Finding Their Way on the Lost Highway - Mandi Lane & the Lost Highway

Best Original Band - Best Female Country Vocalist - Best Duo

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Artist Feature, Review Music Awards,   From Issue 790   By: Matt deHeus

08th May, 2014     0

Mandi Layne and Greg Kevorkian have been making an impact at the Review Music Awards for the better part of the last decade.  This year, along with their band the Lost Highway, the pair picked up another five awards, including Best Original Band, Best Female Country Vocalist, Best Duo, Best Songwriters and the Critic’s Choice Award for Best Country Band.

Though the band has kept up a regular schedule of gigs around the region, they have spent a lot of the last year in studios in Nashville and Detroit recording a new album, Country to the Bone.  The album will be available before the band makes a mid-June appearance at CMA Fest in Nashville.

Review:  Tell us about the new album.

Greg: It’s been an awesome experience.  We cut most of the tracks at Darkhorse Studios in Nashville.  Some of the people who have recorded there are Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Neil Diamond and Allison Krauss. 
It’s amazing.  You can stay right there and record on the same site.  It has a castle vibe.  You go past a guardhouse and over this (bridge) and there it is.”

Review:  Mandi, you’ve told us before that you started with a plastic Star Stage microphone and made your first recording in a booth at Cedar Point.  How did it feel to be recording in a place like Darkhorse?

Mandi:  It wasn’t that big an adjustment.  Like when I first recorded a song in a karaoke booth in Cedar Point, it is all I wanted to do and there was my chance.

Greg:  It probably felt like a bigger adjustment for me.  I found out I need to loosen my grip a little bit and take it a little easier.  On the first CD I obsessed over every detail, every note and word.  Listening to it now, it sounds stifled.

On this album we brought in help.  We worked with a professional writer named Greg Stryker and we used many seasoned professional studio musicians.

Mandi:  Yes, we had to learn to work more with other people.  I’d sometimes look at Greg in the studio and wonder why he was sitting quietly and wonder if he was mad.  He’d say, “No, I am just letting this all happen.”

Greg:  Exactly.  I mean we had Dennis Holt drumming on several tracks.  He has played on hit records.  The guy was in Kansas.  I’m not going to have a lot of useful advice for him when it comes to playing on our record.
We didn’t allow for any of this kind of collaboration on the first album and it shows in the work.

Review:  So, you have won a couple of Review Songwriting Awards and now you have also worked with professional writers.  From your viewpoint, what makes a good song – one that you will keep?

Mandi:  It you keep singing it later in the day.  You can’t get it out of your head.  That’s a really good sign.

Greg:  When you are coming up you have to play a lot of songs you don’t like.  When you get to write and record your own songs it’s different.  How do I know a good song?  I don’t know ... how do you know that you are in love?  It’s something you just realize.

Review:  In the time since you won your first Review Awards to the present a few waves of bands have come through the scene.   Not trying to cast the two of you as the grizzled veterans, but how do you continue to stay at it, putting as much focus as you do into your music?

Greg:  I know we have been through hell and back.  Everything that can happen to a band has happened to us.  And I can tell you that people do like to try and kick you when they think you are down.

Mandi:  Part of it is we never said ‘Let’s do this to make money or to try and pack a dance floor.’

Greg:  She is a dyed in the wool singer.  She literally sings all day long.  I was playing guitar before I could drive.  At a certain point it becomes your identity – ‘Greg – he’s that guy in the band.’

Our current line-up, with Matt Bryan on guitar, Gary Rivers on bass and either Mark Sutton or Juan Carlos del a Solt on drums and regular guest Wiz Feinberg on pedal steel is as strong as any we have had. 
We have a new album coming out. I don’t see why we’d ever stop.


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