“Being stoned and broke down isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I would hate to be sober and broke down, you know? It’s a happy metaphor,” says Tate Mayeux, explaining the philosophy behind Mayeux and Broussard’s new single “Stoned and Broke Down,” his personal anthem for living well. “You might not have the biggest house on the block, or the nicest car or whatever, but it doesn’t matter. Life’s still good.”
That poetically bullshit-free approach to life permeates Mayeux and Broussard’s new album ‘High Times and Good Rhymes,’ out Feb 24, on which Tate and his counterpart Brian Broussard trade songwriting and vocal duties, each with a distinct style and their own set of stories to tell.
There’s Mayeux, born in Monroe, Louisiana, and raised in the Texas hill country. A far-out front-porch philosopher with a lazy drawl, Mayeux writes songs with a blissful haze that harkens back to the cosmic cowboys of Austin’s psychedelic past.
And there’s Broussard, who hails from the Gulf Coast refinery town of Port Arthur, TX. A well-honed musician with serious guitar chops, Broussard grew up on blues, jazz, and his Grandma’s zydeco records. He writes hard-edged songs with a swampy, dirty stomp and gut-wrenching realness.
“They’re alright with the blood and the mud and the beer,” Broussard sings on “Back at Home,” a tribute to his friends stuck working in coastal refineries. “The air down there it’s hot and it’s sticky too. You smell that marsh? It’s a burnin’ burnin’ taste the salty morning dew, oh the air I breathe ain’t quite like what y’all used to.”
“I wanted to give people an idea of what it’s like back at home, how hard those guys work. A lot of refinery work, welding, ship work, shrimping and fishing. If you stay down there for long enough, it’s basically the only choice you have. I feel like I’m working my ass off, but it’s nothing compared to what they do. It just makes me thankful that I made it out,” he says.
“Port Arthur’s not much of a town but there’s some great music that comes from there. I don’t know what it is. It has a pretty rich musical history – George Jones, Johnny Winter, Janis Joplin, ZZ Top. It’s always been important for me to follow in that Southeast Texas music tradition.”
Recorded at the historic Cedar Creek Studios in Austin with engineer John Ross Silva (Hayes Carll, Reckless Kelly, Jason Boland & the Stragglers) ‘High Times and Good Rhymes’ is the culmination of a sound the band developed through hard work on the road, playing between 200-300 shows a year since they formed in 2011.
While they’re no strangers to small-town honky-tonks and dancehalls, Mayeux and Broussard play with a gritty intensity that makes them stand out like a sore thumb from most of the Texas country music scene, as exemplified by the eccentric lineup of a recent hometown show – a bill with Austin metal-heads The Sword at the well-known indie rock venue Emo’s.
To Mayeux and Broussard, though, there is some common ground between the two seemingly disparate styles. “We actually started out playing together in a metal band. It was some heavy sh*t,” explains Broussard. “That’s probably part of the reason why Mayeux sounds so nitty gritty, what he did to his voice singing with that band.”
“Being from the South, growing up in Texas, you’re going to grow up listening to country music. In high school, everybody turned away from it and got into post-hardcore, punk, whatever it was. I was always searching for something a little more mature,” Broussard says. “Once we grew up a little more, we wanted to get back to those roots.”
For Mayeux, it was a Hayes Carll show that made him rediscover his love for the music he was raised on. “Hayes made country music look cool and fun again. There was still that ornery, ‘I’m gonna kick your ass’ element to the music like all of the metal and punk stuff I listened to, but the guy wasn’t running around screaming like a jackass. The first song I heard him play, I was like, ‘I want to do this.'”
“I love country music,” says Mayeux. “But our music doesn’t always fit into an easy genre. It’s not traditional honky-tonk, two-steppin’ stuff. There’s a little more grit to it, and we’re getting eager to make it even less traditional. I’m really proud of it. “
Mayeux & Broussard will hit the road in support of the album, including a hometown release show at Stubb’s in Austin on Feb 21.