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Michigan Rattlers

Michigan Rattlers

If you are looking for folk-rock with a heavy heart and a twang of country music, you should look no further than Michigan Rattlers.

The band members grew up together in Michigan and have a chemistry you can rarely find in other bands out there.

The Rattlers also have a unique way of recording. Instead of doing take after take after take, they enjoy cutting their tracks live. The bulk of the band's first EP was recorded in just one single day.

Guitar player Graham Young got in touch with the Blues City Journal to talk about the Rattlers' upcoming performance at Saturday in the Park:

Q: When and how did you initially get into playing music?

A: "I originally started playing in my middle school band. All four of us in the band grew up together and went to the same schools. I started playing alto saxophone in sixth grade. That was pretty much my introduction to music. Then I got a guitar for my 12th birthday and the rest was history. From then on I played guitar."

Q: How did the band form?

A: "It formed after I moved out to Los Angeles. When I moved here I would go to open mic nights and I'd play around town. Then the bass player, Adam, graduated from college and I told him to come out here so that we might get the high school band back together...but for real this time. It started with just Adam and myself out here on the West Coast. Then Christian, the keyboard player graduated from college and moved out here. Then Tony, the drummer joined."

Q: Who are your biggest musical influences?

A: "We all grew up listening to these classic rock radio stations. That really sticks with you; music you've heard from a young age. Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty; AC/DC was huge for me in terms of wanting to start to play the guitar. Some of the lesser known guys, too, like Warren Zevon. Pretty much anybody that's a good songwriter."

Q: How did the place you grew up in influence your music?

A: "It's a small place, but it's a very touristy town. In the summer the population doubles, if not triples. Lyrically a lot of the songs we put on our new record had a lot to do with where we grew up. When you grow up in a place so small, you just want to get out. Once I did, I appreciated what I didn't have anymore."

Q: What is the dividing line, to you, between rock and country music?

A: "I don't really know if there is one. The kind of rock and country music I've always listened to has a rock band format. They sing about loss and love and stories. I think the divide is something that people that write and talk about music like to put there so they can make it separate or easier to talk about. There are Bruce Springsteen records that sound country."

Q: What was going through your mind in 2016 when Rolling Stone named you one of the 10 new country artists you need to know?

A: "That was pretty crazy. Thad definitely took us a little by surprise. It's one of those publications that you grow up reading and holding in high regard. Then to see your band in there and they are talking about you is surreal. It happens to people, but you don't think it will happen to you. Then it does. It was a pretty cool moment for the band." 

Q: What have been the keys to the band's success?

A: "One of them has been staying a small unit. When we are out on the road, it's just the four of us rolling around in a Subaru Outback. We've toured the country for a couple of years in that setup. It allows you to keep going and keep putting gas in the tank. We all grew up with the same work ethic, as well, which has helped us out as a band."

Q: What can people expect from your performance in Sioux City at Saturday in the Park?

A: "I think they can expect a good live, energetic, rocking set with some meaningful songs and some smiling faces up on the stage having a great time."

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