**NOTE: Contest is now closed. You can still participate but will no longer be eligible for the giveaway.**
One disc you may have overlooked in 2007 came from Richmond, VA based Wrinkle Neck Mules titled ‘The Wicks Have Met’. Rustically rooted in Old Dominion’s historic south, the Wrinkle Neck Mules deliver with their own special brand of twanged up rock and roll and wacky sense of humor. There could be no other band that can claim their very own jack ass of a mascot. Among comparisons, you might find their sound somewhere between the Deadstring Brothers and Widespread Panic. Take Chip Frazier’s word for it as he placed the album at #7 just one spot ahead of Jason Isbell in his Best of 2007 poll.
I recently had the fortune of having a Q&A session with Andy Stepanian who heads up this fine band. Andy and the rest of the Mules were kind enough to offer up a signed poster along with a copy of ‘The Wicks Have Met’ to FIFTEEN lucky Twangville readers. See below for details.
Hear album track “Black Skies for the High & Mighty (live)” (MP3) from Mason & Andy Acoustic recorded live at Alley Katz in Richmond, VA (12/06/06)
Q&A with Andy Stepanian of the Wrinkle Neck Mules
Twangville: You recently performed at the AmericanaRoots/Galleywinter Showcase at SXSW 08 along with other acts like Mando Saenz and The Band of Heathens. Did you get to enjoy any of the other sets? Was there a favorite?
Andy: We didn’t see them all, but our favorite was the Whipsaws from all the way up in Alaska. They are good lads as well. We’ve had a sort of “cyber” relationship with them for a spell anyway. That sounds shady I know, but they sort of bounced ideas off of us and vice versa via email. So, it was nice to put some names with some faces. And, we’re plotting this big Alaska tour for summer 09 with them. Just to day we did.
T: Damn, your last album ‘The Wicks Have Met’ was good. Word on the farm is that you’ve got a new one in the works. When can we expect to hear it and will there be any specific themes in play?
A: I don’t know. There is no real time line right now. It’s going to be slow, but it’s in the works for sure. Early summer ’09 maybe? We’re just demoing things for each other right now and creating skeletons. Some of the bones need milk.
As for themes or approaches, we’re talking about a lot of things. Maybe recording the bulk of it live? In the end though my money is on a process much like the one we used for The Wicks Have Met. Just digging in in our own studio and chipping away at the rock until we have things just the way we want them. That’s the best way for us. We feel we do our best work without the constraints of studio time and without the noise of outside opinion. And we don’t think we sacrifice much – if anything – sonically to do it our own way on our own time. We’ve gotten pretty good at the engineering bit.
T: ‘Wrinkle Neck Mules’ was a great choice for a band name. Was there a runner up?
A: There really wasn’t. It’s not like we sat around with a list of names and had votes and such to get to “Wrinkle Neck Mules”. It just happened sometime during the course of our first little pathetic show. One minute we weren’t, the next we were. Mason and our original drummer, Blake, and I did play in a bluegrass-ish band that was sort of an offshoot of the Mules called “Largemouth Grass”. I always kind of liked that.
T: What do you make of the 2008 race for president? Who’s gonna wear boots at next year’s inauguration?
A: Unlike other musician types, I guess we’ve never felt it was our job or our place to opine upon these types of things. We have our individual allegiances to causes all over the map, but as for some sort of endorsement, you won’t get that from the Wrinkle Neck Mules press office. We went on a tour of the UK a few years back and I think all the people were surprised that we would not take potshots at the government and at G Dub. They kept asking and baiting us and shit talking. We just wanted to drink the pints and eat the doner kebabs.
T: B. B. King named his guitar ‘Lucille’. Willie calls his ‘Trigger’. Any of the Mules have names for their instruments?
A: I think Mason would kick my ass if any of I seriously came out with a name for my instrument like “Yellow Bird”, “Ear Caresser” or something of the sort. I suppose Willie and BB earned the right and we really haven’t yet. Once you become a living legend I guess you can do whatever you want to do. That said, our two vans have both had names. Muleicorn I, a two-tone 1989 Dodge Ram, served faithfully until 2006 and Muleicorn II, your cookie cutter 1999 White Ford, still serves today.
T: Who gets to wear the Mule costume?
A: Costume? What do you mean? That thing is real. And it bites.
Andy Stepanian (vocal, guitar, mandolin), Mason Brent (vocal, guitar, mandolin, pedal steel), Brian Gregory (vocal, bass), Stuart Gunter (drums), Chase Heard (vocal, guitar, banjo, absence) of the Wrinkle Neck Mules are offering up to 15 lucky fans one copy of ‘The Wicks Have Met’ and one signed poster right here on Twangville and all you have to do is leave a comment below to be eligible. Please limit yourself to one comment per person. Contest ends Friday, 5/2/08 at midnight EST. Winners will be contacted by e-mail prior to any announcements.*
Purchase ‘The Wicks Have Met’ from Miles of Music.
* By participating in this contest you agree to allow Twangville to post the winner’s name and city on our web site.
About the author: Washington, D.C. area web designer by day. Certifiable music freak by night. Husband and father of two by the loving grace of God.