June 6, 2014
by Paul Blest

Brian McGee is a busy, busy man. Between being a new father, fronting legendary ‘90s punk band Plow United through their 2013 reunion LP Marching Band, and playing guitar in Brian Fallon’s side project Molly and the Zombies, McGee found time to record his fourth solo album, Ruin Creek (Square of Opposition/Creep Records), an album that does nothing else if not remind us that McGee is one of the strongest songwriters going, in both country and punk rock music.

The Runout sat down with McGee to talk to him about his new record and the many hats he’s wearing right now.

The Runout: So, Ruin Creek is finally out now. I know you’ve been busy with Plow United’s reunion since the last one came out, but what else is going on for you?

Brian McGee: Well, I just became a dad and that’s awesome. Have also been working full-time at Russo and Asbury Park fixing guitars. Started playing guitar in Molly and the Zombies. And getting ready to move. So I’m pulling my hair a little bit right now.

How did joining Molly and the Zombies happen?

Brian Fallon had booked himself to play at Home for the Holidays with his new side project Molly and the Zombies. We were at a bar one night, and he said he needed another guitar player and asked me if I wanted to play.

Do you do any of the writing in that band or is it mostly him?

It’s all his songs. He leaves us the space to make up parts to complement the songs.

Let’s talk about the new record – you recorded it with Pete Steinkopf, right? How was that experience?

Going to Pete was really, really great. He’s super positive and motivating in the studio and creates an atmosphere where you can thrive – he was really good at making me work hard to get the right take. Plus, it’s always great to go down to where the Bouncing Souls write and rehearse.

So is there an overarching concept or theme to the record?

No, not consciously anyway. There’s definitely a lot of people leaving their lives behind, or their home, in some way shape or form [on the record]. Some of it is autobiographical, but most of it isn’t. It was a big exercise in not writing songs about myself, but [instead] more character writing and storytelling.

Does the songwriting process differentiate for you between Plow songs and your songs?

A little bit. You kind of wear a different hat when you’re writing songs for a punk rock band versus writing songs for a solo act. That said, I was thinking about how I could speed up some slow songs on Ruin Creek, and turn them into punk rock songs. Not necessarily for Plow United, but as another songwriting trick to get to an end result.

There’s videos of you playing some of these songs back in 2012 – was it the kind of deal where it took a long time to record, or were there delays, or what?

The album was recorded in February 2013, so a lot of the songs were already written in 2012. The recording and mixing took about ten days, and by the end of spring it was mastered. The major hangup was due to a disagreement on what the album art should be. This essentially sent me packing, looking for another label, which took a little while, so that also added to the delay in the release. At the end of the day, I’m psyched that Chris Reject of Square of Opposition, Arik of Creep Records, and Kazuo Kazu at Waterloo Records in Japan all agreed to put the record out together.

Are there any touring plans for the new record?

Not right now, I’m too busy with my job and being a new parent. I do have a record release show on June 7 at Bourbon & Branch (with PJ Bond and Shitty Summer) in Philly, though, and I’m playing The Fest again.

Any last thoughts?

I’m just real pumped to have this record out. I think it’s one of the best things that I’ve written in a long time, and I’m really psyched on that. JP Flexner was so helpful with all the artwork, and everyone involved helping me get the record out was amazingly supportive.