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Milton Mapes: The New Popes of Chili Town?

Posted by January 28th, 2004 No Comments »

Milton, Mapes and some other people they know.Interview – Milton Mapes
Q & A with Greg Vanderpool
Interview by Matt Ashworth

With a recent spate of KEXP airplay and support from the Stranger’s “Americana” reporter, Nate Lippens, Milton Mapes’ headlining spot on a NadaMucho.com Presents bill January 29th at the Sunset promises to be one of those shows – you know, the kind those of us hip enough to be in the audience will be able to look back at and say, “Man am I glad I was there. I must be one hip motherfucker.”

In preview of the Austin alt-country band’s first-ever Seattle performance, we caught up with frontman and singer/songwriter Greg Vanderpool.

NadaMucho.com: What the hell are Milton Mapes?
Greg Vanderpool: They’re an Austin Tex-Mex favorite – kind of like chicken flautas but not as deep fried. How’s that?

Milton, Mapes and some other people they know.Interview – Milton Mapes
Q & A with Greg Vanderpool
Interview by Matt Ashworth

With a recent spate of KEXP airplay and support from the Stranger’s “Americana” reporter, Nate Lippens, Milton Mapes’ headlining spot on a NadaMucho.com Presents bill January 29th at the Sunset promises to be one of those shows – you know, the kind those of us hip enough to be in the audience will be able to look back at and say, “Man am I glad I was there. I must be one hip motherfucker.”

In preview of the Austin alt-country band’s first-ever Seattle performance, we caught up with frontman and singer/songwriter Greg Vanderpool.

NadaMucho.com: What the hell are Milton Mapes?
Greg Vanderpool: They’re an Austin Tex-Mex favorite – kind of like chicken flautas but not as deep fried. How’s that?

NM: Not bad at all. We’ve heard/read Dallas, Austin and Nashville named as your home town. Where are you guys actually from?
GV: Three of us actually went to the same high school in Dallas. We spent a couple years in Nashville just for the change of scenery. Despite the bad rap Nashville gets for the country music business, it’s actually a great place to live. Lots of amazing musicians and some good songwriters, although not much of a scene for rock bands. It feels good to be back in the middle of Texas, closer to home. Austin is a good sized town for me, and has a very supportive music community.

NM: This will be your first show in Seattle. What can people expect from Milton Mapes live?
GV: Well, I’ve always liked going to concerts that have dynamics. From a volume perspective, we try to touch both ends of the spectrum. We often have three guitars going at once, so it will be a rock-n-roll set, but not without its quiet moments. We’re not much of a “party band,” but if you’ve heard the record (Westernaire) you know what to expect.

NM: We have, and it’s one of our favs of 2003. Are there any Seattle sites you’re excited to see while you’re in town?
GV: I have this goal to see all the Major League Baseball stadiums in the country, but since it’s not in season, I guess I’m just interested in the water, the mountains and climate. Any restaurant recommendations?

NM: The Met’s great if you want a steak, and there are some really good Asian restaurants in town as well. We’ll give you some ideas at the show. You’ve played with a couple of our staff favs, Chris Whitley and The Handsome Family. Tell us about sharing bills with those artists.
GV: It’s funny, this tour is paralleling The Handsome Family all the way up the coast, and we’re playing separate venues across town on the same night in several instances. We should just call it the “Milton Mapes vs. Handsome Family Tour.” Hopefully we’ll get to catch up and see their set somewhere along the way. Maybe we’ll sabotage their van or something. Chris Whitley is also amazing to see live. Real gritty like the old blues guys. I’ve only seen him do his solo thing —- it’s inspiring, to say the least.

NM: Handsome Family plays The Tractor Tavern, just up from the Sunset, on Friday night. If you’re still in town you’ll have to go get a good meal and check out the show…Speaking of bands we like, we’re also Tom Waits fanatics (who in their right mind isn’t, right?) You guys contributed to a Waits tribute record. What song did you do and how’d you get hooked up with that project?
GV: It was recorded live, at a benefit show at a little dive bar called Hole-In-The-Wall in Austin. The setting was perfect because this place was often filled with staggering drunks and people who could be characters from Tom’s songs. Two of my favorite bands, The Damnations and Grand Champeen also played. We did three songs, two of which appeared on the CD. “Hold On” from the Mule Variations record is one that we played. That record is so rural and nasty, yet so beautiful and spiritual at the same time. I love it and hope we did the song justice.

NM: The band was named after your grandfather. Talk a little about his influence on your life and/or music.
GV: He’s still alive, you know, in his 80s. He fought in WWII with the Marines at Guadalcanal and still has that toughness about him. I think people who survived that era, The Depression, etc., are such an interesting breed of humans. In a lot of ways, they remind me how fortunate I’ve been. We have a song on one of those compilation CDs they sell at Starbucks. So he and my Grandmother go there to buy one. He pays with his credit card and makes sure the cashier takes notice that his name is on the CD cover. He wasn’t sure what I was up to at first, but now he’s sold on the band.

NM: Awesome. Now tell the kids what other recordings you’ve made.
GV: Our first official release was The State Line in 2001. It’s really a hodgepodge collection of recordings, pretty raw with a ‘homemade demo’ feel to it. The newest record is Westernaire. It’s a bit fuller and more polished. We got to make this record in one place and take our time with it. So we were able to concentrate on the theme of the songs and approach it more as an album, rather than individual song selections. But it still has some grit to it. The two records compliment each other, I think.

NM: Eggsellent. We’ll see you at the end of the month.
GV: Sounds good. Thanks for the support.


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