Interview || Muscadine Bloodline

It made too much sense not to.

Have you ever had a groundbreaking idea or breakthrough about anything in life and you came to the conclusion that it made too much sense to not pursue that idea through to fruition? And, then, have you actually pursued that idea or dream or goal and it worked? It happened. It exceeded any expectations that you had.

If you're Charlie Muncaster and Gary Stanton, collectively known as Muscadine Bloodline, the answer to the above question is a resounding yes.

Charlie and Gary are both from Mobile, Alabama. They grew up essentially in the same neighborhoods with some of the same friends. It wasn't until they both moved to college--Southern Mississippi for Gary and Auburn for Charlie--that they crossed paths playing music. They individually had their own thing going, with no intention of forming a band. Whenever Charlie would go to Mississippi, he'd play with Gary. When Gary made it to Auburn, he'd play with Charlie. Charlie is one year older than Gary so he was a few steps ahead when it came to the music scene. They would link up and travel from Auburn to Hattiesburg to Mobile all the way up to Nashville to write for a few days and then go their separate ways until the next run.

One night after a show that they did together in Auburn, the wheels started turning. They were picking up on the harmonies and they sounded well together. Gary had plans to move to Nashville after he graduated college because he wanted to write. Charlie was going to move back home to Mobile for a while before heading to Nashville. They started playing more shows together for several months--even being referred to Gary and Charlie. Fans were associating them together. Then, one night, they decided--they either needed to do it or not. Gary had a niche for writing, Charlie had the vocals to front a brand. And, it made too much sense to not pursue it.

The guys took a little while before their show Saturday night to talk to me about everything that's happening and things that are coming up in the next few months.


As talented as you are musicians, you both are also talented business partners. You mentioned building a product before ever even having a name for the duo. Why do you think it's so important to be business smart as well as talented to make it in Nashville now?

Charlie: Music is going to streaming. It's so easy to get music to people now. People don't have to rely on the radio to hear newcomers. Streaming feeds those hungry people that are looking for new music. It helps new artists like us a lot.

Gary: Yeah. There are still markets that we will show up to and no one will know who we are. It's cool, though. We toured all over the country this past summer and then we've been back in the Southeast the last two or three weeks. There's no label but we're selling out venues. We've had two sell out shows in the past two weekends, with a chance of a third tonight. This is really cool to see it grow. There's people in Nashville paying us attention, of course. But, we saw what Luke [Combs] did, and the model he laid out. People have to be good singers again.

Luke Combs is a good friend of y'all's. What does that relationship with him mean to you?

Gary: One of our friends, Bradley, was good friends with the Luke Combs camp. We linked up with him and became friends. He was really a key part of the transition process of going from playing three to four hour sets at a bar to a thirty minute opening slot on a tour with a guy who is selling out venues with an incredible career so far, and an even better one ahead. We owe a lot of that to Luke and Bradley. That gave us a platform. The first time we went to the Carolina's, we weren't even with Luke but we still had people showing up because of the association with Luke. It's obviously done nothing but help us.

Luke Combs definitely took a different approach to making the album and that whole process. He did it on his terms and it paid off.

Charlie: Absolutely. And from all of that, you know, our motto is "Don't worry about what everyone else thinks. Nothing is going to stop us from what we are doing right now." There's a lot of stuff that a record label will help us do--and down the road, yes, that's a step we would like to take. But, right now, if you take a step back and look at it, it's working. Why change?

Gary: We have had people in meetings before tell us they weren't sure we were picking the right songs. But, we picked them anyway and people are in the crowd singing those songs back to us every night. The crowd is the deciding factor, not the guy sitting at the business table. And, not to come off that we don't want or need a label's help--that's not it. We see the need for help down the road and we welcome it.

Charlie: But we're not going to let that hold us back.

Gary: Right. That's a cool option and a goal to have. But, we are making a living doing it our way for now. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't. We really admire the Eric Church and Luke Combs type of artists. They cater to their fans. We want to make music that keeps people singing in the crowds. It's all about the fans.

What song has been your favorite to write or co-write?

