The Racket Club is a musical collective led by multi-instrumentalists Josh Muddiman and Tim Brown (both formerly of Lost Coast). What started as a simple bit of fun soon became a boundless undertaking of music and community; one song soon snowballed into a full-length LP. The journey began with a theme song…
In 2016, Josh created a podcast called Big Mouth USA (named for the Jim Ford song). In each episode, Josh interviews regional musicians to discuss their favorite album and how it influences their work. By 2019, Big Mouth USA was a success, and Josh needed a theme song. He recruited fellow music-obsessive and longtime friend Tim Brown to lend a hand, and they got to work covering Jim Ford’s tune. After reaching out to producer and compadre Jacob Tippey, they arranged a recording session.
They worked so well together that almost immediately, they arranged another session for an older original song, “Love’s Not a Dirty Word”. Knowing they needed a little extra something, they reached out to friend and current Frontier Folk Nebraska guitarist Travis Talbert to add some magic to the track. Soon after, they had another song ready, and snagged another guest, and so on and so forth until they ended up with 12 songs and 29 guests. They believe so strongly that the Cincinnati music scene is one of the best around and these 12 songs can attest to that.
“Music is about community,” said Josh Muddiman. “I’ve met so many wonderful people and musicians through playing music and hosting the podcast. This felt like a chance to finally get all my favorites in one place and hopefully take the songs to another level. What we got definitely exceeded any expectations we had when we started in May of 2019. It was a huge undertaking but none of it ever felt forced or rushed. There was an easy energy that I really think comes through on the record. Some of these songs are over 15 years old and some were written the week before the track was recorded.
Astonishingly with all the different people involved I think they fit together nicely. We kind of thought this might be an EP when we first started but we couldn’t stop and I think we got a record with some real range to it but still fits together nicely as a collection.”
“We’re both music lifelong obsessives. We love to deconstruct our favorite songs and albums to figure out the little nuances and decisions that made them so spectacular. And while we took the same detail-oriented approach to our record, it was a passion project - we’re in this for the fun and the experience, and to work with some of our favorite local musicians. In that way, we really let the process unfold naturally and didn’t force anything. Guests were carefully chosen for each song based on what they song demanded, but the collaboration among us and the way we organically constructed each song was consistently effortless. And that’s when making music is really gratifying.”
Members Only runs the gamut from the laid back country funk of “Change the Locks” to the hills of Laurel Canyon on “Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself” to the all-in-a-room bluegrass feel of “Reckless Hearts”. “No two sessions were the same with the exception of myself, Tim and our producer Jacob,” said Josh. “We played as many of the instruments we could on the album. We even tried a few we’d never put on a record before. I play some keys on a few songs which is a first for me. Tim played bass and electric guitar which are first time experiences for him as well. We tried to take ego out of the equation. If someone could do something better, by all means get in there and lay it down.”
“Jacob really went out of his way to make this a smooth process. His ability to wrangle the exhaustive range of musicians and instruments we put on this record was astonishing. He never seemed stressed or overwhelmed. He’s definitely our third member. It’s nice to have a tiebreaker you trust and respect when there are so many decisions to make,” said Tim Brown. “By the time we started working on the fourth song, we knew we had to keep doing this. It was just too much fun, and the music was too good not to go for a full LP,”
This album is the story of friendship, community and collaboration. Something we could all use a little more of these days…
The Racket Club