Milwaukee six-piece Buffalo Gospel will release its first full-length album "We Can Be Horses" on Saturday, July 27, at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn.
The strength of the record is the range of moods, from melancholy to foot stompin,’ as well as the lyrics.
Lead singer and guitarist Ryan Necci contributed the lyrics which are yearnful, vibrant and autobiographical. Milwaukee singer Heidi Spencer contributes beautiful, spot-on harmonies
The band also includes Ryan Ogburn on mandolin and guitar, Brian Wells on bass and Kyle Keegan on drums.
Recently, OnMilwaukee.com caught up with Necci and chatted with him about the new record, the Milwaukee songwriter’s scene and more.
OnMilwaukee.com: What bands were you in prior to Buffalo Gospel? Have you ever been a solo artist?
Ryan Necci: Most notably Fat Maw Rooney for about 10 years. It was an Allman Brothers-type blues rock band.
I've never been a professional solo artist. I write on my own but I've always enjoyed working with other musicians and the relationships and connections that can form when you create art with another person.
OMC: How is this record different from Buffalo Gospel's other recordings?
RN: The previous EPs were a lot more stripped down and acoustic. This still has those elements but we're definitely pushing into some different territories like bluegrass, rock and blues.
Some of the songs drive a lot more than the older ones. We didn't have the drums on the last EP and it's really nice to have Kyle back in the fold. He's a fantastic player and really adds a great deal to the band.
OMC: When and where did you record it? How long did it take?
RN: We recorded it this past winter at a studio Downtown on Water Street owned by Jeff Hamilton. We did the bulk of it in about three nights. Most of it was recorded live with the full band. Then over the course of the next month or so we added fiddle, pedal steel and some harmonies.
OMC: When did you start playing music?
RN: I started playing the drums at a young age and eventually that lead to hand percussion. That's how I joined Fat Maw Rooney and somehow I ended up singing lead in that group. I started writing with them which also lead to me spending a lot of time writing on my own.
That's sort of where this project was born. It started as a lot of the material that didn't fit with Fat Maw Rooney but I didn't want to just let it sit around because it felt the most natural in terms of my writing. When we broke up, it only seemed natural to try and do something with all the songs I had lying around. I just never really thought it would turn into a full band. But I'm not complaining.
OMC: Where do you live in Milwaukee? What else do you do when not making music?
RN: I live on the West Side by the stadium. I spend my free time with my dogs, Ernie and Jake, and fixing up my house. I'm kind of a homebody, but I do like to get outside as much as possible.
OMC: What are your thoughts, in general, on the Milwaukee music scene?
RN: I think it's very strong, especially the songwriting. I'm a huge fan of some of the groups writing music in the area. (Field Report's) Chris Porterfield is on a different level, in my opinion. I could go on and on about his writing. Heidi's band (Heidi Spencer and the Rare Birds) is great. I was a big fan of hers before she joined the band so sometimes I have to pinch myself when we're singing together.
Juniper Tar, those guys are really great. Wolfgang Schaefer is another writer I really enjoy. I love We Are Your Father. Those guys are beasts.
Jonathan Burks is opening up the night at our album release show and he's just awesome. Can't wait to hear his set. There are just a lot of great songwriters and great bands around here. We're very lucky.
OMC: What musicians / bands have inspired you the most in your life? What about lately?
RN: I grew up listening to John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, Lyle Lovett, Hank Williams, Emmylou Harris – my dad has great taste. I was being educated and I don't think I even knew it at the time.
There are a lot of modern things that I really dig. Megafaun is amazing. I mentioned Field Report. I listen to a pretty random list of things. Jeff Buckley into Doc Watson into Aretha Franklin. Doesn't matter. It just has to be good.
OMC: Did you learn anything notable making this record?
RN: In the past, I've always written stories about other people or events. I've always kept my own life at arm's length. This record ended up being very autobiographical which has never really been something I've been comfortable with.
It's been a heavy couple of years for me and I learned a lot about putting those situations into words and boiling things down to their simplest terms. That's why I think people seem to be able to relate to the songs. They're personal but still abstract enough that the listener can take something away from it and make the song their own.
Editing is incredibly important to me when I write. Making sure the rhythm of the words is perfect in my head. It can take a while but I think the work is worth it.
OMC: Do you write all of the lyrics?
RN: Yes. The band took my sketches and added their musical expertise. They're all fantastic musicians. I'm a very lucky songwriter.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.