Because Songs Matter

Michelle Evans Interviews Lance Howell of Big Shoals

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Big Shoals is an Americana band based out of Gainesville, FL, combining elements of straight up rock ‘n’ roll, 60s/70s folk, and country – a little bit of everything, really. Personally, I hear a lot of Tom Petty in them, though lead singer and songwriter, Lance Howell, doesn’t cite him as one of his major influences. Their debut album, Still Go On, is on sale now at their Bandcamp, digitally, and physical copies will be sold at their CD release shows on April 25th at Loosey’s in Gainesville with Snakehealers and Pseudo Kids, and on May 16th at their hometown CD release show at Ashley Street Station in Valdosta, GA with Jen Anders. You can also try to win it (along with some Lucero merch) over at the Dear Ben Nichols Facebook giveaway going on till 5 p.m. tonight, EST.

I’ve been a super-busy gal lately and had to succumb to the ol’ email interview – y’all know how I prefer to talk – but these dudes are too good not to get to know. Forgive the format this time ’round, and read on for an introduction to a band I seriously can’t stop listening to.

What was the writing process like for Still Go On?

Haha. It took a long time. These songs were written over a span of about three years. Half of it was written while I lived in Tulsa, OK,  and the other half after I moved back home to Valdosta for a bit. Then I came down to Gainesville. I had been in Tulsa for about 3 and a half years, in a band with a cousin of mine out there as her lead guitarist. I was writing my own stuff the whole time but really only singing them to the walls in my room and occasionally playing one for my roommate and a couple friends. Eventually I just really missed home, and my family, girlfriend and friends. I was flat broke too, because the guy I was working construction for at the time basically just stopped paying me. I got home to Georgia from Tulsa on a $500 check he gave me that later bounced. He still owes me $2400. I can’t get a hold of him. haha. I had a lot of fun in Tulsa, and learned a lot, but it also drained me. “Skipping Stones” is probably the best example of that, and I think it was the last one I wrote while I was there. It’s probably the most personal song on the album. After I got home, I had all these songs that I was really proud of, all I needed was a band. Luckily me and Jake drunkenly stumbled into one another one night at Loosey’s, and started playing together a few months later. Now we’ve been playing together for about 2 years. I got my younger brother on board for a bit as our drummer. We started playing shows, then started recording the album last May.

You have a FL/GA/southeast tour happening now. Can you tell us more about that?

Yeah. We’re excited to be playing out of town more. We’ve played here and there occasionally since we started, but we’re getting to the point that booking is getting a little easier. We’ve got shows being thrown at us now which is nice. We’re playing some shows with our pals the Snakehealers, Pseudo Kids, Six Time Losers. We’re playing a show with the David Mayfield Parade again. We played a show with them a little while back. He’s a cool guy, and they put on a hell of a show. Also, doing a show with American Aquarium here in Gainesville, I believe, in June. We’re looking forward to that one. We saw those guys play in JAX at Jack Rabbits last year. They’re such a tight band. I’m interested to see what the new added guitar player is going to bring to the mix. I’m sure it’ll be great.

What shows do you have coming up?

Well, the CD Release this Friday the 25th at Loosey’s. We love that place. It’s home. May 1st we’re playing Rock The Park in Tampa. That David Mayfield show is May 9th here in Gainesville at High Dive. We’re doing another CD release show May 16th in Valdosta, GA. It’s my hometown, and even though I don’t necessarily want to live there, there’s a part of it I still love. Plus my friends and family have been waiting on me to get an album out for years. They heard all my shitty songs growing up and loved them. Hopefully they’ll like these too. haha. We’ve got a lot more booked and some still in the works.

Tell me about the style of your music. It certainly falls under the umbrella of Americana, but I think some songs are grittier than others – heavier on the guitar than others – while others are sweeter and softer.

It’s definitely not what you hear on the radio. haha. It’s rock and roll. It’s a little bit of country. Blues, bluegrass. Maybe some folk in the mix I guess. Americana I guess is what most people call it, if they even know what that is. My goal is just “good”. To me there’s 2 kinds of music. Good and Bad. I’ve got a lot of influences, so what you said makes sense. Basically, the three main writers that are/have been in the Drive-By Truckers: Patterson Hood, Cooley, Isbell. I love all those guys. They’re the band that I listened to that made me say, “That’s what I want to do, and I think I can do it.” That’s the direction I want to go, and they’re all such great songwriters. Also, Neil Young, Dylan of course, Leonard Cohen influenced one song on the album, “Tumbleweed Towns”. That’s my “Leonard Song.” As close as I could get anyways. haha. There’s a lot more, but we’d be here for days.

Did you start playing music at an early age? Because you’re only 26 now.

Yeah. I started playing bass when I was 11-ish. Maybe 12 I think. My older brother played guitar, but he wouldn’t tell me what chords he was playing sometimes, so I could follow him. After a while of watching him and figuring out what was what so I could follow and play with him, I just picked up my grandad’s guitar one day and started playing. I already knew all the chords. I was playing songs within a few weeks. I mostly played around the house. In church a lot when I was younger. I was a bass player in a southern gospel band for a bit. Haha I started playing bars when I was 15 and I had a regular gig on Wednesdays and Sunday nights all through school. I got $75 plus tips, and that was my high school job. But my whole family played. A lot of country and gospel, maybe a little CCR occasionally.

Finally, what’s in your record collection? I always like knowing that, and a lot of 9b readers are avid record collectors. I think they’ll appreciate knowing, too.

The ones I tend to listen to the most are probably my Springsteen records. I’ve got “Born To Run” and “Darkness On The Edge Of Town”. The Truckers or Isbell’s solo albums. I recently got Drag The Rivers latest album. That’s great. John Moreland’s “In The Throes” has probably been under my needle the most this year. That album is just perfect.

3 Comments

  1. Erin Drello Erin Drello
    April 25, 2014    

    Awesome! Cannot wait to hear it!

  2. Mike Ostrov Mike Ostrov
    April 25, 2014    

    Great interview.

    Makes me wish I still lived in Gainesville.

  3. June 9, 2014    

    I love to read interviews. I think that reading interviews can boost up our understanding. I am glad to read this post.

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