Last week, three childhood friends from Alabama released their first official collection of songs to the the public. Available on the typical digital platforms (Amazon, iTunes, Spotify), American Spirit, the new EP from The Paranormals, is anything but mundane and may be one of the most exciting debuts Nashville has seen this summer.
"All three of us were raised in the Birmingham area. I think we probably all met in the sixth grade, if I remember correctly," says guitarist Jarrod Randall. Like most musicians, Randall, lead singer David Sutton, and bassist Heath Hendricks played the customary game of musical chairs with other bands before reuniting and forming The Paranormals. "It's definitely not a rare case by any means, but growing up where we did and being into the same stuff, that's made what we have today so great. Heath was the best man in my wedding. David is my brother-in-law." And their tight-knit nature translates seamlessly to their sound. While many musicians flirt with the thin line between "talented" and "overdeveloped," each member of The Paranormals carries their weight in a skillful and unique way without falling victim to sounding too polished.
In a surprise Phil Collins/Don Henley-esque twist, the lead singer of The Paranormals also spends all of his time behind the drums, which can bring a rare and tricky element to live shows. "It was challenging at first-- you have to figure out how to write with that in mind. But now it just happens. Some shows, I'll turn around and [Sutton] is sweating like a pig and I just smile, thinking, 'Man you are doing all the work here.' It's a challenge to make sure the energy translates when your front man is behind the kit. But we wouldn't have it any other way," says Randall.
American Spirit was recorded over the course of one weekend, and the EP's title track was finished live and in just one take. In keeping with the band's family-friendly vibe, Rick Sutton, David's father, made a trip to the studio to play slide guitar for the song. "I'm glad that [song] is on there because it shows kind of a basis for the vibe that all our songs come out of," adds Randall. With less than 30 hours to record the EP, the time crunch played a definitive role in the result of American Spirit. Working with just a small window of time, the band had no chance to over-think or elaborate. The result is immaculate. "Being a three-piece, we didn't want the recording to sound like a five-piece."
When asked about his band, Randall says, "Our band is the real us, you know? Like, how long we've known each other and being family. Nothing is pieced together or forced. And we've had great support from our friends, but we've tried to avoid Kickstarter, etc. on purpose for this EP. Because we wanted it to really just come from us. Then whether someone digs it or not lies solely on if they dig it, no other motive or obligation."
Between defining their sound and recording songs in one take, The Paranormals make creating great music look easy. Sweaty Southern rock has rarely sounded so thoughtful, and in their two years together as a band, The Paranormals have carved out a niche most musicians spend their entire careers trying to create.
The official release party for American Spirit will take place at The End on August 25th. Lulu Mae, Gnarly Charlies, and Cory Taylor Cox round out the bill. We will see you there. -- Brianne Turner