Nate Nurrell for BILLBOARD – It’s been 18 years since Squirrel Nut Zippers‘ last album, and group leader Jimbo Mathus saw no need to reinvent the proverbial wheel for Beasts Of Burgundy, which comes out March 23 and whose “Karnival Joe (From Kokomo)” is premiering exclusively below.
“There’s kind of a template there for (the band), that kind of New Orleans hot jazz, cabaret, vaudeville era,” Mathus tells Billboard. “We work with early 1900s, old American weirdness, y’know? I didn’t want to break the mood of that template. You can fit a lot in there, for sure. I just wanted to make the best Zippers record that ever has been made. I think that’s what we’ve done.”
Mathus says a new album was not a foregone conclusion when he reactivated SNZ during 2016, after a six-year hiatus. But after touring with the current lineup, a hot group of virtuosos recruited mostly from around New Orleans, it became clear that the goods were there to take the group into the studio once again. “I wanted to use the strengths of the cast, the gentlemen and ladies I have in the group now, which is a lot of talent,” says Mathus, who co-produced the album with fiddle player Dr. Sick, recording in Nappy’s Dugout studio with longtime engineer Mike Napolitano. “Everybody’s just very talented, and I was able to really bring them in and get something more than I could’ve before, by myself. I wanted the record to be real New Orleans-centric, especially the old New Orleans.”