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Milwaukee blues



An extended vacation hasn’t hurt What Made Milwaukee Famous’ performing prowess in the least, with the indie-rock act returning to form after the first few shows of its current tour, once it shook off the cobwebs.

Yet the same can’t be said for everything.

“The shows have been great in terms of playing. The attendance has been … light,” front man Michael Kingcaid said with a laugh. “We’ve been gone for four years. It’s to be expected, but we’ve got a 100 percent conversion rate. Everyone who shows up leaves a fan.”

It’s been a rough go of things for the Austin, Texas-based band after charming Barsuk Records with an easy-breezy brand of Spoon- or Shins-style indie rock back in 2006; the deal soured after a pair of albums, 2006’s Trying to Never Catch Up and 2008’s What Doesn’t Kill Us.

The members’ respective personal lives swung their own punches, and a substantial disillusionment with not only their hometown, but the music industry as a whole, slowed progress.

Now, What Made Milwaukee Famous is left trying to hold itself up on its own.

“There’s something to be said for cutting out the middleman,” Kingcaid said. “It’s just a matter of being able to get your music it out there.”

The outfit is doing just that with You Can’t Fall Off the Floor, penned in a frenzy (along with what will become WWMF’s fourth album) when Kingcaid escaped to the Texas sticks, crashing in a double-wide trailer.

“I just needed to get out of Austin for a while,” he said. “It was the most fruitful writing period for me ever. Two of us got divorces. That was challenging enough. It writes itself.”

Even still, Floor has taken nearly three full years to finish. Kingcaid and company used that time to its advantage, collecting a who’s who of Austin musicians for the album, as well as guests like Kathleen Edwards and Delta Spirit’s Matt Vasquez.

“I was very much picking out musicians to play to the song,” Kingcaid said. “It’s much more focused than either of the last two records. Because it was piece-mealed together, we were very particular about everything.”

The clouds are parting for What Made Milwaukee Famous; the guys gain a little more confidence after every show. As the title You Can’t Fall Off the Floor suggests, things are looking up.

“There’s an optimism,” Kingcaid said. “At least you can’t fall off the floor, you can only get up.”

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