Catch up with New York-based southern-infused rock collective Gideon's Army and look for their forthcoming album King of the League to be released later this year.
How did you all meet?
Rob Bray: The process started kind of how it happens for a lot of musicians; we were all one degree of separation away from each other, so I knew a musician who knew a musician who knew a musician who knew a musician [laughs] and, pretty soon, we all came together.
Where does your name 'Gideon's Army' come from?
I've liked the name Gideon for a long time. I was dating a girl who had a best friend who was dating a guy whose name was Gideon and I remember, when I was in my early 20s, saying that's such a cool name, if I could name a kid or name myself, Gideon would be a cool name. I was brainstorming band names and I said Gideon's Army out loud - I don't know how it came about [laughs] - but I said it out loud and I was like, 'yeah, that's a bad ass name for a rock and roll band'.
How would you describe your sound?
I would definitely describe it as southern-infused rock and roll, strongly and heavily influenced by blues music and country and southern rock and rock 'n' roll and rockabilly musical influences. We get a lot of our sounds from the sounds of the South, and that doesn't necessarily mean that the band's from the geographical location, but even bands like The Rolling Stones that came out of England, they're a southern rock band; the music they were listening to and getting inspired by had roots in the southern United States. You can throw gospel into that too, but I definitely say we're southern-infused and I definitely say we're a rock 'n' roll band. I know a lot of bands from the classic period in the 1950s kind of dropped the 'roll' from rock 'n' roll, but I think the roll is important, I consider our sound to be more rock and roll, for sure.
Which musicians have you been influenced by?
A lot of the southern rock bands like The Rolling Stones, The Black Crowes, The Allman Brothers, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Kings of Leon. I grew up in New Jersey so I'm a big Bruce Springsteen fan, as well. Growing up, I was getting inspired by a lot of the '90s alternative rock bands, as well, but my musical influences are varied; pop, rock, soul, hip hop, RnB. I get inspired by all the genres, there's good stuff in all genres.
Speaking big picture, the southern rock bands, the rock that was coming out in the 1950s, and I'm inspired by a lot of blues artists, too; guys that can sit down with their guitar and are able to create a full sound with just them, their guitar, and the vocal.
What was the inspiration behind your latest single, "Don't Mind"?
"Don't Mind" is definitely coming out of that tradition of southern rock songs that feature bravado and swagger. I'm a huge fan of songs like "Hard To Handle" by The Black Crowes and The Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil" and "Street Fighting Man" and any number of Johnny Cash songs, Elvis Presley, and "Pickup Truck" by Kings of Leon; so, it's definitely coming out of my appreciation of that kind of song.
That's off your forthcoming album, is it indicative of the sound we can expect to hear on King of the League?
There's a lot of variety on it; I'm really proud of the variety that we're going to showcase on this upcoming album. You definitely have this hard driving rock and roll song, some rock, some twangy country songs, some soulful ballads; there's a lot of variety on the album, for sure.
Could you sum up King of the League in one sentence?
[Laughs] In one sentence? It's a collection of rock and roll influences from traditional rock and roll to southern rock, through all the genres of rock and roll that have come since - alternative rock, indie rock, rock - and modern country and contemporary southern rock, as well.
What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?
I hope they get a burst of joyful exuberance. The music was written in joyful exuberance and I hope they can see it that way and when we play live, we feed off the audience as much as possible, so hopefully it's a mutual exchange of joyful exuberance; that's what we're hoping to give whenever we put a record out and whenever we play live shows for people.
You're heading out on tour for this album, do you have a favorite track to perform live?
It definitely depends on my mood and the feeling I'm getting from the audience. Things happen in people's daily lives and people come into the shows in different moods on different days at different times, so getting a sense of how your audience is feeling, how you're feeling as a band, and how I'm feeling personally, definitely affects what song I love the most. I love all my songs equally; at the time I was writing it, that was the song and emotion I was living in at that moment so, as I go through life, my emotional life changes, and my favorite song changes as a result of all those factors..
Is there anything you'd like to add?
Ultimately, we're a good time rock and roll band and we're out to enjoy ourselves and give the audience a good time, so if you want to kick back and really let your hair down and really let loose and forget about your daily problems [laughs], come to a show, move your feet, and hopefully get moved.