When people like what you’re doing, it’s always a good feeling, says Storyville lead singer Malford Milligan. “Like Peter Gabriel said, ‘I love to be loved,’ especially in an industry like this.”
Milligan is enjoying an outpouring of support from Atlantic and its subsidiary, Code Blue, for the Austin, Texas-based rock ‘n’ soul band’s major-label debut album, “A Piece of Your Soul” (due July 16).
“People at Atlantic and other labels get inundated by tons of artists on a regular basis,” Milligan said during a recent stop in New York, where Storyville opened for Joe Ely at Tramps. “So it’s nice to meet them on a person level. One of the reasons I got into the business was because of the ‘love you’ thing, and hopefully we’re giving them all something they really dig.”
It’s a long way from 1994 when Storyville’s first album, “The Bluest Eyes,” was released on November Records. The band, which features Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble rhythm section (drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon), received six Austin Music Awards in 1995, but November folded shortly thereafter.
Milligan says he had too much faith in the group to let that get him down.
“I really felt that we were going to be signed to a label deal and get a chance to work,” he said. “I wasn’t discouraged at all. I know in November’s case, they worked their butts off. … It’s very hard for an independent to make it in this business.”
For “A Piece of Soul,” Milligan wanted to capture “an energetic sound on tape.”
“Our live shows are pretty energetic and really dynamic, and that’s what we were looking for,” he said. “No matter what the imaging is, it’s a flat sound and you have to make that thing live. And that’s what we tried to do, make it live.”
With Layton, Shannon and guitarists David Grissom and Dave Holt in his fold, Milligan pinches himself often.
“I’m so grateful to be a part of this thing, to do music, period,” he said, “because I was supposed to be a sociology teacher by now and never dreamed I’d make a living at this.
“One of the things about sociology, it’s basically the study of groups of human beings – a group is defined as two or more – it presents you with a lot of society’s problems. Our songs, to a degree, are autobiographical. They have a piece of me in them, it’s a part of who I am.”
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