“It’s going to be an interesting one for sure. We’ve got a lot of fun ideas we hope to pull together,” Cody Braun, Willy’s brother and Reckless Kelly co-founder told the Deseret News from his home in Austin recently.
When pressed further about what made the new music “interesting,” Braun replied, “It’s kind of all over the board to love songs, to heartbreak songs to traveling songs.”
So, in other words, it’s a Reckless Kelly record?
“It’s kind of what we do, songs about drinking and driving around the country,” Braun said with a laugh.
Cody Braun may make it sound simple, but whatever formula the band is using, it seems to be working. For nearly 20 years now, Reckless Kelly has consistently made outstanding Americana/rockin-country/Red Dirt music.
Cody and Willy Braun formed RK in 1996. It wasn’t until 2003 that things started taking off for them with songs like “Nobody’s Girl” from 2003’s Under the Table and Above the Sun record, followed by “Wicked Twisted Road,” the outstanding Bulletproof album that includes many of their concert staple songs today, Somewhere in Time, 2011’s Good Luck & True Love and their most recent album, 2013’s Long Night Moon.
Cody Braun said it’s time for the band to get a new record out, which they hope to do in 2016. But as of now, Braun doesn’t really know what it will sound like. He said his brother will present a big pile of songs to the rest of the band and once everyone adds their two cents to those tunes, “it really comes to life or doesn’t.”
“We just got to weed through them and pick out which ones we want to cut and which ones fit together the best and find time to do it. That’s always kind of the toughest part,” Cody Braun said. “We’ve always tried to keep it as natural as possible and not try to steer it too much. We don’t sit down and say, ‘We need to make an Americana-county album’ or Americana this or a rock record, or this record needs to be this way or that way. We just kind of take a batch of songs and see which ones feel the best after we sit down and play them together and which ones go together the best. That usually kind of shapes the direction.”
The Braun brothers have also been busy going through old recordings, early demos, concert notes and other items over their two decade career, Originally, the band had hoped to release a 20-year retrospective package to fans next year, though Cody Braun admits with all the material they have to sort through and at the rate they’ve been going, “I think we’ll have more of a Reckless Kelly 21st birthday party.
“There’s a lot of stuff to go through. We’re weeding through it, though. We’re getting a pretty good handle on it,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff we want to do. We were kind of lucky enough, I don’t know if it’s luck or not, but we grew up in an age where everything is recordable.
“It’s really great. It’s amazing how music and photos jars memories,” Braun continued. “I’m kind of a pack-rat so I kept all of our old date books. I was also the road manager back then. So I’ve kept log books of almost every show we’ve done. It’s fun looking back through that and old posters. We’ve met a lot of good folks and had a lot of fun so far.”
The other constant with the Austin-based quintet is touring, their bread and butter. The road warriors typically play an average of 200 shows a year. Reckless Kelly is currently headed to the annual Braun Brothers Reunion show in Challis, Idaho, Aug. 5-6, which fortunately for Utah means a lot of the bands playing that great festival make their way through our state either on the way there or back, like American Aquarium, Turnpike Troubadours, and Cody Canada & The Departed (my interview with Cody will be posted next week).
Reckless Kelly will make their debut at O.P. Rockwell in Park City on Monday. With the “newest” record already two years old, Braun said the band will typically go back and visit deeper cuts off their albums in concert. Willy Braun makes up the set list each night, and no two set lists are the same.
“The set list is mainly kind of a combination of what we’re working on, anything new that we’ve got worked up as far as covers we’re playing. Willy really tries to just go back and pull stuff from our old catalog and pick songs that fit the night depending on if we’re playing in a theatre or a rock-n-roll bar or playing at a rodeo dance or playing at a festival. Every show is so different. We kind of have a diverse array of fans so we kind of do a lot of different things,” Cody Braun said. “Sometimes if he’s pulling something from way back he’ll give us a couple days heads up but sometimes no, we’re just shooting from the hip.”
Reckless Kelly’s concert on Monday will be their first in Park City since 2007 when Cross Canadian Ragweed opened for them.
“We’re looking forward to getting out of the (Texas) heat and into mountains,” Braun said.
Photos: Brenda Yamen