By Jasper Intern Jenna Schiferl
Headlining Five After Five on June 4 is Atlas Road Crew, a South Carolina rock band with contemporary Southern flares. Jasper sat down with lead guitarist Taylor Nicholson to discuss new music, touring, and the band’s evolving sound.
Q: When you were a student at USC did you know that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
TN: I wouldn’t say quite as much as a career, we just had fun playing around with our friends and stuff. I would say it was probably a couple years into school when we thought you know, “maybe we should give it a shot and see how far this will go.” So we did, but that was kind of toward the end — in the beginning it was just something to do with friends.
You guys go on tour a lot. Is it difficult being on the road so often?
It has its ups and downs. I personally enjoy being on the road. When I’m home I feel I like I should be doing something. But when I’m on the road it’s always “go, go, go,” you know nonstop doing things, so I always feel occupied. I enjoy meeting new people and getting to see different cities that I never would have. Our longest time on the road was when we toured Europe last year. We were in a van for about six weeks and travelled about 16,000 kilometers across Europe. Definitely by the third week or so you’re kind of ready for it to be over, and then you realize “I have another three weeks.” But over here in the states, our tours aren’t that extensive. So if we’re gone for two weeks, that’s not that bad. And we have a van so it’s not too cramped. But I think for the most part we all enjoy it.
Your latest single, “My Own Way,” has a different sound than your previous album. Was that a conscious decision, or did it just evolve naturally?
Yes! You know when we did Halfway To Hopkins we were fairly new to the whole thing, and we’re still kind of figuring that out now. We’re trying to develop a sound that is a little more, I guess just in general develop our own individual sound as a band, Atlas Road Crew. On Halfway To Hopkins some songs were kind of rock ‘n roll, and then others were a little toned down, it was kind of mixed up. So for this next album, we’ve been working on that and trying to really hone in on a sound that is very cohesive with all of the songs. This next album it is going to be different from the first album, but I think it’s going to be different in a good way. We’re excited, we’re going to be getting into the studio to start recording some of the tracks. We don’t have an exact release date yet, but we are excited to start working on this next album.
Has Southern heritage or Southern culture influenced your music?
I think it definitely comes out in some of our songs, with me personally being born and raised in South Carolina, as well as our keyboardist. I think there’s definitely some accents in there that kind of stick out. But you know at the same time some of our influences are The Rolling Stones and British rock bands, or like a Kings of Leon sound. Our influences are all over the place and I think you can kind of see a little bit of all of that in our music.
Is it ever intimidating to share music that can sometimes be pretty personal with the world? Do you ever have that fear of rejection or that people aren’t going to accept it?
I mean yeah, of course. Even within the band, if someone has got a song it’s always a little difficult or nerve-wracking to bring something that means a lot to you to get the opinion of someone else who might not be able to relate as well. It can be a little scary at times, but we’ve kinda gotten past that part and we can share whatever with each other. We do a lot of co-writing, not all of our songs are just from individuals. We like to work on it together, and start from scratch and kind of build it. That way everyone can kind of weigh in their thoughts on it or how they perceive the situation.
Five After Five is a free monthly concert event that features local music, food vendors and entertainment. Catch Atlas Road Crew perform on June 4 at the Five Points fountain, along with opener The Herbie Jeffcoat Projekt and closing DJ Bois Obscur.