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Buck Meek: from street musician to indie star

The guitarist of the folk-rock band Big Thief released his third solo album, ‘Haunted Mountain,’ which reflects on the fullness of love

Buck Meek
Buck Meek, guitarist of the group Big Thief, photographed in the La Riviera concert hall in Madrid.Sharon López
Fernando Navarro

Buck Meek, 36, points out the river with his finger. It’s mid-morning, and he has taken the time to sit on the grass on the bank of the Manzanares river outside La Riviera concert hall. Tonight he has a concert in Madrid, and he is in the middle of a soundcheck with his band, Big Thief, when he comes outside to greet the journalist. He looks for a place to chat about his new album, Haunted Mountain, a folk-rock creation that reflects on the fullness of love. “It’s so great to be here!” he exclaims as he fiddles with the grass. He seems like a happy guy.

Haunted Mountain is the confirmation of this happiness. It is his third album outside Big Thief, one of the latest American indie rock sensations thanks to their sweetly luminous songs and addictive beauty. Since he made his solo debut in 2018 with a self-titled album, Buck Meek has always tried to find his own path and style. “It’s something that has always worried me and, honestly, I think I’ve achieved it,” he says. In 2021, marked by a breakup with his previous partner, he released Two Saviors, and people began to take him seriously as a musician with his own voice.

Buck Meek
Buck Meek photographed in the La Riviera concert hall in Madrid.Sharon López

“I think Two Saviors was a process of healing from loss and, in a way, it was letting in the seeds of a new love. This record is the celebration of the love that arrived.” It is about his current wife, a “constant inspiration” with whom he has once again felt fullness. He gives an example: the song Paradise. “There comes a moment when you look at the other person and in their eyes you find a kind of paradise. It’s tremendous, but you wonder if love is a form of magic.”

Meek grew up in a Texas town surrounded by blues and folk. That also led him to love fiction, both in songs and in literature. “My grandfather was a devotee of Faulkner and my grandmother was a scholar of Shakespearean and classical Greek literature,” he explains. “Adding to that, I loved the stories of blues and folk outlaws’ songs. I would go to rodeos with my family and I heard these stories.”

Buck Meek
A poster for the band Big Thief.Sharon López

After studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Meek moved to New York to find his own place. For eight years, he was a regular busker at the Union Square subway station. “I played to pay the rent for the apartment,” he says with a smile. “New York is a city where the energy always gives you something to learn from.” Between his personal search and New York came Big Thief, a band formed by former Berklee students.

When a couple of ducks pass near the banks of the Manzanares, Meek doesn’t hesitate to point them out and associate them with the album. “Everything in nature is a great inspiration for me. From the very title of the album, I try to convey the idea that the landscape can give us gifts,” he explains. He says that most of the songs were written in the mountains, and he lists the important sites: the Sierra de la Estrella in Portugal, the volcanoes on the island of Milo in the Greek Cyclades, the Swiss Alps — “where the cover photo was taken” — and the Santa Monica Mountains, the place in Los Angeles he calls home, where he lives with his wife. “Because love is making a home,” he says.

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