6 String Drag Return With First New Album In 18 Years
“The songs I was writing in the months leading up to the recording were about being teenagers, about hanging out and passing time in small towns. It was the result of revisiting some of my earliest rock ‘n’ roll influences. We all love The Beatles, The Stones, the psychedelic movement, but I was going back to the roots before that and soaking it all in heavily. I became a super-fan again, studying what made some of my favorites tick, both musically and lyrically,” says Roby. “We like to think this record was made in the spirit of one of our heroes, Doug Sahm. He did so many kinds of music that influenced him and wasn’t afraid to try to touch on the music that he loved.”
In the mid to late ’90s, the Raleigh, North Carolina-based 6 String Drag stood out as pioneers of the nascent alt-country movement, rising through the ranks alongside Whiskeytown, Drive-By Truckers and Son Volt. The band’s Steve Earle-produced album, High Hat, remains an undisputed classic of its era. Battle-scarred and road-wizened, today’s 6 String Drag is the sound of four kindred souls reunited, letting their own histories as human beings mingle freely around their shared love of classic sounds. Kenny Roby and Rob Keller weld their trademark harmonies to surging rhythms. Ray Duffey’s swinging drums and Keller’s upright bass are the foundation, embroidered by Roby’s rhythm guitar and guitarist Scott Miller’s pointed leads and thickened by a Stax-versed horn section. Recorded live off the studio floor to tape in just four days, the immediacy translates beautifully to record, elevating everything from the plaintive desperation of “Hard Times, High Times” to the self-effacing word play rave-up “Kingdom of Gettin’ It Wrong” to the rousing slide guitar snarl of“Sylvia.” A knife’s edge intensity is matched by a wooly, woody sound. Instruments bleed into vocal mics. Imperfection is celebrated, rather than avoided.
“We wanted to capture that classic vibe of guys recording in a room together. Not to mention, in terms of time and budget, that was the only way we could do it,” explains Roby. “When it came time to record, we showed up on Thursday and lefton Monday. I didn’t know if we’d be able to cut four songs in four days, let alone capture the 11 tracks that became the album.”
In the past decade and a half since 6 String Drag parted ways, they’ve worked day jobs, taken sideman gigs and hustled to keep their connection to music alive. Roby’s solo album output has been sublime, however being back with the boys in the band is a completion of the circle.
“I’ve played with so many different people over the last 18 years,” Roby says. “But reuniting with these guys sure felt like being home again. Back in the day, Rob, Scott, Ray, and I were never at a loss for ideas, and it was deeply satisfying to find that’s still the same. When we undertook this record, we all hoped there would be chemistry. It turned out that there was way more than any of us expected.”