Statesman – The Gourds discover new joy in recording “Old Mad Joy”

Songwriters Kevin Russell and Jimmy Smith of Austin band the Gourds weren’t on the same page when they started talking about recording a new album.

Russell wanted to leave Texas — and all the distractions of everyday life — and work with an outside producer.

“I felt we kept making the same record,” Russell says of the band’s self-produced efforts. “It wasn’t a bad record, the songs were good, it was just starting to feel a little old to me.”

His solution: Leave Austin for the frosty confines of Woodstock, N.Y., where they could record in former Band drummer Levon Helm’s studio with musician and producer Larry Campbell, who made his mark with Bob Dylan during his “Love and Theft” period.

“When we make a record here, we make the record in between our lives, it’s hard to really focus on it,” Russell says.

Life was exactly what was happening with Smith, however. His wife was pregnant and he wasn’t crazy about leaving town. “I just didn’t feel the urgency to leave my wife in Texas when we could have used any studio in Austin and I could have stayed at home,” Smith says.

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