Two Cow Garage

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Two Cow Garage create their own americana on newest Sweet Saint Me

:: Two Cow Garage ::
:: Surfside 7 :: November 8 ::
::  hi-dive :: November 9 ::

By Joe Kovack

Don’t let the name fool you, Two Cow Garage is not a bunch of country boys singing about the farm. They’re more of the next generation of alt-country rockers grooving across America one state at a time.

With an honest approach, the Columbus, Ohio band simultaneously conforms to and exceeds the genre they inhabit. Fusing a down-home country vibe with the roughness of good old rock and roll, Two Cow Garage takes singing and songwriting to the next level. Somewhere between John Mellencamp and Nirvana, the band is like Americana after a few drinks of whiskey and a handful of smokes.

Since their inception in 2001, Two Cow Garage has undertaken the role of touring band, with an average of over 200 shows a year and nearly 300,000 miles driven in their early days. Representing themselves by running their own record label, the band released four albums on their own, and took their act from city to city across the nation, earning a loyal following that has supported them through the years.

In a recent interview with The Marquee, lead singer/guitarist Micah Schnabel discussed the early days of touring non-stop. “Looking back on it, it was brutal,” laughed Schnabel. “Not that we’re making much money now, but back then nobody knew who we were. We started touring before we even had our first record out, and we were just out there living on the show money. Just driving around, scraping from town to town and playing for bartenders pretty much. There were some dark, brutal times in there. Showing up to towns with four dollars in our pockets and just hoping to make enough money to eat. But we made it, though, and I think it made us a much better band.” Schnabel said.

The band’s sound is a combination of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Drive-By Truckers, melded into an alt-country group with the raspy lead vocals of Schnabel directing the surge. Schnabel and guitarist Chris Flint create melodies that make you weep in one song and make you dance in the next.

Shane Sweeney’s bass grooves, while following the lead, and new drummer Cody Smith balances a marching beat with a rock and roll intensity that drives the music but never pushes it too far. And with the addition of long-time friend Andy Schell on keyboards, Schnabel can focus more on his songwriting while Schell takes the load of melody creation off his shoulders.

Focusing on the melodies before writing any lyrics, Schnabel views his guitar as an extension of himself, always searching for the next riff or chord. “I write everyday and I spend a lot of time with the guitar in my hands, and I’m constantly playing around looking for the next tune. The melody almost always comes out first, I usually don’t write the lyrics until the end,” Schnabel said. “But as a band, we just get together and bounce ideas off of each other. Everybody putting in their two cents and just doing what’s best for the song,” Schnabel said.

With the addition of new drummer Smith and keyboardist Schell, the band has put the final pieces of their musical puzzle into place. “It was great, the way the songs were going and the direction we were moving, he [Smith] just really tightened us up. He’s such a great drummer and he made us a more solid unit. And with Andy, it’s just more breathing room; letting the songs breathe a little more and not having to fill up every second with guitar. Which is really nice for me (laughs). It allows me to concentrate more on my singing and writing,” Schnabel said.

Moving to Denver-based Suburban Home Records in 2008, the band found a new home and one that envisions a bright future for this up-and-coming rock band. With the release of their fifth album Sweet Saint Me late last month, the band and co-producer Matt Smith have put together an amalgamation of heartfelt songs and rock-filled tunes that covers the spectrum of musical emotions, and one that Schnabel attributes to his songwriting. “Growing up, there were always guitars around, my dad was always playing and he was a folk guy. Just growing up listening to Bob Dylan and those guys, I was just surrounded by it for as long as I can remember. And naturally, as the next generation, we do it louder and a little faster but it’s really just amped up folk songs. I think especially with the lyrics they tell a story, there’s a reason to it, it’s not just fluff or anything, they’re pretty important.” Schnabel said.

:: Two Cow Garage ::

:: Surfside 7 :: November 8 ::

:: hi-dive :: November 9 ::

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