Mississippi Rail Company makes music that evokes the golden age of New Orleans rhythm and blues, with the energy and catchy melodies of a great young band. Their incendiary live performances have made them a namesake on the local music scene, and their latest endeavor is recording and releasing one song a month throughout 2014. Songwriter, pianist, and singer Travers Geoffray checked in with us to talk about the unique production of the new songs, as well as the official launch party for the project that goes down this Friday at Gasa Gasa.
Geoffray says the ability to release songs individually ultimately allowed him to think outside the box without being tied to the idea of a whole album. “I think of each song individually, completely unrelated to the song I wrote last or the next one I’ll write.” He mentions the frustrating process of recording a whole album in three days, only to come up with a great new song, which din’t make it on the record, two weeks later. As far as singles are concerned, “If I write something I really like next month, we’ll try it out, get it recorded, and release it later this year.”
The freedom of releasing singles also allows the band to experiment in the studio with different sounds and lineups. The quartet has started utilizing a three piece horn section, as well as guitar and harmonica players, to further expand their sonic palette. Recording individual tracks gives Geoffray the chance to try out genres he hasn’t gotten the chance to touch yet. “We did a Chicago blues song, and we’d love to do a bluegrass or gospel tune, maybe a Mardi Gras Indian song. I’m also good friends with the guys in Lost Bayou Ramblers, and it’d be great if we could get them in the studio with us.”
The location of the launch party is also significant, says Geoffray. “We loved doing our residency at The Maple Leaf back in September, but there’s so much history there already. We’re really excited to start our own story at a brand new venue.” With a reputation as one of the most exciting, innovative young bands around town, Geoffray says he and the guys of Mississippi Rail Company are ready to start “forging our own ground and playing by our own rules.” The freedom of the single project suits the band’s goals and gives them the options to make and record music on their own terms.
At first glance, the idea of an internet distributed singles project seems odd for a band known to play music usually associated with a bygone era. But Geoffray says, “It’s actually super retro. It’s a 21st century approach, but also an early 20th century approach for how people released music before the LP.” And as for their throwback sound, Geoffray feels that “music that’s traditional is traditional for a reason. It’s why standards are standards. People love it and want to hear it over and over again. The music never really goes away as long as people keep playing it and they’re not just repeating the same old stuff.” With his band’s rollicking, modern interpretation of piano-driven rhythm and blues, coupled with their newfound freedom in the studio, Mississippi Rail Company is certainly not just repeating the same old stuff.
Mississippi Rail Company plays Gasa Gasa this Friday with Coyotes. Tickets are $8 and can be purchased here.