Growing up in Seattle, David Miner listened to the kind of music you’d expect any teenager from Washington State’s largest city to listen to; Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana. Nothing that unusual about that.
But there was something else happening too. Waylon, Willie and other classic country names were always playing around the house, and in the end, that’s what got him hooked. He devoted his time to getting a deep education in country music history and understanding just what it was that made him feel the way he did. It was an undertaking that more than paid off.
His debut album, The Rules, appeared in 2019 and it seemed to share the same country spirit that Sam Outlaw’s Angeleno and Cale Tyson’s Careless Soul had a couple of years earlier. He followed it a year later with the more introverted Stand Your Ground, a cosy country record with a laid back late night feel that further proved that Miner was very much the real deal.
Now based in New Braunfels, Texas, Miner has been spreading the gospel of classic country any night of the week all over the western United States ever since. The 22-year-old closed out 2022 with his fourth album in as many years and it was the best one yet.
Where last year’s Silver Valley was a classic country reboot that felt as fresh and innovative as it did ageless, Heartache Songs only turned up the heat further. Adding a little bang to its twang, it’s honkier and tonkier and just more perfectly country in every way. Looking back to the golden age of country but adding a distinctly contemporary perspective, Miner has made a country party record with an incendiary punk spirit and we can’t get enough of it.
We sat down with him to talk about his influences and upbringing and making the new record.
Where are you from and how did that influence you?
I grew up in Seattle, Washington. It taught me to go against the grain and not to wait for anyone to give me a break. There is a big emphasis on individualism up there. It is apparent in the kind of music that comes out of the Pacific Northwest (grunge) as well as the people. Additionally, I spent some time in Northern Colorado, which added to my appreciation and infatuation with the American west and ignited my love for wide open spaces.
How would you describe your sound?
I would describe my sound simply as “country music”. I have a deep love for traditional country music and its history and try my best to honor it in the way I write and play. That means taking influence from bluegrass, rock n roll, blues, soul, honky tonk, and folk to name a few.
Tell us a little bit about making your album Heartache Songs?
Heartache Songs is the album I’ve always wanted to make. It’s a self-produced album but it is far from a solo project. What made this one possible was all the great people and players who contributed.
I’ve always wanted to make more traditional sounding country music and my limitations as a player and a writer in the past have kept me from doing that (it’s harder than you think!). I think two major factors that shaped this album are that most of these songs are deeply personal songs inspired by my own life and that I realized that up-tempo songs can still have meaningful lyrics.
Additionally, most of the songs on this album have been road tested by the same band that plays on the record (Skyler Thimens - drums, Charlie J. Memphis - bass, Muskrat Jones - pedal steel, and Jack Clarendon - fiddle). Their contributions to the instrumentation of these songs is huge and I couldn’t be happier to have them on the record.
Where’s the most unexpected place music has taken you?
As someone who had never been on an airplane until the age of 18 and grew up without seeing much of this beautiful country, being able to travel around to play my music for new people in new places has been incredibly rewarding. I’ve fallen in love with the highways of the American west in the past few years and am proud to be shaped by the ground I’ve covered.
What inspires you?
People who make their own way, especially my brother.
What’s your favourite song of yours?
My favourite off of this album is ‘Easier to Leave’, it’s a deeply personal song for me. It tackles the age-old struggle of being a traveling, working musician while also being in a committed relationship. ‘Easier to Leave’ was a big turning point for me in the fact that I allowed myself to be vulnerable and put some scary feelings in a song.
And what’s your favourite songs of someone else’s?
Where do I start? ‘Fort Worth Blues’ by Guy Clark, ‘Today is Mine’ by Jerry Reed, ‘I’m Not Lisa’ by Jessi Colter, ‘Old Five and Dimers’ by Billy Joe Shaver, ‘I’ve Got Mine’ by Stoney Edwards, ‘Opportunity to Cry’ by Willie Nelson to name a few.
If you could time travel back to any time when would you travel back to?
I’d have to go with the late 70s, there’s too much good music not to (and I’d like to get a guitar lesson from Jerry Reed).
Which person from history would you most like to meet?
George Washington or George Jones.
What would be your Spice Girls style nickname?
What advice would you give to the younger you?
At the ripe old age of 22 I can look back on the past few years and tell my younger self confidently: embrace not knowing, never stop learning, and follow your heart.
What’s next for you?
I’ll be playing shows all over Texas and beyond to support this album and looking forward to it greatly. And of course, I’ll still be writing and trying to improve my craft every day.
Heartache Songs is out now on Potholes Records