Check off another item on The Steel Wheels bucket list.
Over the last decade plus, I have had the pleasure of writing about this band and featuring their songs on Trail Mix, booking and promoting their concerts, and introducing them on stage.
This week, this little blog has the honor of premiering a brand new track from The Steel Wheels. I always get excited when Trail Mix gets to do that. And to be able to premiere a tune from a band I have loved for years? Well, that’s always special.
The Steel Wheels have a busy month of July planned. Their new record, Over The Trees, drops early next month and, that same weekend, the band will be welcoming scores of music-minded friends for their Red Wing Roots Music Festival, outside of Mt. Solon, Virginia.
I recently caught up with Trent Wagler to chat about the new record and the track “Under,” which Trail Mix premieres today, as well as the upcoming Red Wing Roots Music Festival.
BRO – Personal question. I know you spend a lot of time on the bike. How can I convince my wife to let me ride that much?
TW – Make it a religion. I often talk about cycling as a kind of meditation or prayer. Can she really stand between you and your god? I also ride when most of my family is either asleep or away. That makes it easier. I am also noticeably easier to be around when I get exercise.
BRO – You have described Over The Trees, the band’s new record, as “experimental.” How so?
TW – We weren’t bound by our own notions of how The Steel Wheels sound. We started a song with a gourd banjo and a Nigerian percussion instrument called the udu. We ended another song wiht a marimba rhythmic pattern and a nod to Steve Reich’s “Music For 18 Musicians.” We took an acappella song and added synthesizers and Rhodes bass with crunchy guitars. We took another song and made it acappella. We didn’t worry about the definitions of a string band.
BRO – We are premiering “Under” this week. What the story behind the song?
TW – This song is a perfect spring/summer kickoff. It started writing this one on the roads around Asheville, North Carolina, in the rise and fall of those beautiful mountains. It’s about leaning into your worst attributes and making them your best. And, sonically, this tune is a fiddle and percussion dance, with great respect to the second-line music of New Orleans.
BRO – Your seventh annual Red Wing Roots Music Festival is just around the bend. Still as excited as you were a month out from the first one?
TW – Every year is different and we collect new stories in each one. There will never be another first, because the anxiety and joy of starting something new and untested was so palpable at the beginning. But this is the first time we’ve paired out two biggest events of the year – the festival and our album release. So we’re a little extra excited this year.
BRO – Speaking of Red Wing, other than The Steel Wheels, give me a can’t miss set for the weekend.
TW – Oh, that’s really tough. You know I’m excited about every single set, right? But I’ll give you three that are very near and dear as I think about it right now. River Whyless, because my daughter and I have played their new record endlessly this year and I can’t wait to hear the perform again at Red Wing. Lucinda Williams, even though headliners don’t need more hype, but I am so excited to see this legend on our stage. Her music is timeless and Car Wheels On A Gravel Road is a classic. And Oliver Bates Craven. Many will know Olver from his time with Stray Birds. He recently came out on the road with The Steel Wheels when Eric was on leave. It was a gift to have him hop on the road with us in a time of need and I can’t wait to see him perform under his own name at Red Wing.
It’s busy times for Trent and his mates in The Steel Wheels, and I appreciate the time he took to hang out with the Trail Mix blog and give us the chance to debute “Under,” the brand new track from Over The Trees. Here it is!
For more information on how The Steel Wheels, the new record, or when the band will be taking to the stage new year, cruise over to their website. If you are interested in grabbing passes to the seventh annual Red Wing Roots Music Festival so you too can check out River Whyless, Lucinda Williams, and Oliver Bates Craven, direct your attention here.
And, of course, be sure to check out all of the brand new music featured on this month’s Trail Mix.