PARK CITY — Micky Braun says it’s usually hit-and-miss whether he’ll make a New Year’s resolution.
“It kind of depends what kind of shape I’m in by the time New Year’s gets there,” he said with a laugh during a recent phone call from his home in Austin.
In 2016, however, Braun said he will resolve to write more songs for his band, Micky and the Motorcars.
“(This year) was not a big song writing year for me. I had a lot of other things going on and we were crazy busy touring. We had a couple of European tours. That took up a lot of time. And I didn’t have a lot of time to get up to Idaho to kind of hang out and write, which is one of my favorite places to write. So that’s my New Year’s resolution is to get to Idaho more and write,” said Braun.
More trips to Idaho could also mean more concert performances in Utah. The Motorcars had a banner year in Utah in 2015, playing several shows in Salt Lake and Park City, culminating with an invitation to headline the main stage at the Utah Arts Festival.
“It’s just a great area for us. We love it up there. Hopefully we’ll get to repeat that in 2016,” Braun said.
The band will get off to a good start later this week. After their annual end-of-year stops in Ketchum, ID on Wednesday and Boise’s Knitting Factory on New Year’s Eve, Micky and the Motorcars return to Park City’s O.P. Rockwell on Friday night, Jan. 1, to start off the new year off on a musical high note.
The Motorcars released their solid Hearts From Above album in 2014, featuring the title track, “Tonight We Ride,” “Long Road to Nowhere” and “Once In a Lifetime Girl.” In 2015, the Motorcars piled into their tour bus and never really stopped moving. That touring included a return trip to Germany and a first-time trip to Paris where they played a festival show before 10,000 people. The band also released a live album in 2015 recorded from an earlier tour in Germany.
“It was a really good year for the band, we got to see a lot of areas outside the States. But inside the United States, we toured the Midwest a couple of times and we went out to the West Coast more times than normal. We got to play Utah more times than we ever have,” he said.
As a unit, the Motorcars are in the best place they’ve been in awhile, Braun said. It’s a great achievement for a band that Braun admits just a few years ago he considered closing shop on and calling it day.
For a decade, the Austin-by-way-of-Idaho quintet released quality albums starting with 2004’s Ain’t In It For the Money, followed a series of records that kept getting better with each release in Careless (2007), Naive (2008), and Raise My Glass (2011). However the music world decided to classify their sound – Red Dirt, alt-country. alt-rock. country-rock, rockin’-country, indie-alt-rock-country, etc – they were hitting all the right notes with songs of failed relationships, life on the road and long drives.
But starting in 2011, between the time Raise My Glass and Hearts From Above was recorded, one by one, band members started departing for one reason or another, eventually leaving brothers Micky and Gary Braun as the only original members.
“It was such a drastic change. To change out a bass player, a guitar player and a drummer in two years was a major change for a five piece band that had been together for 11 years at that time. So it was a big change,” Braun said. “It definitely did make me think about it at the time, whether it was worth retraining an entire group. But I’m glad we did. It was the right decision. And now that we’re locked in solid, it’s nice to be able to focus on the entertaining side of the business again rather than focusing on whether we know the songs when we’re walking on stage.”
Today, the Brauns are surrounded by an outstanding lead guitarist in Dustin Schaefer, bassist Joe Fladger and drummer Bobby Paugh.
And now that his band has been, in a sense, renewed, Braun can concentrate on writing at the home he’s been building outside of Challis, Idaho (it now has doors and windows and a wood burning stove, but Braun still has to haul water and use an outhouse, he said).
“I like to stay ahead of the curve on (writing). It’s a lot less stressful on an album when you can slowly write and kind of have some songs already that you know are going to make the next record in the bag. It makes the writing process less stressful so then you can really take your time on songs and pick the right tunes and really get the album going in the right direction,” he said.
Optimistically, Braun would like to release an album by the fall of 2016. And in an age where people download singles off iTunes, Braun said he would prefer to release an entire album and not just a song or two.
“I prefer to release a full album, and that’s probably just from growing up old school that way. The way I am, when I want to go buy a record I don’t go buy the single. And go and buy the whole record. I want to read through, I wand the hard copy in my hand, I want to see who produced it, who played on what tracks. And that’s just who I am, but I’m a musician too, so of course that’s what I want to see,” he said.
However, Braun said if a year from now an album still isn’t quite ready to release, or if it will just get lost in the sea of other Christmas albums and greatest hits packages typically released by major label artists, he may consider releasing just a single to keep fans satisfied until 2017.
Fun Fact: Despite living in Texas for many years now, Micky Braun is also right at home in the snow.
“I grew up cross-country skiing. Then I went over to telemark skiing because we did a lot of backcountry skiing in Idaho. And then I kind of did the ski bum thing when I was 17, went all over Utah, Colorado, Montana, up into Canada, went through Whistler and Blackcomb and came back down through in Colroado and then I actually ended up in Texas, which is kind of random. That was my first trip to Austin,” he said.
How hardcore is Micky Braun? He said he would use his cross-country skis to get up a mountain with his snowboard strapped to his back, then switch out and strap his skis to his back while he shredded down.
For those headed to Steamboat, CO for their annual Americana Music Fest in January, you may find Braun both on stage and on the slopes.