Ian Munsick — Interview
Americana Highways recently chatted with Warner Music Nashville recording artist, Ian Munsick. Munsick is a Wyoming native and a rancher at heart. He was named a 2023 artist to watch by both Country Now and Music Mayhem. We talked about his upcoming album, White Buffalo, his approach to songwriting and his upcoming appearance at the Stagecoach Music Festival in Indio, CA. Ian will be performing on the Palomino stage on Friday, April 28th.
Americana Highways: You’re playing the Stagecoach Festival in Indio, CA at the end of April. Have you ever been to Stagecoach before?
Ian Munsick: My wife has a place in Coachella, so we go there every year. But the first time I went there was in 2019, I believe it was. It was a blast.
AH: Are you looking forward to your first time playing (Stagecoach)?
Ian: Yes, I am. We’re playing the Palomino Stage, and I remember when we went there in 2019, Cody Johnson was playing the Palomino Stage, and I think that we’re playing the same time slot that he had that year. It’s pretty cool to just be there and kind of just on this journey and seeing the progression happen. I’m excited for it.
AH: I have to tell you, your videos are just beautiful.
Ian: Thank you. We do a lot of that stuff out west in Wyoming and Montana, so it’s pretty hard to make it look bad out there. It’s inspiring country.
AH: Sure is. What got you into music?
Ian: Yeah, my dad and my two older brothers are all musicians as well, so growing up on a ranch in Wyoming, those three were always in our house playing music. My dad is a fiddle player, which is why there’s a ton of fiddle on my record. And my two older brothers are also ranchers, so there’s a lot of western, cowboy ranch life themes in my music. It all stems from how I was raised in Wyoming.
AH: Yeah, I definitely get that. Do you typically write on your own, or do you mostly work with other people?
Ian: Both, I write on my own and also write with other people. There are a few people that I really like to write with, and they underunderstand where I’m trying to go with all my music. But nine times out of ten, I’ll have a title and I’ll have a musical idea for the title and I’ll bring it in to write and I’ll usually have a verse or something on it, but I really like to co- write with people because it then brings out other ideas. The goal is always the best idea wins. And I don’t always have the best ideas. That’s why I love to collaborate.
AH: If you could collaborate, co-write a song with anybody, who would that be?
Ian: Oh, man, I would probably say Paul McCartney. The Beatles are the greatest band of all time, I love listening to them. I can always go back and listen to their records and find inspiration. So just to have co-written a song with a Beatle, that would be legendary.
AH: Other than the Beatles, what are musicians do you really admire and have inspired your music?
Ian: There was a Canadian singer songwriter by the name of Ian Tyson. Love Ian Tyson. My dad and he were good friends. He proved that Rocky Mountain country music and the cowboy country music have their own lane in country music, so I love his music. I love Tom Russell, too. He’s an amazing writer. Chris Ledoux’s artistry is amazing. There’s a lot, but there are a few right there just to name off some names.
AH: Those are some good ones. You do a great job of telling stories in your songs. It really comes across in the videos. I love your videos. The songs are great and the stories you tell and the beauty of the videos are amazing. Is that your family in some of the videos?
Ian: Yes, my wife is my manager, so she has a huge role in all of the branding and she knows what looks good. And my three-year old, Crawford, the older he gets, people love to watch him on the screen. I love to include them in my music and my videos because they’re a huge inspiration for me as an artist. So it’s cool to be able to have them in there.
AH: And you did a song about your son, “Little Man.”
Ian: Yes, I did. “Little Man.”
AH: Your new album, White Buffalo, is coming out this week. I’m looking forward to it. “Long Live Cowgirls” with Cody Johnson, is a great song. And, I don’t smoke weed and I don’t ride horses, but I also love that song, “Horses and Weed.”
Ian: It’s just not the same old country tune that’s been written over again about trucks and beer. Horses and weed are what’s popular where I’m from. I figured out how to put them in a song.
Ian Munsick photo by Raul Esparza
AH: Tell us about the idea behind “Cow Shit in the Morning.”
