An album release from Rich Mahan gives off a humorous and character-riddled blues and country soundscape that's coated with a rock tonality and makes you want to get up, dance, and sing along to the endlessly Fun lyrics displayed throughout the course of the record.
The Hot Chicken Wisdom release is packed to the brim with a great persona that you find yourself latching on to very quickly and the energy portrayed on the record has an almost live performance vibe to it because you can see yourself dancing at a bar with a big crowd to almost all of these songs.
The guitar work across this record is actually really amazing and the ability to write these songs and dabble into slightly different genres each time is also something that comes off as more impressive than anything else however, it's that humor and the looseness of the record that makes you itch for more.
This record is for pure 100% fun and a lot of times sure, music is very serious so it's a great refresher to have a record that comes out with this level of whimsical character to it.
The best part about that is the sheer fact that even when songs have crazy choruses like "There's A Tick On My Tiant" for example, you find yourself singing right along by the second time around.
These tracks are super catchy, and they come through with a bright and colorful vibrancy that pulls you right in and keeps you right where it wants to the entire time.
You get a great array of lush instrumentation along with that vocal Swagger that comes through nearly perfectly and everything has these hints of Americana undertone.
The record is driving and a damn good time from start to finish with some surprises around some of the corners.
You can clearly tell this is done by an artist who has a real love for what he does and doesn't take things all too seriously which gives him an advantage because he can write whatever he wants with fewer boundaries than those that came before him.
The songwriting here is absolutely stellar and there's definitely a heavy knowledge of being able to write singles that stick in your head for hours after songs have ended.
The energy on the record also has this almost live performance feel as well because it's like the instrumentation or players really, are just feeding off of each other the entire time.
Maybe some of the stuff was recorded live on the floor, I'm not really sure but either way, it really makes you want to see this in a live performance setting because if the energy is like that on the record, it must be an absolute blast to see live in your face.
This all definitely comes from someone who knows how to write a good song and knows how to have fun while he's doing it and I think that it's exactly what we need right now.
With the release of such a well-woven album, we wanted to have a sit down with Rich Mahan to find out where this record came from and what might be coming up next.
Here's what happened.
Buzz Slayers: Okay, let's start with the Hot Chicken Wisdom album! This record had tons of southern soul and loads of character and fun! How did this release come about?
Hot Chicken Wisdom is the follow up to my 2013 album Blame Bobby Bare. Hot Chicken Wisdom is dedicated to the memory of Brian Harrison, good friend and producer who passed away after the completion of Blame Bobby Bare. Brian was the person who introduced me to hot chicken and first took me to the OG Prince's Hot chicken Shack when I moved to Nashville. He had a way of looking at everything and distilling it down to a humorous perspective that usually provided some valuable insight. I told someone at his memorial that he had hot chicken wisdom, and the title for the album was born right there.
Buzz Slayers: How did this all start for you as an artist?
In junior high there was a talent show, and a band played “Since You've Been Gone" by Rainbow, and they blew the roof off the Cafetorium. Everyone there was just going nuts. I wanted to be a part of that energy and excitement. I got my first electric guitar not long after that, and I've been hooked ever since. Buzz Slayers: What kind of things really inspire songs for you? This is where things start to get kind of mystical and unexplainable. Song ideas most of the time will come to me out of the ether when I'm in a good space to receive the transmission. All of my best songs are ideas that come to me and I have to scramble to coalesce them into a recording or get them down on paper before I forget them. It's a lot easier these days having an iPhone that I can use the Voice Memos function to record an idea. I either just sing it in a cappella, or if I'm close to a guitar I'll pick it up and play the riff as well. Being here in Nashville, a lot of people right with other folks, and I'm not opposed to that, however I feel my best work is inspirational versus sitting down and writing a song without an idea coming to me. Buzz Slayers: This release has some great approaches to it! Can you give us some of your biggest influences musically?
When I was a young developing guitarist, I dove heavily into the blues and really got into Freddie King and Albert King. I especially dig Freddie Kings shelter records period, which leaned heavily into funky rhythms. Albert Collins also really knocked me out. I've been a lifelong Deadhead and the Grateful Dead definitely opened my eyes to other genres of music that I didn't think I would like, including classic country which is another avenue that I explored pretty heavily. The Dead's approach to improvisation also was a huge influence on me and has enabled me to become a much better guitar player by being able to improvise openly while playing live. Even with rhythm playing, I don't think I play any song the same way twice. Buzz Slayers: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
I've been producing a lot of podcasts including the official podcast of the Grateful Dead, the GOOD OL' GRATEFUL DEADCAST of which I'm also a cohost. I also produce Rock 'n' Roll High School with Head of A&R Pete Ganbarg for Atlantic Records, and totally 80’s with Yahoo Entertainment News Editor Lyndsey Parker. I'm still really into music gear, as much as I was when I was a teenager and so I spent a lot of time trying different combinations searching for new tones. I'm always in search of a cool new sound hopefully something that will inspire me to write a cool new riff or get a great song idea. Buzz Slayers: Who's in your headphones right now?
I just spent a bunch of time in a car driving up the central coast of California for a couple of gigs from Los Angeles. I listened to Teenage Fanclub, the Yellow Jackets (The album w/ Robben Ford), Grateful Dead, Organists Jimmy Smith and Brother Jack McDuff, Charlie Parker, Urge Overkill’s Saturation, and Wether Report’s Heavy Weather album. Everyone should check out that Wayne Shorter documentary on Amazon prime, it's excellent. Buzz Slayers: Are you doing any live performances right now?
I am. I play every other Monday at Acme Seed and Feed in downtown Nashville with a Jerry Garcia tribute band called Hooterroll, I get called frequently for pick up gigs, and on Thursday, December 14 we have a big show at the basement East in Nashville, called Nashville is Dead. It's going to be a killer lineup of musicians laying it down all night long. Buzz Slayers: Do you record these at a big studio or do you have a home studio set-up?
Both. I have a home studio which is where I recorded almost all of Hot Chicken Wisdom, but my favorite way to record is to make demos at home with the band first. That way everybody has a chance to really solidify their parts and it forces me to find the best arrangement for the song. After we get that down and we're satisfied with the way the demo turned out, we'll then book a big studio and go in and try to capture the songs as live as possible without a click track, ideally to tape to try to impart some of that great analog vibe. Buzz Slayers: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?
We are releasing a new single in December, and we are working on a full length record. Both blame Bobby Bare and hot chicken wisdom are available on Spotify and Apple Music, and we plan to be playing on the road quite a bit in 2024. We hope to see a lot of you out there on the road! Buzz Slayers: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music? I'd like to thank everybody who is taking some time to come see a show or listen to our music, we really appreciate it. I love hearing from fans telling me how a song meant something to them or touched them in some way, even if it was just making them laugh a little bit and brightening their day. Please come find me on Instagram at @rich_mahan and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RichMahanBand/, we would love to hear from you!