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southall the band

The band Southall stands on its own musically and creatively.

You ask the members of Southall where the hard-rock influence comes from, and the guy in the back is one of the first to raise his hand. The group’s hard-pounding drummer, Reid Barber, grew up loving country music but says it was heavy metal that drove his interest to another level. “I never got super-inspired by musicians until I discovered metal,” says Barber. “In particular, I found this one band called Underoath on YouTube, and my jaw was on the floor. I had no idea that the drums could be played like that.”

Such enthusiasm for another genre could be a showstopper with some bands, but Southall is an inclusive outfit that embraces the varied input from all six of its talented members. As a result, they’re creatively blurring the lines between rock and country—and seem to be having a blast doing it. And Barber is by no means hiding behind his kit. Though he never really thought about writing songs himself until just a few years ago, he has emerged as one of the group’s principal songwriters.

Southall: A Band of Oklahomans (And One Texan)

southall the band

The mostly Oklahomans (one’s from Texas) grew up in separate places but generally have similar backgrounds, musically and otherwise. For the band’s founder and front man, Read Southall, that includes many hours of listening to mainstream country, either inside a truck or on a tractor while toiling on his family’s farm.

“We didn’t have a whole lot to do in Oklahoma outside of work, so music became a very big pastime and turned into a passion,” says Southall, who grew up in a small city called Altus. “When I was a little kid in the ’90s, country radio was really good and really fun, but as I got older it got a little watered-down and commercialized.”

Barber can relate, having heard the same tunes from his own family’s ranch in Elk City just 60 miles away. “My dad was an Alan Jackson fanatic, and I still think that was some of the best country music that ever was. But it seems like within 10 years, or maybe less than that, there was a downturn, and it just got less genuine.”

Red Dirt, But on Their Own Terms

Before long they each discovered the thriving Red Dirt scene that was happening pretty much in their backyards. “That was a whole new solar system,” says Barber. “There were all these bands like Cross Canadian Ragweed, Mike McClure, The Great Divide, Jason Boland, and all those guys. Because I was so close to it, it just humanized music and brought the whole prospect of it down to Earth.”

And now, of course, they firmly stand in the Red Dirt community but free from the confines. They stay busy touring the U.S. and abroad, having headlined hundreds of their own shows and serving as a support act for the likes of Whiskey Myers, Chase Rice, and Blackberry Smoke.

New Album, and a New Name

southall the band

The 11 songs on Southall’s latest album, titled simply Southall, illustrate the diverse contributions from the band’s different members, which also includes guitarists John Tyler Perry and Ryan Wellman, bassist Jeremee Knipp, and keyboardist Braxton Curliss. The first single, “Scared Money,” is a fairly straightforward country rocker. By contrast, the fresh-faced “By Surprise” veers lushly toward power pop while “Out Alive” is a full-on banger. 

Southall himself, who is more of a back-porch strummer at heart, welcomes the others’ contributions with open arms. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to hide the country side of me,” Southall says. “That’s just kind of the way that I am, but there’s the rock ‘n’ roll thing that I feel needs to be expressed. I’m just glad to be able to be a part of it and not be shuffled into one lane or the other.”

This is the band’s first album under its shortened name, Southall. They made the change to better reflect their sense of unity and make it clear that the spotlight isn’t only on the curly-locked lead singer  in front. In that regard, their band-name history has also been an evolution. The first album came out in 2015 under the name Read Southall. Starting with the second one, in 2017, they were the Read Southall Band until this new release.

The Southall Takeaway?

“I’ve always wanted people to see us as a group and not just me, because I couldn’t make the music I make without these guys,” Southall explains.

“We kicked it around and finally got to thinking that a lot of people just called us Southall anyway because it rolls off the tongue better, and it’s easier. It’s a lot less to mispronounce or misspell,” he continues. “I think it’s something we wish we would have done a long time ago, but I don’t think it changes what we’re doing very much.”

Justin Moore’s Priorities Don’t Waver — God, Family, Then Music
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