A little bit twangy country, a little bit Coen Brothers, Rolling Nowhere journeys down those mythical train tracks. By Alice Wynn. Originally published in Metro Spirit – Augusta, Georgia.
AUGUSTA, GA — It’s no surprise that Atlanta band Rolling Nowhere was inspired by a touch of wanderlust. Formed in early 2009, their name was taken from the Ted Conover book of the same name. In the ’70s, Conover, an Ivy League student fascinated by hobos, dropped out of school and immersed himself in their way of life.
Rolling Nowhere brings that same spirit to their music as well.
“All of our songs are either about being lost or wandering, hitting the railroad tracks, just a lot of vagabond, beatnik-type stuff,” said vocalist and guitarist Brad Cochran.
Cochran, a Rome, Ga., native inspired by the Beat writers, ended up on the open road as well.
“I moved out West when I was 21, and I went from being a clean-cut athlete to being kind of a grungy, bearded beatnik living out of the back of my truck, hopping trains and doing all sorts of crazy stuff.”
He moved from Wyoming to Atlanta and, after he went through a divorce, he bought a guitar.
“I’d never really played music before,” he said. “I just wrote a bunch of songs.”
He wrote music with a roommate, but when his roommate moved back to Boulder, he found himself stuck with a bunch of songs. One day Mark Petty, who had previously played in heavy metal bands, called him and told him that he bought an upright bass, so the two started playing together.
“We ended up doing a couple of open mic nights and people just encouraged us from there,” he said.
When they were offered a gig, the two were unsure if they could pull it off, so they recruited dobro player Reed Van Hooser. They recorded “The Lonesome EP” last year and things started getting underway for the band.
“We didn’t ever intend to be a live band, just a studio thing, and the ball started rolling and it’s been one show after another and we really haven’t went out there looking for anything,” Cochran said. “Everything’s kind of came to us so far. [We’ve] been really, really fortunate.”
Six months ago, they added mandolin player Cory Chambers who also shares songwriting duties. Matt Green came along as well, playing banjo, mandolin and drums.
“There’s really no ego in our band,” he said. “Everything seems pretty effortless and everybody gives 100 percent all the time.”
While Cochran cites the Mississippi Delta blues as an influence, alt-country band Son Volt, The Byrds’ “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” and singer-songwriter Gram Parsons proved influential as well. But a unique combination of genres came together to form Rolling Nowhere’s sound, what he terms as “stoner country.”
“I always wanted to fuse that real lonesome country, kind of Hank Williams [sound] with that kind of acid-fried psychedelic side because I’m a real big Deadhead,” he said. “I thought it was a unique mixture.”
In fact, one night a guy in a bar told the band their music sounded like a cross between the music in “Raising Arizona” and “O Brother Where Art Thou?”
And even though Rolling Nowhere is Cochran’s first band, never even having been on stage before, he decided from their first show to be 100 percent himself when performing live.
“I say what’s on my mind when I get up there, I don’t try to portray some fake mood I’m not in,” Cochran said. “Our whole goal is playing as hard for one person as we do for a packed house and really feeding off the energy, because you always touch somebody.”
“And I always seek that person out,” he added. “It’s really cool because by the end of the night we get to know our crowd and every place we play is a different personality and a different experience.”
The band is looking to have an album completed by the end of September, perhaps get some of their songs on some indie film soundtracks and maybe hit the festival circuit next summer.
“[We would] love to play Merlefest in the future,” he said. “But really, we’re just thinking of getting this album done and whatever way the wind blows, we’ll follow it.”