Alt-rock and country music may seem like strange bedfellows, but in the hands of Mike and the Moonpies they go together like chili and cornbread. In honor of the 45th anniversary of the Hole in the Wall, the Austin bar in which they got their start, the Texas-based road warriors recorded a breezy version of the 1998 hit “The Way” by Fastball, the alt-rock trio who also launched a career out of the long-running dive bar located near the University of Texas.
The Moonpies stay mainly faithful to the original — there’s no two-stepping transformation of “The Way” here — but they do increase the tempo to give the loping modern-rock song a more urgent vibe. It’s all tied together by Zach Moulton’s dreamy pedal steel and singer Mike Harmeier’s upper-register vocal delivery. The rendition represents a return to the formative years for the Moonpies, who held down a weekly Monday-night residency at the Hole in the Wall for three years.
“The Hole in the Wall gave us our start, as it did so many legendary artists over the last four decades,” Harmeier says. “From knowing ‘The Way’ as a huge hit when I was a teenager, to our Monday residency at the Hole, to now cut this song for the 45th anniversary feels very full circle. We’re honored to leave our little mark on a place that gave us a home in Austin when we were getting started, as it did and continues to do for countless others.”
Mike and the Moonpies’ take on “The Way” will be released as part of a limited edition 7″ 45 single that also includes PR Newman’s interpretation of Timbuk 3’s 1986 hit “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.” Timbuk 3, the duo of Pat MacDonald and Barbara Kooyman, were also a fixture at the Hole in the Wall. Both Mike and the Moonpies and Newman’s covers will stream on Spotify beginning May 31st, and the Moonpies, Newman, Mayeux & Broussard and John Evans will perform a special anniversary set at the Hole in the Wall on June 17th.
Mike and the Moonpies’ last album was Steak Night at the Prairie Rose, Number 17 on Rolling Stone‘s 40 best country and Americana albums of 2018.