Our WorldArts Spotlight Artist for July is Roanoke! This Folk/Americana fivesome is attacking playlists everywhere with their beautiful harmonies and unique sounds. Having just wrapped a tour of the midwest, the band sat down with WorldArts to talk about their start in Nashville, never giving up, and their new EP that you can get on vinyl soon. Check out our exclusive Q&A below and watch the video for ‘Jordan‘ from their new EP!
How did the band come to be?
Joey, Kyle and I (Taylor) moved to Nashville around the same time. Them from Florida, me from Michigan. We all started working at BB Kings Blues Club downtown. Being new to town we were all sort of trying to find our way and talk to everyone we could, and collaborate. I met Kyle first, who then introduced me to Joey. We all started hanging out quite a bit, passing the guitar around and getting to know one another. One day Joey brought a song to me that he had written. I told him if I didn’t like it I would tell him. He played me “This Love” and I loved it and added harmonies to it. Our voices blended so well that we just began writing and singing together more and more. Eventually we decided to pursue the duet thing.
Kyle started recording demos for us and had a lot of great input. He started playing harmonica on some of our songs and eventually started playing drums with us. The songs we were writing ended up having a folk/Americana sound, and when we heard of a mutual friend who played mandolin, we invited him to come jam with us. Zach came over and we all got along so well and the mandolin sounded amazing on the songs. We asked him to be in the band after our second jam. For a while it was the four of us, and when it came time to record an album we decided we really wanted to bring a fiddle player in. We also met Jo through a mutual friend. She played on the record and after hearing how great it sounded on the songs we decided we needed violin in the band.
John grew up with Kyle and he moved to Nashville and needed a place to stay. So he stayed with all of us and eventually ended up moving in. We needed a bass player for a tour, and John stepped up. We had so much fun on the road and John is such a great musician, so it just made sense for John to join the band, the rest of the band was already living together anyway.
Tell us about your new self-titled debut album ‘Roanoke’.
‘Roanoke’ is our introduction into the music world. It is something we are extremely proud of. Joey and I wrote most of it, and the band helped arrange it. Most of the record was recorded to tape in an old church. “Jordan” was actually written after we had finished recording. We decided it needed to be on the record so we went into The Sound Emporium and recorded it last minute.
During the writing process we were just writing songs that meant something to us. We were writing to evoke feelings and tell stories, we didn’t have any preconceived notions, and I think that lead to writing a very raw honest record. By the time we started recording we hadn’t even been a band for a year, and we already had a hard time deciding what songs to put on the record.
This album is something that means a lot to all of us. We all put a lot of hard work into it, and we all fiercely believe in it. It brought us closer as a band and family. From “Red and Gold” and ” Heavy Goodbyes” to “Mountain Man” and “Trouble” and everything in between, we set out to record a record that would take listeners on a journey and ultimately make them feel something. Stay tuned for ‘Roanoke’ on vinyl!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Just to keep going. To never give up on what you believe in even if its hard work. My mom always told me that growing up. I know its been said so many times but the importance of it didn’t really hit me until I moved to Nashville. Being in a band is hard work. We are doing everything ourselves and it gets to be exhausting. Anytime I feel like taking the day off I just remember that piece of advice. It can be discouraging driving hours to a gig and having only a handful of people show up. But it doesn’t matter. Play like your playing to an arena every time. Everyone in the band does an amazing job of doing that, and it always pays off just to see the affect we had on those handful of people.
If you could go on tour with any artist (past or present) who would it be?
That’s hard. There’s so many artists I look up to. I’m going to say true. Past I would say Fleetwood Mac. Present I would say Jason Isbell. Both are huge influences for us.
What’s your ‘go-to’ karaoke song?
I would have to say Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s always so much fun to sing.
WorldArts is all about giving tools and opportunities to artists. What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
I would give them the same advice I was given. Never give up on your dreams. Your going to hear a lot of “no’s” and people telling you how to be and how to sound but stay true to what you believe in and never give up.
If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
I wish that more musicians were given a chance. Back in the day you hear about someone who gave a musician a chance even though they weren’t the norm, and people loved it. I think that people should be exposed to all sorts of music.
What is the best way you’ve found to market yourselves as artists?
Honestly it’s been face-to-face interaction. You do reach more people of course online, but you can form real relationships with fans face to face. If they meet you, and like your music AND personality, they are life long fans. We have met so many amazing people on the road who we still stay in touch with who have been so encouraging and supportive and who we have become friends with. It’s important for fans of your music to know how much they mean to artists, without them, no one is listening. Relationships, and being real and down to earth is so important.
You just finished a tour of the midwest, how did it go what was that like?
It was amazing. We love being on the road. Sometimes it’s dirty, hard work, but completely worth it. We had a couple shows where we completely packed the house, and a few where there were just a handful of people. But the people who did see us were touched by our music, and had amazing things to say about us.
We actually ended up playing at a Zoo in Madison WI. We played for a bunch of children who were dancing around and singing. Later that day we got a Facebook message from someone who had seen us play at the zoo. She said she loved our music and if we had time she may be able to throw a house show together that night. And she did! We went to her beautiful backyard and played for about 15 people. Her and her husband danced while we sang, and everyone was so incredibly nice and supportive. Someone at the house show wanted to have us at their own house show so we played another one a couple days later for about 30 people on a lit up back porch. Again, everyone was so encouraging and loved what we were doing. It was an amazing experience and made the whole trip to Madison worth the long drive.
Being on the road with your best friends, traveling, playing music, meeting new amazing people, is such a blessing. It’s hard work, but we love it. We can’t wait to get back on the road in August.
What next on the horizon for you (shows/new tracks/in the studio etc.)?
We will just be working hard to get our music heard by as many people as possible, and also looking for representation, booking agent, manager, etc. We want to be on the road as much as possible. We are playing a festival called Rock the Block in July in Rhode Island, another festival called Hog Jam in Ohio in August, and we will also be in New York, Cape May, Boston, Rochester, etc for our August tour. We have our album coming out on vinyl in a couple months. The whole band is always writing, so I know we are already looking forward to our next album, although it won’t be for a little while yet.