Deep-roots-rock outfit, Chamomile and Whiskey premiere “Triumph” ahead of their upcoming record, Red Clay Heart, today on American Songwriter. The single speeds through the band’s third studio album, due October 30.
“I always wanted to write a driving song —the windows down, going a little too fast on the county road kind,” says co-founder Koda Kerl. “We were headed back from Nashville listening to the first mixes, ‘Triumph’ came on. I looked down and saw that I was doing about 85 in our van and figured I finally had one.”
The group began one night when Kerl shared spirits with Marie Borgman, a fellow native musician of Nelson County, Virginia. When Kerl poured whiskey into a cup of chamomile tea, the libation brought their music catalog to life. The smoky spiced liquor cut straight through the lofty florals of tea’s mellow taste, creating a concoction that embodied their soundscape.
Since then, the group has developed a more electric sound, adding Drew Kimball on guitar, Stuart Gunter on drums and fiddle, and Marsh Mahon on bass. Chamomile and Whiskey have grown from roots set deep in Americana, blues, Celtic, old-time, and the singer-songwriter tradition of the South.
Chamomile and Whiskey’s galvanic soundtrack, Red Clay Heart, was produced by Ken Coomer (Wilco and Uncle Tupelo) and recorded at Cartoon Moon Studio in East Nashville.
“Triumph” follows their previous single, “Way Back.”. The country-leaning, guitar-driven anthem nods to nights filled with cheap beer and line dancing. These essential components feel reminiscent of a pre-pandemic Broadway.
The band is proud to share a timely track, “Another Wake” with the album release. The mournful song finds Chamomile and Whiskey dealing with a devastating loss. “Another Wake” is an epilog of the tragic events, close to their home, in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.
“I wrote this song just a few days after a bunch of white supremacists came to town. One of them drove a car into a crowd full of peaceful protests, some of them close friends of ours.” says Kerl.
“It was an unbelievably tragic few days for us,” he continues. “Marie’s sweet cousin Nicole had passed away, and our friend Ro had died. I was walking back from Ro’s wake on August 13, and downtown Charlottesville felt like a war zone. I remember thinking that there is nothing more universal or human than the pain of losing loved ones. I wondered if the small-minded, awful people that had come to Charlottesville could ever see that and what might have caused them to live such sad and ignorant lives.”
Overlaid in the current context of 2020, Chamomile and Whiskey delivers a careful balance between grim social commentary and uplifting old-time nostalgia. “Triumph” encapsulates the band’s intoxicating energy, breathing freedom into lonely, confined hearts.
“Koda hummed the lick he had in mind to me, and I just took it and fiddled-up a bit,” explains Borgman about today’s release. “I’m not entirely sure what the song is about, but I do know Kelly, she is cool and so is her motorcycle.”
Listen exclusively to “Triumph” below and everywhere else, tomorrow. Pre-save Red Clay Heart from Chamomile and Whiskey, here.