Andy Stepanian of Wrinkle Neck Mules in the Butter Room

This coming Saturday, the Wrinkle Neck Mules are co-headlining with Sons of Bill at Toads Place in Richmond, Virginia. You can buy your tickets here.

We were fortunate to have a conversation with Andy in the Butter Room this week. The Butter Room thanks Andy for his time and answers.

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You guys are playing a gig at Toads Place this Saturday in Richmond, VA with Sons of Bill that was rescheduled because of Hurricane Ike. How are you and Houston recovering from the damage and devastation?

Andy: It’s getting along ok at this point. There are trees down everywhere and tarps on rooftops, but things seem to be flowing along again. Galveston is another story. Its going to be years before things get back to normal down there.


What can people do to help that are not located near Houston and Galveston?

Andy: At this point, I guess money is the best thing if you have it to give. The Greater Houston Community Foundation has a fund that’s the focus for relief right now. http://www.ghcf.org. There is also information on that site about the Bush-Clinton Coastal Recovery Fund which has a broader impact on hurricane areas than just Texas.




On to music related questions …


Does the future of the Wrinkle Neck Mules look a lot like the present, meaning that you guys will play a handful of shows here and there or do you anticipate an increase in touring in 2009?

Andy: ’08 was really a rebuilding and regrouping year for the Mules. After 3 years of constant travel and focus on the band, we had to retreat a bit and get some perspective on the band and our individual lives. I would expect a bump up in the action in ’09. We’ll do a few longer tours, a new album and potential for a trip to Europe. The good news for us is that a reduced schedule allows Chase to get back involved on the touring side. His life prevented him from touring much over the last few years and we need him back in the starting rotation badly.


I read that you guys have started working on a new album for a potential early summer 2009 release. What can fans expect?

Andy: Oh yeah. Chase and I have demoed a lot of songs and we’re actually starting the full band recording up in Virginia this week. So far, the demos and have a very scaled down feel. So, they are leaning towards acoustic instruments, lots of singing and minimal production. I’m not sure whether the album will go that way, but, right now, I like to think it will.


Can you give fans some inside info on what it’s like to record a Wrinkle Neck Mules album from concept to street date?

Courtesy of http://myspace.com/wrinkleneckmules
Andy: It’s the thing I think we do the best. The process has evolved over the years, but the basic format starts with Chase and me writing chord progressions and songs. We sometimes work together, but generally, we’re separate. We record demo versions of guitar and voice things for the rest of the band and get them to everyone else. That’s when things start to take flight and everyone starts to weigh in and bring ideas to the table. Mason, in particular, gets intimate with the songs and starts tearing them apart and rebuilding them. This is the cool part. I will step away from my seedling and come back to find it in full bloom.

As far as the actual recording goes, we’ve become pretty set in our way of doing things on our own. We just use a fancy computer and a pile of good microphones. We engineer on our own and take our time working things out. In the past, we’ve shipped all the finished tracks off to Chris Kress in Charlottesville and he edits and mixes everything. One day I guess we’ll get out there and use a producer again, but I don’t think that’s going to happen this time around.


What is the best live show you’ve been to this year?

Andy: It’s a toss up between The Wiggles Live at Toyota Center or Hannah Montana with Billy Ray Cyrus at the Houston Rodeo.


Can fans expect a Wrinkle Neck Mules/Sons of Bill collaboration on stage Saturday?

Andy: Yes. You might even expect multiple appearances by various members of each band. We say this every time we play but generally end up drinking too much and forgetting or realizing its far too late to pull things together. I sang Guitar Town with the Sons a few months back and I don’t think I know a single word to that song.


A couple more questions …


What do you miss most and least about Richmond?

Andy: I miss architecture and hills and going to Chiocca’s and being able to see someone I know and love every time I leave the house. I don’t miss the lack of good Mexican food.


Where can my 2 year old son get a stuffed Wrinkle Neck Mule?

Andy: www.themulestore.com. They have more mule gear than you could ever imagine existed. I just went there and saw at least 5 things that could fit the bill.


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Want to see the Wrinkle Neck Mules on Saturday? Now is your chance. The first person to comment on this article with “Give me some butter” will win a pair of tickets to Saturday night’s show at Toads Place!

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