I got to hang out with Family and Friends, a band from here in Athens, for a little coffee break at Two Story Coffeehouse to discuss the band and their brand new EP. Family and Friends began playing shows in Athens only in April of last year; by the end of the year, they had played the 40 Watt and the Georgia Theatre. Songs of love and emotion come to life with the six-member band and their various talents and personalities. Maybe it’s the two drummers and the rock star violinists that make this band unique and successful. Maybe it’s the Kickstarter awards they gave out to people who helped fund their EP (personal haikus, dates with band members, etc.) Altogether, it is evident through the rapidly-growing number of fans that Family and Friends is something special.
The band is having an EP release show at the Georgia Theatre in Athens this Thursday Jan. 9, but they released one song early as a nice preview.
How did the band come together? You guys seem like an odd mix (in a good way!).
Ryan: Uh.. We came together –
Maria: Not at the hair salon.
[Group laughs since Ryan recently got a haircut, rugged mullet style]
Mike: Ryan and I decided we wanted to make a band when we were on a beach trip. So we started playing drums and guitar in our apartment basement. We knew what we wanted in a band, but we didn’t know how to get it exactly. We knew we wanted Tuna; I was working with him at the time. We also really wanted two drummers; I don’t know why Jamie wasn’t a part of this yet.
Tuna: He was taking a nap.
[Group laughs since Jamie missed the interview to get some beauty sleep]
Mike: We also wanted a violinist. [to Maria and Ryan: You guys met at Flicker, right?]
Maria: Yeah, he was playing a noise set, and I was like, ‘Yeah this is good!‘
Ryan: I was like, ‘Cool! You should play in my other band that’s not a noise band!’
Mike: We wanted an electric guitarist, and we had some people in mind. JP came to live with us and played for us, and [even then] we still had other people in mind. We never asked him to join.
Ryan: JP would sit in his room, open his door and play the guitar loud enough so we could hear it…so he [was basically telling] us ‘hey, I play guitar.’
Mike: We found out later from his girlfriend; she said, ‘You guys made him so sad.’
JP: It was a bummer! You guys were making awesome music and I was like, ‘I wanna make music with them!’
What’s been your favorite show or moment thus far?
Mike: I know one of my favorite moments was when we played “Rust and Bone” together, and it finally hit. We kept restructuring it, and then finally everyone had a part in it, and we played it altogether, and it worked.
Tuna: I really like that video we have of the first time we played “Rust and Bone” together.
Mike: When I knocked the mic over?
Tuna: Yeah, exactly. And you just shimmied over to the other one. We had been in that tiny practice space for so long, and for some reason it was taking way longer for me to figure out the songs…so when we finally played that warehouse show, and people were diggin’ it, it felt like months of work were paying off.
JP: I really loved the Halloween show.
JP: I don’t know…I can’t remember.. Were we really sloppy that night?
Maria: No! It was good!
Mike: Eh… [shrugs hesitantly]
Ryan: We all just dressed up like medieval [characters]. [To Maria: You were a friar, with a bald head and a fat stomach].
Tuna: I didn’t go to the costume fitting so…
Maria: Yeah! If you didn’t go to the costume fitting you were out of luck.
Tuna: So I was a princess in this tiny, purple dress that I couldn’t even get my arms into.
JP: Mike said, ‘I tried it on, and I fit in it,’ and I thought, ‘That doesn’t equate to Tuna.’
JP: And then Jamie was the jester, because he wasn’t there to try on stuff either.
Who does most of the song writing for y’all? Or is it a group effort?
Ryan: Mike comes in with the acoustic and the lyrics.
Tuna: I would say it starts with Mike and the drums, and then I just see where I can sit.
How are y’all feeling now that your EP is done and your Kickstarter was a success?
JP: There’s still a lot of work to be done.
Ryan: It’s scary, because it’s like, ‘Okay, here’s another share of your responsibility.’ But it’s good, because this is what I want to do.
JP: It’s extremely exciting, with the same thing [Tuna] was saying about the first show with all the months of practice finally paying off, to have our EP out and ready. It feels like it’s paying off, and knowing that people have it and are listening to it is so exciting.
Tuna: For me, it was the longest recording process. We were recording from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. And I would record my stuff [from] 10 a.m. right when we were about to leave. I would record my stuff and feel really discouraged about it and then listen to the recordings and everything was beautiful, because we were all delusional and going stir crazy. Then, when we got the recording, I was like, ‘Wow! These actually sound really good.’ Better than I thought it would.
Mike: I have a picture of Ryan sleeping in the studio every single day though.
JP: Everybody made fun of me, because I brought an air mattress every night.
Tuna: Yeah, no, everyone still makes fun of you for that.
JP: Yeah, they do, but that was a comfy air mattress!
Ryan: I was making fun of you, but then I slept on it one night, and I was like wow…
JP: You’re welcome!
What’s the EP’s name, and does it have any new songs on it?
Mike: Love You Mean It is the EP name.
Maria: It should’ve been L-U-V for “love.” It was misspelled.
Mike: It has a little bit of a new song, like a half. It’s like an interlude.
Ryan: It’s just like a little treat for the CD.
JP: Other than that, it’s like our main batch of songs.
Mike: Kinda like our greatest hits album.
Tuna: They’re the only songs we have recorded. So our greatest recorded hits.
Mike: I forgot about that…I always wanted to name the first album Greatest Hits.
Do you guys want to become a touring band or stay local to Georgia?
Mike: No, we definitely want to tour all over the world…world domination.