Brad Paisley has a new support act. In addition to The Band Perry on the European section of his Virtual Reality Tour this November, UK-born 6-piece McKay will be making their mark in Sweden, Norway and Ireland. One of their members, Tim McKay, has been working on the UK Country scene for some time and has picked up some nice album sales and a few awards for his efforts. During an interview with me, Tim told me that he “left school in 2007 and went straight on the road. I’ve done excessive gigging for four years now. In 2008 I won British country music entertainer of the year. I won this same award again in 2009. 2010 saw me represent the UK in Nashville TN. I am the current International country music artist in Europe. I also won this award in 2010.” Some credentials!
However, the band formed when they met on a Dolly Parton tribute theatre tour of the UK in 2009, and in 2010 played a few of the outdoor country music festivals. Tim says they received “such an amazing response, we began to discuss a future for ourselves”, and that “there’s no better feeling than sharing the stage with your best friends”. These best friends consist of 3 brothers (2 of them are twins) out of 6, and they’re very organised. Tim is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist, Nick is the drummer, Arthur plays keyboard and provides vocals, Milo is on bass and vocals, Henry is the lead guitarist and sings back-up and Jack also plays guitar and sings. Sounds so complicated and yet it obviously works very well.
Musically, they’re inspired by Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town, Keith Urban and Brad Paisley and Tim describes their sound as “contemporary country with that pop/rock crossover kind of feel but also keeping the country sound with our strong 4 part harmonies”. They believe that there has been a huge upsurge in the UK for country music, but also that there is a gap in the market for UK country success in Nashville, “Keith urban is the only successful international artist really. We want to break that trend. You can’t deny great songs and a great band. If you’re talented and have great songs then where you are from shouldn’t matter.”
As for the tour, they’ve been struggling to keep it a secret. “Since we’ve released the news it’s been mental!! We’ve known for several months so that’s been the hardest part. Keeping it a secret.” But they haven’t been preparing too much. “We’re a band that doesn’t like to over rehearse so we have been actually taking it steady. The production part of our show has had special treatment because the set up of this tour is huge. We’re shooting some video footage for the screens that will be up in the arenas. It’s all very exciting. Makes us feel like our dreams have come true.” As for pranking, they’re ready for anything Brad throws at them, and have already considered hiding all his guitars as possible revenge!
Music isn’t all there is to them however as Tim told me they are all huge animal lovers. “Nick has half a dozen cats. The brothers have the smallest kitten I’ve ever seen called Buster, and I have a Westie dog called Alfie.” So cute!
They sound like great guys with some great music, so I also reviewed five of McKay’s songs so you have a starting point as to what to listen to.
CLICK READ MORE to see the reviews
Goodbye Would Go: This is a great upbeat number that wouldn’t sound out of place on country radio, leaning towards the rockier aspects of mainstream country such as Luke Bryan, with electric guitars, a big drum sound, and in parts an organ synth that really adds an extra element to the second verse, and builds up the excitement. The use of vocal harmonies is great and the lyrics are about the end of a relationship, where the narrator expects saying goodbye would have the effect of ‘credits rolling’ and a ‘dramatic scene, like you see on the silver screen’, but instead there was no fallout, and at the beginning of the chorus he complains ‘I don’t even think I saw her cry’. This turns the classic break-up song on its head and is one sure to get fans dancing and waving their arms at their live shows.
What If You’re Wrong: This has an infectious beat created by short, punchy strums on the lead guitar Something I’ve noticed about their music is that due to the amount of guitars used there’s room for a lot of short sections of sounds and few-second melodies thrown in to boost the production and make the music sound more interesting, and it’s very effective. It makes for a far more professional sound than you’d expect from an unsigned band. As for the lyrics, it depicts the narrator discussing the possible end to a relationship, saying that maybe his partner is right that it should end, but also asking “what if you’re wrong, what if I’m right for you? What if you’ll never find anyone who loves you like I do?” This is another radio-friendly tune with a kicking guitar solo.
Imperfections: This is a ballad that includes an acoustic guitar to soften the sound a little, but still with a big punchy chorus and a toney guitar line that pierces through the rest of the mix, with use of the synthed organ mentioned earlier. The song kicks up a notch leading into the final chorus with couplets of sharp drum beats creating energy and drama and then a drum fill to really emphasize that, before dropping down again for the fade-out. The song is a sweet ode to the ‘imperfect’ love he shares with his girlfriend, and he argues that it’s their individual imperfections and ‘missing pieces’ that give them such a great connection.
Heart Wide Open: Another ballad, this song falls in line with country’s habit of putting girls up on a pedestal as angels, describing a girl who’ll push you out if you hurt her, but will give you everything if you love her and leave her ‘heart wide open’. Easy to sing along to, acoustic guitar and piano begin this track, and a kind of synthed version of steel guitar, before it builds right up to the blueprint McKay big chorus, lots of vocal harmonies and electric guitar. A surprise, however, are the strings that briefly make their appearance on the bridge, that add something special to the song, although they would have benefited from letting them play on a bit longer. Overall a nice track.
Feels Like Home: This has a bluesy, southern rock vibe, which makes full use of punchy guitar riffs that you just have to dance to, and that synthed organ makes a much more prominent appearance. This will definitely rock the European shows, with trademark catchy choruses and an electric guitar solo. It’s short and sweet at 2:55, a love song that claims ‘no matter where I go, your love feels like home’. Very feel-good and great for summer.
Fans can download these songs and several more from most music download sites, from the album ‘Chasing Dreams’ under the name Tim McKay. Fans can also purchase a hard copy from http://timmckay.co.uk, and the band are currently in talks with a production company and a record label about a brand new album. Looks like it won’t be long until we’ll be hearing McKay on the radio!
CMTT Music Contributor
For my blog that examines issues in country music and responds to the latest news with my opinion, go to forthecountryrecord.tumblr.com. For ranting, funny retweets and all round silliness, follow me on Twitter @planmymistake