The Trishas are a quartet of Texas beauties with a stunning vocal presence, and they’ve just released their traditionally-minded debut album, High, Wide and Handsome.
“It’s like you want your baby to be the cutest baby [anyone has] ever seen,” says one of the group’s four vocalists, Kelley Mickwee.
The album is striking, to be sure, but as it sometimes happens, this baby was a bit unexpected.
Jamie Wilson, Liz Foster, Savannah Welch and Mickwee (notice the lack of anyone named Trisha) originally got together for just one show. It was a tribute concert for Welch’s father, songwriter Kevin Welch, so they learned three of his songs and took the stage. It was all set up to be a bit of a goof, but their stage presence and, most of all, their sound were too powerful to ignore.
Now that the bubbly BFFs have completed their first full-length project, Mickwee and Wilson called in to CMT.com to share a few laughs and explain how this all happened.
CMT: When you first formed four years ago, you weren’t planning on staying together. How surprising was all the encouragement you got right off the bat?
Mickwee: It was very surprising. We got together to do that initial show and learned those three songs. And we did know while we were practicing that when we hit the harmonies right, it sounded really good. Our voices would kind of melt together. But it was like, “Cool, that was exciting. I’m glad we’re going to do really good at this one show.” It didn’t even cross our minds that we would do anything past that night.
How long did it take you to decide to dive in with the Trishas?
Wilson: We started hanging out after that because we had really just all met as a group. So when we started thinking about it, we had to figure out if we even liked each other, really. (laughs) Then our first show where we didn’t just play those three Kevin songs was at South by Southwest that year, about three months later and, even then, it was just for fun. That morning we got together and actually learned songs, like, “Oh, no. We have a gig today!” So it wasn’t quite serious yet. I guess it was a good six months of flirting with it, and then another couple of months of going “OK, we’re in it. Are we in it? I think we’re in it.”
How would you describe the sense of humor in the band?
Wilson: Awkward? (laughs)
Mickwee: We’re all pretty much the same. It’s a little raunchy, a little nerdy, a little off-color. We all have the same sense of humor — which is really, really important. And we’ve been around each other so much now that we have even started kind of talking the same.
Does it make being on the road that much more fun?
Mickwee: It’s definitely a really good thing that we get along because if we didn’t, that would suck. I hear about bands that travel around and they’re gone in a van for months with each other, and they don’t even like each other. … I can’t imagine not liking any of the girls. I mean, we all have our moments with each other, of course, but they’re fleeting.
Wilson: It’s very much like a sibling relationship, which is interesting considering we have barely even known each other for that long. But it’s a lot like sisters where you love each other and you fight sometimes and then you get along, and if somebody else picks on somebody in your group, you back ‘em up. Like “You know what? I can say that, but you can’t say that!” (laughs)
The album starts off with a bang on “Mother of Invention.” Can you explain a few of the double meanings in there?
Wilson: I wrote that song with Natalie Hemby in Nashville. And that song is about simple living and trying not to throw money at everything. We were going through old sayings, like “My grandma used to say this.” For example, there’s a line in there that says “An interesting condition/You discover who you really are.” Well, whenever old people say, “She’s in an interesting condition,” that means she’s pregnant. Natalie was pregnant at the time, so we played on that a little bit. But it’s also true. Whenever you’re stuck somewhere and you need to figure a way out, that’s when you discover who you truly are. It’s the same as when you become a mom.
Is “John Wayne Cowboy” an indictment of those guys that think they’re John Wayne or a request for a real cowboy to come along?
Wilson: That song is actually about my father-in-law. He got sick, and there was a message on his recorder one day that said, “You know what, Tommy? You’re a John Wayne cowboy, and you’re gonna be just fine.” So I took that and brought it to Owen Temple to help me write that song. It’s all about that old cowboy that lives life with integrity and is still the life of the party. It’s like that’s just what they do. They’re always there to save the day. In my husband’s case, that’s his dad. Tommy actually saved a little kid from a stampede one time. He was a genuine cowboy. He was that guy.
What do you think stands out the most on High, Wide and Handsome?
Wilson: I think what stands out about it, obviously, are the vocals. The vocals on it, I think, are really difficult. It’s not even just that the notes are hard or anything, but there are four girls singing at one time, four different notes and from song to song, we never sing the same part. It’s not like Kelley is always the high and Liz is always the low. We switch ‘em up. Sometimes we switch it up in the same song. We’re all over the place.
Mickwee: Why do we do that to ourselves?
Wilson: I have no idea. (laughs)