Proof positive that the Austin music scene continues to churn breakout acts, What Made Milwaukee Famous have been busy: in the last few years the band has signed a deal with Barsuk, opened shows for the Arcade Fire and the Black Keys, played ACL and Lollapalooza, and made time to create their sophomore effort What Doesn’t Kill Us. Recently, Yelp’s own Kevin N caught up with lead singer Michael Kingcaid on the eve of their visit to Austin City Limits Fest this week.
Kevin N: So you guys have come a long way since the first time I caught a set of yours at the late, great Tambaleo (remember Tambaleo?). How have things changed for you in the past few years?
Michael Kingcaid – geez! Tambaleo. That was forever ago. Quite a bit has changed since then. We’ve got a new drummer, another guitar player, another album (and a half). And we barely fit on that size stage anymore, though we still end up playing on that size stage from time to time on tour. We’ve since been lucky enough to upgrade to a few bigger venues here in Austin, like Stubb’s outside and La Zona Rosa. Room to move!
KN: Ok, I’m sure you get this question all the time, but…it’s *beer*, isn’t it? It sure seems like beer made Milwaukee famous. Here in Austin , where do you go to find your favorite brew?
MK – Technically, yeah, it’s beer I guess. But this year, it’s George Carlin. I, myself, am not much of a beer drinker. Makers (rocks) is my drink. And the Belmont’s the place.
KN: Obviously you can’t interview a local band and not ask about the music venues around town. Do you have some places that you prefer to play? Any place that you don’t often perform that you enjoy catching shows?
MK – well, we love playing Stubb’s outdoors when we get the chance to. And Emo’s is always an experience in and of itself. We’d love to eventually play the Austin Music Hall. Hopefully, that’s around the corner sometime soon. The Parish is also a great room.
KN: My guess is that the tough part of touring is that some of the places you love aren’t readily accessible. When you’re on the road, what are the places you miss most at home?
MK – umm…. my bed. And Polvo’s margaritas. Most of all, I guess, it’s the Mexican food. Initially (after several bad Mexican food experiences on the road), we vowed to never have Mexican food above the Mason Dixon line. But we’ve since had some atrocious, sorry excuses for Mexican “meals” in the last couple of years in other states (Omaha and your dumpling enchiladas and Julio Verdes! We’re looking in your direction! A Julio Verde is kind of like an Orange Julius. But green. And a lot more gross), so we don’t even mess with Mexican food anywhere except for Austin. We’ve got enough great places here to make up for all the places that the rest of the US lacks (POLVO’S!!!, Guero’s, Torchy’s, Matt’s). And I often miss Waterloo. And KUT.
KN: What’s one thing people should know about the new album?
MK – that they need it. And even if they don’t like all of it (which they should), they’ll like SOMETHING on it.