootleg liquor. We included old-time mountain fiddle melodies and a driving banjo roll to give the feel driving through the mountains and avoiding trouble.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
I, (Guitarist and Vocalist) Josh Moore, grew up in Western North Carolina and comes from a long line of Appalachian story-tellers. I enjoys spinning (fictional) tales that conjure the images of my homeland and celebrates the culture I grew up with.
The single comes oﬀ your new album Through the Smoke– Whats the story behind the title?
Through the Smoke refers to finally being able to see the light on the back end of troubling times. In this instance it refers, overtly, to the complete shutdown of the music industry in 2020. Our lives were upended and we knew that we would, at some point, be able to see through the smoke as the proverbial fire subsided.
What was the recording process like?
We had not toured leading up to this album, so we had to trust that we were on the right track with these songs (despite having no feedback from live audiences.) This was very diﬀerent from our previous albums. We had ideas and partial songs, some of which we finished in the studio. This allowed us to pivot and reach into some unknown territory when it comes to how we made this record. We wanted to push the boundaries of what bluegrass and folk music can be, and I believe we did so.
None of us played bluegrass, how does that aﬀect songwriting?
As young people, we were all aﬀected by bluegrass in one way or another, but none of us had previously focused our musical energy toward the genre. Matt and Ethan Demarais played hard rock and metal, Josh Moore was a blues musician, Lena Schiﬀer and Brian Kassay both focused on folk and songwriting. We are all putting our own musical leanings on our own version of what bluegrass could mean, and we firmly believe this lends to a unique sound that, hopefully, people of all taste can relate to.
What role does Montana play in our music?
Born in Bozeman, MT, Laney Lou and The Bird Dogs are constantly inspired by the vast beauty and solitude that is so easy to find here. The mountains reach unfathomable heights, and the woods reach out for miles and miles in all directions. It is the easiest place to find inspiration I have ever been. The Wild West has a way of creeping into your writing when you live in a place that cowboys and outlaws ran relatively not that long ago.
Where else did you find inspiration for the song and lyrics?
I think the song really came from a place of longing for home. After over a decade of living so far away from where I grew up, its become romanticized again. This story has elements of truth to my life, and in my mind I can see the roads, smell the south, and hear the creeks. I ran across a couple working moonshine stills as a kid and remember how it felt, knowing it was time to get the heck out of there.
What is the best and worst part of being a DIY operation?
Although we have brought on some team members at this point, the first 8 years of the band was Completely DIY. We kept it as “Our Thing” for as long as possible, at first it was because we simply each had talents that naturally lent themselves to diﬀerent parts of running the business. We certainly learned as we went, but at some point it became a fairly well-oiled machine. We knew that there would be a point where we would need to hire management and a booking agency, but holding oﬀ for all those years gave us the ability to set ourselves up for success. As a still unsigned band, our albums are paid for by our fans, and we consider ourselves owned by our viciously loyal fan base.
What else is happening in the bird dog world? How is summer shaping up?
The Bird Dogs are releasing our fifth album, have recently hired team members to help expand the business and are chipping away at building audiences all over the country. We have a completely booked Summer 2021, and as a double edged sword the pandemic has allowed us to spend more time in our home market. We spent about half the year on the road in 2019 and saw an expansion that we hadn’t experienced before. We love being on tour, and have a new found appreciation for having the amazing fortune of loving our career. We believe that the world has realized the importance of experiencing live music, and we will be here to provide that however we can!
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