For their new video, “Cheatin’ Songs,” Midland revived one of the most iconic music venues in Los Angeles — The Palomino Club, a fabled spot that closed in 1995 after decades of prominence in the West Coast country and rock communities. Through the magic of film and the sweat of their team, Midland captured the ‘70s and ‘80s heyday with a show at the North Hollywood honky-tonk, to be released as the 10-song album Midland Live from the Palomino on February 28.
“I think when you’re playing live, you’re really looking for a song to get everybody groovin’, and the cool thing about when we play that song live, you watch the whole audience start doing this thing,” says lead singer Mark Wystrach, suddenly getting his groove on, even though he’s seated on a sofa outside the CMT studio alongside his bandmates Jess Carson and Cameron Duddy. “And when you’re playing it, it makes you feel that way too, and I think that’s part of the magic.”
Check out the video and read our exclusive interview below the player.
CMT: What made the video shoot at the Palomino so special for you?
Wystrach: The fact that it’s just a video of us doing our thing. Especially doing our thing in a honky-tonk setting, which is really where we all came from – playing bars, playing small venues like that. Getting to revive the Palomino for one night only was a really great honor. For us it’s really special because we hold such reverence for all the artists that have graced that stage. And it’s not just country. It’s a lot of the California country and the Laurel Canyon rock ‘n’ roll stuff. Elton John played over there. It’s pretty special.
And it’s crazy because [the building] is so far away from what it used to be. It really did take a great effort and coordination with our management and label. … If you could have seen it the morning of! But sure enough, once we got those lights hung up, and all the neon in there, the spirits were there. You could feel it. And it was one of those shows where we came off stage and we were buzzin’.
I know you all had a hand in writing “Cheatin’ Songs.” What went through your mind when you finished it?
Carson: That song has a certain similarity to “Drinkin’ Problem.” It’s definitely in the same family of country songs – the same kind of chord movement. It melodically goes someplace a little out of the norm. It’s not what you would call a 1-4-5 progression song, which makes it fun to play. It makes it fun to perform.
We started playing that song right away after writing it. We were excited to work it up with the band and see how people would react to it. It’s a very rhythmic song. The rhythm section of the song is what drives it. Bass and drums, kind of like those old Conway Twitty, R&B-flavored country songs.
Who’s the biggest Conway Twitty fan among you?
Wystrach: I think we all love him, but for me, Conway is one of the greatest because of his ability to incorporate the R&B and the soul and the funk and the groove-based songs. Conway did his own thing but he had so much spirit and soul in his voice, in the way that he would make it funky.
Duddy: And his album covers were just fantastic.
Cameron, do you collect vinyl?
Duddy: I do, yeah.
How many do you have?
Duddy: Oh dude. I don’t know. I inherited a bunch. It’s the one thing you can always count on finding when you’re on tour and looking for vintage. We all love vinyl. I used to go over to Mark’s house when he lived in a trailer in Malibu, and he has these great Sansui speakers. He has a great album collection and there’s something about listening to vinyl.
Wystrach: I stopped collecting because later I was living in such a small apartment and the cockroaches were savvy and they wouldn’t put the records away properly and it ruined the collecting for me. But if someone has a legit system, nothing sounds better. You hear all the weird imperfections and there’s just a magic to it.