Austin 101’s Conversation with 49 Winchester

by S. Pulse

We got the chance to chat with Isaac Gibson, lead singer of 49 Winchester during Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion festival last week. The band played a great set in the quaint chapel that holds approximately 49 people (such a fun coincidence) and had a line out the door to try to get in. Check out all our photos of the band and Luck on Austin 101.

AUSTIN 101: Like other Luck Reunion attendees, we’re new listeners of 49 Winchester. We were intrigued by your self-described “Appalachian Soul” music and thankful that we found your music. It’s our new favorite fusion flavor. Our readers want to know if it’s true that you are the offspring of Bill Withers and Loretta Lynn? No really, your voice is that of a soul singer and somehow it blends perfectly with a blue grass sensibility. How did your brand of Appalachian Soul come into existence?

GIBSON: I think our sound really just comes from the fact that we all like such different music. We’re not in a band together because we all love exactly the same kind of music and wanna make something that sounds like that kind of music. We are all able to let influences from different places peak out. We never wanted to put a label on anything we did. It’s been about making the music that resonates with us from day one. And it winds up sounding like 49.

Fans get a peek at Luck Reunion Chapel stage

AUSTIN 101: One of our favorite songs is “Hays, KS” which seems to be a testament to the fact that sometimes you have to go into the middle of nowhere to find yourself. Is that based on an authentic experience?

GIBSON: Yes, I had a rough night in Hays, once upon a time — in some distant past that feels like forever ago. It’s just one of those moody breakup songs that every young writer has, but that song is still one of my favorites that I’ve written to date. And it’s still a fan favorite, so I’m glad it still resonates.

AUSTIN 101: Your newest single the homesick ballad “Russell County Line” along with your heart-bending “Everlasting Lover” both describe the pain of longing for home while on the road. How do you manage to keep your sanity on the road, particularly as the chaos of touring intensifies?

GIBSON: You have to love it. It’s not for everybody, that’s for sure. I love being home. I’m never out and about outside of my music. I stay right here in my little pocket of Appalachia. But the adrenaline rush of a crowd being locked in, present, and in the moment because of the art that you’ve worked so hard to cultivate is unreal. There is no feeling like it. And as we’ve grown, that feeling has only ever grown, so I think chasing that is what keeps touring from being monotonous and maddening as it can sometimes seem.

AUSTIN 101:With such a unique sound, your fans must run the gamut from country to rock to Americana. Having such a broad appeal, is there a common thread to your 49 Winchester listeners? How would you describe that commonality?

GIBSON: Our genre bending has always allowed us to appeal to a wider range of people, and that’s one of my favorite things about our sound. People who love southern rock, country, soul, rhythm and blues, they all will dig a 49 show. That’s something we’re very aware of and very proud of. It’s a testament to staying the course and making the music you want to make instead of trying to fit into some mold. Our demographic is anybody that wants to hear something real and purposeful and energetic and passionate.

AUSTIN 101: Receiving an invite to the Luck Reunion is, in a way, an anointment of your band signaling that your star is rising. That kind of recognition can lead to collaboration and touring opportunities. Who are some of the artists that you would like to work with one day?

GIBSON: We got to meet so many great artists and see so much great music this year at Luck. Even got to finally see Lucero, which was special for me because no band has contributed more to the soundtrack of my life than them. I’ve said Ben Nichols is a hero of mine in interviews for years. Lucero’s music helped me get through a really hard time in my life, and their influence on me and my writing and guitar playing, shaped a big part of 49’s sound.

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