Wild Ponies,
The TVD First Date

“The obvious things that everyone always says about vinyl is how much warmer it is, how much better the analog sound feels when it hits you. All of that is true. It’s a physical thing moving, bouncing over the grooves, making things oscillate and shake and vibrate and fly through the air to your ears where the process is reversed. There is some magic in that, and 1s and 0s just can’t quite convey it the same way. You get to hold this huge image of the artwork and the liner notes while you listen. You can read all that stuff on a screen, but holding it between your thumb and fingers while you listen just makes it so much more … real.”

“There’s a lot more to vinyl than that, though. The best thing to me is how much more intentional the listening experience is. You don’t accidentally listen to a record—you HAVE to interact with it every 19 or 20 minutes. Don’t get me wrong—I love a good playlist. It’s today’s mixtape, and there’s a huge thrill to discovering something new that you had no idea you were about to hear. But the world is so disjointed and hyper connected at the same time now. Sometimes it just makes my ADD hurt. Making a listening decision and dropping that needle and settling in and trusting a great producer just can’t be beat, and the best albums still have plenty of great surprises.

When you listen to a record that way, you’re trusting an artist’s vision. And that’s a lot of fun too. It’s a real journey—with ups and downs. Telisha and I are pretty serious about ordering our records, and we love to listen to albums when you can tell someone has taken the same kind of consideration. Every damn song counts if you put it in the right place. They can all be pivotal, or surprising, or just suck you right back in at the right time. It’s great.

We used to do this thing that was so much fun—we don’t do it any more because it’s illegal in Tennessee and we don’t like to break the law. We hosted these nights at our house called “Pot Brownie Poker and Vinyl.” You know how the dealer and the big blind and the little blind move around the circle? We’d also moved around a little chip for the person who got to choose which record and side we were listening to. I will admit that the game got slower as the night went on and the brownies got lower, but nobody really seemed to care.

Oh—and then there’s the whole collection part! Record stores. Real record stores are so great. Grimey’s and the Vinyl Bunker in Nashville, Union Music in Lewes, England, Found Sound in Ferndale, Michigan… just adventurous places to explore where you KNOW you’ll find something cool. Shop owners who know what the hell is on every shelf and can point you towards something you’ll really dig. The whole snarky High Fidelity stereotype melts away pretty easily. We love community so much, and record stores are so interesting. It’s actually part of the advance our agent sends to promoters where we play—we always ask them to point us towards a cool record shop in town!

We’ve also been really lucky to steal/inherit a bunch of great records from my folks and my aunt and uncle. A lot ’70s Texas stuff—Jerry Jeff, Willis Allen Ramsey, Guy Clark. And if you haven’t listened to some of those old Jimmy Buffet records on vinyl, you’re missing out. Don’t be too cool. Trust me—there are a lot of real gems in that catalogue.

There are a few other secret stashes we’ve found, and I guess I’ll let you in on it. This source is really drying up, but it’s still out there. Because we tour so much we wind up in a lot of small towns in the middle of nowhere. Places where maybe you can’t get pour over coffee or kombucha. We love playing these kinds of towns and getting to know the folks who live there. If you find yourself in one of these towns, hit the Goodwill or thrift store. Chances are you’ll be one of the first explorers digging through the vinyl in a while. We’ve had some killer scores in these towns.

Favorites are hard. I have 2. There are a lot of contenders for the 3rd place spot, but these two are always number 1 and 2. John Hartford’s Aereo-Plain record is just pure genius. David Bromberg produced it, and he’s had a pretty impressive career however you measure it, but honestly if he’d just done this one thing he’d be a true legend. It changed the world. The other one is Willie Nelson’s Stardust. Jesus. Those Booker T. organ pads will just break your heart. Booker T. also produced that record. I don’t care what’s going on in my life—if I put this record on, my blood pressure just drops and I have this over-arching feeling that it’s all going to be OK. All of it. It’s weird, because Willie is also my favorite songwriter, and this is a record of all covers, but it just works so well, and it’s so honest. (Side note—did you know that Susanna Clark, Guy’s wife, painted the Stardust cover?) I have a couple of copies of both of these in my collection and it’s pretty hard to leave either of them on the shelf whenever I run across either in a record store.

It’s cool to see vinyl making a comeback. The industry is so weird. It’s a strange time. I like seeing music lean back into art and away from commodity. I hope that continues. It’s actually one of the reasons we’re so excited to be working with Gearbox as our record label. They’re very vinyl-centric, so much so that they have a huge cutting lathe right in the middle of their main office which also doubles as a mastering studio. Whenever we’re there for meetings we sit right there with all this amazing analog gear around us. It definitely keeps us focused on what we’re trying to do. I know for the past several records we’ve made we’ve been thinking about how they’ll work on vinyl throughout the process. I think that’s a good thing. You’ve got to make art just for art’s sake, but if you’re leaning towards any audience, the vinyl consumer is a good one to aim for.”
Doug & Telisha Williams

Wild Ponies’ Galax arrives in stores August 25, 2017. Pre-order the release here.

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PHOTO: NEILSON HUBBARD

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