Macon Greyson – It’s a Name About Ray
Macon Greyson was born in the Wylie Lama’s head in late 1999. “We were finishing the first record, which Ray Wylie Hubbard produced, but I didn’t have a band or anything,” says frontman Buddy Huffman. “I wanted an album I could put a band together and play behind, so I asked Ray what he thought about band names. Almost without thinking he said, ‘How ’bout Macon Greyson’. It sounded cool. I asked him what it meant and he said, ‘Nothin’, I just made it up.'”
Huffman credits Hubbard with not only naming the band — which has grown into more of an actual band in the years leading up to Macon Greyson’s new disc 20th Century Accidents — but also helping to shape its musical identity. “The original sound was very much a product of Ray’s vision,” he says. “I was a tiny little insignificant Dallas songwriter and Ray just liked what I was doing.”
Early on, the band was perceived as part of the so-called “Texas music” posse of roots acts ranging from Pat Green to Cory Morrow to Kevin Fowler. “At the time, it was a badge of honor,” Huffman says. “Everyone down here was defying the Nashville way. We embraced that, the whole legacy of Willie and Waylon and contemporaries like Robert Keen, Lyle Lovett, Old 97’s who were elegantly and vigorously responding to bad commercial country music.”
During the recording of the band’s 2002 disc Uneasy, Huffman noticed their shows seemed to be getting louder. “When we started writing songs together as a band, we gravitated toward more of a rock sound,” he says. “We’d started with more of a country sound, grew out from there, and eventually realized we were going to be both rock and country.
“If you look at the bands that originally defined alt-country, I think you find they were mostly just fairly logical extensions of the rock ‘n’ roll bands from the ’70s, when it was commercially viable to put country and rock on the same album. For better or worse, that’s us right now.”
20th Century Accidents features big guitars and ’70s influences galore and was recorded with Salim Nourallah, a much-in-demand Dallas producer.
“I’d heard of Salim, seen his name mentioned in articles,” Huffman says. “He’d produced some really good records, worked with Old 97’s, Kristy Kruger, the Damnwells and others. So I went by his studio and talked to him, and it was one of the best conversations about music I’ve ever had. Not about Macon Greyson, but about music. Near the end, he brought up our band and said we sounded like a misplaced ’70s rock band. The second he said that, I knew we’d found the guy.”
While the new record has what Huffman describes as “a few love songs and shit like that,” there is a plethora of stinging social criticism and rant. The punkish blast of songs such as “Black Light” and “Minnesota Weather Map” rage against everything from the smug downtown urban professional set to the erosion of the middle class. Perhaps no lyric on the record hits harder than “Time”, with its sly indictment: “Don’t look now, they’re keeping score/They’ll give you God if you give them more/Just leave your wallets at the door/Heads of state confessing sins/To priests with cookie jars.”
Huffman, who has a Ph.D. but quit his job as a cancer researcher to give full attention to the band, says, “Organized religion and politics is the same thing these days. We did not set out to make a political record, and I don’t think we did. We don’t have any agenda and aren’t suggesting we know the answers, but we do know something is terribly wrong and that hypocrites are leading our society and controlling our national conscience. We’re just a rock band, but somebody’s got to say something.”