The Hangout Music Festival opened with the downbeat from Go Down Moses at the Kickoff Party on Thursday afternoon. It was the first festival and another step in a big year for the band from Nashville. They signed with SonyNashville in January and their debut album, 5AM Nights, was released on May 12.
Go Down Moses played at the 92Zew Road to the Hangout contest with Underhill Family Orchestra in April. Members of the band are Barrett Jacques (lead singer), Robert Price (mandolin, vocals), Reid Huffman (bass), Philip Haas (drummer), Casey Driscoll, (fiddle) and Brandon Dockery (guitar),
How did SonyNashville find you and what did signing a record deal mean for Go Down Moses?
Barrett: It happened by luck. Robert, Reid and I had been playing together, and I asked a guy that I knew at Sony for directional advice about where he saw us going. We played for him, which led to us playing for executives from Sony in our rehearsal space in Nashville. They liked us, and it went from there. We recorded demos last summer and fall and Casey, Brandon, and Philip joined the band in the past year.
We now have a team to help us, and Sony paid for the recording of our album. The hardest part is still getting in front of people and finding opportunities to play. We have to make the most of every show we play.
Many of you grew up and live in Nashville around some of the best musicians in the world. How did you find your sound and your identity?
Robert: It is always evolving. Barrett and I started playing together and it was both of us on acoustic guitar. We quickly realized that was boring, and everyone does that. I picked up a mandolin, and we added a fiddle and bass for a fuller sound.
Barrett: I am sure our next album will be something similar to this album, but we are progressing towards a more rock and heavier sound. When I write songs, I don’t put it in a genre, it is just whatever I was feeling at the time. We work it up to what we think sounds the best.
Since you wrote the songs, does that mean you are the one going through all of the breakups and heartbreak?
Barrett: I think I dreamed a lot of it, but relationships do give you a lot of material.
What is the story behind “Golden?”
I wrote that for my younger sister when she was going through the college process. We are very close, but I haven’t told her this song is about her. The song is advice to her about the path to take to get to a final destination of well-being. In music and life you are always getting rejected and facing failure. I wanted to share my experience with her and encourage her to find the right things to prioritize.
When you are colder, come in closer to me
When you are older remember better things
The same armor was put on me and I am crawling back to where we still believe we are golden.
Try to make it, please try to make it on your own. We are on our own.
You are still a young band and things are going your way right now. Have you gone through rejection?
Barrett: Of course we have. The battle of the bands contests are tough when you are starting out. We have been told we sounded terrible and that would lose. Not even placing in a fan-voted contest can be hard to take when you are trying to do this for a career.
Why did you change the name from The Birchtree Band to Go Down Moses?
Barrett: We re-branded last fall. The band added new members and changed from being roots and all acoustic.
Robert: We had the name in college and then it seemed childish. No one knew what it meant.
Barrett: The name came from a conversation with a friend while we were listening to “Go Down Moses” by Louis Armstrong.
What about the album name 5AM Nights?
Robert: It is from a lyric in the song “Pride and Disgrace.” We didn’t want the album named after a single or the band.
Is it pride or disgrace that brings us back to these 5AM nights, creeping out the window just to crawl into a taxicab?
Barrett: We were practicing and did a five-part Queen harmony on that lyric and knew that was it. The name represents our late night/early morning lifestyle We don’t sleep, especially when we are writing songs. I write really late at night
What do you have in common?
Robert: We went running together once and we love Chic-Fil-A
Barrett: We will go running after we realize we have eaten burgers for four days in a row.
Philip, why is your head stuck in a canon on your Facebook photo?
I was on a road trip with my sister in Utah and the canon was at a gas station. It was kitchy, but I wanted to make it look real, so obviously I had to stick my head in it.
Robert: Why haven’t the rest of us seen that? I guess we need to become friends on Facebook so we will know important things like this about each other.