Americana Highways brings you this video premiere of Andrew Browning and the 9 Pound Hammers’ song “The Midnight Desert Talk Radio,” the title track from their forthcoming album due to be available on November 4. The Midnight Desert Talk Radio was produced by Derek O’Brien.
“The Midnight Desert Talk Radio” is Andrew Browning on lead and backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitar; Lelah Simon on electric bass; Phillip Allan Smith on lead guitar; Ilya Portnov on harmonica; Carey Frank on Hammond B3 and Wurlitzer; Mollie Greenspan on backing vocals; and Derek O’Brien on drums, percussion, and backing vocals.
The video was produced and directed by Larry Ramirez of Loaded Bomb Productions. Actors in the video scenes ae are Bobby Furst (the old man), Mana Afshar (the woman), and Andrew Browning (the middle age man). The video was shot at FurstWurld in Joshua Tree, California. The makeup was courtesy of Mana Afshar. The band members in the video are Andrew Browning, Lelah Simon, Derek O’Brien, Ilya Portnov, and Phillip Allan Smith
Americana Highways: How did you come up with the name 9 Pound Hammers?
Andrew Browning: The name comes from a Merle Travis song called “Nine Pound Hammer.” The reference is to digging coal but also to John Henry, the steel driving man. I liked it because being from Los Angeles, everything is about the “new new thing” and it’s my way of saying, “I’m gonna beat that fucking steam engine with my bare hands.” I suppose it’s my way of rebelling against an increasingly technological world that I am a part of and a participant in.
AH: How would you characterize your forthcoming album overall – what do you hope people take away from it?
AB: This album is a gritty creosote soaked country record with a sun-beaten California sound. It’s inspired as much by the desert as it is by the asphalt. I hope people listen to the stories and find a little of themselves in them. I hope these songs take people away from their worldly cares for just a few moments, that is the highest calling of any artist.
AH: What inspired the song “The Midnight Desert Talk Radio”?
AB: The Midnight Desert Talk Radio is a reference to the late nights I spent listening to Art Bell as a kid during a misspent youth.
AH: What do you make of the idea of UFOs as a topic on the radio – as this is a line in the song?
AB: People have looked to the stars since the rise of civilization to find answers to the unexplained and from that came the seeds of religion, and later, science. I think it’s natural and good for people to ask questions about the world around them and if radio provides a forum and a community for that, i support it. As we become increasingly isolated, i support anything that brings people together.
AH: what was the production process like for the album?
AB: I started using my iPhone as the scratchpad for the new songs. It was just me and a flat-top guitar while we were recording the last album. I usually let songs marinade for a bit after I do that so that when i come back to them i can be objective about their possibilities. A few months later I began sifting through them and picking songs to demo on my laptop, which became better arranged version that had a little more meat on the bone. Back into the marinade they went. Finally, I got together with Derek and we went through the songs and discussed ideas for arrangements. He’s really good at pushing me beyond my comfort zone. Once we got the band together we started banging the songs out in rehearsal and we got a lot more ideas along with more boundary pushing from Derek. Once we started recording, we had a lot of pre-production and original inspiration to refer back on so it really was like pulling steaks out of the marinade and throwing them on the grill until they were medium rare.
AH: Which Cormac McCarthy book is your favorite? And how would you relate the album, or certain songs on the album, to his writing?
AB: I think that’s changed over time. It used to be Blood Meridian, I just loved the narrative, the historical context, and the pornographic violence. Now I lean toward All The Pretty Horses and the rest of the Border Trilogy, they’re more subtle and in a way more beautiful. The Road is the book that gives me nightmares. I really like McCarthy because his writing is sparse and genuine just like a country song and even with his most flawed characters, I am left feeling kinship with them and sympathy for them. Anytime I write a song, I strive for those ingredients: honesty, authenticity, sympathy, and kinship, because those are things that make great songs.
AH: When will the album be released?
AB: The album will be released on November 4, 2022 and I anticipate a number of shows in support of it. I am really looking forward to blasting this album into outer space.
Thank you for chatting with us, Andrew Browning! Enjoy the video, with crackling radio, tumbleweeds, midnight smokes, spending the night in the car, Crystal Gayle, and more. Andrew Browning has a wordsmanship that’ll pull you back to the Western frontier and nostalgia for desert drives with the staticky radio. Watch the video then find more info and tour dates etc, here: http://www.andrewbrowning.net