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Alternative 05/08/2015

Americana Punk Band The Surreal McCoys To Release The Howl & The Growl

Americana Punk Band The Surreal McCoys To Release The Howl & The Growl
New York, NY (Top40 Charts) Recorded and produced in Williamsburg Brooklyn by legendary rock and alt-country Producer Eric Ambel (The Del-Lords, The Bottle Rockets, The Yayhoos, Steve Earle, Ryan Adams,) the new album by Americana Punk band The Surreal McCoys—The Howl & The Growl—will be digitally released worldwide September 18th by Washington DC label Across the Aisle Music on most digital distribution platforms, including iTunes, Amazon, Pandora, Spotify, and your finer truck stops. For more information: and

In conjunction with the launch, the band will play an official Americana Music Association luncheon showcase with The Bottle Rockets during the Americana Music Fest in Nashville on September 17th. Rev the Vote, a nonpartisan Washington D.C.-based organization working to increase voter registration and participation in elections among race fans, sponsors the show—which will take place at Dan McGuinness Pub from noon-2pm CDT on Sept. 17— The video for the feature track "Turn & Run," will premiere exclusively on Americana Music Magazine Turnstyled Junkpiled, beginning on August 3.

The Surreal McCoys are a roots rock outfit of hardcore troubadours with one foot in the garage and the other on a roadhouse barstool. Their songs recall an era of lesser hygiene but greater guitar riffs, and come wafting through the car radio static of some far-off station as the band careens down the lost musical highway that connects the odd-numbered Hank Williamses to The Replacements.

The band set out to make a traditional "Johnny Clash" Cow Punk record, but emerged from the studio with a slab of vintage 70s era Muscle Shoals raunchy Rock 'n' Roll. Eric Ambel notes "no matter what is going on in the outside lives of the Surreal McCoys, when they come together and start howling and growling, they morph into a singular 3-car garage monster that'll rip you into pieces if you don't sign on to their fun."

Celebrated rock guitarist Billy Morrison (Billy Idol, Royal Machines), who has shared the stage with the McCoys on numerous occasions, adds "The Surreal McCoys are a unique blend of pretty much any musical styling that is cool—nods to The Stones, The Clash, Johnny Cash—and all performed with energy and a whimsical middle finger held high. Best played extremely loud, and with at least two tequilas already in the bloodstream."

The McCoys are Billy Saul McCoy (drums), Cletus McCoy (lead vocals), Clint McCoy (bass), Elvis McCoy (lead guitar), and Goatboy McCoy (guitar, harmonica, lap-steel). Depending on who's asking (and whether that person has a badge), they've been known to briefly set aside their noms de guerre to reveal their "daytime names"—Shawn Ryan, Erik Huey, Clint Feddersen, Tim Smith, and Patrick Smith, respectively.

They formed the band while attending the University of Notre Dame, but split up at graduation to embark on "real life." Realizing that the real world paled in comparison to the Rock 'n' Roll adventures they'd undertaken together, they re-formed and have now been playing together for 10 years. This is their first record since 2008 when they released their debut album, The Bottle & The Gun.

In 2014-2015 they realized it was time to get back in the studio and were lucky enough that Eric Ambel was a fan of their music. "To have somebody you've idolized do a deep dive with your work and really connect with the material was incredibly validating," said Cletus McCoy. "And his belief in the songs and what we were doing was like a virtuous circle—we fed on his positive energy."

The band's sound on The Howl & The Growl is swampy yet streetwise, and the album's songwriting tackles traditional "love and hope and sex and dreams" Rock 'n' Roll terrain with wit and hard-edged wisdom. The LP draws on a wide range of influences from the band's youth: the urgency of punk, the lonesome heartache of country, the ominous swampiness of Delta blues, and the mystery of late night FM radio. While the album blends genres and reflects diverse influences, there is also a cohesive quality to the record. As bassist Clint McCoy notes, "all of these songs are different stops along the same road."

The 12-song recording kicks off with "You Can't Afford It," a song featuring a propulsive AC/DC classic rock riff custom and snarling vocals. "Turn and Run," written by Clint, is a dark revenge song with swampy overtones, while "Blonde-Sided" is a closing time bar band sing-along in open-G that pays homage to Mick Taylor-era Rolling Stones.

"Leaving To Stay (In Love With You)" is a twang-soaked torch song about lovers who share a soulful connection but are rarely physically in the same place, and features an infectious chicken-pickin' guitar lick by Elvis McCoy. "Whole Lotta Folsom" is a mashup of Led Zeppelin and Johnny Cash classics. "Why mash 'em up? Because Jimmy Page and Luther Perkins go together like whiskey and ice," claims Elvis. "We've played it live a few times and the crowd goes nuts." "Country Drinking Song" is a dark hangover reckoning ballad, written after an epic night out in the East Village.

The title song, "The Howl & The Growl" has a menacing, cinematic sound that, according to Cletus, "evokes one of those scenes in a David Lynch film where somebody is driving to or from a killing." "Or the TV theme song from The Munsters," drummer Billy Saul is quick to add. "Real Nice Time," written by Billy Saul, has a Byrds-like jangle-pop feel that both contrasts and complements the other songs on the record.

"Sweet F.A." was born "when we realized we needed to write less words in our choruses so people can sing along," admits Goatboy. "The solo and raunchy guitar tasters are pure Eric Ambel, who was channeling the devil's right hand in the studio," adds Elvis.

"God & The Devil" was inspired by an interview in a Robert Johnson documentary wherein blues pioneer Eddie James "Son" House mused about trying all his life to keep both God and the Devil at bay. "Lust Vigilantes" is a Lower East-Side love song that owes an obvious debt to Phil Spector and The Ramones, like a post-modern Ronettes teen romance tune. The record ends with the chant-along "Talkin' Messianic Paranoid Agitpop Blues," which Cletus notes was "written the morning Pete Seeger died about the backstage confrontation between Seeger and Bob Dylan the night Dylan went electric at..." "You don't have to spell out the details," Billy Saul interjects. "Everyone knows about that."

The band members hail from far-flung corners of the U.S.—from Appalachian coal country to the Midwest corn belt to the farmlands of Northern California, and currently reside in LA, DC, Traverse City, and South Bend, as well as Minneapolis—a city that gave birth to many of the band's musical influences. This diversity of terrain is reflected in the sound and subject matter of the songs. "Every band member has an encyclopedic knowledge of the rock n' roll cannon, forged from listening to our respective local FM radio stations back when they had a real regional flavor. These influences seep their way into the music and give it kind of a timeless feeling..." Cletus continues. "Kind of like the night Dylan went electric. Which everyone knows about," Billy Saul wryly adds.

Across the Aisle Music is a startup music distribution and events venture founded by DC influencers Doug Davenport and Erik Huey in conjunction with 30 year music industry veterans Jonathan Platt and Jonathan McHugh, who have worked with artists like Sheryl Crowe, Metallica, Blues Traveler, Tommy Lee, Mystikal and many more. They believe that music can cross divides—political, cultural, and geographic—to unite people together in soul-affirming ways. The team also includes Jessie Scott, a founding and continuing board member of the Americana Music Association, owner of Americana discovery website Music Fog, Music Director of Sun Radio Austin, TX, and a veteran of both the Americana channel X Country on XM Radio and the Gavin Report.
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