Austin Meade’s music is in a funny old place. While songs like recent single Happier Alone have more than a touch of 90s radio rock, there’s also an undercurrent of the country vibe that you pick up from spending your formative years as a musician touring the Texas and Oklahoma Red Dirt scene.
Fresh off the success of 2019’s Waves and now with a new label – Snakefarm Records – Meade is gearing up to release his third full length Black Sheep on March 19th – and he’s raring to go.
We caught up with the man himself to talk about touring during covid times and the sprawling list of gear that came together to form his new album.
The new record has been getting some pretty serious coverage, you must be pumped about getting this thing out into the world?
We felt that the songs on Black Sheep were special before we even got to the studio and I’m proud of what we made. We focused on making sure the tones and melodies really matched the lyrics and main ideas that I was trying to get across. It feels good to make something that sounds how I feel.
I know you have a short run of (mostly) Texas dates coming up, how do you feel about putting out a record that you can’t jump right on tour behind for the rest of the year?
People find good music and they show their friends. Someone’s gotta stick it to the man and play rock shows. Put the damn phone down and go see a show.
Going into this record, did you have any albums that you used as sonic touchpoints as far as what you wanted the production to sound like?
I focused on the writing more — Arctic Monkeys, Paramore, Whitesnake, Incubus. Whatever feels good, makes my head bang, and makes me feel happy to be sad!
Tell me about the gear on the record? Was it your regular live gear or did you guys go wild with some studio/rental gear?
Most of it was our regular live gear. We used a few studio amps and hodgepodge pedalboard with our stuff, plus friends’ boards. I like using gear that we actually know how to control.
- Reverend 12 string
- Gibson j200 acoustic
- Fender custom shop jazzmaster
- Duesenberg starplayer
- Fender Strats
- Gibson les Paul jr reissue tv yellow from the 90s
- There’s a black guitar nicknamed “The God” — it’s my chambered SPG with a Bigsby
- My #1 now is a 1986 Gibson LP Studio with pickups from one of Billy Gibbons’ old guitars. It was a gift from my friend Stoney LaRue.
- Fulton Webb d’luxe 18
- 1968 fender reverb deluxe
- ‘Sears’ silvertone
- Kemper amp modeler
- Jet drive
- King of tone
- Analogman sunlion
- Zvex fuzz factory
- Gamechanger audio sustainer
- Jhs big cheese fuzz
- Fulltone 69 fuzz
- Earthquaker arpanoid
- Ts9 tube screamer
- Ernie ball volume pedal
- MXR carbon copy delay
- Caroline kilobyte delay
- JHS ryan Adams VCR
- Strymon big blue sky
- Xotix ep booster
- Bass synth
- Waza craft vibrato
AMPS WE USED:
- Selmer treble n bass 50
- 1964 fender deluxe reverb
- 1966 fender bassman
- Silvertone 1483
- Electro harmonix 16 second delay
- Chaos pad 2
“Happier Alone” seems to be something of a breakout success ahead of the record. The song has a great early ’90s feel, was that your intention? What are some of the bands that you relate to musically from that period?
I didn’t intend to make it fit anywhere in particular but I’ve heard people say it sounds like Weezer and some ’90s college rock. It feels good and was fun to make a really sad idea sound so happy and powerful. I grew up listening to my dad’s CD collection so it was probably all that ’80s and ’90s rock that was drilled into my dome.
For someone who wants to learn one of the songs on the record on guitar, where would you suggest they start? Any fun phrases or sections in particular to look out for?
The riff on “Dopamine Drop” is pretty fun to hammer out. But I also love the power sections on “Cave In” and “Lying To Myself.” Solo-wise, I think “Something New” and “Settle Down” have very unique parts; one sounds like us trying to be Whitesnake and the other sounds like it should’ve been on an alt country record from 2002.