I spend a significant amount of time diggin’ in the settled dust of rock n’ roll’s yesteryear while attempting to remain on the edge of all that’s new and possibly important in Americana, alt-country, etc. It’s my job, sure, and I enjoy it– but there’s nothing as thrilling as a new album or project involving real, live, local Central Georgia artists. Magnolia Moon has been reveling in the power and glory of rock for years now, perfecting skill alongside style and earning a deserved reputation as one of Macon’s best and busiest bands. From the bars at night to the green grass, natural theatre of the outdoor festival, Magnolia Moon makes sincere guitar-driven rock– and now the band of brothers is set to release their debut album. Comprised of two sets of siblings, Zack & Jesse Horton and Jonathan & Christopher Crowell, Magnolia Moon has come a long way from their beginnings in a church band– but they still strive for music with spirit and soul. Everything comes to fruition with a special release of their full-length debut album at one of Macon’s most significant stages, the Allman Brothers Big House Museum. After sending me a preview of the album, Zack and Jesse stopped by the Creek studios to chat with me, and I hope you’ll be as excited as I am to pick up your own copy at the Big House on Saturday, May 18th.
AI- I noticed going through and listening to the album… What was it? Seven songs?
But they’re all epic in length. There’s not a two-minute frivolity in there anywhere.
ZH- I’ve never had a problem writin’ a long song. We just kind of let them flow the way that they need to. If a song turns out short then it turns out short. But I don’t want to cut anything down just for the sake of fitting radio time.
How much tracking was done live?
We did track by track. We’ve tried live stuff before. The singles that we released before, they’re tracked live. Just for the sake of time, we did track separately. It’s just a little easier to get things sounding clean– and if one person messes something up, you don’t all have to go back and re-record the whole song.
Originally, when we had talked about you guys putting this new album together, you were planning to do a straight vinyl release and a digital release. Is that still the plan?
ZH- No, unfortunately, we’re not in a place financially to do that right now– and we don’t want to sit on this album any longer and push it back because it’s been over a year since we released any singles. We’re just trying to get things out, so we’re just going to be releasing a short run of CDs and pushing digital platform stuff.
And you’ll be everywhere as far as the digital platform goes?
JH- Yeah. Spotify, Apple… Any of that.
Talking about the process… Give me the rundown. Was it all regular Magnolia Moon members? Did you guys have any guest appearances?
ZH- No, it’s just the four of us. We picked the core group of songs that we started out playing, threw those together, and figured we’d just do what we do.
Which you’ve been doing a lot, especially around here. You guys have been very busy with different venues, different festivals. But I see that you’re also getting out and about. Tell me some places you’ve got coming up outside of Central Georgia that you’ll be playing soon.
JH- We’ve got a good bit, especially comin’ up in May. We have a good four-day run coming up where we’ll be playin’ the Georgia Theatre rooftop. Day after that, we’ll be playing at Jail House Brewing Company in Hampton, Georgia. Next day after that, we’ll be playing at Resident Culture (Brewing Company) in Charlotte, North Carolina. Then to cap off that four-day run, we’re going to play the Long Creek Music Festival.
Do you guys prefer doing the clubs or festivals?
ZH- Either way, man. I mean, as long as there’s people there to hang out and listen to us. I always prefer playing outside as long as the weather’s nice…
That doesn’t surprise me at all. I myself prefer dark bars with beer very nearby and bathrooms…
JH- We try to be not too picky, especially now. We’re really grateful for any opportunity, you know? If someone hits us up, I mean that’s awesome in our eyes, especially with people that hit us up that we don’t pursue, you know? To have people come to us and be like, “Hey, we want you guys to play this festival.” That’s a big deal to us.
Going back to the album… Heavily, heavily guitar-driven. Lots of licks, lots of runs. Obviously, there is the Allman Brothers influence there, but I hear some old ’70s arena metal type influences in there. Were there any particular albums that you were listening to going into this or while you were doing it?
ZH- I always go back to the first three Zeppelin albums and the first three Sabbath albums– and that’s my bread and butter as far as guitar playing. And a lot of vocal melodies and writing. Getting ideas for stuff like that, you know? I mean, obviously, we’ve got like you said, Allman Brothers, there’s a lot of Skynyrd stuff… I really love their guitar work. But I always end up, whenever I’m in into some more darker riffs… I do end up gravitating towards the Sabbath and Zeppelin and stuff like that.
Now, I mentioned that the songs have a particular length to them, but the way that they’re put together… In their flow, there’s nothing boring. That’s also something you guys really manage to incorporate into your live shows– movement, lots of power on stage. What is it that you’re looking for when you guys get up there and play? Is it the connection with the audience? Connection with each other? The music?
ZH- I think for us it starts with being connected to each other. We can really tell when we’re having an off night or we’re really on it. And that all goes back to how often we get to play together as a group. It starts with us being connected– and that helps, having my brother playing drums and then the other guitar and bass, the two other guys, they’re brothers as well. So we spend a lot of time together and play together all the time. That kinda helps that chemistry there.
Coming up on May 18th at the Big House– that’s going to be the album release. You’ll have CDs for sale?
And is anybody else going to be there at the show or is just going to be all Magnolia Moon?
ZH- It’s going to be all Magnolia Moon. Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen is partnering with us. They’re gonna be out there serving beer. They’re actually going to have a beer specifically named after one of the songs on the album…
Tell me about that!
That is going to be the Gypsy Woman Lager, and we’ll have that on-site as well as some other beers– and then they’re also going to be serving food. It’s a $5 cover…
Which you can’t beat anywhere.
ZH- Yeah, we wanted to save you some money, so you can buy a t-shirt or a CD and get a few beers, you know?
JH- It’s gonna be fun too, man. I mean you gotta think– May, the Big House, outside, beer…