9 Lives

9 Lives

An “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality works well for some artists, but Koe Wetzel likes to take things apart. On his follow-up to 2022’s Hell Paso, the cult-favorite singer-songwriter finds fresh sounds with a new collaborator, tapping Gabe Simon (Noah Kahan, Zach Bryan) to produce a genre-bending album that’s also his most fun and freewheeling. “There’s different layers to who I am as a musician, as an artist, and I wanted people to see that from this record,” Wetzel says. “So, if they can come away from listening to the entire record, not just picking a couple songs apart and having their idea of it, [but] listening to the whole record and be like, ‘OK, now we get it a little bit more. Maybe he is a decent artist, a decent musician.’” “Decent” is an understatement, as Wetzel’s deep, rich voice and refreshingly cliché-averse songwriting make for some of the more interesting tunes coming out of the country genre. Highlights on 9 Lives include the title track, with its stomping beat and an irresistible chorus hook, as well as “Leigh,” a clever, humorous tip of the hat to a popular variation on women’s names. Up-and-comer Jessie Murph lends her swagger to “High Road.” Wetzel includes two covers on the album, both from late artists: the hip-hop wunderkind XXXTENTACION’s “Depression & Obsession,” and beloved country singer-songwriter Keith Gattis’ “Reconsider.” Below, Wetzel breaks down several key tracks. “Leigh” “We had a list of names, probably 30 names, and it was like, ‘This would be really cool to write this song.’ And I think we started off as a joke, and then, once we got kind of into it, we were like, ‘This kind of slaps.’ I was like, ‘People are going to take this the wrong way. These girls are going to take all this stuff the wrong way.’ It was a fun song for us to make. And yeah, it’s kind of a diverse song. It kind of has its ups and downs, but it’s a fun song.” “High Road” (feat. Jessie Murph) “We went back on a past relationship that I had had a while back. And we just deep-dove into every detail of what would happen whenever we’d fight. And I would go back on past experiences of a certain fight or how I would react to it. Sometimes, I would be there. I’d be like, ‘Hey, if we’re going to do it, we’re going to lay it out there. Let’s do it.’ And then other times, I’d be like, ‘You know what? I’m going to let you chill out, and then I’m out of here.’ So, I don’t know. We just went around and around and nailed out all the details. And then this was another song that pretty much wrote itself pretty quick.” “Reconsider” I hope that I did the song justice, but rest in peace to Keith [Gattis] and to Charlie [Robison]. I’m a little upset that I never got to see [Gattis] while he was around. The influence that he had on so many artists in Texas and in Nashville and just country music in general, it’s crazy and it’s beautiful. I sent the song to Wade Bowen, and [Gattis] and Wade were really good friends. He left me a voicemail, and he was like, ‘Dude, I’m happy and I’m sad and I’m crying.’ He was like, ‘Dude, the song, it’s phenomenal. You killed it.’ Hopefully I did the song justice, but I just wanted to throw a little ode to Keith Gattis and Charlie for the record.” “Last Outlaw Alive” “[An] outlaw, for me, is people who blaze their own trail and [are] not going by the norm, not confined into what people think they should be or what music thinks artists should be, just doing your own thing and not giving a shit what anybody thinks about it. So, if we’re going to use it like that, then there’s a shit ton of outlaws in this genre, and just music in general. But yeah, there’s a lot of them around. I think it’s only, with the way social media and everything’s going right now, I think we’re in for a lot more of them to pop up.”

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