On Mike & The Moonpies Changing their Name to “Silverada”

photo: Eric Cain

Story Highlights:

  • Mike and the Moonpies will now be called “Silverada.”
  • Silverada will be releasing a self-titled album on June 28th.
  • The band revealed the name change at Mile 0 Fest in Key West, FL Friday afternoon (1-26).
  • New single will be released next Friday (2-2).
  • Album release show will be at The Ryman Auditorium on July 5th.
  • Silverada will be making their first appearance after the name change Friday night at Mile 0 Fest.

For years now, one of the biggest injustices in all of country music has been the continued ignoring of Mike and the Moonpies as one of the powerhouse country music outfits of our era.

They’re considered one of the best live acts in country music by a host of critics and anyone who’s had the opportunity to behold them in person. They’ve released one critically-acclaimed album after another, including 2021’s One To Grow on, which received a perfect score here at Saving Country Music. Mike and the Moonpies have been the best that country music has to offer, while remaining at the cult-level in regards to following and name recognition.

Even as other independent country artists have been launched into the stratosphere over the last few years, Mike and the Moonpies have remained mostly static, though with some important sustainable growth, however slow.

They started out as a true Austin honky-tonk band playing multiple hour sets for two-stepping bar crowds. When they added bassist Omar Oyoque in 2019 and made a concerted effort to break out of the Austin bar scene, it took their music to the next level. But it has been difficult for the band to move on from their past, in part because people see the name “Mike and the Moonpies,” and they think of them as a known quantity.

You also want to be careful to not discount what Mike and the Moonpies have done so far, and where they are as a band. For some performers, the size of crowds Mike and the Moonpies draw and the kinds of press they receive would be the seat of envy. But that doesn’t mean that a gulf still doesn’t exist between the amount of attention the band should be receiving, and the attention they do receive.

One of the few festivals that has been giving Mike and the Moonpies the attention they deserve has been Mile 0 Fest in Key West, Florida. For seven years now, Mike and the Moonpies have been like the de facto house band for the fest, and are beloved by the festival’s patrons. Only fitting that after deciding to change their name after 17 years, they used Mile 0 Fest as the launching pad for the announcement.

Officially revealed at Mile 0 Fest on Friday afternoon (1-25) in an intimate event at Comedy Key West, Mike and the Moonpies henceforth will be known as Silverada. Though the name is changing, the music and the musical approach is all staying the same. The band will also have an upcoming 10-song self-titled album named Silverada coming out on June 28.

The band says in a statement,

We do anticipate that there will be some upset fans out there but we hope you will understand why we feel we must do this and hope you will continue to support us and come along for the ride!

After discussing hundreds of potential names, we finally fell in love with Silverada. We believe it pays homage to who we were when we started, who we have grown into and who we hope to become. You know from our songs that we have a deep affinity for all things Silver and Gold and we hope our fans will see the silver lining in this new chapter for the band and fans alike. It’s all about the music and the relationship we have with our loyal listeners and we hope to continue to nurture that relationship as we evolve our music and brand. We truly hope you will join us as we take our band and our music into the future.

Saving Country Music spoke to Silverada frontman Mike Harmeier backstage at Mile 0 Fest ahead of the announcement.

“I don’t think I can speak more passionately about anything else, because I’ve thought about it so much. It’s been on my mind for years,” Mike tells SCM. “‘Mike and the Moonpies’ was right for the time. It felt good when we started doing it. At the time, I didn’t know where it was going. I was just trying to play The Broken Spoke. When I was doing the Austin thing, it felt good. And at some point it felt like we didn’t identify with it anymore. I feel like I’m always fighting whatever connotation our name brings to us all the time. It’s frustrated all of us over the years. Because it’s bigger than that, and we want to take it bigger than that.”

The band name may be changing, but Silverada remains an independent band. They’re not signed to a label or management company, and don’t employ a publicist. They do work with WME for booking after Red 11 was bought out. Mike Harmeier’s wife Chase works as the band’s manager and publicist. She was also significantly involved in the name change.

