Mike and the Moonpies, the guitar-slinging Texas-based band, released their eighth studio album today (August 10), titled One to Grow On. Composed of Mike Harmeier (guitar/vocal), Zach Moulton (steel guitar), Omar Oyoque (bass), Kyle Ponder (drums), and Catlin Rutherford (guitar), the Moonpies have once again bent and melded their honky-tonk roots into subtly innovative soundscapes.
As far as what inspired this album, inspiration struck from a truck for the founding band member Mike Harmeier. “I spent a lot of the last year or so working on an old ’85 Chevy truck that I bought probably six years ago,” Harmeier tells American Songwriter. “I’m only the third owner of this truck, and I started to really think about the guy that first bought this truck brand new in ’85. Then he handed it down to his grandson who drove it through high school and worked around the same town that I’m living in now.
“I started to just think about the stories that truck could tell and the guy that used to work out of it every day—all those tools in the back and what and what kind of songs he was listening to… I started to really get into this working man’s day-to-day and what he dealt with going to work and then coming home to his family. I [found] a lot of parallels with kind of the lifestyle I was leading at the time. So I really dug into who this guy was and what he was listening to in that truck.”
Driving this Chevy into the throes of his songwriting, Harmeier honed in on a blue-collar, nine to five narrative and spun out nine tracks for One to Grow On. In addition to the Chevy, Harmier pulled inspiration from Clint Black’s triple-platinum album Killin’ Time. Black’s unfiltered account of heartache and loss acted as a model for Harmier, and each Moonpies song rings with the grit fire of a working man (or woman).
Kicking off their album with the uptempo “Paycheck to Paycheck,” the Moonpies harness earthier tones for this collection of songs. The band mixes a healthy dose of ’70s southern rock and ’90s country to create an album unlike any of the previous Moonpies records.
“Hour on the Hour” then follows the opening track and continues with the workingman narrative. Harmeier recalls that after writing the lyrics for this track, he sent it out to his band. At the time, the Moonpies were still separated due to the pandemic and had to record their respective parts at home. Yet, once the Moonpies sent back the instrumentals for “Hour on the Hour,” Harmeier knew that they were cultivating something special. “I was blown away by how much that song sounded like what was in my brain,” Harmeier says.
“Whose Side You’re On” is yet another standout track. “It was the first time I felt really comfortable getting away from the standard grooves and the stuff that we had always done in the past,” Harmeier explains. “It was okay to make that song sound the way it did without trying to chase what we’re supposed to sound like as a band.”
Overall, One to Grow On excels in its subtle nuances and its deviations from country album expectations. “Writing a record about a character was from the very beginning a different thing for me. And I didn’t really know that I was doing that probably until we finished the record. I think it’s the first time I’ve had to tell a story,” Harmeier says. “I call it One to Grow On because I feel like it opens up a lot more opportunities for where we can go from here. I mean we’ve done a straight honky-tonk record we did the Abbey Road record… I never want to make the same record twice.”
Mike and the Moonpies succeeded in shaping One to Grow On into a unique story of sound and sentiment. The band spent more time on this record than previous albums and brought in a string of talented musicians to support the band. Former Moonpie member John Carbone returned to play keyboards in addition to the Shiny Soul Sisters, Shooter Jennings, and Quaker City Night Hawk who were also featured on the album.
Give One to Grow On a listen below, and queue the record on your trek home from work.