There's a different psychological mindset to releasing a full-length album as opposed to an EP. Rising duo The Rankin Twins recognize this fact very clearly, as the sisters are celebrating the nationwide release of "Moonshine & Maybes." Already having released a pair of EP's in their career, Amy Rankin tells Billboard that there is a higher sense of accomplishment for them to release a complete album.
"It's been a long time coming," she tells Billboard. "We basically wanted a full album of singles that we could pitch to radio. I think we got that. It's such a relief, but I think it's really exciting, because it's going over really well."
Sister April is also glad to offer the fans more music. "For us, it's such a teaser to only have five songs to get out to your fans," she says. "When you're playing all these other songs at shows, people will ask ‘When are you going to record this one, or that one,' and it's nice to be able to get the songs you've written on a full project. It definitely bumps up your confidence."
Their confidence has seen a few peaks and valleys over the years. Growing up in Portland, Texas – on the gulf coast, they performed at many local and family functions over the years – not really thinking about pursuing a full-time career with their music. They even went as far to put music totally on the back burner by enrolling at Texas A&M. However, their love of music led them back to the stage, as they became a crowd favorite at various clubs around the area. As they were in the process of building momentum as a stage act, tragedy struck. Amy was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She elected to have surgery very quickly, which made them even more determined to touch lives with their music.
The success of Silver Lining and Headaches and Heartbreaks - their EP releases, helped to make them one of the most talked about new acts inside of their native state. What about their music helped them to fit into the genre? "I think the Texas scene is so broad that it allows us to fit in somewhere because of that," says Amy. "I think being females it's more different, because they think of the scene as this raw and edgy, male dominated thing, but we still have music to offer. When people come to our shows, I think the audience appreciates the fact that we play a lot of different stuff."
Sister April believes their approach reaches far across many different styles. "It all comes down to the production. On some songs, we'll add fiddle or steel to give it a different edge. There's some bluegrass sounds, some rock sounds, some country chicken-pickin,' and that's what we're all about. I don't know what our sound per se is, because we like and are influenced by so much. At the end of the day, it comes down to the harmonies. If we can convey those, and bring them across, it's been a successful day," she admits.
Influence-wise, the sisters count the Dixie Chicks as possibly their biggest inspiration, but they also consider themselves fans of duos or groups that focus on harmony. "The Wreckers were another influence for us, but we've always been drawn to groups or duos," reflected Amy. "Brooks & Dunn were another one, and also Alabama, anything with harmony. We just did a date with the Bellamy Brothers, and we were beside ourselves." she said.
The Rankins credit producer Ken Tondre for helping their album to sound as organic as it does. "I think it's a little more raw," said April. "I believe people will like it."
Recording the album so close to their home also raised their level of comfort, said Amy. "I think that being able to record at home - because the studio was out of Austin - was so helpful because our schedules were crazy. We could come home, and in a couple of hours, go to the studio. Or, if something came up, we could just drive over for a couple of hours. That made a big difference."