We’ve all had the thought while staring out of an office, or similar, window; what if I just quit today and go all in on my passion? Rarely does one follow through and even rarer to such an effect as songwriter Brennan Mackey has done with his moniker turned full fledged band, King Cardinal.
“I moved to Denver on a whim,” shares Mackey. “I’d been living in Chicago, working a finance job that I didn’t love, and I knew exactly what the rest of my life would look like if I stayed there. I decided I wanted to throw everything up in the air and see where it landed.”
That sense of artistic freedom can be felt all throughout King Cardinal’s debut album, Great Lakes, as the band draws from a natural palette, painting vivid sonic portraits with elements of folk, roots rock and cosmic country. Today, Impose Magazine is happy to host the exclusive premiere of the LP’s latest single, “Metronome.”
The track rides a steady stomp pace as a lap steel guitar streaks across like a fading sunset. Mackey’s approach to melody makes for an enveloping listen perfect for those stare-off-into-the-distance moments. Preferably, on a porch, beverage of choice close by.
“The song is about dysfunctional people in a functional relationship,” Mackey details. “Two people that really make each other whole and take care of each other even though they individually have their own problems.”
Stream “Metronome” and check out a short interview with Mackey below.
King Cardinal’s Great Lakes is out September 29th. Pre-orders are ongoing here.
Brennan, not many people leave a finance job to pursue a career in music. What do you think your biggest takeaway is from that transition?
I had gotten a degree in Finance and found a job in that field because that was what was expected of me. I was raised believe that there was a track that you follow. If you stick to it you’ll come out of it with a career, a house, a family, and retirement.
I graduated right when the recession hit and that threw that idea right out the window. Everyone was holding onto their jobs, scared that they could lose it at any moment. I realized that I was unhappy and not making very much money.
Why I’m scared of losing this? I could be happy making just as much money bartending and playing music. The biggest takeaway from that time period was it’s important to take control of your own life and not rely on other people.
Is it what you expected when you began your pursuit?
I didn’t know what to expect! I still don’t know what to expect and I think that’s the most exciting part of it. When I was working out of college there was a pretty clear direction that my life (and all of my friends lives) was heading. There’s some beauty in the unknown.
Was music a huge part of your life before you took the plunge, so to speak?
Music was always a part of my life. Sometimes it was more prominent than others. I’ve played guitar since I was a kid, but songwriting came late in life to me. At 24, I found that outlet and everything started clicking.
Where does your band name come from? What does it mean?
The project started out as a solo act. I wanted something that was a little ambiguous about whether it was one person or a full band. It’s an amalgamation of a few names that I had bouncing around. I’m glad I chose it now that it’s become a full band effort. It was a smooth and natural progression to what the band is now.
What are your most inspired musical influences?
Bon Iver and The Band are my biggest influences. I don’t know if we wear our influences on our sleeves but I think you can hear it in some of the songs.
Upcoming King Cardinal tour dates:
Aug 12 – Denver, CO – Globe Hall
Aug 13 – Fort Collins, CO – NewWestFest
Aug 14 – Omaha, NE – The Down Under Lounge
Aug 15 – Brookings, SD – The Pheasant
Aug 17 – Madison, WI – The Frequency
Aug 18 – Milwaukee, WI – Company Brewing
Aug 19 – Chicago, IL – Quenchers