One thing that’s great about The Reeves Brothers is that they are throwback, and aren’t afraid to showcase it.
Brothers Matt and Cole pay their respects to their “Honky Tonk Teachers” with a sound steeped in the 70s and straight out of a smoke-filled bar.
After releasing two successful albums, the Brothers are hoping to be back soon with “The Last Honky Tonk,” which is currently being funded through a Kickstarter campaign.
As they prepare to release “The Last Honky Tonk,” hear from both Matt and Cole about their musical upbringings, coming together as a duo, winning the Ameripolitan Award for “Honky Tonk Group of the Year,” what fans can expect from “The Last Honky Tonk” and more!
Pro Country: Who were your individual musical influences growing up? Who are some influences you draw on as a band?
Matt Reeves: Growing up, my first influence was Elvis. I saw him on the 1973 “Aloha From Hawaii,” when I was around 3, and loved him! I’ve personally always had a deep love for Southern California music. Merle Haggard, The Byrds, Buck Owens, Linda Rondstadt, and The Flying Burrito Brothers. There’s not a time in my life I can’t remember not having heard a majority of those guys!
Cole Reeves: My biggest influence growing up was definitely Glen Campbell. I probably got to see him in concert 7 or 8 times between the ages of 10-16. His show was amazing I also loved Johnny Rodriguez and Merle Haggard. I had several vinyl records of them when I was a kid, and I would sit in my room and listen to them over and over again. As a band, I feel like we just focus on trying to be good entertainers. In that aspect, we take from a lot of people like Dick Dale and John Fogerty. Their shows were very high energy and that’s what we try to do on stage.
PC: You both showed an interest in music at early ages. What was it about music that connected with you so early in your lives?
Matt: Our dad, Jack Reeves, was a very successful entertainer in Southern California. He started in 1965, and was best friends with surf rocker Dick Dale. He was around guys like Clarence White, Wynn Stewart, Red Simpson, Dorsey Burnette, and a lot of the west coast guys. Our dad was still playing 5 nights a week when we were growing up. He’d get us up on stage at 4 and 8 years old, and we’d sing a tune or two for the packed out smoke filled bar. There was always country music being played and sang at our house. Always!
Cole: I connected with music through our dad. I don’t really remember a time that I wasn’t on stage. He never forced us to play, but he always made sure we had musical instruments around the house. He used to joke and tell people whenever we learned something new on a guitar that he would buy us another one in hopes of us wanting to play more. I saw how much fun he had entertaining and how many friends he had through music, and I loved it. I wanted to be just like him.
PC: Was there a specific moment you knew you wanted to pursue music as a career?
Matt: No, it honestly just happened. There was never any moment where we thought “Oh, this is what we wanna do.” It’s always been our career, even since we were kids.
Cole: I knew that I wanted to pursue music from the first time I got on stage and sang. I hated doing plays or choir concerts at school because I wanted to be in a bar. That’s what I loved. The sound of the bar and the loud noise drew me in. I thought it was so cool seeing everyone dancing and partying. Everyone was so friendly to me. A guy named Tommy T. used to pick me up and sit me on his lap during my dad’s show at the bar. Finally, my mom would come get me and make me come back to the restaurant in the back of the bar. I actually wrote a song about the bar and it’s on our new album. The song is called “Stagestop Bar.” It’s the story of the place that I grew up listening to my dad.
PC: Can you talk about the decision to come together as a band after playing separately for years prior?
Matt: We had the same manager, Steven Martinez. He was individually taking a certain percentage from both of us, and he sat us down and talked us into starting “The Reeves Brothers.” He told us if we’d do it, he’d only have to take 10% from one group instead of two. It turned out to be a great idea, even though we were strongly against it when the idea was first presented.
PC: As you were preparing to release “Home Sweet Honky-Tonk” in 2016, were either of you feeling any pressure, internally or externally, to be releasing music together for the first time?
Matt: Our company “Joe Missouri Entertainment” had us go in and cut the album quick. It was cut, mixed, and on a master in 7 days. There was about a month prior to that of picking out songs and rehearsing. It was sincerely a mess! We were anxious to release our first album, and you should never do that. You should take your time and make sure you have a product you’re completely thrilled about when you leave the studio!
PC: “Plain & Simple Country” is one of the standout tracks from “Home Sweet Honky-Tonk.” Was the autobiographical nature of that song something that drew you to have it serve as the leadoff track on your debut album?
Cole: I feel like the title totally describes me as a person. I am “Plain And Simple Country.” Immediately after I heard the line “I like rodeos and boots and faded jeans,” I knew I had to record it. It was hardcore 70’s honkytonk, and I loved it.
PC: “Honky-Tonks and Cheap Motels” is one of my favorite songs in your catalog. Can you talk about the inspiration behind that song?
