Muscadine: (n.) a grape found in parts of the southern U.S. with musky fruits borne in small clusters
Bloodline: (n.) inspired by Gary Stanton and Charlie Muncaster’s love for their families and heritage
These two words make up the simple story behind up-and-coming country duo Muscadine Bloodline’s name, who took some time out of their touring schedule to chat about their band’s inception and what makes them unique. Both Mobile, Alabama, natives, Muncaster and Stanton didn’t become friends until they were adults pursuing solo music careers. Stanton grew up fronting a rock band then tried his hand at rap at one point. “I am a music connoisseur – I love all different kinds of music and I went through stages growing up,” he explains.
Stanton loved hip-hop, and started a “hardcore” band in high school, but country was never at the forefront of his favorites. “I really didn’t like country that much until I was 16 years old, when I started listening to the songs more closely and the stories behind the songs,” he says. “I saw how country music conveyed a very vivid, visual story.” Singer-songwriter Jamey Johnson, a fellow Alabama native, was the first country album he owned. Stanton credits the easiness of writing about the rural south to his childhood.
Both Stanton and Muncaster grew up singing in church choirs and chorus competitions, so harmonizing with other vocalists came easy. When sitting down to write songs for their debut EP, the duo aimed to define a sound that would stand out: “We discussed how can we make this song not a ‘straight fastball, down the middle-country song’ – what can we bring to give it a little bit of edge and just a little bit off-the-cuff of what mainstream country is.”
While listening to the project, you may hear a sonic nod to early-2000’s alternative rock music – think Yellowcard or Boys Like Girls, but with traditional country lyrics and stories. While other artists push the boundaries of the country genre in pop and R&B directions, Muscadine Bloodline focuses on rock elements, which make for a great live show. The band has taken their setlist out on the road, opening for Luke Combs and Corey Smith. Combs, a friend of the duo, asked them to open for him not long after their inception. “We have been playing every weekend, and the good thing about that is you can let the crowd be the judge of the songs,” they explain. Their grateful tone when talking about touring with talented artists proves how genuinely lucky they feel: “As long as we can try to make some fans along the way, we are just happy as heck to be a part of anybody’s tour.”
“WD-40” is their first single, which has been in rotation on Sirius XM The Highway. It’s clever with catchy lyrics (“Girl you know your love can fix anything, like duct tape and WD-40”), and was co-written with Erin Enderlin and Alex Kline. Contrary to its final message, the song did not start out as a love song but somehow (to their surprise) ended up that way. Stanton and Muncaster had a hand in writing all five songs on the EP, and specifically wanted each song to relate to the others, allowing for a well-rounded expression of the band: “We want a fresh sound that 19-year-old girls will love but also appeal to that a 55-year-old man or woman so that they can come and enjoy a show too.”
The duo aims to craft songs in a heartfelt, moving way, and credits songwriting influences like Adam Hood and Travis Meadows. The final track, “Ginny,” is a perfect example of blending Nashville and Alabama writing styles, and was actually the first song the duo wrote together. “It was the unintentional spark that started Muscadine Bloodline from the get go, so we really love that song and it is dear to our hearts,” they say. Clocking in at more than 5 minutes long, the sad, slow ballad pulls at your heart strings and is reminiscent of old-school country music.
The self-titled debut EP climbed the country charts, debuting at #4 then eventually grabbing the #1 spot. The duo recalls packing up their merchandise and loading up after a gig the night the EP was released, and being thrilled to watch the offering hit the top spot. To catch Muscadine Bloodline live, check out their list of gigs here. (Nashvillians – be sure to attend their show at Exit/In on Friday, March 3.)