Your band comes from all over the country and the world. How did the band come together and how do you collaborate to create your music?
The band really came together piece by piece. Shawn (our drummer) I found through an online ad; Joe (bass) through a recommendation by a friend. Jeff (guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, keys) was recommended by several people, including our outgoing fiddle player and Zac Brown. Elena (fiddle, mandolin, keys) we were lucky enough to find online as well. Though we're originally from all over the place, we all (with the exception of Elena, who lives in Charlotte) live in Atlanta now. As far as collaboration and creating music, it happens in many ways. Sometimes I write on my own and bring something finished to the band. Just as often, though, I'll sit and write with someone else, often Jeff Spirko, but it's also been Channing Wilson, Stuart Oliver, or others. Once we get the music and lyrics happening, we take it to the band for the finishing touches. Of course, as the band tours the song can take on a life of its own, changing and evolving as we play it for people and seeing what gets a reaction.
It has been a long journey to get here and you have been putting in your time playing venue after venue across the Southeast. What is it like to finally be recognized for all of your hard work?
It's nice that people are starting to notice us, there's no doubt about that, but the past few years have been a lot of fun as well. There's definitely something to be said for playing small rooms for a few dozen people. You get to know both your fans and their friends, and have the chance to make fans out of them too. You learn firsthand, up close and personal, what people are digging and what they're not. All that being said, it's a pretty amazing feeling to walk out on stage in front of 10,000 or more people. There's most certainly a certain amount of vindication in that.
Congratulations on recently being named as one of Billboard’s Artists on the Verge! How have things changed for the band since the announcement?
Thank you. Yes, it was pretty exciting to hear we were gonna be included as one of 2012's 'Best Bets'. I don't know if things have really changed, other than there being more eyes on us. You hope that most of those people are rooting for you, and in your corner.
You are known for your amazing live performances. How do you prepare for live shows and make sure you “bring it” every night?
We're more proud of our live show than anything. We treat it like wedding vows: In sickness and in health, richer or poorer (some shows don't pay very well), good day or bad, rain, hail, sleet or snow (maybe that's the mailman, but you get the idea) the ONLY thing that matters when showtime comes around is bringing the heat EVERY SINGLE SHOW, EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. Whether it’s a small club with 90 people, or a festival with 40,000, we treat every show like it's our most important show EVER.
What are a few of your favorite all-time favorite venues you have played? Anywhere you’ve always dreamed of playing?
We play so many cool places it's hard to narrow down, but some of our favorite clubs we play are the Peachtree Tavern in Atlanta and the Windjammer in Charleston, SC. Bigger venues that have been good to us are Johnny Mercer Auditorium in Savannah, Montgomery (AL) Performing Arts Center, and the Smoke on the Water Festival at Bickley's Lake in Thomaston GA are always big faves. I recently saw a Tori Amos show at Cobb Energy Center here in Atlanta, and that place is awesome! I'd love to play there. The Triple Door in Seattle is amazing, House of Blues New Orleans, The Whiskey in L.A., all of those would be dreams come true. After that show at Johnny Mercer last year the whole band was hanging out at the hotel and we watched this documentary about the Foo Fighters which culminated in them playing at Wembley. Is that aiming too high?
You’ve been compared to the likes of Zac Brown Band, but what artists do you think have had the most influence on your music?
ZBB is definitely great and puts on a helluva show for sure. I think that's one way that our bands ARE very similar, attention to the live show. But as far as influences, I'd say my biggest influences are early Elton John and The Band. That being said, I probably listen to and own more music than just about anyone I've ever met. We listen to such a wide variety of stuff in the van on the road, from Regina Spektor and Brandi Carlile to Eli Young Band, Travis Tritt and Avett Brothers to Alice in Chains, Mobb Deep, and Mars Volta. I think that on some level, all of those influence us.
New Hometown (Parts 1 & 2) is your most recent release. How do you feel this album differs from your previous work, 90 Proof Lullabies and A Southern Gothic? What events influenced your work on this album?
I feel like NH is a much more personal journey than any of my previous work. The title track is really about my childhood and subsequent travels around the country in the back of a van. Also, strangely enough, NH was the first time I'd really worked with co-writers. I was surprised how having a sounding board really allowed me to be more honest with my feelings and more confident in the musical aspects of the songs. It's a great leg up to be able to rely on someone else's strengths, not just your own, especially when they're different strengths.
Which song on New Hometown means the most to you personally? Can you give us a glimpse into the meaning behind this song and what went into writing it?
I know I've previously mentioned the title track, New Hometown, but I'd have to say the most meaningful to me is probably 16 Bars. That song is all about struggling, working, and bearing your soul, and just hoping that someone hears you, notices, sings along. Nothing means more than someone else singing your song
What is next for Connor Christian & Southern Gothic? Any plans to expand your tour?
We'd love to expand the tour. We're headed out west to play Summerfest in Milwaukee, Ribfest in Chicago/Naperville, and some dates further west that are currently uncharted territory for CCSG. We're also hoping to make it to the UK and some of Europe this year. We're gonna tour behind New Hometown for a while, but that doesn't mean we're resting. We're continually writing new songs and thinking about the next album. New songs like "Moonshine Georgia", "Be Alright", "Old News", and "Run To" have become staples of the live show and it's amazing to see people singing all the words without there even being a recording out there. So gratifying. The CCSG machine never sleeps and we're always looking for virgin territory ripe for conquering.
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