Lyza Renee Photography

Mike and the Moonpies Pay Tribute to the Working Class on 'One to Grow On' [Interview]

With One to Grow On, Texas band Mike and the Moonpies deliver a soundtrack for your drive to work — and quittin' time. The album, which follows the band's 2019 crooner-collab with the London Symphony Orchestry Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold and the autobiographical 2018 release Steak Night at the Prairie Rose, is a nine-song tribute to working folks, featuring blue collar honky tonk anthems like "Paycheck to Paycheck."

Lead singer Mike Harmeier says spending time off the road last year caused him to look to new places for inspiration.

"I started to write about this one guy that was kind of half of me and then half just the everyday working man," Harmeier tells Wide Open Country. "I was writing about my old Chevy truck a lot. I was kinda writing and staring at it a lot [Laughs]. I started thinking about the guy that owned that truck brand new in '85 and the jobs that he did out of that truck, working his construction gig out of that truck, and what was he was listening to on his radio."

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Harmeier says the stress and uncertainty of last year also led him to write about the struggle to make ends meet.

"It had been on my mind a lot over the past couple of years — getting away from some of the cosmopolitan things we've been doing and kind of getting back into some sort of working man's nine to five kind of gig," Harmeier says. "I really spent the last couple of years kind of more concerned about money and my future with my wife and my kid and how I was going to take care of them. It started to really hit home with me. It was a tough money year, obviously, last year. And I was thinking a lot more along the lines of how am I going to get that next paycheck. I think that that really hit home with me and it kind of changed a lot. A lot of my perspective changed over the last couple of years and I think I kind of use this record to figure out what was really important."

Songs about the struggle to get by and put food on the table are a rich part of country music's history. (Merle Haggard's "Working Man's Blues," Dolly Parton's "9 to 5,"  and Loretta Lynn's "Coal Miner's Daughter," to name a few, all chronicle the struggle of being overworked and underpaid.) And Harmeier says that's no coincidence.

"I just think there's an honesty in country music that is not in a whole lot of other genres," Harmeier says. "I mean, it makes it more comfortable to talk about just because the history of the music has been made by working men and women — people that are working a full-time day job and writing songs at night and creating content like that," Harmeier says. "So, to me, it goes hand in hand. It's so easy to speak about in country music. The hard times and the the worries of every man is kind of the whole grassroots basis of country music."

One to Grow On, which features Shooter Jennings, Quaker City Nighthawks, Shiny Soul Sisters and Zac Wilkerson, was produced by Adam Odor and recorded at yellow DOG studios in Wimberly, Texas.