Cole: I think at some point in every person’s life that travels all the time, they have to get lonely. I’m a lonely person at heart, and I love having people around. I was missing everyone back home, and I wrote half the song and came to a block. I came back to my hometown in Arkansas, and I met Bill Mullen through another friend Joe Martinez. Bill has been a legend in our area for years. He’s probably played more bar rooms than anyone in the area ever has and ever will. He heard the first part of the song, and he told me to keep playing. Without stopping, he started singing the rest of the song where I left off. We wrote it down immediately. He had never heard the studio version until over a year after it was released.
PC: With two albums under your belts and one to be released soon, where do you think you have grown the most as a group?
Matt: Well, we have Caleb Melo as our pedal steel guitarist, and he’s our secret weapon. As a group, we’re growing better business sense every day, with the help of friends of ours like Zephaniah O’Hora and Jesse Daniel. We all talk, and if we ever have anything we need to ask them, they’re always there to help! We’re very fortunate to have a killer team that gets better every day!
Cole: All of us are truly brothers. We constantly grow as a group. It’s always been like that. Like Matt said, we have a great team. Joe Swopes is a big part of the reason we started making records; he helped us any way he could and pushed us to pursue music on the next level. Tex Whitson managed Merle Haggard for years, and wrote several songs for Merle including “I Always Get Lucky With You,” and he just started managing our band. We added Caleb Melo to the group a little over a year ago, and he has been a huge part of our sound. Other people in the business always do what they can to help us if we need anything. Mario Carboni, Zephaniah O’Hora and Jesse Daniel are there whenever we need them. Kevin Skrla has become a brother of ours in the last year. We met him at Ameripolitan, and he is the biggest reason our upcoming album has come together. Along with our friends and family in Arkansas and Nevada who keep pushing us and always support us in any way, I would say we have the best team you could ask for as a band.
PC: You will be starting a Kickstarter campaign for your upcoming album “The Last Honky Tonk” on Monday. What information can you give about the album?
Matt: “The Last Honky Tonk” was a song that a friend of ours, Pat Price, found In her shed. Her husband was Merle Haggard’s bass player and was a writer for Buck Owens and a ton of other people! She played it for us and we fell in love with the song. We decided to name our album that, before songs were chose and anything was even cut. There’s 9 originals on this album, and 3 songs that friends of ours wrote. It’s really a musical journey that goes through the 60’s to the 80’s, while staying very 70’s influenced. We cut all the vocals and mixed the album at Sugarhill Studios; the same studio Mickey Gilley, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, George Jones, and Freddy Fender cut a ton of stuff at. It was musically historical. Everything else was laid down at Wolfe Island Recording Co. with our producer Kevin Skrla. He listened to anything we had to say and always let us record our ideas. He really knew exactly what we wanted for this album. We spent 36 days and nights there; sleeping and eating in the studio and cutting from 3 PM to 5 AM almost every day.
PC: You won the “2018 Ameripolitan Honky Tonk Group of the Year” and the ACMA Vocal Group of the Year this year. What does it mean to you, personally and professionally, to be recognized in those ways?
Matt: Personally, it was an honor. Gary P. Nunn and The Derailers were the bands who had won “Honky-Tonk Group Of The Year,” so to be even nominated was amazing! Professionally, it helped us out a great deal, especially in Texas! Ameripolitan has introduced us to so many great friends that in itself is worth its weight in gold! The ACMA was something we were so proud to have because our family has been in Arkansas since 1858. To be recognized by the State that we love so dearly just blows us away!
Cole: It was huge for us to win those awards. Ameripolitan opened us up to a group of people that we look at as family. Obviously, winning the award was a great honor, but the people we got to know through their association was the best part of the whole awards for me. It was amazing for us to win the Arkansas awards. The people that have come from our state are incredible. This is where my roots are. I was the first person in my family to be born in Arkansas since 1953. We family relocated to California for a better way of life in the mid 50’s after my grandfather passed away. They wanted something more than sharecropping or finishing concrete, and California was the answer to all of that. Later in life, most of them all settled back home in Arkansas. For them to give us that award, it made me truly understand what calling Arkansas my home is all about. Our family got here in 1858. The Reeves’ built the first Church Of Christ in the state of Arkansas if I’m not mistaken. There’s lots of history of our family in the state of Arkansas, and we’re proud to be a part of their awards.
PC: What are your plans for the rest of 2019 and beyond?
Matt: Right now, we’re just focusing on getting the album released and pushing it! Next year, we’re making plans to tour with some other guys that are killing it like Jesse Daniel, and I think that’s when the real fun will start!
PC: Additional comments:
Matt: Thank you for doing this interview with us! It really means a lot and we certainly appreciate it very much! God Bless Country Music!
Cole: Thank you for the interview and God Bless you!