The Bohannons Photo by Jason Dunn
“Sleeping in the van isn’t cool when you’ve actually got an alternative place to crash on the road but hey, somebody’s got to stay with the gear,” Marty Bohannon said in reference to preparations for The Bohannons’ third tour this year. “And it really sucks when you’re battling food poisoning at the same time.”
Local favorites The Bohannons embark next week on a string of tour stops that’ll reintroduce their tunes to audiences in the northeast, highlighted by dates at two different NYC clubs. And, if also recording two upcoming album releases this year isn’t enough, the summer tour marks this hard working local outfit’s third such outing since January.
“We left New Year’s Day for a midwestern tour that included playing Schuba’s, a Chicago club we’d envied for years,” says Matt Bohannon, vocalist and lead guitarist to his brother Marty’s rhythm guitar and vocals. “But the highlight of the winter tour was being invited to record at Daytrotter Studios in Iowa.”
Along with bassist Josh Beaver and drummer Nick Sterchi, the band was one of the lucky given the opportunity to participate in Daytrotter, an inexpensive online service that offers subscribers access to weekly live studio recordings of some of the most promising independent bands in the country.
“It was a real honor for us,” said bassist Josh Beaver. “Like a lot of music fans, we look to Daytrotter to clue us in on what’s out there right now. It’s really cool to think that we’re a part of that elite group of bands included in their archives.”
As far as their own recorded archives, The Bohannons have three album releases under their belt so far – 2006’s “Songs for the Disenfranchised,” 2008’s “Bright White Light,” and the critically acclaimed “Days of Echo,” released via thisisamericanmusic.com in 2010. And, this year promises the release of not one, but two complete albums – “Unaka Rising” in July and “Buzz Me” later this year.
“At the urging of our friend Mike Pack, we started tracking songs at Chase Park Transduction in Athens, Georgia with noted producer and engineer Dave Barbe at the helm,” said Marty Bohannon. “The overall experience was good, and I think we got what we hoped for. Regardless, it was a very necessary stepping stone for us.”
Primarily known for a rocking sound reminiscent of diverse influences ranging from Roky Erikson and Black Sabbath to Neil Young’s Crazy Horse and The Band, The Bohannons took advantage of opportunities on these upcoming releases to showcase their growth as a band – both musically and lyrically.
A couple of tracks on “Unaka Rising,” namely “The ballad of Christian and other” and “Two riders,” deal with issues of the heart as they relate to subjects such as families tugging lovers apart due to religious differences and couples grappling with the downward spiral of drug codependency. “River above” and “Ponchatrain” reflect upon the trials and tribulations of those affected by Hurricane Katrina from a first person point of view. Some songs take on controversial issues like “Goodbye Bill” about a martyred labor organizer and “Cold dead hand” about varying views on gun control, while “Tim Tim” is about the spirit of a house cat in his natural indoor habitat.
“The new songs show how Marty and I have developed as songwriters and how versatile the band can be,” said Matt Bohannon. “In fact, we’ve produced so much material of late that we wanted to capture a second round of recordings, here in Chattanooga, while the iron was still hot so to speak.”
The band has reassembled at various times between tours to lay down tracks for another upcoming album entitled “Buzz Me” to be released later this year. The sessions are taking place at a brand new local facility, Tiny Buzz Studios, owned by seasoned local producers Mike Pack and Alex Norfleet.
“These sessions were the first time we’ve experienced a real comfort zone for tracking without the pressure of the clock weighing in on us or the distance from home in the back of our minds,” said Marty Bohannon. “The results have been phenomenal. Mike and Alex are open to new ideas and their equipment list and capabilities are as good as you can get anywhere in the southeast. They’ve just blown us away.”
Bouncing between recording sessions and touring over the past six months, the band continued to blow away audiences this past spring with a second tour – this time of the southwest - that began with a reunion of sorts in New Orleans.
“We were lucky enough to do a gig at the Circle Bar in the French Quarter with James Legg, one of our favorite Chattanooga recording artists,” said drummer Nick Sterchi. “It’s always awesome to jam with musician friends on the road when we can.”
The band travelled on doing shows in New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas and Texas, where they headed straight to Austin for a few very important club appearances during one of the country’s longest running and most influential music, film and interactive showcases – SXSW. South-By-Southwest is the annual epicenter for bands looking to expose their music to hundreds of music industry professionals as well as other influential people all at the same time.
“Sissy Spacek was at our first showcase so I was stoked,” said Marty Bohannon. “And if ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ looking on and the pressure of the showcase wasn’t enough, Matt’s amp caught fire but hey, we battled through and did some great shows.”
After returning home and laying down the remaining tracks for this year’s two releases “Unaka Rising” and “Buzz Me,” The Bohannons are once again ready to hit the road next week with a northeastern tour that kicks off here in Chattanooga with a bon voyage show at JJ’s Bohemia this Friday, June 22nd.
“We’re playing Louisville, Columbus Ohio, Buffalo, New York City for two dates and then back down through Richmond Virginia,” said Josh Beaver. “But it’ll be good to play here at home before hitting some cities we haven’t been to in a while.”
Meanwhile back here at home, you’ll be able to download “Unaka Rising” on thisisamericanmusic.com starting July 10th or pick up a CD this Friday, June 22nd at the JJ’s Bohemia show. And, be sure and watch for The Bohannons second release, “Buzz Me” later this year. It’s all coming your way from probably the hardest working band in town