Charlie: Any song, really, that Gary and I have written. We get to see those songs touch people in the crowds every night. Just to see those songs that we've written continue to change our lives every week is pretty incredible.

Gary: I'm partial to 'Ginny' just because that's the song I can still get chill bumps from every night. It's a cool show ending type of song. It's five and a half minutes long. No one in country music does that anymore. It's fun. It's the first song we wrote together so it's kind of the mentality of to end every night where you started.

Charlie: It's also cool to see people singing back songs to us that we don't have up anywhere yet. So, the only way they know it is from coming to the live shows and recording it and putting it up on YouTube. We have a Facebook group called the Vines and the fans in there are really great about coming to shows and posting new songs relatively quickly.

You guys do have quite the following already. The Vines are extremely loyal and they aren't just coming to the shows because it's in their city. A lot of them are traveling a long way to see y'all. What does that mean to you?

Gary: It's amazing. It's the same crowd and that's our goal. Of course, we want to grow the crowd but we want to keep the same crowd. We have the fans that are driving six hours for a show and buying a whole festival ticket just to watch our 30 minute slot on a side stage, and that's incredible. I'd rather have 10,000 super fans versus 100,000 fair weather fans. We want our fans to really feel like they're apart of all of this--because they are. We try to be as open with our fans as possible and let them see us as just people not as untouchable artists.

You're pretty transparent on social media. You guys post a lot of comical pictures on Instagram. Do you ever prank each other?

Charlie: Not really. I'll prank Gary more than he pranks me. The other day I put a rubber band on the sprayer on the sink and got him real good but then he got me back.

Gary: We're just goofy guys. We play off of the short/tall thing. We think it's funny. A lot of people probably would hide that kind of stuff but it is what it is. We might as well beat everyone else to it. A lot of people act like they have to be portrayed in the perfect light. I feel like it makes it more tangible to our audience that we truly are just normal dudes.

Your fans have such good interactions with y'all because of the normality that you carry. They feel like friends, not just fans.

Gary: Absolutely. I want people to feel like they could have a beer with us. A lot of times artists jump on stage, do their thing, jump off the stage and leave. It creates this hierarchy that just shouldn't exist. We're people. We just have a different day job.

Charlie: Absolutely. One of the biggest compliments that we get every night is how normal we are. That's odd to us because I think 'what do you mean?' and they'll mention how we take pictures and how we try to talk to everyone. That's the way everyone should be. You're suppose to do that. If they want to hang with us then of course, we want to hang with them. It's our show that their coming to, we want to give back.

Going from being on your own tour to a possible collab with another artist for a tour in the future--who is on your wish list?

Gary: I would say Church. If you get his stamp of approval, that is neat.

Charlie: Chris Stapleton. Brothers Osborne would be cool, too. Of course, Luke Combs.

Gary: We've actually played a show here or there with artists that we would love to be on a ticket for the whole tour with. Jon Pardi would be fun, too. We've played shows with him. It's really just about being with someone that we can easily relate to--and all of these artists are easy for us to relate to. There are groups of guys that come to our shows as well as groups of girls and then guys and girls coming together. It's not really tilted one way or another and I think that, again, is just speaking to being relatable.

Porch Swing Angel is notably your biggest release to date. Tell us a little more about the song and why do you think so many people can relate to it?

Charlie: The production of it is such a smooth and inviting sound. There's a smooth electric sound with subtle drums but no one sound is in your face, really. It's relatable. It's not technically one of our most relatable songs. We almost didn't put that song out. It was just more so an after thought.

Gary: Yeah, it was just going to go on there as a bonus track. It's not a super cheesy love song. I mean, we see dudes getting into that song. The whole idea of the song is falling in love with a girl that is your good friend. That's a real thing. You don't hear that rhetoric anymore. You know, guys aren't really singing about if they tell a girl how they feel they could mess up the whole thing.

Charlie: It's technically not even a love song. It's a hopeful song. But people are literally playing it at their weddings. I mean, of course, you want to be in love with your best friend. It makes sense. It's real. Every relationship had to start at some point so maybe it's that phase of the relationship that people are relating to.

It's definitely not a typical song that other male country artists are putting out.

