Aeroplane from the album Nothing is Okay
Johnson City, Tenn., based indie folk/country act The Everybodyfields certainly put their own independent mark on a few traditional Tennessee/Appalachian styles of music. Core members Sam Quinn and Jill Andrews swap guitar, bass, and vocal duties (lead and harmonies). She belts it out full and rich, while he sounds a bit more nasally and lonesome. After a rough year in which they nearly split up, things are going much better, and they're rapidly gaining a reputation as the front-runners of the newest generation of the alt-country movement.
"It was kind of a bumpy little road," says Quinn of the last 12 months. "We had to record this new record three different times. We lost our dobro guy, and we were just putting bands together at every step. We kind of got downhearted. We went to the RecRoom in Nashville, finished it up, and actually spent too much money on the thing [laughs]."
Ramseur Records label exec Dolphus Ramseur trusted their judgment, fortunately. He patiently waited for Quinn and Andrews to polish their tunes at their own pace, offering guidance and support along the way. The end result was a stunningly beautiful collection of folky love songs, reverb-laden waltzes, and swingin' duets titled Nothing Is Okay.
"Once we got nit-picky about things, it took forever," remembers Quinn. "Dolphus and the Ramseuer label were totally cool about it. They were like, 'If it's not done, it's not done. Just make it sound good.' So we did."
Quinn says the band on the final session basically broke up immediately after the session. Fortunately, Andrews and Quinn regrouped and released the album.
"Were proud of it," Andrews says. "We have a lot of different instruments and musicians on this one — electric guitar, fiddle, piano, and drums — which is different from the others that focused on acoustic guitar and dobro. We put more thought into this record than the others."
"We laughed about the title," says Quinn. "We decided to make it a doom 'n' gloom thing. Now, we definitely have a good bunch with a good flow. All of the players on the album have been on tour with us at some point. We don't normally play live with a drum kit any more, but we do have pretty solid group."
Both 27, the songwriters met eight years ago while working together at a summer camp. They realized that they both knew a lot of the same tunes, dug the same records, and really enjoyed singing. Both lived in Johnson City, too, so they very gradually started jamming on covers and original song ideas in each other's living rooms.
"After a long while, we finally decided to play an actual show for the public," remembers Quinn. "We made pots of coffee and brownies and had our first show in the basement of a Methodist church. It was weird."
With Quinn and Andrews at the stage-front, the current touring lineup is competed with Josh Oliver on keys and guitars, and Tom Pryor on pedal steel. They recently performed in Kentucky on the Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour with like-minded labelmates The Avett Brothers, and celebrated the official release of Nothing Is Okay at their favorite Johnson City venue, The Down Home.
Last month they were selected as Paste Magazine's "Band of the Week." Paste scribe Rebecca Bowen claimed the band's tunes "will cause tears to drop into PBRs across the Southeast this summer and fall while touring their honest, heartbreaking melodies." Indeed.
Most of Nothing Is Okay swings in 6/8 time signature at a very slow and measured pace — from the lead-off tune "Aeroplane" to the yodeling and dramatic "Don't Tern Around." Andrews' soaring voice stands out on the even slower-moving "Leaving Today" and "Lonely Anywhere." Another highlight finds her singing, "Love's not a savior when you're messed up/You feel like you're drowning in red hearts wrapped in red ribbons and blue skies" in the tear-inducing "Savior." There are plenty of hints of early-'70s material by such artists as The Band, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, Charlie Rich, and Gram Parsons.
Quinn and Andrews like to describe this rootsy blend as "melancholic interpretations of universal human stories set to achingly beautiful melodies and put to life with lap steel, lead guitar, electric bass, and acoustic guitar ... straight-forward and sure." Within that they demonstrate an appreciation for musical tradition, while aiming for something refreshingly unique, morose or not.