|photo provided by Connor Christian and Southern Gothic|
Thanks to Twitter, I've discovered Connor Christian and his excellent band, Southern Gothic-- or rather, he discovered me. There he was one day when I signed into Twitter, a new follower. Of course I checked out his profile to see what kind of follower I had gained. I liked what I saw and heard on their website. The result has been great fun. I've been discovering more about this amazing band and even had a few questions answered by Connor Christian himself.
Take a look at what he had to say. Then checkout their music. You can find samples on the website connorchristian.com. CMT.com also has a video for "Sunday Suit" posted. Or, you can always purchase a CD!
1. How long have you and your band been playing together?
CCSG has been together since 2006 with several different members. Once Elena joined in December of 2009, and Jeff (who had been filling in and sitting in for about 18 months) joined full time in April of 2010, the whole dynamic changed. What had originally had been a singer/songwriter outfit with a strong back-up band became a full fledged, 5 piece BAND. Since then the chemistry has gelled so completely, none of us can really imagine getting on stage to do this without the other 4.
2. Clearly you work well together. How do you decide what will be recorded. Do you collaborate with each other and write your own music or do you search elsewhere for the right song for your group?
Well, the dynamic (even going back to before we were called CCSG, when it was just me on guitar/piano, Shawn on drums, and Joe on Bass) I've been the principal songwriter. That's most certainly not to say that everyone doesn't have valuable input and contributions, but up til the current record, I've pretty much just written the songs and brought them to the band.
The new record (New Hometown part 1) was a little bit different. We wanted to make a HUGE record, 17-18 songs, and I knew that would require a little more planning. In the year prior to recording, I'd had the opportunity to sit with some really incredible writers like Channing Wilson (Chattanooga/Nashville TN) and Stuart Oliver (Brisbee AZ) and was able to come up with some really amazing material. When Jeff joined the band, we had the opportunity to sit down, and it turned out he had some songs in various stages that were also really great like "Watch Me Run" and most Notably "Only Need You". We finished those 2 songs together as well as one of mine called "Hotel Bar" (which Channing had also worked on). Once we had about 25 demos cut, all 5 of us sat and gave our input.
Over the following days, my co-producer on New Hometown, John Briglevich, and I sifted through and made the final decisions. John had also engineered a CD I'd produced the year before for an amazing band out of Birmingham AL named the Back Row Baptists. One of the songs they cut was an old Woody Guthrie song titled "Bound For Glory" I'd been unfamiliar with. The track didn't make their CD in the end, and I'd been pretty bummed about it, so John and I decided to try a version which ultimately became one of my favorite songs on part 1.
3. Your sound is reminiscent of both blues and southern rock. How did you develop it?
Yeah, over the years the country people have told us that we're Americana. Americana people told us we were rock. Rock people told us that we were, you guessed it, country. It's been hard for us to find a home and community over the years because of this, but I've always tried just to write what I felt and what came out naturally, labels be damned. We incorporate elements of rock, bluegrass, country, Americana, and even reggae at times and I think what we've ended up with is pretty magical. I've drawn from influences as diverse as older Elton John (Tumbleweed Connection/Madman Across the Water era), to old Soul like Sam Cooke (my all time favorite singer), Americana classics like the Band, 70's staples like ELO (love those big harmonies) to newer acts like Counting Crows, G. Love, Black Crows, and Ryan Adams, and I think you can hear all of that in our songs.
4. I've been trying to find more information on any albums you've released so far, but I'm not having much luck. Care to enlighten me?
In 2008, we released another record (the band at the time was Shawn, Joe and myself with fiddle player Dan Emmett) on Vintage Earth Records called "90 Proof Lullabies". It was kind of a combination of newer material as well as songs I had written years ago that have never come out and I felt like people should hear recorded on a larger scale. Songs like "3Times", "Time By You", and "Waiting For Princess" had long been staples of our live show; and had even appeared on some self-released CDs with older bands of mine. Mixed in with newer stuff like "Midnight Moon", "Sunday Suit" (the video for which was featured for several weeks on CMT's Pure Country 12-pack countdown), and our remake of Brewer & Shipley's "One Toke Over the Line", I feel like 90proof was a great record, but definitely a band still trying to find it's place in the world, which I think with our revamped line-up and songs we finally have on New Hometown.
5. What can we expect from you in the future?
Well, you can certainly expect to see us on the road a whole lot. We live for the live shows. New Hometown part 2 was recorded at the same time as part 1, and we expect to release it this fall/winter. Of course, we're always writing and thinking about the next record, but for now, we're still on a high and so excited to get the word about New Hometown out.