Mickey and the Motorcars

MMC


Unlike the previous three albums by alt-country five-piece band Micky and the Motorcars, the group — this go-around — had plenty of time to prepare for NAIVE. During recording sessions on the past discs, says front man-lead vocalist Micky Braun, "if a good gig came up, we had to leave the studio."

Now established as one of the best-drawing bands on the lucrative Texas Music circuit, Micky and the Motorcars had plenty of time to make NAIVE (Smith Entertainment; July 29, 2008), accumulating a large stockpile of songs before members even entered Austin's Cedar Creek Studios.

"We had a good amount of time off, so we did a lot of rehearsal, working up different arrangements and trying to figure out the right way to play them," says Braun. "That was kind of grueling, but it worked out."

Braun collaborated on many of the other songs on NAIVE with musicians such as his brother, Reckless Kelly lead singer Willy Braun, as well as Randy Rogers, Kevin Welch, Welch's offspring, Dustin and Savannah, and Jack Ingram bassist Robert Kern. The Brauns actually wrote the title track, which Micky Braun calls "your classic wife-cheating-on-the-husband, husband-comes-home thing," several years ago in their native Idaho. "It never really panned out, so I sat back down, and we ended up getting a good rock 'n' roll version," he says.

"Long Enough to Leave," written by Micky Braun and Randy Rogers, covers familiar territory for someone traveling almost two-thirds of the year. "[It's about] always being on the road, but never being able to stay," he says. "Every time you get comfortable, you have to peel out.

"It's funny," he continues. "I played this song for my girlfriend and she said, 'This is about a guy who's cheating on his wife.' I said, 'No, not at all,' and then I went back and listened to it and said, 'Wow, that does kind of make sense.' I think that's what's neat about songs: People come up with their own opinions and kind of live in 'em that way."

Braun says that NAIVE, featuring guest appearances by Texas music heavyweights Lloyd Maines and Mickey Raphael, also has "quite a few love songs." It's also the first record for new Motorcars lead guitarist and Berklee College of Music graduate Kris Farrow.

"He had been playing around Austin for a couple years, playing with some bands we knew," Braun says. "He's a great guitar and saxophone player. We didn't put any saxophone on the record, but he does play it live on a couple of tunes."

The Braun family's musical legacy extends far beyond the Motorcars — formed back in Idaho by Micky, brother Gary (vocals, guitar, harmonica) and childhood friend-bass player Mark McCoy — and Reckless Kelly (featuring older brothers Willy and Cody Braun).

All four brothers played with their father in their own special group that appeared twice on "The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson." In the 1950s, their grandparents drove an hour and 15 minutes every day from their home in Twin Falls, Idaho, to their jobs as house piano and organ player and cocktail waitress at a casino in Jackpot, Nev.

Even home from the road and an average 215 shows a year, members of Micky and the Motorcars tend to stick together, practicing, brainstorming, writing, hanging out. Braun says, "We'll wind up calling each other and saying, 'What are you doing? Let's hit the town." There's plenty of time for that.

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