Wayne Graham delivers a multi-generational approach to Americana from the rugged hills of central Appalachia. Today, they premiere their new single, “What For?” ahead of 1% Juice, due on November 13th.
Hailing from Whitesburg, Kentucky, Brothers Kenny and Hayden Miles formed a band nearly a decade ago and still fight the daily battle of, “We are a band, not a person.” Their inception was inspired by two familial figureheads, their paternal grandfather, Wayne, and maternal grandfather, Graham. By the time the brothers were teenagers, both of their grandfathers had passed, so their lives had become passed-down legends of larger-than-life characters.
Wayne Miles is remembered as a “Renaissance man.” He was an electrician by trade, a locksmith, and a mechanic on the side. With his extra time and money, he enjoyed collecting musical instruments and gear. The guitar was among his first loves, but his role as husband, father, and later grandfather quickly took precedence. Wayne taught his children to play music, and his grandsons now use some of those antiques for their aptly-named band.
On the other side was Graham Kincer. In this order, he was the neighborhood farmer, old regular Baptist, democrat, World War II vet, coal miner, romance novel patron, and a Kentucky Wildcats fan. The values of hard-work were deeply instilled in his selfless character. He established himself and his young bride modestly in a small shack on Pine Creek. As the years wore on, he expanded his dwelling acre-by-acre, then room-by-room to accommodate his growing family.
Once East Kentuckian heroes, Wayne Graham transformed into a global act with German record deals from K&F Records and Hometown Caravan, and Danish label Celebration Records. Since their inception as a sibling duo in 2010, the band rounded out their lineup with bassist Chris Justice and lead guitarist Lee Owen. In that time, they’ve released six albums and one EP.
Their new record follows their most successful release yet, 2018’s Joy!, which they toured on both sides of the Atlantic. Upon their return, and releasing an album of B-sides, Songs Only a Mother Could Love, in 2019, Wayne Graham revisited their childhood basement in the Miles’ parent’s home, a state-of-the-art studio where they not only produced for Senora May, Laid Back Country Picker, and Sean Whiting, but also self-produced 1% Juice.
Wayne Graham’s early releases may have focused on modern-day Appalachian sounds and stories, but the band has expanded, evolved, and electrified since then. 1% Juice showcases the full range of their abilities as a dynamic band with multi-cultural influence. Steadfast in their music, despite their transatlantic momentum, is the centrality of family.
“From our naming the band after our grandfathers, everything from the first album on has been about family. I know it’s important to everyone, but there is something about the mountains that makes family feel really important. ‘What For?’ speaks to this, about family being the whole point and not losing sight of that .”
Family to them extends beyond blood. The brothers embrace people they meet every day with intention.
“‘What For?’ connects the songs on the album to present something cohesive,” Kenny adds. “It lands halfway at the halfway mark in the record, and on either side of it are songs that ask fundamental, existential questions. It’s like a palate cleanser, a reminder that if you’re in doubt of where the meaning is, then look here—it could be right under your nose. The people that are closest to, that’s where your impact is in your life.”
In place of touring and in-person collaboration, the band yearned for further inspiration. They re-connected with German collaborators like Ludwig Bauer to add horns, strings, and other sonic touches from their respective homes.
Songs like “Passenger Train,” Hayden’s favorite from the upcoming record, exhibit their maturity through the dynamic arrangement. Hayden praises his brother’s songwriting on the track, suggesting that it’s Kenny’s best work yet. “Never Die” stands out to Kenny as an adventuresome undertaking for the band. Tracking at about 100 beats per minute faster than any previous work, the song reflects heavier influence and a changing tone.
The lush instrumentation guides the twelve-track genre-spanning collection. Their European influence transcends Bluegrass and regional Appalachian folk traditions, blending earthy rock tones to satisfy a broad audience.
Listen to Wayne Graham’s thematic single premiere, “What For?,” below and pre-order 1% Juice here.