The Gold Magnolias are a breaking young southern-soul band who are starting to get a lot of attention. Hudson Mueller plays guitar. Evan Felts on the keys. Daniel Foose on bass. Jeff Barton on drums. And Ryan Anselmi is playing that tenor sax. They’ve released one first (self titled) album, and you’re definitely going to be hearing more from them. They recently stopped by the SiriusXM studios to talk with Ron Bennington about their music in general, and their first album. Excerpts from the interview, and a clip from their live performance, appear below.
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Ron Bennington: Good to have you guys in here. Years ago, there use to be a show called “The New York Rock and Soul Review” – that Michael McDonald would come in and play, (Donald) Fagen would come in and play, Phoebe Snow would sing – and it would be a weekly show. And we haven’t had that sound since – now you guys are bringing that sound back to New York City, so thank you very much for it.
Evan Felts: Thank you.
Ron Bennington: Now when we hear you, we’re not hearing New York guys. You’re living in Brooklyn, but this is not a New York sound.
Evan Felts: We’re all from the South. I’m from Louisiana.
Hudson Mueller: I’m from Austin, Texas. Dan and I grew up next door to each other since we were like 2 years old down in Austin.
Ron Bennington: Always funky kids, though? Always – this was the sound that you were going after?
Hudson Mueller: I don’t know. We kind of bounced around a little bit. I guess we started playing blues. Austin is a big blues town.
Ron Bennington: You have to play the blues in Austin at some point.
Hudson Mueller: And then, I kind of played in a folk band for about 8 years and strummed my acoustic guitar.
Evan Felts: When I first moved to Austin, I would go watch his band at this little Waterloo Ice House on South Lamar, there – on Lamar. But I was a fan of Hudson’s. He wrote great songs and he was in this folk band – they were doing pretty good at the time.
Ron Bennington: And then somehow you guys got together and it turned into some kind of a soul…funk…I mean – I don’t even know where I would put this music.
Evan Felts: Yeah, in today’s mainstream – I’m not quite sure where it would go at all.
Hudson Mueller: I mean we call it Southern soul music.
Evan Felts: We have our own genre I guess. (laughs)
Ron Bennington: The funny thing is I think – when I hear it, well Lowell George would know where to put that music. I mean this was – here’s the stuff that I love about watching you guys play – is that it also, at the same that it’s coming hard at you, it’s also laid back at the same time. It’s almost like you’re very comfortable in this pocket. And you’re not pushing at all. How did that come about?
Daniel Foose: I think it came – the comfort level came with playing. We’ve been playing together for a couple years now. We played a lot of dive bars and had a lot of regular gigs at some interesting places, so to speak. So we just have a lot of experience playing together and playing these songs for a long time. So we’re relaxed on them now I think.
Ron Bennington: What kind of music do you guys feel like this is based on? Is there some band? Singers?
Evan Felts: The black man’s music. Yeah. I was really inspired by Stevie Wonder. That for me, that’s one of my biggest influences. Stevie Wonder – I love Al Green. Otis Redding. All these guys with voices and a story and a message. Hudson is kind of all over the place too.
Hudson Mueller: I mean I fell in love with the blues when I was about 14, 15 years old. And just really got into the old – well, it started out with Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan and those guys.
Ron Bennington: Then work backwards, yeah.
Hudson Mueller: Yeah. Lightnin’ Hopkins and all the Texas blues stuff.
Hudson Mueller: We’ve got to have Ryan with us, yeah.
Evan Felts: Ryan changes the whole game.
Ron Bennington: Ryan, how did you – what is your music background to this?
Ryan Anselmi: Well, I’m from Kansas City. Growing up in Kansas City, I was around jazz and blues my entire life. So, I was welcomed into a community. And so long as I was being earnest about what I was – coming at the music in an earnest way, they welcomed me in. And so, ever since then – I mean I met Jay McShann and so many other players in Kansas City. And then when I moved out to New York, I played with guys like Junior Mance and James Moody and all these other people.
Ron Bennington: That’s great.
Ryan Anselmi: Figures who were really accepting of me even though I didn’t… cut from the same cloth necessarily, but it was coming from an earnest place.
Ron Bennington: I can’t tell you how much I love this sound. And I can’t tell you how much I just love to hear the instruments again. Guys actually playing and connected to their instruments. Do you feel like you’re going in a different direction then sometimes what seems to be happening in the music business?
Hudson Mueller: Sure.
Ron Bennington: Yeah. It does happen that way. But I don’t know of anybody who’s ever broke through without having that same exact thing going on. Are you driving the vans yourself these days? Are you still cruising around?
Daniel Foose: Yeah. We just bought one. Bought our first van and we’re driving it.
Ron Bennington: And play anywhere?
Daniel Foose: Yeah. Absolutely.
Ron Bennington: So this is what you kind of do – slug it out one at a time. But also, great live shows where you’re interacting with the audience. What is that all about for you guys? How do you get the audience? How do you pull them to be part of the scene with you?
Evan Felts: I mean we are a live band. Period. That’s our thing. I mean like we recorded our album live. We play shows live. We are a very performance based – a very performance driven band. And I mean, yeah – I have some little dance moves I do. (band laughs) We’ve got a cool show.
Hudson Mueller: Even a lot of the songs – like the song ideas would come from a situation – like the song “Grounded” on the album was from this club St. Lucian Paradise over in Bed-Stuy that we used to play at where the power outlets were kind of wonky and would shock – the microphone would actually shock you when you would try to sing on it. So we kind of just ended up making up a song about it. And ended up turning it into something.
Ron Bennington: And that’s on a show by show basis. I mean you guys show up and it feels like this is exactly what I want to do.
Evan Felts: I mean there’s some shows where you got a couple of people in the audience. And just had a long night – the night before, but…I mean back in the day when we played at this spot called Soul to Soul in Bed-Stuy, I mean that was kind of our history. We played this little spot for 6 months – 6 to 8 months and we played there every Tuesday night for a small number of people in the room in a predominantly black club in Bed-Stuy. But that was kind of where we kind of built the songs. And we grew as a band. And we learned to play with one another, but I feel like that was like – I mean yeah, there were definitely uninspiring moments about that time, but I feel like overall we’re inspired by one another. Especially when things are going right.
Ron Bennington: Well rest assured it’s a great album that you guys have put out. The sound is fantastic. Not only do they have their own anthem telling their story, but also starting a dance craze. (band laughs) And the dance craze is out there. How did this come together?
Hudson Mueller: So “The Dirty French Fry” is a – so we had a roommate, his name was Jaja and one day I had this little wind-up kind of french fry toy. And I set it out and the french fry when you wind it up, it kind of does this little dance where it moves it’s hands from side to side and everything. So Jaja started copying the french fry and we just started sort of jamming on it and it turned into “The Dirty French Fry”.
Ron Bennington: “The Dirty French Fry”, it’s sweeping the nation. Guys, thank you so much for being in here. I wish you nothing but good things. And I hope to see you the next time through.
You can hear this interview in its entirety exclusively on SiriusXM satellite radio. Not yet a subscriber? Click here for a free trial subscription.
You can learn more about Ron Bennington’s two interview shows, Unmasked and Ron Bennington Interviews at RonBenningtonInterviews.com.