Tell me a little bit about Tishamingo like how you came up with that name.
We got the name from the movie, the Cohen Brothers film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?. There is a part in the movie where the three escaped convicts go to Crossroads and they meet up with a guy who is Tommy Johnson and he wanted to go to Tishamingo because he can record a song and sing into a can for 10 dollars and he just sold his soul to the devil. They pick him up and they go to Tishamingo and that's when they record their song that brings them fame and fortune.
You guys are quite literate then.
Nah, we just watch movies.
They watch a lot of movies.
Come to find out, Tishamingo is an actual county in Mississippi. A couple of cities are named Tishamingo after a Chickasaw warrior chief. Chief Tishamingo.
How long have you guys been together?
We started, I think March 2001 was our first gig we had together but we started playing full time in August 2001. We've been together a little more than three years.
Is Wear N' Tear your first album?
No, it's our second album.
Tell me a little about it. I loved it by the way. It has that real nice bluesy southern rock style to it.
Thanks, I appreciate it. We recorded it. The producer's a gentleman by the name of David Barbe, and he's been getting a lot of notoriety here in Athens and throughout the nation by doing the Drive By Truckers namely. He produced Blood Kin and numerous other bands. He's a super guy to work with and so much fun to be in the studio with. He's just good, good energy and a good person. Everybody loves Dave Barbe in Athens. That was a cool privilege to get to work with him. Then we had John Keane mix the CD. We thought it was pretty cool to be able to use both of those guys on this CD. I don't think anybody has done that before. That was fun to be able to use those two talents on this album. It's our first national release so we're excited about that.
John Keane has some pretty well known acts in his resume too. Widespread Panic and R.E.M.
Yeah, exactly and it's been our first album with John.
Apparently you used two vocalists.
Yeah, Jess sings and I sing.
Do you trade off on songs?
Yeah. There's not really a formula for it. It's just whatever works at that particular time.
I thought it was an interesting idea. I remember listening to KISS as a kid and all four of those guys doing various songs on their albums as lead vocals. I always thought that was a cool idea.
Yeah, and that's how this band started. When Jess and I were playing acoustic guitar together and both of us singing. I was living in Atlanta and he was living in Tallahassee and I would drive down to Tallahassee to do shows with him. He'd come to Atlanta and it just grew into more from us playing acoustic shows together. We decided to start a band. We found Richard on drums and then Stephen on bass had been playing with Jess for a long time so that was a natural thing. It just melded together after a while with the four of us.
You've been compared to the Allman Brothers, Grand Funk Railroad, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. I heard a little bit of an Aerosmith influence in there as well.
I appreciate it. We like them.
Are these bands that basically influenced you musically?
Yeah, absolutely. That's always been music that I listen to. As far as the Allman Brothers, Richard our drummer, Butch Trucks the drummer from the Allman Brothers was his drum teacher. Growing up, Richard would go over to Butch's house for drum lessons and of course back then when we were younger, it wasn't the Allman Brothers that we were into. I remember asking Butch if he was the most famous guy in the Allman Brothers. He was like "are you kidding me? Do you know Gregg Allman or Duane Allman?" I was like "no." That was when we were pretty young and then once, I think about ninth or tenth grade, I started gaining an appreciation for the Allmans and that was all she wrote after that.
I knew someone who played bass with them for a little bit.
Who was that?
Bruce Waibel. Unfortunately he decided to end his life a few years back but he played with them for a little bit. Who does the majority of the song writing in the band or does everyone contribute?
Everybody writes. The main formula we had before the band or right when the band was getting started was, the drummer and I had grown up writing songs together since about sixth or seventh grade. We had been in bands together for that long. Jess would write on his own and then Stephen would write on his own and then maybe I would write on my own. What's cool is that Richard our drummer writes a lot of lyrics for our music. As we've grown, on this last album on this song "Legend Of George Nelson", Richard and Jess wrote that. That was the first time that they've collaborated on a song. The ones that Jess sings are the ones that he writes. We have yet to do a song that Jess wrote that I sing or vice versa. I definitely see that in the future. We're starting to integrate writing techniques I guess as we grow. That's been the main way it's working. Spivey wrote a song on this album actually. That was the first time that he's put a song that he's written on an album that we've done. He wrote "Rome", the instrumental song.
