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Drew Holcomb Gets a Little Help from His Friends

Holcomb has built a band of his literal neighbors into a musical community that both supports and challenges his creativity.

Written By:  Sarah Carter

Photographers:  Ashtin Paige

The conditions that were set in place for Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors’ latest release, Souvenir, created a perfect storm of professionalism: a decade of collaboration, returning producers, and the creative freedom afforded by releasing the record on Holcomb’s own Magnolia Records. And these conditions were not coincidental: Holcomb has built a band of his literal neighbors into a musical community that both supports and challenges his creativity.

Holcomb did most of the writing for the band’s last five studio releases, with the exception of a few co-writes, some with songwriter and wife, Ellie. But, last year, he made a change—he started meeting every Monday with bandmates Rich Brinsfield (bass) and Nathan Dugger (guitar, keys) to write what would become Souvenir.

“I felt like I just kind of hit a wall with my own writing, writing alone. They know my voice. They trust me; I trust them. So, it was a lot easier to write with them, because they know what I like, and they know how to challenge that and push me in a new direction,” he says.

>>> March Albums Releases

 

While many bands struggle with a rotating lineup, the Neighbors have had the luxury of a 10-year collaboration. “There’s just been this kind of a mutual admiration that we’ve had through working together for that long,” Holcomb says. And that relationship is more apparent than ever on Souvenir, accentuated by a collaborative writing style. “Stylistically, there’s a little bit more diversity,” he says. “There’s some really big, epic rock songs, like ‘Black and Blue’ and ‘Sometimes,’ and then there [are] also these very mellow, folky songs, like songs like ‘Yellow Rose’ and ‘Rowdy Heart.’”

Returning producers Joe Pisapia and Ian Fitchuck recorded one track at a time until the album was complete. Without the cast of veterans, recording this way could have been a grueling process, Holcomb says. Instead, the one-track approach kept the music fresh.

“The musical cooperation, the vibe, was really strong because we never got bored. We were always working on this one piece until it’s completion, and then we would move on to the next song and not come back to it,” he says.  

The result? “A more ensemble record that I think has more production, bigger moments, but also just a lot more musicality than our last couple releases,” he says. “ [We’re] still kind of sailing the same river—just letting more people on board.” magnoliarecord.club

>>> Q&A with Drew Holcomb (Feb 2015)

 

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