Released in January 2019, Old News is the sophomore release from Nashville's The Steel Woods. The record encapsulates the collective's musical diversity. Neither entirely country nor entirely southern rock, the band appeals to fans of a variety of idioms, often within a single tune.
"I love James Brown as much as I love bluegrass as much as I love Bill Monroe. I like good music," says co-founder Jason "Rowdy" Cope. "I guess we're a classic rock band. We're just not old enough to be classic rock."
The Steel Woods perform at Wave on Wednesday, June 19. Cope recently spoke with KMUW from Nashville.
I understand that you recorded Old News fairly quickly.
We spent a week at Echo Mountain in Asheville, NC, recording live as much as possible. We did some touch ups at Blackbird in Nashville. We went to Jamey Johnson's studio and brought Joanna Cotten in to do some harmony singing.
Tell me a little bit about the covers on the album. I thought [Black Sabbath's] "Changes," which Charles Bradley later covered, was an inspired choice.
I love Charles Bradley and he passed away. I love that song and I would say that it fit right in with the theme of the record. I thought it stood, for storyline purposes, strong after the song "Without You."
It seems like you guys had some things on your mind with the song "Old News."
I felt that that's something of a Band-Aid for our country. I think the concept of debate has been lost. I see a lot of people, when I turn the news on, throwing stones at each other instead of really listening and talking to each other. I hate to think that thinking is old news. I believe that we're all Americans at the end of the day and that we can always find common ground.
That ties in nicely, later on, with [Merle Haggard's] "Are The Good Times Really Over For Good." I think about when that song was written and the divisions that were going on and then the healing that came afterward.
It definitely stuck with the theme or raising that flag of unity. The last four songs on the record are a tribute. We made this album like it was a newspaper. That would be the obituaries, the last four songs are by people who passed during the writing process of this album, minus Wayne Mills, the very first song, who was a very dear friend of mine who was murdered. That's our tribute to them.