Reckless Kelly may be known as a Texas band, but these musical veterans have roots far and wide. Led by brothers Willy (lead singer) and Cody Braun, Reckless Kelly was first established in Bend, Oregon.
The band relocated to Austin in 1996, where its live shows made a legend out of Lucy's Retired Surfer Bar on Monday nights. Playing a brand of roots rock that leans heavy to the rock side of the equation, the band is a stalwart — an inspirational success story — of the modern Texas music movement.
"We're basically just a rock band with a fiddle, so people can just call us whatever they want as long as they're still coming to the shows."
In early September, Reckless Kelly released its eighth studio album, Long Night Moon. The follow-up to 2011's Grammy-nominated Good Luck & True Love, Long Night Moon is a tight, well-constructed album that takes the band to new heights with a cohesive sound and thematic subject matter.
"We're on the road a lot," says frontman Willy Braun, speaking of the latest album's travel theme. Between traveling to gigs and spending time in Idaho and Austin, Braun noticed most of the songs he was writing for the new album talked about traveling and going back home.
"I decided to go with it ... steering most of the songs in that direction," he says.
The album's first single, "The Last Goodbye," is an easy-listen tune with a rock-and-roll backbone and simple melody. "The single's doing well," Braun says, "climbing up the old Texas charts." In addition to the single, there are a few hidden gems on the album that Braun thinks fans — new and old — will appreciate.
"We’ve got a couple of things on there that we haven’t really done before, arrangement-wise. There are three songs at the end that run into each other as a trilogy," he says. "We worked on that for a while, and that’s something I’d thought about and wanted to do for a long time. It was really cool to see that all come together."
In support of the new release, Reckless Kelly is currently touring nationwide (with a few select stops in Texas). "We’ve been going outside of Texas for a while — almost our entire career," Braun says. "We probably spend more time outside of Texas than we do inside."
"We probably spend more time outside of Texas than we do inside."
The band has no challenge filling seats outside of Texas, thanks to years of touring both coasts and camaraderie among the Texas music scene. "All of the bands [from Texas] that go out there are talking about the other bands," he says.
"There’re a lot of people helping each other out out there. They’re spreading the word, and I think that’s one of the cool things about the scene," he says. "[Other bands will] give you shout outs and talk about you and turn people on to your music."
Although Reckless Kelly is undoubtedly part of the Texas music scene, Braun and his bandmates don't subscribe to a "Texas country" label — and they never have. "We always just call it roots rock or country rock or alternative country," Braun says.
Texas country, he explains, gets looped a little too tightly to country music for Reckless Kelly's sound. "We’re basically just a rock band with a fiddle, so people can just call us whatever they want as long as they’re still coming to the shows."
For this "rock band with a fiddle," there aren't specific influences that Braun draws on for inspiration. "You always get influenced by what’s around you," he says. "But you kind of want to take those as broad inspirations, you know influences, instead of trying to, oh, copy anything — for lack of a better word."
"I get a lot of my ideas out of books and looking around, seeing what’s going on around you," he says. "Pretty much anything can be written about. It’s just finding the right way to say it."