Gary: It's not a super masculine type of 'come over here baby girl' song. It's not condescending either. That song is from a vulnerable guy's perspective--which isn't common. It's just an easy song and it almost didn't even make the EP.

You've not been in Nashville for very long but you've obviously had labels show interest in your brand. Why is it so important to y'all to keep building this brand of Muscadine at this point?

Charlie: We want to make the best impression that we can. We want to build it out as far as we can until we can't.

Gary: The further you build it out on your own, the less the label is going to tell you what to do. And it works for people. With all the streaming and social media these days, a record label deal is hard. Charlie and I are building a business. You put a lot of work in the beginning of building a business to the point of you struggling financially for a while.

Where as a record label would help ease that burden a little?

Charlie: Right--and thankfully, we have publishing deals. That helps a lot.

Gary: We want to be successful. We don't want one hit single and then we disappear. That's why we are taking our time building the brand, building the business. We are getting better and better at songwriting. We have to be smart to. We don't want to go too far and then not have anyone wanting to help us, either. You have to be talented. But, you also have to be smart.

Charlie: It's all about the fans. There's plenty that a record deal would help ease, and we aren't saying that's not a goal. But, it's not time yet.

Bro country was a huge sub genre in 2016 that, for the most part, is declining this year. What's your take on bro country?

Charlie: I think it's just a genre of music. Music evolves year by year. It was a phase that I think made music better overall. Every genre has sub genres. I don't think it'll ever be dead. It's just a party style. It's the same cloth, just cut differently. I think there's plenty of people who would go see those "bro country" acts that would love our show.

Gary: Exactly, same cloth, different cut. But, I won't disagree that it's declining. Look at the up and coming artists, I can't think of one person that is doing the bro country thing. We're not doing that. Luke didn't do that. It's a softer approach to music. I think Stapleton kind of opened the gates for that. He had these incredible pipes that the general population agreed with. At the same time, we're thankful. We feel like we got on the scene at the right time. If we would've started this three or four years ago, we might not have been successful. It wasn't what the people wanted. We've been in this formula based structure over the past five years. But now, it's completely different.

I think there's a rise of singer songwriters that are coming out as artists when they realize that songwriters aren't getting the attention that they maybe use to. So, when it's the person singing the song that wrote it, it's a little bit easier to connect with at times?

Charlie: People believe it more. People are going to know when you believe what you sing.

Gary: Yeah, people are hardly getting signed as writers in Nashville anymore. That's not really a thing. Most people are getting publishing deals and then recording their own songs. Of course, we would love to write with the established writers still. But, it's your own story. That's what is creating this brand that people are holding onto. Truth.

Charlie: I think that the best part of us as people and as artists is that there isn't any part of this business--whether it be business or music--that is fake. It's all genuine. It's all authentic. That's the beauty of it. We aren't trying to be this or that. No one tells us what to say. I think people connect with that.

There is a new EP in the works, right?

Charlie: Yes, we'll start working on that this fall. We aren't sure when it'll roll out or in what fashion it will but we are excited.

How do you pick which songs go on the EP?

Charlie: For the most part, when we write a song together, we know when it's special. Of course, we don't write for Muscadine everyday. But, when we write one that we know has something special to it, we put it to the side. It started off as a list of 10 or so.

Gary: A lot of times we will hop out of a write and we will ask ourselves 'can anyone else write this song'? If the answer is yes, then it's a no brainer--we pitch the song. Let's let someone else put it out. We want to hold onto the songs that we know that are ours. It all goes back to the brand. We want Musadine Bloodline fans, not WD 40 fans. Eric Church--prime example. He can put something out that's off the wall but he's genuine. He's got the fans. We are growing and progressing as artists, too, so we are just being smart with the next move we make. It was easy for us to pick the songs for this EP. Everyone from management to publishing had the same consensus to move forward with those five songs.

Charlie: Which isn't normal. But, that's exactly how we like it.

That's exactly how we like it, too, Charlie.
Make sure you click the listen tab above for links to Muscadine Bloodline shows coming up. They have a packed schedule until the end of the year.
Their EP is on Spotify and ITunes, too!
All photos courtesy of Muscadine Bloodline

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