“I can tell you, we’ve talked this name change to death,” Chase Harmeier’s says. “Mike’s been kicking the idea of changing the band name around as far back as 2012 when ‘The Hard Way’ came out—back then we were making and stamping chipboard CD cases by hand to mail the band’s very first radio single out, and Mike thought way back then that the band had come too far to make the change. So it’s been something he’s really wrestled with. On the surface you could say, ‘What’s in a name? Just change it or don’t.’ But it’s really an intimate thing—especially when it’s a name that has ingrained itself in the community of the fans.”

To settle on the new name, Mike and Chase turned to Texas for inspiration, and specifically the premier work of Texas literature, Lonesome Dove.

“I’ve had a ‘band names’ list on my phone for years and, last year, I took on reading the entire ‘Lonesome Dove’ series in hopes of finding the perfect name hiding in there,” Chase continues. “We even had little pieces of paper with names glued to magnets that we stuck on the fridge to piece together as potential names the same way we had done when we picked our son Brazos’ name. My parents would text me in the middle of the night with names. Mike and I skimmed every page of a book of idioms he kept in his studio. From lyrics, to names of obscure places and historical events in Texas, to trying to figure out the name of that local band that approaches Robert Duvall in ‘Tender Mercies.’ So many name ideas but nothing clicked. And then recently, the guys all got on their group text chain and started throwing ideas around and it came together relatively quickly and very organically from there.”

Along with Mike Harmeier, Silverada consists of guitarist Catlin Rutherford, steel guitarist Zachary Moulton, bass player Omar Oyoque, and drummer Taylor Englert who replaced long-time drummer Kyle Ponder in March of 2022. All of these musicians are considered at the top of their craft by peers.

“The band is all in on this idea,” Mike Harmeier says. “We’ve talked about it for years. And what’s funny is we’re doing it at a time when it’s actually starting to look fairly good. But I still think we’re gunshot because of the ceiling we feel like there is there. We live in a world right now where the climate for what we do has never been better.”

The big question many fans will have is, will this all work? There are a few previous instances we can reference as comparables.

Underground country fans might remember the saga of the Reno, NV-based band Hellbound Glory. Frontman and sole remaining original member Leroy Virgil went back and forth about keeping the name, moving on from it, and everything in between. At one point he held an official funeral for the name, only to resurrect it later. Virgil recorded under his own name, as well as the name The eXcavators. He’s since gone back with Hellbound Glory and kept it. Hellbound Glory also remains an underground band, though with a strong cult following.

Another example is the Texas music supergroup The Wilder Blue. They started out as Hill Country. But when there was a trademark dispute with the name and it became obvious that it created confusion from being a term rather ubiquitous in Texas, they made the change. If it’s affected the band negatively at all, it hasn’t been obvious. Likely it didn’t, and the more unique name has helped.

Perhaps the best example of a mid career name change in the modern era is the bluegrass/folk/Americana band Mandolin Orange. They changed their name to Watchhouse in April of 2021. Though it may have seemed like a simple and perhaps unnecessary change, it has been a major success for the band. Where before Mandolin Orange was a perennial middle-tier name on festival posters, they’ve since become a major act in roots and Americana.

According to Mike, the success Watchhhouse had with their name change gave them the confidence this could work, and they used the band’s transition as a template.

“We have a major connection with the people that like us. I don’t want to turn them away,” Mike says. “But I feel like those people are in it with us. I’m trying to evolve it and gain more fans who have not had an opportunity to hear us. I’m worried about the moment we announce it from stage, and if we’ll get booed. But honestly, I am ready to rip the Band-Aid off. I want to say, ‘This is how we’re going into the future. Join us, and do this thing with us. Let’s take it to the masses like we never have before.'”

Big names in Texas music like Wade Bowen, Courtney Patton, and Jason Eady were at the announcement event in Key West to support Silverada. It was hosted by Joseph Hudak of Rolling Stone, who has also been a big supporter of Mike and the Moonpies over the years. The band will be taking the main amphitheater stage at Mile 0 Fest Friday evening (1-26) to announce to the rest of the world the new name. They will also be releasing a new single next Friday. They will also play an album release show at The Ryman Auditorium on July 5th.

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For more coverage from Mile 0 Fest and the Silverada name change, stay tuned to Saving Country Music and follow on Instagram.

Mike Harmeier making the announcement.
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