Kurt Wagner and his Nashville band Lambchop are in Australia for the first time since 2005 to promote their latest album FLOTUS.
It’s been more than two decades since “Nashville’s most fucked up band” released their first album. During that time, their chameleon-like music style has taken different forms involving different genres. These include alt-country, post-rock, electro, soul, and folk.
Their new album FLOTUS is no exception.
Their press release reads: “Alternating between genres country, post-rock, soul and lounge music led by Wagner’s bent enigmatic songwriting and croaky whisper of a voice, Lambchop will perform a set exquisitely sculpted, melancholic yet humorous in sonics and mood culminating in a laid-back style as interesting as it is soothing.”
Touring through Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, the band will play some of their most beloved hits from their internationally acclaimed albums – such as Nixon and OH (Ohio) – as well as new tracks from the current album.
We had a chat with Wagner recently to find out more about Lambchop and their upcoming shows.
You’ve genre shifted more than probably anyone over the past few decades. Is this a reflection of a deep passion for/interest in an eclectic range of music styles?
“Yeah, I think so. I like lots of music. I just like music, I think it’s great.”
You grew up in Nashville. How on earth did you not end up a straight country music star?
“Oh, well that’s pretty easy to do if you’re me. I always liked country music just fine and stuff like that. I just think that at the time, when I was trying to figure out what music I wanted to make, it didn’t feel like country. But I was confused too, because I was like ‘I’m from here, I grew up around this, I should really be digging into this stuff’.
“I think the way the country music industry presented itself in Nashville at the time wasn’t very flattering, and the other bands that were trying to make bar rock and stuff, I wasn’t really interested in that either. I knew what I didn’t want to do and I just tried to make music that seemed natural to me, and it really didn’t concern itself with either one of those things, at least when I was starting out.
“Now I feel like there are so many different styles of music to be explored.”
How did that alt-country scene in Nashville help shape your songwriting when you first formed Posterchild and later morphed into Lambchop?
“I don’t think it really even existed back then. The kind of music that I liked that was country music was country rock from the ‘70s, like the Burrito Brothers.
“They seemed to be taking that form and then putting ideas that were more relevant to the life’s that we live into it, sort of reimagining the genre as if it wasn’t just a working class redneck thing, this music, more than anybody could appropriate it for themselves and say whatever they wanted to within that context.”
This will be your first performance in Australia since 2005. Why has it taken so long to get back here, and how deep into the Lambchop catalogue can the audience expect you to dive for the Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane shows?
“It’s been a long time because it’s a long way away. It really is a bit of a stretch for old people to travel that far.
“We will be visiting a variety of points in the Lambchop catalogue but keeping in mind the type of music we’re creating now. We revisit a lot of the older material and present it in a way that’s relevant to the new music. It seems to me that they fit together really well, but they’re presented in a much simpler fashion because we are just performing as a trio.”
Your studio album titles are invariably epic teases. Very clever. Why the esoteric approach to album names and what’s the one great album name you’ve yet to unleash on the world?
“Ha! Well, I’m not going to tell you if I’ve got one. I’ve got a handful I’m thinking about now. Album titles usually happen for me after I’ve created a set of songs, I don’t think there’s ever been a case where I’ve titled an album before the songs have been created or anything like that. I’m yet to do something of that style. Once I have the collection of songs in front of me I then try to think of something that can in a way sum up the songs I’ve created.”
Who are some contemporary songwriters you admire?
“Wow. Well, there’s Dan Bejar from Destroyer, I think he’s amazing, but there’s just a slew of them. Kendrick Lamar I think is an amazing, amazing writer. Chance the Rapper, just incredible.”