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Beer Drinkers & Hellraisers: Meet The Cadillac Three

Already blazing a trail on Nashville’s fertile country rock scene, ZZ Top-approved power trio The Cadillac Three are back with singles-rich second album Bury Me In My Boots

It’s a muggy June afternoon on Nashville’s 16th Ave., the main drag of the city’s famous Music Row. But inside Big Machine Records, aka the house that Taylor Swift built, it feels like one of those overly air-conditioned Camelot-themed steak restaurants from the 1970s: lots of dark leather, textured walls and chainmail ironwork fixtures. The walls pop with huge portraits of the label’s round table, including country titans Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and, pointing in a recent classic rockier direction, Steven Tyler and Cheap Trick.

Enter the newest knights, Jaren Johnston, Kelby Ray and Neil Mason, better known as The Cadillac Three. Three dudes in trucker hats, tees and tattoos whose affable manner is a marked contrast to the rip-roaring swagger of the live shows wowing fans in the US and the UK. Vocalist/guitarist Johnston, the trio’s funny, f-word-spouting frontman, is grinning because they’ve just seen the initial vinyl pressings of their all-important second album Bury Me In My Boots.

The second record is always tough,” he says. “I think a lot of our favourite bands, with that second one, it’s either fucking awesome or, ‘Oh, man, they couldn’t do it again.’ Our thing was the first record [2012’s The Cadillac Three] we made really quickly in a little basement studio, right up the street from here. We wrote the songs in a two or three-week period. It was all really fast. There wasn’t three or four years of building experiences to write about.”

“We also hadn’t even played live as Cadillac Three before we made that first record,” adds steel guitar/Dobro player Kelby Ray. “We were still finding our sound in the studio. This time, we had a thousand gigs behind us, literally.”

“And two years in on the first album, we signed with Big Machine,” continues Johnston. “They gave the record a new life. A lot of people hadn’t heard it. At that point, it was just the three of us slinging it on the road, stamping copies and selling them out of the back of the van. We gave it extra time to let the label do what they do. So we started writing seriously for this new record about two years ago. We realised there was a bunch of stuff we need in our live show – tempos, grooves – that wasn’t there yet. The road is a great laboratory to decide what works and what doesn’t.”

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