By Brian Tucker
Two years ago outlaw country band Bootleg Dynasty released a full length debut album and would go on to win Best Americana act at the Carolina Music Awards. In just over a month they’ll release a follow-up, Common Laws/Mountain Justice on July 31st in physical and digital formats (and Pandora).
The artwork for the new album was created by singer-guitarist Brad Lackey who answered some questions about it and the state of things in the band.
Was much of the new album written on the road or back home?
Lackey: A little of both. I know different songwriters have different methods. For me, songs come in moments of clarity like an electrical current. I’ve had nights where as soon as we loaded up after a performance I was writing. Other times songs come in response to a memory or event. I try not to force anything, let things come as they come.
The album title is interesting, can you elaborate on it?
Lackey: Common Laws/Mountain Justice is the result of a long series of discussions among band mates. It’s something to the effect of; no matter where you go in the world we’re all guided by the same set of common principles (laws) to live by. Respect, fairness, kindness for our fellow man. Hopefully that’s all guided by love. Now whether or not we live up to these principles and to what degree, the universe always responds accordingly. Call it whatever you like – God, karma, but the same simple justice, or as we call it ‘mountain justice,’ always catches up.
I feel like the songs, and the band, have always tried to interject some love and humanity into everything we do and the universe has responded by giving us an incredible amount of success. We hope that shows through in this album.
Did you guys become a finer tuned machine from all the touring?
Lackey: I think it’s a monstrous progression from our debut album. Daniel Nowell is our electric guitarist on this album. The production is much better thanks to Trent Harrison at Hourglass Studios. We had Kenna Rock of Junkyard Mama lay down vocals on a few of the songs on the album as well. I don’t think there’s any aspect of this album that isn’t a noticeable climb from our previous work. Yes, touring makes you better, much, much better. There are so many different situations and vibes and people out there. Every night is different and every night makes you better. There’s really no shortcut around it. Not one that we’re interested in anyway.
How do you view the success of the band so far?
Lackey: We’re definitely humbled. The amount of support we’ve received over the last three years from this community and around the Southeast have been incredible. We’ve taken a little time away from performing after the completion of this album. I think that’s natural. It feels natural. For several years we’ve been banging doors down and logging miles on the road, playing festivals, and so on.
I think everyone needs some time to recoup and refocus their energy. There were stretches last year where we would log a thousand miles and four shows in three days then turn around and do it again. It’s so much fun but you pay a toll. We’re catching our breath a little right now.
How much have you, and the band, changed?
Lackey: Well, we’ve always tried to do things the right way. Always tried to put our fans first, treat the venues with respect, treat each other with respect and always do everything we can do to be as good as we can be. Over time I don’t know if there’s been a dramatic change but things get easier the more you do them. We’ve all grown up a lot and we’ve all learned a lot. In the early days we we’re flying by the seat of our pants. We’re more confident now for sure.
What’s the toughest part of the band?
Lackey: The shows are always tremendous. We love connecting with people. That’s always been the easy part. We all gave everything we could give to the band. That has an impact on people at home, the wives, and the kids. If you want success in the music scene today, be prepared to work. It’s as simple as that. So don’t spread yourself too thin. I think we’re proof that if you get out there and work hard and believe in what you’re doing, believe in who you are, you can have whatever you want in this life.