Photography: Glenn Hall

Great Western Kentucky-based band The Savage Radley talks to C&I about their new album, Kudzu.

Composed of Kentucky-raised songwriter Shaina Goodman and former punk drummer Stephen Montgomery, The Savage Radley have taken elements of their musical past and created a genre-defying new album, Kudzu. On it, their harmonious folk-country sound animated by Goodman’s mystical voice makes for a unique musical experience.

Breakout songs include the whimsical “Milk and Honey,” the punk-guitar-heavy “Gone,” and the twangy tavern-piano-driven “Slough Water.”

Recently, C&I asked The Savage Radley about their newest album, their distinctive sound, and where they plan to take their music in the future.

Cowboys & Indians: Your debut album, Kudzu, is amazing. What part of the album are you most excited to share with the world?
The Savage Radley: The whole thing!

C&I: Shaina, you grew up in Kentucky, and that environment has a heavy influence on the theme of Kudzu. What experiences from your upbringing did you draw from?
Shaina Goodman: Well, I lived in a little river town and was raised in a farming family. We went to church three times a week, and the voices I was exposed to were my rock stars as a child. It’s where I learned the importance of melody and harmonies.

I think there are two types of people who spawn from that kind of environment: those who want to find a way out, and those who are trying to find a way to stay. I’m always drawing from the feeling of being all that in one person. For many reasons I can’t live in the place I long for, not right now anyways. Small-town Southern culture often gets a bad reputation, or one that has been clothed in skewed nostalgia. It would take a million albums to talk about everything in between those two things — one down for me.

C&I: Stephen, you played punk for a really long time. How did you get involved with The Savage Radley and what was it like to switch gears from punk? How does your punk background influence the percussion sounds?
Stephen Montgomery: I got involved in The Savage Radley by being asked, basically. Shaina played me some demos of “Milk and Honey,” “Little River Town,” “Blood Money,” and another song that didn’t make the record, “Supertramp.” The songs were already a lot more realized than what I was used to playing. I liked to play loud and fast, and throw in as many fills as possible, and I had to learn to just sit back in the groove and let the songs speak for themselves. The spirit of punk is very much doing things on your own terms, and that influence carries over.

C&I: What is your writing process like? Do you start with a melody or lyrics first? And what was memorable about taking this particular project from concept to full album?
Goodman: I don’t have a particular writing method. I do firmly believe that a song will go about its business — meaning to never look at something as not done. If it sticks around, you may have needed that stray cat in your life. Give it a little food and let it know it’s welcome.

C&I: What song are you most proud of and why?
Goodman: Each song has its own special place in our hearts, but “Slough Water” was a track we never expected to show up on this record. It was written back in 2011 and we hadn’t revisited the track until a few weeks before heading in to record Kudzu. It’s like a secular hymn, which we feel stylistically encompasses a large part of who we are and our sound as a whole.

C&I: What does your tour schedule look like? What specific places are you excited to perform in?
The Savage Radley: We are the worst tour bookers in the world. Call us.

C&I: Are there any songs that didn't make the album that we can expect to be released in the near future?
The Savage Radley: “Near future” is a funny term. We’ve been working on a lot of new material and hope to hit the studio this fall.

For more information on The Savage Radley, their newest album, Kudzu, and upcoming events, visit their website.