Magee Payne

Magee Payne didn’t take the most routine route to becoming a musician. Hailing from Ft. Worth and attending Texas A&M on a rugby scholarship isn’t the most likely of ways to break into the music business but Magee has done just that. After releasing two albums, Magee has rightly taken his place among the Aggie songwriting elite. Find out more about Magee and his roots rockin’ band in this edition of 20 Questions.

1. What’s new with Magee Payne?
We are playing with Hal Ketchum next week (7/28/04) which will be cool, and just plugging away with the new record trying to stay a float.

2. You booked your first gig because a buddy of yours bet you that you couldn’t do it. What’s the craziest dare or bet you’ve ever taken someone up on?
I can’t remember anything specific, but I’m sure it had to do with streaking or just being naked somewhere public. Oh yes…now it’s coming back! (laughs)

3. Name association:
-Jack Ingram Ford trucks
-Cory Morrow Naked
-Mark David Manders Booze
-Dub Miller Aggie
-Roger Creager Everclear
-Peter Dawson 1500 Woodland
-Tommy Alverson Texas Women
-Doug Moreland Chainsaw
-Willy Braun Complete Badass

4. On your last album “Giving up the Ghost”, you recorded a cover of Gram Parsons “Return of the Grievous Angel”. How’d you decide to do that? And have you ever gotten drunk and told your friends to do something weird to your body if you overdose in the middle of a desert?
Well I love Gram to start with, then I heard a version done by Ryan Adams and Emmylou Harris and thought it was awesome. I haven’t taken any precautions yet to tell my friends on what to do with my body after I OD, mainly because my drug of choice tends to be brewed here in Fort Worth. I will get back to you if I ever decide to start tracking my arms!

5. You also have a song called “Drift off to Dream”. Any people shown up to your shows wearing brushpoppers and expecting to hear a Travis Tritt tune?
Not that I know of…Most Travis Tritt fans don’t come to our shows in general.

6. Over the last couple years, you’ve had a big shift in personnel within your band. Tell us about your new players.
They kick ass. Gerald and Mark are such a great contribution to the band and Chris and I are tickled to death that they are with us. We took them out of the rock scene in Houston just to try to do something different with our sound, and it appears to be working.

7. Favorite touring memory of the following towns/clubs.
Austin – Falling over in my chair while talking to Pat Green after I played a Matt Powell benefit
Houston – After our 2nd show ever riding home in the bed of the truck passed out after 30 something jack and cokes. That show was with Manders by the way.
Ft. Worth – Getting the finger from a 75 year lady for not playing a song she requested. Hell, I didn’t know the damn song!
Dallas – Wondering if my truck was going to be in the parking lot after a Poor David’s show. Great bar, but sometimes the locals like to steal.
Waco – Some skinhead with a barcode tattooed on his neck TELLING me to play a Pat Green song. Wishing now that we had some of those Travis Tritt fans.
Lubbock – The KoKo Inn “boogie” mirror.
Woody’s – Watching some chic piss in the corner of our stage thinking it was a bathroom while we were playing. Yes, she walked up on stage, through the band members and tried to open the fake curtain behind the drum kit. People love to party to our music!
Firehouse – Fake boobs, and just boobs in general.
River Road Icehouse – The only place i drink when we play. Need I say more?
Wormy Dog – Hanging from the rafters with Ragweed to chug a beer for my initiation to the bar.

8. Your music, more so, than a lot of the other guys in the scene has heavy influences from alt-country acts like Ryan Adams, Gram Parsons,Wilco, etc. Who are some of your favorite artists?
You named them right there, just add a little Jay Farrar and that pretty much sums it up

9. Related to the last question, who’s a band/artist you’d like to work with that you haven’t yet? And who is a band/artist from the past that you’d like to work with? Why?
Ryan is my absolute favorite, so working with him would be awesome. From the past- it would have to be Gram, I mean why not? Mystery surrounds his thought and creativity and just everything about that would be amazing to witness and experience first hand.

10. Stories behind the following songs you’ve recorded:
Leaving Home – This song tells the story of leaving Ft. Worth and going off to college

God Don’t Cry – My friend John Rabb and I decided to write a very cliche song….and God Don’t Cry came into existence.

