With the country/folk/Americana artist’s star in full ascendance, his early days fronting a Kentucky rock band are finally getting some well-deserved attention. (Above photo: Michael Wilson)
BY JOHN B. MOORE
Years before Jeremy Pinnell became one of the most talked about new voices in authentic country music, he was a member of the underrated Kentucky rock bands The Light Wires. And thanks to Pinnell’s current record label, SofaBurn (which released his acclaimed solo album Ties of Blood & Affection, and you can listen to a track from it here at BLURT), his early group’s two hard-to-find albums have just gotten a proper vinyl re-release.
Along with Pinnell, The Light Wires comprised drummer Rick McCarty, guitarist Andy Hittle and bassist Mike Montgomery. SofaBurn has packaged their self-titled debut and the, until now, unreleased follow up, The Invisible Hand, into a beautiful gatefold 140-gram/color vinyl 2-LP set. The packaging nods to the original album art and contains lyrics, new liner notes and previously unreleased pics. (It’s reviewed here at BLURT.)
As the album set comes out, Pinnell spoke with Blurt about his former band, their output and why he drifted toward country music.
BLURT: There are a lot of great acoustic country/folk/Americana artists who started out in much louder bands. People like Chuck Ragan, Cory Branan and Frank Turner. Was your evolution to the more country sound you have now gradual?
PINNELL: I believe it’s always been inevitable. It was suggested by a friend to play country music. It’s where my heart has been for a long time.
How did The Light Wires first come together?
I went in to record some songs with Mike Montgomery and he suggested to bring in Rick McCarty to play drums and then Andy Hittle came in on the guitar and that’s how The Light Wires were formed. We didn’t record the second album till a few years after.
And what brought about the national re-release from SofaBurn Records?
We did release the albums locally years ago. My friend Chris Mueller wanted to see these records get some attention, hence the double vinyl.
The self-titled record and The Invisible Hand have two very distinct sounds. Was that a conscious decision or had your influences and sound just changed over the course of the band?
I was just a kid on the first record and I believe I thought I knew something. The second album is a realization that I wasn’t what I thought I was. Unfortunately, it was a painful experience for many, not just myself. I think I had a naive idea of how the world was and my writing on the first record shows that. When you have an awakening of how dark life can be the writing changes quite a bit.
Your two solo albums have gotten strong, positive response from critics and fans. Were you pretty confident that these songs would find an audience so quickly?
You never have any idea that anyone will like it. That’s not why you make music. People have been real kind. We have been lucky.
You’re currently touring through the spring. Plans to be out on the road for the summer yet?
We should be on the road mid-year. (Tour dates are here.)
Do you ever play any of the music from The Light Wires in your shows nowadays?
I usually play “Two Caretakers.” I like the simplicity in two chords. It’s a love song between two friends.
What’s next for you?
I like being home for now.