On September 9, Grayson Capps will release his fourth album, Rott ‘N’ Roll, on Hyena Records. The long-player’s title stems from a phrase used by fans to characterize the music of the southern troubadour. Prostitutes, alcoholics, vagrants and drifters often inhabit Grayson’s songs, while his live performances are ignited by equal doses of raucous Southern soul, back-country stomp and roadhouse blues. For Grayson himself, Rott ‘N’ Roll has come to represent the state of mind needed to play uncompromising roots music as a means for survival in the Dirty South; the yin and yang between the debauchery of life on the road and the come down upon returning home. But as the album’s opening track "Back To The Country" makes clear, when Rott ‘N’ Roll is the credo, even the ease of going home means, "eating cornbread and raising hell."
Recorded at Grayson’s home studio in Franklin, Tennessee, he and co-producer Trina Shoemaker set out to capture the energy of his live performances. Subsequently, many of the final tracks were taken from first takes. Grayson and his band The Stumpknockers, featuring Tommy MacLuckie on lead guitar, Josh Kerin on bass and John Milham on drums, set up shop at his farmhouse, rehearsing during the afternoons and spending evenings around a bonfire in the backyard. If the spirit moved them, they’d cut a track, overdub a guitar part or record a drunken chorus of rednecks who’d often find their way to the sessions from all points south: "Gran Maw Maw" and "Big Ol’ Woman" being case in point. If the inspiration wasn’t flowing, they’d wander around the mountain that sits in back of Grayson’s property, quite literally bonding with the Native American spirits. The album’s second track, "Arrowhead," paints a picture of this idyllic setting.
Throughout the 13 tracks on Rott ‘N’ Roll, the listener gets a first hand look at subversion. "Big Black Buzzard" circles with a wicked hill country fervor that would make R.L. Burnside take cover. "The Sun Don’t Shine On Willy" is informed by Grayson’s sharp eye for the Southern Gothic with lyrics like: "He looks like old Boo Radley, he’s pale and his veins are blue, now he looks like one of them Hadleys after they’ve been drunk a month or two." The live favorite, "Sock Monkey" marks guitarist Tommy MacLuckie’s songwriting debut with a blast of country punk absurdity. Yet, there are also moments of clarity and tenderness. "Guitar" is perhaps Grayson’s most autobiographical song to date. "Back To The Country," though full of hiss and swagger, actually addresses the search for simplicity in a fast changing, often deceptive modern world. "The Fear Fruit Bearing Tree" is a biting poem that speaks truth to power in the face of corporate greed and government fear-mongering.
Having drawn comparisons over his first three albums to the likes of Tom Waits, Townes Van Zandt and Drive By Truckers, to name but a few, Rott ‘N’ Roll proves Grayson Capps an artist equally singular in vision as those to whom he’s compared. The release will be available in CD, digital and vinyl formats. Stay tuned for tour dates to be announced shortly.