One of the perks of country music festivals is the exposure to upcoming artists. The Whiskey Jam stage at the Windy City Smokeout brought attendees a plethora of new country music throughout the weekend, and one of the stand-out artists was current LA-based artists, the Michigan Rattlers. Prior to their performance on Saturday evening, I had the opportunity to get better acquainted with them during an interview by the river where we talked about their beginnings, their music, and what they have on the horizon.
What can you tell me about your band, and specifically, how did you get your name, Michigan Rattlers?
Graham: “Adam and I grew up in Petoskey, Michigan, learning and playing guitar together, playing in bands all through high school. I Moved to LA & Adam was still in college. When he finished, I said that we should get the band back together, so we did. I drove out on a road trip to pick Adam up and bring him out to LA, and during that time, we got our band name.”
Adam: “The Michigan Rattler is the only venomous snake in Michigan. We like that character – they’re kind of badass! We also like that our name sounds a little like we could be a baseball team because we’re big baseball fans.”
How would you describe your music, in 3 words?
Adam: “Acoustic country rock.”
Graham: (laughs) “Yes. Good work, Adam!”
Your southern rock sound fits well with the trends happening in country music. What made you decide to play country music over any other genre?
Graham: “When we started making music, it actually wasn’t a conscious decision to make ‘country’ music.”
Adam: “I think we kind of get lumped into that category because of the instrumentation we have and the songwriting.”
Graham: “Yeah, and I like that it seems like country music is diverse more so now more than ever.”
You mentioned that the two of you write all of your own music. Do you have a favorite song that you’ve written?
Graham: “It’s hard to pick a favorite. I think it kind of varies based on the show, to see people’s reactions is probably what ends up making a song my favorite for that time being.”
Adam: “I’ll say that it’s nice when songs are about places, then when we play those songs in those places, it’s fun to see the reactions. We have a few like that. Especially when we’re home and playing those songs about being up north. I imagine it will be really fun to play ‘Illinois Sky’ tonight!”
It sounds like you guys like to stay busy. What are you currently working on, musically?
Adam: “Right now we have a 5-song EP out. We are selling CD’s and 10-inch vinyl too which we’re really excited about. We’re also really excited to go in and record a full-length album this fall.”
Graham: “We need a few more songs for that album and then we’ll just have to go in & record it. Very excited about that right now.”
It’s quite an accomplishment to get to play one of the finest festivals in Chicagoland. What has been your favorite thing about being in Chicago and attending the Windy City Smokeout today?
Graham: “Since it’s close to home, we both have our family here today. I also lived here for three years so it’s just been really good to come back here and hang out for the day with family.”
Adam: “Yes, definitely. We haven’t had any of the food yet, so we’re looking forward to that, but we did play at Bub City recently and we tried their food then. Very good!”
You can keep up with the Michigan Rattlers via their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.