Featured Artist: The Local Saints

Posted on April 28, 2015

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BY: ISABELLE NELSON

“Our pop’s were preachers and we grew up in the Bible-belt, but they aren’t going to be putting us up for sainthood anytime soon. We sing about life and love. Sometimes whiskey and we might throw in a dog or a train, or an angry girl…. We’re from the south and that’s how we live.” –The Local Saints

What do you get when you combine six preachers’ sons from Muscles Shoals, Alabama, who love to rock n’roll? A band with extraordinary soul and eclectic Southern style. The Local Saints recorded their first album (off of a 36-input analog console, not to mention) at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording in Memphis, co-produced by Sam Phillips’ granddaughter, Halley Phillips. Band members include Jamie McFarlane (Lead Vocal/Bass), Rob McFarlane (Lead Guitar), Billy Smart (Lead Guitar), Justin Holder (Drums/Vocal), Chad Burdine (Percussion/Vocal) and Zach Walton (Keys). Playing a mix of Classic, Southern, and Brit rock styles, accompanied by peaceful three-part harmonies, powerful rhythm sections, and feel-good guitar lines, the band has been busy touring and recording sessions at Sun Studios. Last year, they played at the Blues Ball for the Memphis Charitable Foundation. I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with lead vocalist and bass guitarist Jamie McFarlane and The Local Saints manager/producer, Halley Phillips.

How did you get interested in music?
JM: It’s what we grew up in. Most of our dads played music, so we worked around it. It’s hard to not become interested [in music] when you’re surrounded by such talented musicians, great artists, and songwriters–it’s a shoe in.

What influences your music?
JM: I think what influences a person’s music most is what he or she listens to over the course of time and what’s made its way in. What you’ve listened to and what you’ve experienced over the course of your life. Obviously the two cities [I’ve grown up in] have influenced me greatly because they birthed such great music that whether I was in Shoals or Memphis it was just music that was being played or listened to in my home. Being around the studios in Shoals, you get a chance to see and meet people who have been instrumental throughout the course of modern music.

What do you like about the Memphis music scene?
JM: I love the history of the Memphis music scene. Any city that has had such legendary music come out of it is a special thing—it doesn’t happen to every city and town. Why Memphis? Why Shoals? I guess it’s the history that makes the current music scene [what it’s like today]. When something big has happened in a town it makes people think well, hey, maybe that could happen again.

Do you have a favorite song and why?
JM: It’s hard to say because they all have a personal connection to me. They’re all little products of some experience, some time or some moment for me. But, I find myself listening to “Superhuman”- it still does something to me. I love “Empty-Handed” and “I’m Sorry” for their old school vibe. Very practical, simple lyrics. I love “Fantasy” too.
HP: “They did a completely analog record in Sam Phillips recording studio.”
JM: “It was very different experience but super fun.”

What have you been working on lately?
JM: We’ve been working on just the tunes that come as we go in life. New tunes come out, new sets come out. Those sets will live and breathe. There will be a little trim here and there, adding here and there. We are working on a set that makes us happy, along with touring.
HP: They recorded a sun session at Sun Studios a few months back that has been airing all over the country, live and active through PBS all over the country.

Where do you want your music to take you?
JM: I would love to think that I will continue to learn as much about music and my relationship music as far as I go. As an art or as an expression, I hope our music leads us where we’re supposed to be. I’m hopeful that [music] will be a part of who I am for the rest of my life.
HP: It was important to him and the other band members that his music could live in a secular world with a positive message.

Favorite place to perform?
Since the Saints are still reasonably new, we have placed a bunch of places all over the country [before we became a band]. I’d love to get out of the country. It’d be sweet touring Europe.

The Local Saints self-titled album is available on iTunes, CD Baby and Amazon! Their sun session can be watched now on PBS throughout the country. To find out more about the Saints and hear their music, check out http://thelocalsaints.com/.

A behind-the-scenes look at the Saints recording at Sam Phillips recording studio:

For more of their music, check out the videos below:


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Posted in: Music