‘Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors’ speaks about band identity, upcoming show

COMMON GROUND TAKEOVER Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors will be performing at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Common Grounds. Courtesy Photo

Kaitlyn DeHaven | Design Editor

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors have been to Common Grounds before, but the band is still pumped to be performing again at 8 p.m. Saturday. The Lariat sat down with lead singer Drew Holcomb to talk to him about the band, his life and his newest album, “Souvenir”.

Q: When and how did you decide to go into music?

A: I played guitar as a kid, and I loved music. It was one of my favorite things growing up. When I went off to college, I went and studied abroad in Scotland my junior year and that’s where I started writing songs for the first time. I came home from that and started playing in local bars around Knoxville and really started to think about how I might want to do that with my life. I graduated a year later and decided to try it. I did solo acts for quite a while and then met my band — some of them when I moved to Memphis and some of them when I moved to Nashville and we’ve been a band for 13 years now.

Q: What does your songwriting process look like?

A: It varies. Sometimes it’s lyrics first, sometimes it’s music first — now that I have a family, I have to set aside time to go work out music. It used to be a little easier when I had more time. I just try to keep an eye on the world and take inspiration from all sorts of things, whether it’s books, movies, or other songwriters or things that are on the news. Family is also always a good place to look to for inspiration.

Q: Who and what are your day-to-day inspirations?

A: Experiences, movies, they kind of come from anywhere. You could see someone walking down the street and imagine their life and try to write a song about it, or you could see a TV show or hear a phase that makes sense to you — there are all sorts of things that can stir up inspiration. The key is looking for them and writing them down, otherwise they’ll float away and be gone forever.

Q: What is your favorite song you’ve written and why?

A: Probably “What Would I Do Without You” from the album “Good Light.” I think it’s one of those songs that just kind of surprised me; it came out of nowhere. I just like the metaphors in it and I like the way people have responded to it. It’s been a song I’m really proud of.

Q: What do you think is the most unique aspect of your music?

A: It has a good mixture of the three hometowns I’ve had over the years. It has some of the soul of Memphis, it has some of the songwriting and country of Nashville and some of the folk perspective of Knoxville; you take all the three of them and blend them all together. I lived in all three towns, so it gave me a unique philosophy on how to make music, how to record it and how to tour. It’s very much a Tennessee thing, just like you Texans have your own type of music, I think our music is very much Tennessee music.

Q: How is the dynamic between your band members?

A: We’re old friends, so it’s kind of like being on a road trip with your friends, but it’s like a ten-year road trip. We get along pretty well but we also give each other a lot of space. We have a lot of fun, we love making music together, but our favorite time is our time on stage on night. That’s why we do it and that’s what we really look forward to.

Q: What’s your favorite song to perform?

A: Probably a song called “Here We Go.” It’s just a lot of fun. It’s one of those ones that the crowd seems to love, it’s a very high energy song and it’s kind of back and forth between me and the audience. If the show’s not feeling great we always pull that song out and it gets the train back on the tracks.

Q: What sets your new album apart from the rest?

A: I think musically speaking it’s more dynamic. it has more influences, more co-writing. I think it has a broader musical voice than the last two. I think that makes for a more complex, dynamic live show as well.

Q: How did it feel singing with your wife again in “Black and Blue?”

A: She used to be in the band for eight years, so it felt like it was back to the old way of doing things. It’s always fun to have her come and sing a song or two on the record. It’s nostalgic for us and we really enjoy that.

Q: What was it like to give your album to your bandmates to finish while you were in the hospital?

A: It was very strange to let go of something like that and have the band take over. But again, they’re guys I know and we’ve been doing this for 13 years and I trust them. I was so sick that at the time I couldn’t think of anything else other than trying to get better. It was pretty freeing to hand over the reins to them and trust them with the whole thing.

Q: If you were to give some advice to young musicians, what would those be?

A: I would tell them to be more patient than I was. Don’t think that it has to happen quickly or it won’t happen at all. I wish I could go back and tell myself that. And then I would tell them to focus on the song, because it’s the most important part. You can’t have a good career without having good songs that people can connect to.

Q: How has it been in the past to perform at Common Grounds?

A: We love it. It’s such a unique venue. Performing outside, you never know what you’re going to get. We’ve had shows that have been really cold and everyone’s all bundled up and that’s fun. It’s hard on the hands when you’re playing guitar, but fun. I love the venues that are right by campus, usually. There are a lot of college kids and that’s always a good time. College kids seem to have a little more energy. It’s always fun and we always look forward to it.

Q: What are you looking forward to most for this show?

A: We’ve been up in the north for the past few weeks and it’s been really cold. We’re just really excited to get down here and into the good weather. We’ve always had a good reception wherever we go in Texas and so we’re just looking forward to be back in Texas. It’s a great state with a lot of good music-loving people.