Ian: I had that idea that was home in Wyoming, just hanging out for a few weeks. We had some off time in September, and the time of year is just beautiful in Wyoming. The grass is green. There was some light rain, and it was just beautiful. The weather was perfect. We lease our pasture to our neighbor’s Red Angus herd. So I walk out and there’s probably 50 cows in our pasture. And I walk out there and it smells like cow shit. And it occurs to me that I love the smell of cow shit. And that was my idea, was, hey, man, do I want to write the tune about how much I love it? But then I brought it into the writing room. Then my co-writers are like, hey, that’s awesome. Can we twist it? Whereas you love the smell of that more than you love putting up with this girl’s bullshit. And it’s like, that’s why I write with people, because I never would have had that idea. But it’s a funny one.
AH: “Long Haul” is a great song. Was that written about your wife?
Ian: Yes, it was. It was originally about Wyoming and the West. It’s incorporating a love story into the landscape that I grew up in — through the mountain, down through the canyon and through the rivers and all that stuff and the long haul. The more the time goes on, I find that the music that I was writing at the time is actually about her and about my child. That’s what’s really cool about music, too, and writing, is that your music changes personal meaning over time.
AH: There’s another song with the line: “She loves him more than me,” which offers a unique but relatable perspective.
Ian: My wife and I had just met in 2018 when I started that song, and I didn’t even know yet that I was going to marry her. But I had that idea from my friend who got married, and at the altar, he told the preacher that he loves her because she loves Jesus more than me. I thought, okay, “more than me.” Now, that’s a song. So I wrote it down, and it took me a few years to write it, but I’m glad that I waited, because originally the first two verses are about how you love her because she loves God more than you. And then by the time the last verse comes around, you now have a child, and you love her because she loves your child more than she loves you. So, it’s that classic spin on the title by the time the last verse comes along.
AH: There’s this great line from “Me Against the Mountain” where you sing “But I’ll meet you tonight, my love, or I’ll meet my end. Either way, an angel is waiting.” That’s one of the best lines I’ve ever heard.
Ian: Oh, I’m honored. Again, it all goes back to the landscape that I grew up in, man, the mountains and there’s something so beautiful about them, yet you get up there, then you get in them and it’s like, oh, shit, this is real up here. It’s beautiful. Yeah, but it also you make one wrong move, and you could be dead. That almost makes it more beautiful. My music, I feel like I have an endless inspirational ammunition to go off of because where I’m from is so unique. And obviously having my wife and my three-year-old now tying all of those elements is one of my favorite things about writing music.
AH: We’re going to finish off with a couple kind of silly questions. If you weren’t doing music that wasn’t your career, what would you be doing?
Ian: I’d be ranching, probably. I’d be on a ranch. Living the dream, man. Yeah. There’s times now when I wish that I could be ranching, but I’m also living the dream out here. Obviously, ideally, I could do both, but being a rancher and being an artist are each unique lifestyles. They’re not even jobs. So it’s hard to have two lifestyles in one life. But eventually I’ll get to the point where I can base my life out of Wyoming. It’s just a little hard to get in and out of Wyoming right now, so Nashville is a good spot for me to live in the meantime.
AH: Are you a fan of the TV show Yellowstone?
Ian: Yes. It’s entertaining, but being somebody who’s from there, there’s times that it’s frustrating then, especially when you see some of it being exposed to the outside world, because I think what makes that part of the country so special is that there’s not a lot of exposure to the outside world.
There’s good and there’s bad that comes out of the show. The good is the tourism that it brings in and the bad is the tourism that it brings in. It’s a double-edged sword.
AH: What’s the best advice anybody’s ever given you?
Ian: I would say “Own Up.” Two words, because you’re not going to win if you’re not in the room.
AH: What’s the most useless talent that you have?
Ian: I can clap behind my back and do a push up. That’s probably the most useless talent because there’s no way that I’m ever going to use that for anything.
AH: Well, you can use it to answer this silly question.
Thanks for speaking with us, Ian Munsick. Find more about his music and tour dates on his websites here: https://ianmunsick.lnk.to/whitebuffalo-preorder and here: https://www.ianmunsick.com/whitebuffalo