San Antone’s Barnyard Stompers mine a musical territory that exists between the twin poles of heavy rock and honky tonk. Which description doesn’t seem to make much sense, at least not until you’ve heard the Stompers at work. Led by singer-guitarist Casey Miller’s Waylon-by-way-of-Hank-Jr. growl and anchored by Megan Wise’s classic-rock-approved beats, the Stompers are equally comfortable slamming out sludgy southern rock or reverently rendering a country classic like “Jolene” or “A Country Boy Can Survive.” They’re serious road dogs, too, and recently they took a few minutes out from their heavy touring schedule to speak to Scruffington Post in advance of their upcoming performance at Preservation Pub.
SP: So how did you guys meet and start playing music together?
Casey: I met Megan when I was in a rockabilly band touring through Colorado, where she was living at the time. I knew she was an awesome drummer and had played for some bands that I really liked. I also really liked Megan, so I moved to Colorado to be with her. After two months of kicking around, trying to find a job, we decided to form Barnyard Stompers. We played our first show in Denver, July of 2012. We got a call about a week later to play a couple gigs around Sturgis, and we were off and running.
SP: What were your respective backgrounds prior to getting together?
Megan: I was a band nerd. I have a jazz background and was always drawn to older music, which is why I started playing in rockabilly bands, the most well-known being the Hillbilly Hellcats. Casey has gotten me more into punk and metal over the years.
Casey: I played a lot of metal and punk in South Texas when I was in my teens and twenties. I always had a soft spot for old country and rockabilly, as a lot of metalheads and punks do. I started Bop Kings in 2000 and rockabilly was just a perfect fit for me, but I always wanted to play country — the rowdy, hell-raising songs, the sappy stuff, all of it, but I also wanted to incorporate the rock I loved as a kid. Not having to follow a formula gives us a lot of space to do whatever we want. I feel really lucky to have that kind of freedom, as I’ve never been able to in the past except for when I played solo.
SP: Once you got together as a duo, how did your sound evolve?
Megan: Being a duo has definitely presented challenges. We’ve made a lot of changes over the past few years and we’re always doing everything we can to make the music as full as we can without using any back tracks, loops or any electronic stuff.
Casey: Yeah. That’s cheating.
Megan: People say we sound like a four- or five-piece band.
Casey: I always wanted to be Waylon and Lemmy, you know? Two outlaws who were just cool as hell. I never got to be that guy, but I love what we do. I’d say we’re more a country band than anything else, but we love to rock out and just get rowdy. We have lots of metal undertones. And you never know when we might throw out a punk-rock cover. It’s a good time.
SP: What are your audiences generally like? Country? Rock? All of the above?
Casey: A normal crowd for us is made up of honky tonkers, bikers, metalheads, punks and good-ol’-boy rednecks. We all got a lot more in common than folks might think. For sure, we’re all rebels and love to raise hell.
Megan: I love our crowds. We can play anything and the cowboys and rockers are both digging it, singing along and hanging out together.
SP: What are your live performances like?
Casey: We’ve worked on making it a pretty rowdy show. We move around a lot. In a few songs, Megan plays drums and guitar while I play harmonica, sing, and pound a drum. I mess with her a little, but I think she likes it.
Megan, rolling eyes: Oh yeah, I LOVE it.
Casey: It makes for some good banter. That’s all I’m saying.
Megan: Yeah, he drinks too much, rolls around on the floor and starts messing with the crowd, but they always seem to be cool with it. He actually holds it together and plays really good when he’s drunk. I’ve never seen anyone drink that much and keep it together. Except maybe Dallas Moore.
SP: How have you guys changed over the years, and what might be on tap for your next release?
Megan: We’ve gotten better, more fluid. We don’t force anything. We read each other and feed off each other. We’ve learned tricks to make two people sound like an actual full band. I guess we’ve found ourselves.
Casey: As far as the next record, I’m taking my time writing. I want it to be our most country and our most rocking record yet. I’m doing a little mock steel guitar, and we have some surprises.
We also want to say that we appreciate all our Knoxville and East Tennessee fans. We love playing Knoxville, and we never skip past it. We look forward to seeing you soon.
The Barnyard Stompers will play Preservation Pub Sunday, April 22 at 9 p.m.