Cigs N Rain – This is a song about being on the road.

Headin’ South – The repetitive drives to and from Ft.. Worth to College Station the summer before my freshman year, and waking up to a girl and hangover in the second verse. Basically another song from the early days that I wrote about my day to day life.

Every Sip I Take – Lots of heartache guy + girl + the bottle = problem which turns into good song though.

Whiskey For Your Friend – This is a song I wrote about faith and hope and nothing really at all.

A Way Away From You – Song about heartache and trying to move on from a lost love.

Never Gonna Breathe – This is about a girl who doesn’t realize what she has but she will when he’s gone and when he’s famous.

Bottom of the Glass – This is one of those songs that comes to you after spending a week in the corner of your room with all the lights off listening to the most depressing song you can find at the time over and over and over again with a handle(s) of Jack Daniels. So basically another song about alcoholism and relationships and how the 2 don’t usually go well together.

11. If one were to just read the titles of your songs, you’d think they were just old school honky tonk drinkin’ songs. Which in fact is notentirely the case. To what do you attribute the depth and meaningfulness of your lyrics?
I consider myself more of a lyricist than a musician. so I take a lot of pride in what I write down, and I hope that it comes through in my songs

12. Of all the headlining bands you’ve shared the stage with who’s taken care of y’all the best? What venue treats y’all the best?
Probably Ragweed or Reckless Kelly. And we have the most fun with Micky and the Motorcars. Definitely Woody’s tavern in Ft. Worth takes care of us the best the 4th of July show at the Prime Outlets in Hillsboro did an awesome job as well keeping Drew Womack and us happy.

13. You played rugby for Texas A&M. How’d you get involved in that sport of all things? Ever broken anything while playing?
I started in high school playing on the Ft. Worth men’s team. The coach (of Ft. Worth) always watch me play football and said I should come out for his team, I always just laughed it off, but when I realized I could get a scholarship to A&M
for rugby- it was a whole other story.

14. You have quite a nice selection of merch for fans to choose from. Do you have a hand in designing the stuff?
Yes, we all put our little minds together and try to come up with stuff we think people will like…or ideas that we have had floating around for a while.

15. What’s the first song you learned to play on guitar? And do you play any other instruments aside from guitar?
Stairway to heaven of course and Eric Johnson’s Cliffs of Dover. I’m teaching myself piano at the moment and other than guitar that’s about it.

16. You’re from the long line of Texas singer/songwriters that also happen to be Aggies. How hard was it at those early gigs to get people to listen to your tunes and not scream “Play the ‘Front Porch Song’!!!” every five minutes?
Well that still happens, and I think it’s unavoidable until you’re big enough to tell them to shut up without risking the loss of your fanbase.

17. Least favorite part of the music business?
The Sunday drive, tired, and carrying the typical hangover. One of those days that you just want to be home, if someone masters the art of teleportation, I see a good market here.

18. Rapid fire:
-Is it futbol or soccer? Futbol
-Paper or plastic? Paper
-Clean-shaven or beard? Scruff, on the face that is.
-Best day job you’ve had? Never had a best
-Worst day job you’ve had? See above

19. Favorite George Strait song.
All of them really, but Baby Blue, Good at Goodbyes, Love Without End Amen, and one that Blaker wrote for him but I can’t remember the name.

20. Compare/contrast mainstream country music with the stuff you and your peers are making and even the whole No Depression type scene.
Well, it is different. I personally don’t categorize us in a country genre but more of a Roots rock/ Americana type. You know the ranting and raving is always gonna be going on, but the way I look at it is there is stuff that comes out of Nashville that I like and stuff that I don’t like. There is stuff that comes out of Texas that I like and stuff I don’t like, just like all sorts of music; some I like, others I don’t . And I know there are people that like our stuff and some that don’t. I say who cares what kind of music it is or where it came from, but if it sounds good to you then listen and that’s it. We aren’t really into that whole feuding thing, we just try to worry about the Magee Payne Band and what’s good and what’s right for us.

Brad Beheler

Raised in Waco, refined in the Hill Country, escaped from DFW. I've worked in just about every facet of the music business for 20 years. I like to write about it all. e-mail Brad Editor-in-Chief

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