A New Spin on agriculture: Munsick’s background influences musicWritten by Saige Albert
Tris Munsick was raised on a ranch in Sheridan County, but music has always been an important part of his life. Today, he’s taken his ag roots and used them to influence his start in the music industry.
“My dad managed a cow/calf operation on the east slope of the Bighorns for 20 years,” Munsick says. “When I was growing up, my parents bought their own little place, picked up some leases and started running their own cows.”
After high school, Munsick mentions that he and his younger brothers Sam and Ian worked around the region on ranches.
“I’ve worked in Colorado, Montana, Texas and Wyoming, and my middle brother Sam worked in Oregon and all over Wyoming,” he says. “Our youngest brother Ian is living in Nashville, Tenn. trying to do his music.”
Munsick was raised around the music industry and says it has greatly influenced his life.
“My dad, Dave Munsick, plays music for a living. He plays quite a bit around the region,” he says. “My brothers and I started playing with Dad. Our family band is called the Munsick Boys.”
The family has recorded several albums, and they continue to play together as often as they can.
“As scattered as we are, it's tough to go hard with our family band,” Munsick says. “We play a few times a year together.”
He continues, “My family might not play together for a year, but when we get together, it works. There is nothing like playing with my family.”
Munsick says that playing as a family is special, and the chemistry they have is natural.
“If we do our job right, when we play as a family, it is special for everyone – not just us but the audience, too,” he says. “We feel a special chemistry together that’s unlike anything else.”
Forming a band
In 2012, Munsick and a group of close friends formed their own band – Tris Munsick and the Innocents. They have played consistently together for the last three years.
The Innocents have been together long enough that Munsick says they are very close.
“The band is family to me, for sure,” he says. “We’ve played together long enough that I’m confident saying that. My brother Sam just joined us. He plays guitar now, which is really awesome.”
Through the summer, Tris Munsick and the Innocents plays across the West. The number of shows they play slows down in the winter, and Munsick explains that it has been particularly difficult while he’s been back in graduate school. However, they’ve got plans to work hard toward growing their presence starting this summer.
Looking at the future
Munsick says they have reached the point where they have two options – pick up speed and make a living playing music or slow down and pursue other careers.
“We either have to go forward or go backward a bit,” he says. “We’re going to try to make a run at it and make a career. We’re going to work hard enough to make a living, so we won’t need to have jobs outside of the band.”
“What the future looks like is a good question,” Munsick says. “We’re going to take this one thing at a time. Right now, graduate school is my priority.”
He continues, “I’ve been around the music industry enough to know that it is a hard road to go.”
Being on the road all the time performing can be challenging, particularly for people with a family.
“Not having a family right now makes things quite a bit easier,” he says, “and if that changes, I’ll have to re-evaluate my priorities.”
“We’re not looking too far into the future right now,” Munsick continues. “I’m looking to finish up school, and we'll then grow the band. I want to see where this takes us to really try to do our music justice.”
Part of jumping in and running with the band means putting his heart and soul into the music, says Munsick.
“We really want to do a good job,” he explains.
At this stage in his career, Munsick has released two CDs, with a third scheduled for release this summer.
All of the music on their albums is original, and he says, “We get the inspiration for these songs from our experiences.”
Munsick notes that he respects those songwriters who are able to take more abstract ideas that they haven’t experienced and turn them into a song, and he strives to continue developing his songwriting ability to that level.
He adds, “My song ideas come to me when I’m driving and have the time to think to myself.”
“Ninety percent of the ideas I have I forget, and 90 percent of the ones I remember don’t pan out,” Munsick laughs. “Every once in a while, we get a song that goes all the way, but it takes a while to bring a song together. The people I’ve met and places I’ve been are the main drivers of my songwriting.”
The influence of the agriculture world has been pivotal in his music career.
“My upbringing absolutely influences my career,” Munsick notes. “We all grew up with an ag background, and we all looked up to cowboys. We wanted to be cowboys when we were kids.”
“The heart and soul of my music is based in the western culture and the lifestyle that we’re immersed in all the time,” Munsick comments. “We wouldn’t be where we are without these experiences and our background.”
The cowboy lifestyle is a challenge, as is a career in music, but Munsick says he is up for the task.
Tris Munsick and the Innocents are preparing to release their third album this summer, which will reflect their highs and lows, as well as their experience traveling the country from east to west.
“This new album will touch on everywhere we’ve been the last few years,” he says. “We’re excited about it.”