Live & Direct with The Old 97's


Rhett Miller and Murry Hammond from the Old 97's perform live at WYEP on June 4th, 2014 and talk to Mike Sauter about their new album Most Messed Up.

“Longer Than You’ve Been Alive” is the kickoff to the band’s newest album Most Messed Up and is written directly from experience, Miller says. The song is one that he feels is special to musicians in particular, and some of Miller’s rock and roll friends thanked him for writing the song. As for the rest of the album, Miller says a lot of the material could be looked at as autobiographical.

Most of the material on Most Messed Up, however, is hardly radio friendly, but the bad language was a fun thing to throw in for a change. Miller said he wrote the song “Wasted” at a terrible, now closed club, but the theme of the song is pretty self-explanatory. “I was always worried about making sure everybody was happy and not crossing too many lines and doing the right thing, and this record I got to cross all the lines and do the wrong thing. It feels good.”

Miller also talks about a few points in his recent career as this Fall is the 20th anniversary of the band’s first album, but hardly does he get nostalgic, saying nostalgia is a “creativity killer.” “I like to be right now, right now — don’t think about the future don’t think about the past.” But with all the milestones coming in the band’s career, you can’t really avoid it, Miller says.

The album, Miller says, is just the guys “being a live rock and roll band.” The small things like a breath before or after a song are what make an album sound live. “Our record begins with a sort of tired breath from Rhett, a weary one, but it ends with kind of a satisfied breath,” Hammond says.

“In terms of being a possible musical,” Sauter says, “[Miller] is definitely embracing his messed up qualities.”

A few tracks on the album features Guns N’ Roses and Replacements member Tommy Stinson, and the hilarious way this happened, after a night of drinking, Miller said, was when he broke his elbow and couldn’t make it to a pre-production session, so they asked him to play rhythm guitar. “He did, and it sounded so great, and he was so much fun that we invited him down to Austin to be on the record.” One of Stinson’s most memorable moments on the album is his line at the very end of the track “Intervention” when he says “I got huggy bear’s wallet phone number.”

Miller and Hammond then talk about their longest-running producer to date Salim Nourallah who didn’t try to change anything about the band, but knew what was good about the band and just wanted them to do it. “We do like to do something different every single time, and with Salim we’re just like, ‘you know what, I could coast like this for a while,’” Hammond says. 

If the band got in a rut, “do it like The Clash,” Hammond said. It would break the creativity block. “Anytime [Hammond] would walk into the live room, he’d walk in the door, and we’d go ‘what, you want us to try it like The Clash?’”


Set list: 

Longer Than You've Been Alive


Big Brown Eyes

Let's Get Drunk and Get It On