Southern retro-soul duo Bonneville are in the process of rolling out their debut self-titled LP; a compilation of rock, soul, funk and R&B arranged to reflect not only their personal relationships with the deep-seated musical roots of the South but also the very core of the sound – which continues to guide musicians and ignite passion in music aficionados and enthusiasts.
The LP was recorded by the Atlanta-based group–led by vocalist Wes McGee and guitarist Jeff Hayashi–at Fame Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Muscle Shoals, Ala., and mastered by Richard Dodd, Nashville, Tenn. The result is profoundly American and equally distinctive and was formulated after the two artists traversed the country in search of that something. The vast nature of the U.S. called for exploration both inwards and out, and as a result, they tapped into an energetic sound that expresses and encapsulates the joy of discovery – a sound that is raw, greasy and easy to amalgamate.
Today, we debut the second single off Bonneville, “Hard To Love,” a rhythmic, classic-sounding tune that calls back to the era of Do Wop. While the track is influenced by the stylings of artists like Wilson Pickett and Clarence Carter, Bonneville are able to lift the essence of their inspiration into the 21st century by mindfully tending to the lyrical and sonic dichotomy on the track, making heartbreaking lyrics and gilded horns feel like red on a rose.
Narratively, the track explores the difficulties of a musician who is struggling with maintaining his personal family life and public persona. According to the band, the theme was inspired by Stewart Copeland’s film Everyone Stares, which explores The Police’s rise to superstardom through a decade’s worth of stock footage and showcases their respective growth in lifestyle as they age and start their families.
“When we set out to make this song, we knew we wanted a tight pocket groove and syncopated instrumentation, lots of horns, and gospel choir style backing vocals. The horns have a way of bringing up the energy of the track and is one of the signature elements of Bonneville’s sound,” Hayashi shared with Relix. “We also knew that we had to maintain a dichotomy between a happy, upbeat vibe musically combined with a challenging and difficult lyrical expression that aligns to the narrative of the song. The narrative of ‘Hard To Love’ centers on the challenge of being a family man that is a music maker and entertainer; acknowledging the difficulties of maintaining a personal family life while needing to maintain a public persona.”
Listen to “Hard To Love” Below.
Oct. 8, Natchez, MS Blues and Soul Super Bowl CeeLo Green, Kool & The Gang, Patti Labelle
Oct. 22, Ridgeland, MS Twilight Concerts – direct support for Blues Traveler, Gov’t Mule
Today we’re announcing the release and bringing you the premiere of the new track and video from Atlanta-based Bonneville, for their track’ 66 Bonneville.’ The band brings one of the most interesting and fun fusions of genres we’ve ever heard, (and we thought we’ve heard them all.) Think of it as if George Clinton decided to join a ZZ Top tribute band for an Avett Brothers karaoke night. Their unique blend of funk-rock and Americana is truly something for the ears to behold.
This is the first single that is being released from the bands self-titled album. The song primarily draws inspiration from the 60s funk era. Around this time, This is when some of the most iconic classic cars of all time were being produced, including the Bonneville. The band wanted to go for a nostalgic ride with the track as Hayashi comments:
“This track focused on tightness and groove. I wanted to do justice to the genre by recreating the feeling one gets from groove oriented funk. The groove came to me quickly, and I pictured a classic car rolling down the avenue with its inhabitants looking dapper, and a little bit dangerous. I envisioned a tight horn section and crisp drumming, which is exactly what we ended up with. This song is about conveying ‘attitude’ and swagger.”
“66 Bonneville’ for me was based on the need for open air freedom; the power of autonomy that a car can bring. Nobody is keeping you locked up when you’re in a muscle car! Opening with this track, symbolic of ‘freedom,’ is significant to our own personal stories and journey; the freedom to choose our musical path. Also, a lot of the old soul vocals we were going for could only be done by fully feeling the music. So I just kept reminding myself ‘what would James Brown do?’ or envisioning myself hauling ass in a car with a monster engine and the paint job of a black tuxedo to get me there.”
Hayashi also goes on to comment about the style of the song and arrangements by saying:
“While it’s important to innovate, I think its also important to pay homage to the techniques and elements of this style of music that got us to where we are. Also, playing and executing this tight counterpointed style of funk is a great exercise in honing a musician’s chops. On the guitar, it was important to ‘get it in where it fit in’ and not overplay any of the other accompaniment. I wanted it clean, tight, and swinging. In funk and soul, I find that arranging the instrumentation in counterpoint arrangements best serves the song, and more importantly, the groove the listeners feel.” And on ‘’66 Bonneville,’ the live instrumentation paired with the strong, dynamic, soulful vocal delivery comes through loud and clear.”
To achieve their vision and sound for ‘’66 Bonneville,’ Bonneville joined forces with Grammy -recognized producer, Starita, a collaborator that isn’t foreign to pushing the envelope of sonic ranges and unique genre blending styles (recognized for his work with Childish Gambino, A Tribe Called Quest, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Third Eye Blind, Madame Gandhi, Rebelution, Los Amigos Invisibles, Michael Franti and Spearhead).
“My approach with this album was to put the right people in a room together and stay out of the way. Having been to Muscle Shoals once before, I knew that it was going to be crucial to let things flow as they needed to. We intentionally went in with very basic sketches of the tunes…no charts, no hard arrangements. The entire reason we were there was to let the spirit of Muscle Shoals guide the recordings and it did. There is a freshness and new energy that’s captured when you don’t beat a song to death rehearsing it over and over the same way”
Lastly, McGee closes with:
“Hearing this track for the first time, I want people to have a good time and get lost in the groove. Something really cool happens to people when you get them in the same room and start laying down the funk. No matter whether they came there sad, uptight, or angry, all of that goes away when the backbeat and the bassline punch you in the chest and put your ass in motion. I hope they leave feeling energized and hopefully sweating”