Interview: Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall and Jack Ingram - The Marfa Tapes!
The Texas Trio of Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall and Jack Ingram have today brought out, what will probably be, the album of the year! The Marfa Tapes are a rare glimpse inside a songwriters writing process. The raw, authenticity of the record also introduces us to the desert sounds of West Texas as the majority of the album was captured outside as the trio huddled round a campfire. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Jon, Jack and Miranda to discuss their friendship and the process behind writing and recording this record.
Firstly, Miranda, congratulations on your recent Grammy win, I know it’s your third Grammy award but it must never get old right?
Miranda: Absolutely not, it never gets old, thank you so much for bringing that up.
What made you decide to release these songs in the way that you did?
Miranda: I guess the songs did. They’re beautiful this way and that’s how they started.
Jon: We were trying to capture what we hear when we write songs and you can’t get that in a recording studio so we said well, let's show everybody what we do here and where these songs come from in their rawest form!
What did your parents play to you growing up and what are you choosing to listen to now?
Miranda: I think we grew up on a lot of the same stuff which is why we write well together. My Mum and Dad always had music playing, always country, but if not it was Credence or Lynyrd Skynyrd or ZZ Top so it was classic rock or country music in our house. My Mum, one of her favourite artists is Aretha Franklin so there was a bit of soul there too. So I guess I grew up on everything and I’m sure Jon and Jack have a similar story!
Jon: Same here, lots of influences for me. My Dad and Mum played Bluegrass music, so I grew up on Bluegrass and old country, those were the records we had in my house. My sister who’s a few years older than me had all the great classic rock albums and so I got into that too. I started playing guitar really young so that in itself turned me on to a lot of different styles of music so it’s all packed up in all of us.
Jack: The first record I ever bought was Abbey Road. I don’t know the last record I bought, it was a while back considering how we get music these days. Just last night I put on my head phones and fell asleep, it was still playing at three, four in the morning - a guy named Nathaniel Rateliff, that’s good stuff. I did that as a kid, put headphones on and go to sleep, I used to listen to my parents old records, Don Williams and Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley - stuff like that. They listened to outlaw country and things like that. I was a product of 50’s and 60’s rock n roll and 70’s country rock n roll and that’s what I gravitate too.
How important was it to capture the heart of Texas on this record?
Miranda: Jon’s the first one that fell in love with this so he should answer this question!
Jon: Yeah, I’d spent a lot of time in West Texas and in Marfa and when we decided to run away somewhere that’s where we all went. It’s a beautiful place and it was important we captured that.
How does the songwriting process work for you guys, is it different every time or do you like to start with a lyric or melody first?
Jack: Very rarely do I go with an idea or a title that I want to write into, usually I write out of a title. I’ll give you an example of how it works for me, this morning I was talking to my tour manager about Hank Williams Junior and I said ‘Yeah man, he’s the loneliest boy in the World’ and I thought write that down. It sounded like a song to me. That’s what it’s like with the three of us.
Tequila Does breaks all the rules of songwriting by having the verses in 3/4 and the chorus in 4/4 and that’s what I really love about that song! Tell me a bit more about the thoughts behind that?
Jack: The first rule of songwriting is to throw out all the rules! I’ve written songs with no choruses, songs that don’t rhyme, songs with no repeatable anything, I’ve written a song based on a letter I wrote to the world. Making up whatever the hell it is in your mind, like a guy coming up from Mexico, meeting a girl, they dance all night and then she says ‘see you later, I’ve got a better companion in this bottle of Tequila than I do in your sorry arse’ it takes imagination and jumping off a cliff to say where does this story take us and lets tell it.
What’s your proudest moment?
Miranda: This might be one of them!
Jon: I was going to say the same thing! You took my answer.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever written a song about?
Miranda: Probably Homegrown Tomatoes!
Jon: That’s right up there! I wrote a song with a guy a few years ago called Hobo of Love, sold well under a million copies.
Jack: I don’t suppose it’s that strange but there was a guy, most off-beat, a guy called Uncle Stoney, a stoner from Oklahoma who baked cookies. He owned a bakery, so during the day he baked regular cookies and at night he baked pot cookies and I asked him how he was doing and he said ‘I’m riding high, eating good and staying out of jail’ and I wrote that down on a napkin and I found these three stories that matched up as I had been driving that day to the mailbox and it was raining and I had an argument in my head about this homeless guy because he was holding up a sign saying ‘I’ll work for beer’ and I thought, man that’s been used. I realised I was having an argument with this homeless guy in my head in my truck and I thought that’s ironic. Then I got to the mailbox and there was this woman who was always there who I was convinced was actually a man and I thought to myself why are you staring at her, like if that is the case, she doesn’t need you staring at her. So I took that guys words and wrote a song about all of that!
What’s next for you?
Miranda: We’re going to play a few select things together. As things start to open we’ll hopefully get to, if not tour together, then do some shows, sit on stage and sing these songs together somewhere.
When the world opens up, do you think you’ll manage to bring The Marfa Tapes to England?
Jack: I told them I wanted to do a five city world tour! The first time I came over, I was used to playing Honky Tonks and Bars so we were blaring this music out and the crowd was very polite and it took me a minute to realise, oh wait they’re actually taking this in. It would play very well over there!
The Marfa Tapes are available to buy and stream now and tomorrow night, on Miranda Lambert’s facebook page, the trio are sharing a film about the making of The Marfa Tapes!