Country music’s pioneering duo Muscadine Bloodline harnessed their status as independent artists on their new single, “Dyin’ For A Livin.'” The rollicking Southern rock anthem addresses the music industry grid with equal parts humor and grit.
The duo is comprised of Gary Stanton and Charlie Muncaster—two Mobile, Alabama—natives whose paths didn’t cross until 2012, playing in the local circuit. After sharing the stage, their sonic chemistry became undeniable. In 2016, they moved to Nashville to hone their craft as songwriters and performers.
Departing from the ballad-like nature of their previously popular tracks—”Porch Swing Angel,” “Can’t Tell You No,” “Movin’ On”—”Dyin’ For A Livin'” exhibits unexpected instrumental strength and a varied approach to their country music-making.
Their debut full-length, Burn It at Both Ends landed amidst the chaos of 2020, losing steam as it was distilled through shocking news cycles and the uncertainty of the times. Of course, the goal was to take their first album on the road. But the global pandemic laid out different plans for the pair.
“During the pandemic, people were releasing music left and right, so having shelf space in people’s mind is really tough in this fast-paced social media world,” Stanton tells American Songwriter about their music methodology moving into their next chapter as a band. “So we thought about how we create a record that’s like a timestamp, that people won’t be tired of in a couple of weeks.”
The goal, they decided, steps away from the singles model and narrows in on piecing together a full project intended to listen to front-to-back. “Dyin’ For A Livin'” is a window into a currently unannounced project they describe as “more traditional.” Their emphasis on authenticity is exhibited in the use of their touring band in the studio, rather than hiring “the pros” for one-time use.
“Going into the record, we really did a lot of soul-searching and sound searching,” says Muncaster. “We’ve been wanting to be critically-acclaimed. It’s less about how popular a single could be, and more about where our hearts actually lead us.”
Creating the project, they looked to the likes of Brent Cobb, Tyler Childers, and Sturgill Simpson—all of whom they describe as “artists who put out records.” Their work became a driving force for Muscadine Bloodline’s creative process.
After six years of blood, sweat, and tears, the duo has landed on a sound that feels like their own. Staton adds, “We’re figuring out how we want to be represented in country music. We’ve been shotgun approach—project after project, the EP thing, singles. This record, we feel, for the first time, is the sound you will get from Muscadine Bloodline from now on.”
Their forthcoming album, Stanton says, is “an ode to the guy who moves to town and rung through the wringer of the music business that wasn’t really what he thought it was.”
In the past, the pair, who are both happily married, have been known to lean heavily into love songs. But, they have expanded their minds to incorporate more dynamic lyrical content. The way they see it, country radio presents only two narrow lanes to follow. The first is what they describe as “barstool, mullet culture country.” Categorized as party music they feel is intended to prove “just how redneck” someone can be, contrasts with what the band sees as the second option—love and breakup.
“We talk about some topics that other artists don’t, because I think a lot of people out there are wishing someone would,” says Stanton. Leaning on their indy status with pride, Muscadine Bloodline dips their toes into ideas like what it means to be Southern— the positive cultural highlights as well as the social implications. As expressed in “Dyin’ For A Livin'”, they feel it is important for them to discuss the barricades set forth by an industry designed to be exclusive, to help guide those who proceed them on a similar, daunting path.
“Our goal is to have fun, doing what we’re doing, and change the culture of what it looks like to be independent,” Stanton adds. “Right now, I think independent artists are on this Island of Misfit Toys. A lot of people don’t think you can do it. So it’s been cool to be a beacon of hope and say ‘You can actually do this.'”
Listen to Muscadine Bloodline’s new single “Dyin’ For A Livin'”, here.