The Meadows Brothers, Ian and Dustin, are a rocking duo who are full of energy and musical surprises. They combine genres effortlessly; one minute singing a country-tinged tune, to a driving rootsy song to a sensitive and melodic folk song. As the Boston Globe says of that they have “an engagingly twangy sibling sound all their own.”
To learn more about The Meadows Brothers, visit their website.
Here’s a video of The Meadows Brothers singing “Keep the Wheels Rolling.”
Thanks to Ian Meadows for taking time to respond to some questions.
Tell us how you first began to make music, separately or together. Did you grow up in a musical family?
Our parents are both big-time music lovers, so there was a ton of different music being played in our house as we were growing up. We started playing music while we were still in Elementary School, but the singing along to the radio started earlier than that. Over the years we’ve played in numerous different bands together; we’re a little bit of a package deal.
You’ve cited John Prine as an influence. What is it about him or his music that you find so interesting?
The thing about Prine and his writing that really drew us in is the way he can write these simple, universally relatable songs that have extraordinary powerful messages and emotionally connective topics. I always kind of contrast him with Townes Van Zandt, another one of my favorite writers; who writes with a more poetic and abstract lyrical style that you really have to dig through for the message. Prine just writes these amazing stories with plain language that resonates with nearly everyone. He sums up everything about what folk music and songwriting really should be. His songs make me feel all that he feels! I still remember hearing “Hello in There” for the first time. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Everything is right there in the lyrics. I don’t know if I’ve ever reacted to a piece of music that way.
Who would you say are some other musical inspirations?
Always a tough question! We’re sort of all over the map in terms of our influences. Early on; James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Crosby Stills and Nash, Motown, The Beatles, lots of 60s and 70s classic rock; basically whatever my parents were listening too. The Black Crowes were a band that really cemented our collective desire to play music for people. More recently; John Hartford, Darrell Scott, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Gram Parsons, Dawes, Jackson Browne, traditional American music of all sorts, Blake Mills, we could go on for ages. All kinds of music of many different styles.
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you before?
We like to say that we fuse Rock n’ Roll, Blues, and a little classic Country with folk-inspired songwriting, and perform it in a mostly acoustic setting. As time goes on, we hone in on what “our sound” actually is, and that evolution and growth is what making music is all about.
You’ve released three albums thus far. What have you learned about yourselves and your music by being in a recording studio?
I think the main thing we learned is that recording music is HARD. Being in that sort of environment really enables you to be overly critical of your music and your performance, and it’s something we’ve really struggled with every time we have set foot in a studio. Our first album we recorded while we were both still in High School, so that was really one of our first exposures to the process. We’re still trying to figure out the process that works best for us. Our most recent release was a little bit closer to where we want to be but looking back at it there are still a lot of things I wish we had done differently. I have a feeling that’s how it will always be.
Do you write all your songs together? Do you find that you each have different strengths in how best to get your music across to an audience?
I typically do the bulk of the writing, and then will bring Dustin in on it towards the end if there’s a spot I’m stuck on. Once the frame of the song is there, Dustin usually helps with editing and arranging. He’s a really musical person with a great ear, so it’s up to him to work out harmonies and other parts that I tend to not be as good at.
What’s your favorite memory of touring together?
When we’re on the road we sort of travel at our own pace; which is one of the nice things about playing in a duo with low overhead, and not relying on our music as our primary source of income. We make lots of cool stops at places we want to see, and just generally try to treat it like we’re taking a trip. I would say my favorite part has just been seeing parts of the country I haven’t seen, meeting new people, drinking new beer… We’ve gotten to the point that we don’t even mind the long drives! The last tour we were on this past Fall we caught a pretty amazing sunset from a hillside in West Virginia, looking west over the mountains from our campsite. I’ll never forget it.
Check out this podcast about the John Prine tribute show.