Futurebirds, a rock band out of Athens, Georgia, have long been a favorite here at American Songwriter. We sat down with guitarist Thomas Johnson and bassist Brannen Miles at Bonnaroo, where we discussed the Athens music scene and the nature of “psychedelic country.”
Your music has been described as psychedelic country? When I hear that term I think of Toby Keith on liquid acid. And yet your music sounds nothing like that.
Brandon: I think people get the psychedelic from the reverb and the delay.
Thomas: I think they’re certainly psychedelic aspects to the music.
Brandon: As far as 60s psychedelic music, that’s not the case.
Thomas: It depends on what you mean by it.
What is it about the Athens music scene that breeds so many different kinds of bands and sounds?
Brandon: I don’t know. I’ve noticed what you’re talking about. I wonder if it’s the creativity of young college kids getting together for the first time away from home.
Thomas: It’s encouraged in the Athens music scene to do something that pushes the limits a little bit. Or to do something that someone else hasn’t really done, and create your own sound. Because there are a lot of bands in Athens, even thought it’s a small town. You have to distinguish yourself. I think it’s interesting though that there isn’t really an Athens sound.
Brandon: There are just good listeners in Athens, so a lot of bands do well because people actually pay attention and listen.
Thomas: It’s something you can party and dance to – but not exclusively.
Brandon: It’s all over the place, it is.