By Lynn Lieu
CITY OF ORIGIN: High Desert.
INFLUENCES: Felice Brothers. The Band. The Good Life, Raconteurs, Mystic Valley Band, Crazy Horse, Buddy Holly, Gillian Welch, Bruce Springsteen, Hank Williams, John Prine and Townes Van Zandt.
RECENT RELEASES: America the Beautiful EP (Sept. 15).
FREQUENTS: Back to the Grind, Riverside.
In 1925, Al Hopkins (The Hill Billies, Al Hopkins’ Original Hill Billies, Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters) coined the term “hillbilly music.” Today, what Hopkins referred to is commonly known simply as “country.” And in our land of punk rock and metal bands, it’s refreshing to know the old roots in country isn’t completely out of style. According to new and local group Townes, “Doesn’t matter where you come from, good music is good music.” And it’s just this attitude that this quintet made it to our Band of the Week column.
How did your band form?
John Schroeder: Some bands form out of recreation, Townes was formed out of necessity. Being from a small town there isn’t much else to do, and when all of your friends are musicians it was only a matter of time before we were playing music together as a band. [Manuel, Zack and myself] were friends back in high school and were in bands ever since. When [we] needed a drummer [I] asked his brother-in-law Roger to try it out and he seems to be doing just fine. Last to join was Lauren who brought it all together with piano.
Zack Brumett: Our first practice was July 22, 2012 and we hit the ground running ever since. Townes recorded their first demo in September entitled, America the Beautiful and have been booking shows in the Los Angeles area ever since.
Can you tell us about what is considered “hillbilly” music?
Manuel Gonzales: “Hillbilly” refers to old-timey music made by folks in rural America.
What is the band’s interpretation of hillbilly music?
Schroeder: Townes uses the idea of “hillbilly” music to draw from our American mythos and reinterpret it to something our generation could connect to. The stories are different but the lessons are the same. We aren’t setting out to be the biggest rock band in the world; we just want to make great American music.
Townes at Mission Tobacco Lounge, 3630 University Ave., Riverside, (951) 682-4427; www.missiontobaccolounge.com. Sat, Nov. 10. At Frogees Bar, 21820 Hwy 18, Apple Valley, (760) 247-6800. Fri, Nov. 16.