Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz have been performing together as Mandolin Orange since 2009, when the self-taught Marlin (who is the duo’s lead guitarist and vocalist) and Frantz (fiddle, harmonies, and rhythm guitar) discovered that they were stronger musicians together. Since then, the North Carolina-based duo have released two full-length albums that capitalize their talents for blending bluegrass and old-fashioned country with delicate lyrics and a new-fashioned taste for emotion and harmony.
In support of their recent sophomore double album, Haste Make/Hard Hearted Stranger, Mandolin Orange have been touring pretty much relentlessly since the release in November 2011. The duo will be sharing their sound with Minneapolis on Thursday night, July 5, at a free
outdoor indoor, air-conditioned show at the Cedar Cultural Center. Cake in 15 caught up with Andrew Marlin to chat about the North Carolina music scene and what’s next for the band.
So, Haste Make/Hard Hearted Stranger was released in November 2011. Catch me up on what Mandolin Orange has been up to since the release.
Well, we’ve been touring a lot. We made our way up the East Coast to support the record and we’ve just playing a bunch of shows… we haven’t really been home since March.
I just watched the live recording you made of one of your new songs, “House Of Stone.” New album in the works?
Yes. We’re going to the studio at the end of July to start working on a new record, so we’re really excited for all the new material. If we’re gonna release a new record next year, we really need to get to work. I think we go back in the studio July 27.
When have you been writing? Any particular subjects inspiring you this time around?
We’ve been doing a lot of writing on the road. The new stuff is kind of a closet thing, kind of hinting at religion in a questionable way… back in August, I fell out of a moving van, and it shook me up, kind of made me question my own mortality a little bit and reflect on that.
I see. What was the motivation for your summer tour?
We’re still trying to support the record. We just love being out on the road and seeing all these different cities, and we know that to keep doing this we need to keep going. We’d rather be on the road than not.
Are you guys touring as just a duo, or with a full band? What was the decision surrounding that?
It’s been a mix so far. We haven’t been with a band for most of it. We have Josh Oliver on guitar and keys, so we’ve been doing a three-piece for some of it.
You’re based out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and you have a gorgeous sound that is really on par with some music coming out of North Carolina right now—I’m thinking of Delta Rae specifically, a band that’s getting a lot of attention at the moment. Bluegrass and folk is pretty big in the Midwest and Minneapolis in particular—we’re crazy about our Trampled by Turtles, the Pines, etc. Tell me about the music scene in North Carolina.
There is a great music scene here. Everybody we hang out with plays. It’s a great creative environment. Especially with as much travelling as we do, we love it here. It’s nice to have a small town to come home to filled with great friends. The North Carolina scene is just a really supportive scene. It’s not a really competitive vibe. I think folk music lends to playing with people and not excluding people; this music kind of lends itself to being inclusive. I think it’s a great place to grow musically because you don’t have to feel the weight of somebody bigger than you. You kind of get the support of people who have been where you are and are beyond that point.
You’re playing a free outdoor show at the Cedar Cultural Center next week. Have you ever played Minneapolis before? What was the motivation for the free show? What are you most looking forward to about coming to our city?
This is our first time in Minneapolis, the first time in the Midwest. We’re nervous… I don’t know what to expect. I’ve heard it’s a good scene. I hope to play for a good crowd that’s excited to hear our music.
Mandolin Orange will be playing a free show on the Cedar Cultural Center’s
outdoor patio indoor, air-conditioned stage TONIGHT – Thursday, July 5, at 7 p.m.