Sense of wonder: Freeway Revival releases new album, looks ahead
They stick out.
In a city like Asheville and in a region like Western North Carolina, world-renowned for bluegrass and Americana music, being a rock-n-roll band is more the exception than the norm.
“Asheville is known for housing so much great music and we do feel fortunate to be in a place that’s so beautiful and inspiring. Our sound is very rock oriented, but we feel we’re influenced by most of the music styles around town. We feel we’re still learning from the scene, as well as taking part in it more,” said Jonathan Clayton. “Therefore, it’s easier to do something unique in these circumstances of having enough space to be original. Being original is a great advantage to have and this seems to benefit everyone here as well — it’s also what makes this scene so unique to itself.”
Lead guitarist for The Freeway Revival, Clayton and his twin brother, Adam, have created a whirlwind of sound, one where rock, jam and soul collide into a tone of joy and positivity — a music for not only personal enjoyment, but also social change.
“Rock-n-Roll has always been the music of the counterculture and the anthem of those who fight social and political norms — it’s the rough underbelly of society struggling to be understood and accepted,” Adam said. “In a lot of ways, I feel rock has cycled back to the status it was in the beginning, a little on the outside, but close to the hearts of a growing listener base. Though the flame never died, rock's role and value has changed in our society. It has gone back to the underground where it will remain until people can no longer put everyday life into words.”
Now in its fifth year, The Freeway Revival takes its name to heart, where the miles can sometimes seem as endless as the songs they stretch out into a free-flowing jam, radiating that sense of determination through adversity any — if not all — musicians face when trying to find footing in a world that either regards what they do as pure novelty, or at least doesn’t see the true and priceless value of it.
“At the end of the day, you have to make enough money to keep those wheels rolling. Sometimes it's hard to connect the dots. So, you have to make the investment and sacrifice in one form or another,” Adam said. “The state of things today is the inspiration that gives meaning to your art. This is your fuel, if you can make music that is relevant to these times and that people can grasp, especially after all the great artists that have come and gone, you have earned your credibility.”
“We love to be on the road sharing our music with as many people as possible. I would say the biggest lesson we have learned is how to persevere and how to put it all on the line for something you love by holding nothing back,” Jonathan added. “The road has also taught us the value of hard work and staying true to yourself by staying persistent to your vision of how things should be. A fellow traveler once told me, ‘It’s not whether the band will make it where you want it to go, because it will, give it time, it’s whether you can all stick together long enough to see it through.’”
And though they’ve had a couple of do-it-yourself independent releases under their belt, The Freeway Revival’s latest album, “Revolution Road,” is a full-length, professionally crafted offering. It’s a sound that harkens back to those great jam-rock acts of the late 1990s and early 2000s, where names like Strangefolk, Dispatch and U-Melt immediately come to mind — all groups where jovial, inclusive harmonies were equally as vital as intricate, improvisational solos.
“In our style, we have the ability to play a song tight, but also each of the members has the ability to solo, which can generally make each take of each song pretty unique to itself,” Adam said. “We have that element in us from most jam bands, the ability to play a song that’s organized, but also tailored to be able to play it out a little. These are elements about playing our music together that we all enjoy, [with] these jam-band qualities that are large parts of our sound.”
But, most importantly, the album is a culmination of years on the road, innumerable shows in towns far and wide, trying to make the band’s vision into a justified reality — to hold up close, to appreciate, and also use as inspiration for the next, bountiful step.
“Blazing our own trail and forging our own songs and sound has always been our cornerstone,” Jonathan said. “We’ve never been a band that leans on cover or tribute material. To us, it’s still about finding our own song and voice, and working hard to develop it.”
“‘Revolution Road’ was the project that really seemed to unite us as a band. I think this sense of unity came from the fact that each member contributed so much to the record that everyone feels like it is, in part, personally their own,” Adam added. “We put the songs first, and discussed in a positive environment what we wanted to do with the music. During our live shows, we’re constantly exploring the soundscape within the chord structure. We rarely play a song exactly the same [each time onstage], and that is what the band has always been about — evolution.”
Want to go?
Rock acts The Freeway Revival and Dangermuffin (Americana/roots) will hit the stage at 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, at Isis Music Hall in West Asheville.
The performance will also be a release party for The Freeway Revival’s latest album, “Revolution Road.” You can learn more about the band visiting www.freewayrevival.com.
Tickets are $12. For more information on the event or to purchase tickets, visit www.isisasheville.com.