Midland’s Roots Are Showing In ‘Midland: The Sonic Ranch’ Documentary

The documentary premieres March 19 on CMT Music, CMT Australia MTV Live & Pluto TV

Midland’s Cameron Duddy, Mark Wystrach and Jess Carson are giving music lovers a glimpse into the trio’s genesis, as the group formalized over the span of 10 days spent in relentless musical experimentation at the Sonic Ranch studio in Tornillo, Texas back in 2014. The three friends had never even performed a show together as a band at that point.

CMT will premiere Midland: The Sonic Ranch documentary, directed by Duddy and Riverside Entertainment’s Brian Loschiavo, on March 19th across ViacomCBS platforms including CMT Music, MTV Live, PlutoTV’s ‘CMT Equal Play’ channel, with a global premiere on CMT Australia. The documentary—mostly in grainy, black and white imagery—is an unprecedented look at the recording sessions and creative atmosphere that helped shape the trio’s blend of barroom-ready Bakersfield country, infused with relaxed Laurel Canyon vibes (and a complementary aesthetic) that broke through at country radio in 2017 with their Top 10 hit “Drinkin’ Problem.”

“It’s this unique moment where we’re looking at our beginnings and what we’re doing right now,” Carson told cmt.com. “There’s a lot of emotions that it brings up watching that. All of us had been playing music for years before Sonic Ranch, just not all together. So we had experiences playing music, but we had to learn a whole new set of skills in the music industry. I mean, none of us had had any success with our music before Midland. So that part of the trajectory, it’s just been such a rocket ship ride.”

A 12-song soundtrack, made of unvarnished demos and rough mixes crafted during the Sonic Ranch sessions, releases the same day as the documentary premiere. One of the songs on the new soundtrack, “Fourteen Gears,” was later re-recorded and included on the group’s sophomore album Let It Roll, fitting alongside songs including “Mr. Lonely,” a jolt of lighthearted ’90s country that begs for linedancing, or the laidback “Cheating Songs,” with its nod to Conway Twitty’s 1980s hit “Tight Fittin’ Jeans.”

As they are looking back with the Sonic Ranch project, Midland is also looking forward; Wystrach says another album of new music will follow in late April or early May.

“I can tell you that being in that head space creating the new collection of songs, a new album, while working on Sonic Ranch, it was very tempting to go back and sweeten things,” Wystrach says, “and we didn’t do any of that. We didn’t add anything. We just took those existing tracks 100% in their original form and mixed them. The DNA is there.”

Duddy’s role in the documentary is particularly compelling, as it chronicles his transition from videographer for those Texas sessions to rounding out Midland as its third member, alongside Carson and Wystrach.

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