The five guys in Reckless Kelly have one main goal: “We want to get a bus,” says lead singer and principal songwriter Willy Braun. “That’s been the main goal of the band since we’ve started.”
There’s some elbow nudging among the other four guys until Braun adds one more thing: “Well, eventual world domination is the ultimate goal.”
Talking to Reckless Kelly – one of Texas’ most popular exports on the national roots-rock club scene — is a lot like this. First you get a straight answer and then you get a funny answer. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
Asked to describe a typical day in the life of the band, Braun says, “We wake up, hit the gym, put in some community service at the church or the local shelter. Giving back, basically. And then we hit church.”
Everybody cracks up, but then he gives the real story. “Lately, we’ve been getting up driving somewhere, doing some radio interviews, go to a soundcheck, grab a bite to eat. Have a few cocktails, do the show and do it all over again.”
The band currently travels in a 15-passenger Ford Econoline diesel van with a trailer. Braun and bassist Jimmy McFeeley are excused from driving responsibilities following some scrapes, which leaves guitarist David Abeyta, drummer Jay Nazz or utility player Cody Braun (another of the four Braun brothers; two others are in the up-and-coming Austin-based band Mickey & the Motorcars) behind the wheel.
Last year, Reckless Kelly — named for an Australian outlaw — played around 200 shows and expect to duplicate that effort in 2005, especially with a new album, Wicked Twisted Road. They’ll be opening shows for Dwight Yoakam later this year and hope to schedule a European tour.
“I just leave the suitcase open. I do the laundry and put it back in,” Abeyta says.
“I stay on the same schedule when I get home,” Cody says, “even though we aren’t working until 3 o’clock in the morning. If you stay on that schedule, it’s not so hard when you get back on the road. If you go to bed at 9 and start getting 12 hours of sleep for three or four days, when you get back on the road, it kills you.”
Wicked Twisted Road picks up where their previous effort, 2003′s Under the Table and Above the Sun left off — gruff vocals, fluid playing and skillful production that captures the energy of the live show, courtesy of Ray Kennedy. The band didn’t play many of the songs in concert before recording them and mostly arranged them as they went along.
“We actually had to go back in and relearn the songs after we’d recorded them, to do them live,” Willy says. “Go hit the rehearsal room for a couple of hours, and it all comes back pretty easy. Then we run ‘em at soundcheck and work ‘em in one at a time. You can’t really throw in a whole bunch of new songs in one show anyway because you have to give the record a little time to breathe.”
While Under the Table had a skeptical view of love, this album’s first single, “Stick Around,” is actually romantic. (They’re shooting a video in Austin, Texas, next month.) The title track is Willy’s metaphorical look at his life until now: Childhood in a family band, growing up in Idaho, his first hangover, seeing a girlfriend for the last time in the pouring rain. On a lighter note, they also pay tribute to the ultimate hippie fans in “Motel Cowboy Show,” borrowing the name of one of their favorite bands.
Don’t worry. These guys aren’t getting sappy. Nazz is working on a video exposé about scandals in Austin, but he doesn’t want to reveal any further details. “People’s jobs are going to be on the line,” he says, causing another round of laughter. They’re also stocking their Web site with original mini-movies — “for people who want to see how stupid we really are,” Cody says. They’re also learning film editing, so they can launch their own show called Close Enough Construction.
“Basically all we do is turn everything into bars,” Willy says.
“We almost guarantee everything that we do,” Abeyta adds.
Willy takes it from there. “Our motto is: ‘Another job almost completed by Close Enough Construction.’”
“You may have us over for a roofing project, but we’re going to build a bar,” Abeyta says.
In a bonus feature, the enhanced CD of Wicked Twisted Road includes a hilarious “documentary” at making (or perhaps not making) the new album. Plus, the CD booklet folds out into a board game with a tiny, red die packaged into the jewel case.
“We were just trying to think of something to get people to want to buy the record and have it in their hand, as opposed to stealing it or burning it or downloading it,” Willy says. “You’ve got to give them a little something extra these days. We’re going to get some drinking rules up on the Web site. We didn’t want to put them on the CD for legal reasons, but we’ll throw some on the Web site. Some people can do the drinking version, and the kids can do the Kool Aid version.”