Brandon McDermott Band: Keeping It “Texas County” Real

Galveston favorite, Brandon McDermott Band will be playing around the island in the next few months. If you haven’t had the chance to hear them, this is a Red Dirt-kinda night that you will enjoy. We recently had the chance to speak with him about playing music, where his Texas country roots came from, and how life is going.

Island Guide: Where are you from? How long have you been playing music on the island?

Brandon: I am a good, ole-fashioned BOI. I was born and raised in Galveston and grew up in Jamaica Beach. I played my very first show on the island at the Old Quarter Acoustic Café.

Island Guide: Who all is in the band and what do each play or contribute?

Brandon: The Brandon McDermott Band just recently had a bit of a line-up change so there are some new guys in the band. I am playing with some great guys; they are talented, fun and hilarious. We are myself, Brandon McDermott – songwriter/vocals/acoustic guitar, Nathan Taylor – lead guitar/vocals, Soloman Garcia – bass, and Brent Topa – drums.

Island Guide: Your music is described by critics as “Texas Country/Red Dirt,” what does that mean to you? It’s such a widely used term these days that is used to describe a hugely-popular style, yet it is so varied across the industry. What does it mean to you personally?

Brandon: Texas country to me is a more honest version of country music than the “country music” that is coming out of Nashville these days. It is less “poppy” and polished, and is more of a relatable singer-songwriter style of music, similar to the outlaw country of years ago. It’s the kind of music that feels perfectly at home in an old bar or dance hall, floating down the Guadalupe River, out on the boat in Galveston Bay, or driving down the highway.

Island Guide: Describe a live show for someone who hasn’t had the honor of seeing you guys.

Brandon: Our live show is very fun and energetic. I once heard Kevin Fowler, a great Texas country artist that we have had the privilege of playing with say, “Save the slow songs for the records, and play the fun songs at the show.” That always stuck with me, so we like our shows and the music that we play to be fun, and to pair perfectly with an ice cold beer and a pair of boots…or sandals.

Island Guide: How did you get started in music? Who were your influences?

Brandon: I guess I didn’t really get started playing music until I was in college at Texas A&M in College Station. That was the first time that I really heard Robert Earl Keen, Pat Green, Cory Morrow, Roger Creager, and all of those guys. I fell in love with that Texas country sound the first time I heard it and it instantly became my favorite music. Playing along with those songs is what really got me into playing guitar and writing my own songs.

My major influences were Robert Earl Keen, Pat Green, Cory Morrow, Roger Creager and all of those guys; but I also really liked the older guys too, like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Waylon Jennings. Guy Clark is probably my favorite song writer of all. I also had some non-country influences too. I was a big fan of Blink 182 and Sublime.

Island Guide: How has that influenced you now?

Brandon: Almost all of the things I like to do just fit so perfectly with the Texas country sound. I love floating the river, hanging out at old dance halls, spending the day smoking a brisket, driving through the Texas Hill country, or being out on the bay. Heck, I even got married in the Luckenbach Dance Hall. Those things just mean so much to me, and they go so perfectly with my music. I mean, I doubt there are too many rap songs about Luckenbach, Texas (thank goodness).

Island Guide: What has been the biggest challenge to overcome being a musician?

Brandon: There are challenges in everything you do, and music is no different. I think one of the hardest parts is getting your foot in the door with regards to booking and things like that. Our band has an almost 100% rebooking rate, but it’s getting that first show that is always the hardest.

Island Guide: You have quite a history of performing with some top acts in the industry including Stoney LaRue, Kevin Fowler, Reckless Kelly, Micky and the Motorcars, Josh Abbott Band, Aaron Watson, Dirty River Boys, Brandon Rhyder, Bri Bagwell, Honeybrowne, and even 90’s megastars Poison. What it’s like to “play with the big boys?”

Brandon: We have been really fortunate to get to share the stage with many of my favorite bands. I never dreamed when I started writing songs and playing music in college that I would get to play with the bands who were the reason I started playing music to begin with. It is so fun to be on the stage with the “big boys,” not only to get to meet all these guys and see their shows from backstage (which is really cool), but also to see all of the production and work that goes into putting on their shows.

Island Guide: Tell us how the songwriting process happens. What influences you as a songwriter?

Brandon: I guess it kinda changes all the time for me. Sometimes I just pick up my guitar and a song will come out. Other times I have some lyrics in my head and I have to spend a lot of time trying to turn it into a song that I am happy with. I have always found it a lot easier to write songs when you are feeling down and out. I guess that is why there are so many break-up songs out there. But I just got married and I am a pretty happy guy, so I have been writing songs about all kinds of stuff lately.

Island Guide: Your first studio album titled “Mile Marker Zero” was described as “just like their live shows, which continue to leave the audience wanting more, the album is chock-full of fun, energetic songs that are guaranteed to make their listener have a good time. From good ol’ fashion party songs, to songs about relationships gone bad, this album has something for everyone.” Tell us about it.

Brandon: We titled the album “Mile Marker Zero” because Galveston sits at Mile Marker Zero on I-45, and we definitely learned a lot about recording on that album. The songs were some of the songs that we had been playing live for awhile. The inspiration for the songs the album came from lots of places – hanging out at the Texas Hall of Fame Dancehall and the Dixie Chicken while I was up at Texas A&M, getting dumped, moving back to Galveston, and all the things in between. It is a great mix of stories and songs covering basically, our lives.

Island Guide: What is your favorite song to perform and why?

Brandon: I think my favorite song that we are doing right now might be “That’s Rock ‘n Roll.” It is a fictional song that I wrote about all the things that you imagine could happen when you are in a band – the traveling, the fans, the drinking, and even getting to play Ray Wylie Hubbard’s Gold Top Les Paul guitar.

Island Guide: Our questions that we ask everyone: What was the first album you remember purchasing?

Brandon: Garth Brooks “No Fences”…that is still a really good album to me.

Island Guide: What was your first concert?

Brandon: The first concert I went to was Bush, Goo Goo Dolls, and No Doubt. I was in high school and the show was at the Summit in Houston. It was awesome.

Island Guide: 10 years from now, what would you like to be doing?

Brandon: Singing a song on stage with Willie Nelson…who in 10 years will be 94, I think….and still rocking in that Willie way.

Island Guide: If you could open up for any band right now, who would it be?

Brandon: I would love to open up for Willie. That would just be a dream come true. Robert Earl Keen would be super cool too. I mean, we’re both Aggies, it could happen right?

Island Guide: Anyone you want to thank or acknowledge?

Brandon: Sure. I’d love to thank my band – Nathan, Soloman, and Brent for making us sound awesome; my wife Kira and my parents Ralph and Peggy for all of their constant support; and everyone that comes out to see our shows.

Brandon McDermott Band can be found at brandonmcdermottband.com and www.facebook.com/brandonmcdermottband.

Upcoming shows are:

  • May 12th (7pm) – Yaga’s Wild Game Cookoff
  • May 13th (10pm) – Yaga’s, Galveston
  • May 19th (7:30pm) – Southern Star Brewing, Conroe
  • June 2nd (7pm) – AIA Sandcastle Contest Pregame Party, Galveston