I think it's cool when everybody collaborates together because that solidifies bands a bit.
Sure, yeah. It shows that I think everybody's got a voice in the band. It's not just one guy's deal that everybody's playing behind.
That works with some bands but doesn't with others. There are some bands where one guy does everything and everyone is happy with that.
Absolutely. I think all those can be good for sure.
You guys have known each for a long time.
We have. We have been friends for a while. We were good friends until we started a band together. I'm just kidding. We definitely are very close. All of us are and there's definitely a cool brotherhood going on.
That's a good thing because that has been known to break up friendships before.
Oh yeah. Absolutely.
When you guys play live shows, what areas do you normally play in?
Mainly right now we're in the southeast pretty much exclusively. We've been out West and we'll continue to go out West. This year is going to open up a lot of stuff for us. We plan on heading up to the northeast this year and going all the way to the West coast as well. As far as getting out of the South, mainly going to Colorado and on the way out there doing gigs and on the way back. Colorado has treated us really well. We always have a good time and do really well out there.
You guys have been signed to Magna Carta Records. That seems to be a pretty good indie label. How did you come to their attention?
Yeah, definitely. Pretty much our manager Joe Hannon worked all that stuff out. He started up with us a couple of years ago and I'm not sure how he ended up coming up with Magna Carta or how they found us but we're glad they did. We're excited that they made this album possible because it's been a good two years since our first release so it was definitely time for a new album.
What inspires you guys when you write music?
Everything. All kinds of stuff. Different ones in the band have different inspirations.
My two favorite songs on here are "Hillbilly Wine" and "Poison Whiskey".
Cool. "Hillbilly Wine", Richard wrote the lyrics to that probably 10 years ago. That was written more about a place called El Destino which is a plantation down in North Florida. Richard and I used to be in a band called Black Creek Band. El Destino is where we lived. It was just a beautiful place and we used to drink hillbilly wine when we hung out there. I guess drinking has a lot of influence on our music.
I noticed that. I also liked "Wastin' Time". I thought that was a pretty cool song.
Thanks. That's the first song on the album. That one Jess wrote. Funny that you mention those two songs. Those are two songs that we had written a while ago. Some of the songs we had written a while ago and some of the songs are new. It just depended on what we wanted to put on this album. "Wastin' Time" and "Hillbilly Wine" are two that we actually brought with us from other bands and recorded on this album. Which is cool. We did that on this album whereas we didn't do that on our first album at all. We didn't take any old songs on the first album at all and we wanted to do that just to let people we weren't trying to hang on to a bunch of old music. We wanted to present something new. We were like on the second album, we'll put a couple of old songs on it and that'll be the case with the following albums as well with songs we have. We'll pull from the vault as well as put new stuff on there.
I think that's a cool thing to do because it lets people see where you've been and where you're going. A lot of times people don't use old songs because maybe it won't fit the theme of whatever album they were doing and then sometimes you'll have a certain theme and you'll have some old songs that fit that.
It's a shame if you have some really good songs you wrote a while back and you just leave them in the basement so to speak.
Sure, absolutely. For us it's fun. We've got a couple of other tunes that we're excited about putting on future albums. It's nice to have some artillery in the shed.
Absolutely. It's cool to hear you talking about what you want to do on the next album. It sounds like you're pretty excited about all this.
Oh yeah. We're so looking forward to this album coming out. It's well overdue.
It comes out officially next month.
Any other thoughts or comments?
Go to our website and buy the album. No. I appreciate you calling and hooking us up. I really appreciate it.