I’m a big fan of the Mynabirds‘ new record Generals, and a big fan of the Nashville Scene – which is why I was particularly excited to be able to combine the two in this week’s issue, where I profiled the band and its leader Laura Burhenn. You can read the story here, or grab a free copy at your local newsboxy area. They are playing tonight at High Watt, and tickets are still available. You also might be able to squeeze in one last entry for the Scene’s ticket giveaway.
Another thing I am a fan of is East Nashville with Love, which, like Under the Guise, was one of my pre-Nashville bibles (and both still are). Its editor is Nicole Childrey, who also happens to beat drums for Mynabirds and other bands. Click here to see her featured in Laura’s New Revolutionists project – that’s the origin of the photo, at left.
Here, we asked Nicole a few more questions about her music, Nashville and how it mirrors Laura’s hometown of Omaha…
How has living in Nashville contributed to your development as a musician, and your role in the Mynabirds?
Being in Nashville changed who I am as a musician completely — you may not like everything you hear, but pretty much every musician you meet in town is really good at what they do. It’s intimidating, and it challenges you to get better. Being spread out all over the country, with The Mynabirds, rehearsal is a big luxury that we don’t get much of — we started the Bright Eyes tour we did last year with maybe two hours of rehearsal the day of the first show. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without having an anxiety breakdown before I moved to Nashville and felt that push. Playing with people in Nashville kinda forces you to become more versatile, too — I’ve played country/Americana with guys like Eric Brace and Peter Cooper, louder rock music with Brendan Benson, and lots of other stuff, and I learned a ton from all of it. Between ‘What We Lose in the Fire’ and now ‘Generals,’ our stuff at this point is really varied, and I feel like being in Nashville really schooled me on how to be in a band like this. I tend to be a cheerleader for it, but I sincerely think the Nashville music scene is a singular entity. There’s no other place you can learn as much. I’m thankful for it.
Do you think there are any similarities between here and Omaha (where Laura’s from), such as in the community around Saddle Creek‘s local artists and the Slowdown?
Part of what I really love about Omaha is how much it reminds me of Nashville. In the practical sense — it’s a not-huge, very manageable, clean city. But just vibe-wise, too. Feels like everyone I know in Nashville has their hand in something that’s creative and actually good, and the folks we know in Omaha are similarly driven and talented. You just get a sense of a sustained creative energy there, like you do in Nashville — like the people around you by and large believe that the arts are important. The Saddle Creek community is really inspiring, too — it’s pretty amazing to see what they’ve built up over the years out of what was essentially friendships/mutual admiration, and it’s still a really tight-knit, supportive group of people. I feel really lucky to be a part of it — I’ve always loved what they do and how they do it. Saddle Creek and Slowdown in a weird way do remind me of Third Man, in the way that they’re not just one thing but a hub: There’s a label that’s committed to supporting music they love, a great place for those bands and others to play, a record shop. Omaha’s really lucky to have something like that, and I think we’re really lucky to have Third Man.
What do you plan to do with your short time back in Nashville? Where will you take your bandmates? In the Nashville Scene piece, everyone is talking Mas Tacos…
I want to take Laura to Imogene + Willie — she really appreciates fashion too, and I feel like that’s a great start for bragging on our fashion scene. Also Old Made Good, because we all love vintage stores and Kate and Ashley at OMG find amazing stuff. We’ll probably mostly hang out in East Nashville, because that’s where I live, and not to be a walking stereotype, but I’m pretty obsessed with stuff in the neighborhood. Laura’s vegetarian so maybe we’ll take her to The Wild Cow. Our background singer Rebecca is obsessed with spicy food, so we always have to take her for hot chicken — she got the hottest Bolton’s last time and it didn’t even phase her, which makes me think she may be superhuman. It’s fun when we get to be home for a day on tour — Laura hugely loves Omaha, and I hugely love Nashville, so when we’re in our respective homes we get to share our favorite stuff with each other. I’ve come to think of Omaha as kind of a second home, and I want to make our bandmates feel similarly about Nashville.
Buy Generals here.