Americana Highways is hosting this premiere of Merle Jagger’s song “Reckless,” from his forthcoming album Trash Talking Guitars due to be released on July 15. The album was produced by Mark Christian with co-production, recording and engineering by Michael Dumas (Dwight Yoakam), Tony Rambo and Matt Thorne. It was mastered at “Oasis Mastering” in Burbank CA with Gene Grimaldi.
“Reckless” is Mark Christian on guitars, banjo, and vocals; Nick Zingraf on bass; and Johnny Ray on drums. Bright, clear acoustic strings and flinty harmonies characterize Merle Jagger’s music, and a casual country rhythm render it immeidately familiar. The banjo is rhythmic too as you’ll be “drinking to the lovesick blues… come back baby, the blues ain’t been the same without you.”
We had a short chat with Merle Jagger. The song appears just beneath the interview.
Americana Highways: How did you link up with producer Michael Dumas for this project?
Merle Jagger: I met Michael Dumas back in 2000 when I was working as a session player and music producer here in LA. Some of the musicians I was working with at the time where members of Dwight Yoakam‘s band and suggested that I should take my projects to Michael at his Mad Dog Studios in Burbank. Michael Dumas had been working with Dwight from album one and built Mad Dog studios with co-founder Dusty Wakeman.
AH: What’s it like working with him? How is he unique?
MJ: Michael Dumas is a master studio builder and world class engineer/producer. Our chemistry clicked immediately and his energy was very studio friendly that helped to up the creativity factor on our sessions with my band and my clients. The gear and rooms at Mad Dog studios were some of the best in town at the time. Everyone loved working there. It was one of the best hangs for recording music. Years later Michael built a state of the art recording studio for Robbie Krieger called Horse Latitudes Studios in Glendale. I was fortunate to have that studio and Michael to record the new Merle Jagger Trash Talking Guitars record. The vibes in that studio with the history of the Doors everywhere and periodic visits from Robbie really made the recording process that much more enjoyable and authentic.
AH: What’s your favorite aspect of the song “Reckless”? What do you think people will like about it?
MJ: We all have had that dysfunctional relationship where we become addicted to toxic people and cant let go. I myself have certainly made a career out entertaining misery loving company. So I wanted to express my thoughts about that in a song. And maybe I could present it with a sense of humor and sarcasm that other folks could relate to and we can all laugh it off together. Lyrically it portrays the uncertainly and frustration of how you cant live with them, and cant live without.
I also like the banjo track I did. I love banjo music.
AH: If someone listens to your new album Trash Talking Guitars, all the way through, what two things will they learn about you?
MJ: They would learn hopefully how much I love making records like the ones I grew up on that you can enjoy listen to from beginning to end with some depth of imagination and scene changes from track to track. And that I still celebrate the expression of guitar in our new music now that Merle Jagger has made the transition from our first release Rancho Los Angeles of all instrumental guitar jams to songs with vocals. The album title Trash Talking Guitars basically describes that our music still remains heavily based with guitar now mixed with trash talking lyrics on a lighter side about the loss, disappointment and heartache of our peers and my own self inflicted shenanigans.
AH: Can you tell us a little more about the concept of “Ranch Rock”?
MJ: Ranch Rock is a catch phrase I came up with to describe my own style of Americana Country Rock music coming from California where I am from. Ranch Rock is basically another word for California Country. Over the last 60 years many legendary roots artists have come out of Southern and Northern California who I feel had their own California sound and style of roots music. Rose Maddox, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Joe Maphis, Jimmy Bryant & Speedy West, Gram Parsons, The Byrds, Crosby Stills Nash, Dwight Yoakum, Emmylou Harris, Credence Clearwater Revival, Grateful Dead just to name a few. There was also the Town Hall Party / Ranch Party TV show out of Long Beach in the 1950s breaking Country artists on the west coast for the first time on Southern Cal TV. Many Cowboy Singers came to Hollywood in the 40s and 50s to follow the success of Cowboy Singer Movie Stars like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. Growing up in Southern Cal all of these artists have influenced my music. And yes, California is the land of many Ranches from the late 1800s till now that are a significant part of our California Wild West history. California is one big music ranch to me.
AH: What is something that has come out of your musical journey that you could have never anticipated when you chose to take this creative path?
MJ: I have worn many hats over the years as a hired gun guitarist, session musician, songwriter, music producer and recording artist. Merle Jagger is my first band where I now wear all the hats. I even hire myself to play guitar on my own recordings. I guess I am now happily a product of all the painstaking years it has taken for me to get this point in my life where I have the knowledge and freedom to make recordings that represent the best of my talents shaping me in to the music artist I am today. I am also a big guitar nerd fan and there is never an end to writing and recording songs celebrating the expression of guitar. The Merle Jagger recordings capture my life long journey playing guitar and there is more to come.
Find the music here: https://orcd.co/mjttg