It has been less than two years since the Dripping Springs country outfit Midland released their most recent album, The Last Resort: Greetings From, but the trio is already set to return with a new record later this year. The initial single, “Up in Texas,” dropped in December, and features a long string of cultural references to the state in which the group formed. It also serves as the title of a regional tour the band will undertake this Spring as they traverse the Lone Star State. We recently talked with bassist Cameron Duddy about the new song and everything on the horizon for Midland this year.
Why did you feel like now was the time to pen this love letter to the state of Texas?
Very rarely do you get anything worthwhile when you sit down and go, I want to write a song that sounds like this or I want this thing. It kind of just comes to you like a radio station that you got to tune into. And if you’re available for the spirit of creativity to hit you, then it’s like a faucet. I used so many metaphors right there. It’s insane. [Laughs] This one came really in the heat of writing for this new album that we are poised to put out in the next couple of months. Because of the tour coming up and it being one of the best songs that we wrote in this new cycle, we decided, why wait? We just happened to be in Nashville to record with that opportunity, so we took our band in there and produced it ourselves. I think we got a great snapshot of Midland being Midland, just going for it without a whole lot of thought. Just let the spirit take us.
There are so many name drops and references about the state. Is there a part or a line that you love most?
I love that “Jerry Jones paid for it” line. I can’t remember who came up with that one, but it makes me laugh. I think my dad really loved that line as well, being a dyed-in-the-wool Dallas Cowboys fan—unapologetically heartbroken Dallas Cowboys fan, I might add.
How did you go about writing this? Is it just spitballing where everyone’s tossing out ideas?
Yeah, these songs are fun to write because there’s no rules and you really are looking for the best reference as opposed to a narrative song, where we have to be a bit more critical. I find it to be more fun, and we don’t get a chance to write material like this too often. It’s kind of the best riff wins. It was me, Jess, and Josh on this co-write, and honestly, you just kind of go into a fugue state and you’re just throwing anything out there. It helps when you write with people that you’re really comfortable around, so there’s no bad ideas.
What do we know about this next record? Are there dates or a title?
I can kind of give you a soft update on it. We’re looking to release, hopefully, around May. It’s an eight track album that we recorded with Dave Cobb in Savannah, Georgia over a two week stint in early December. It’s the first time we’ve worked with Dave—and really the first time that we, since our first record, have lived in a studio and recorded that way. And man, it’s just mind blowing the results that we got when going back to that way of recording. We’re circling one particular album name, but I would probably get my head chopped off if I told you it now. But I can say is that this is the most poignant thing that we’ve ever recorded, and really a level up in terms of songwriting and musicianship.
Are there any towns you haven’t been to before on this upcoming Texas tour?
I don’t think so. We’ve been on the road for the last eight years kind of nonstop. I have temporary amnesia, so I hope you’ll forgive me. Once a year we like to fire up the tour buses and usually it’s about a month-long tour to hit places like El Paso and Lubbock, and this year we’re going to Nacogdoches, Waco, McAllen. Texas country is kind of its own weather system that we’re really lucky to be a part of.
When close your eyes and think about what it’s like to be out on the road in this state, what imagery pops up for you?
West Texas is, in my mind, one of the most beautiful parts of this country, period. I love that landscape. Of course, we live in Hill Country, and I love it out here with the watering holes and the rivers. But West Texas, man, I mean, that’s a state of mind. It’s where we formed this band, more or less, at the Sonic Ranch out there outside of El Paso there on the border of Texas. You can get lost out there, man. It’s a really, really important, powerful place for inspiration for me and for the guys. When I close my eyes and I’m trying to get to a place, it’s out there out in West Texas.
What do you love most about Texas?
We moved out here to measure ourselves against what we believe to be the best musicians, songwriters, and bands in America. And we figured if we could hold our own out here then we could do a damn good job outside of Texas. We believe Texas has such a unique thumbprint in terms of musical style and the confluence of Tejano and Western swing and psyched out rock-and-roll and hippies and cowboys and all these things that converge together out here in Austin. Outside of that, man, I don’t know how you get any better than floating down the Guadalupe with a 24-pack of Lone Star with your buds getting hammered.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.