Hank Williams said, “I don’t know what you mean by country music. I just make music the way I know how.” And I raise my glass to Mr. Williams and to any artist that remains blissfully avoidant of narrowing classifications and expectations while creating what becomes a true and pure representation of the artist and his work. Yesterday’s glasses were filled with cheap beer and tequila and dedicated to two of the most charming and authentic artists I’ve met in Nashville: Alex Haddad (guitar and vocals) and Larry Florman (drums and vocals), the fueling souls of the rock and roll duo, Them Vibes. Every element of their energy was alluring, from the way they talked, to the way they finished each other’s sentences, to the way they candidly expressed their means to creation and the ideas behind their collective. In the words of Florman, “we are just conveying ourselves, all of the time.”
These two men with kaleidoscopic personalities and motley hair embodied their rock and roll sound in a conversation that was punctuated with electric tones and hued anecdotes. To elevate the experience of hearing them talk about their music and current projects, their friendship and creative partnership exuded a clear chemistry. “He makes me blush,” Haddad bashfully said in response to one of Florman’s sketches, and these interactive moments between the two manifested a conversation that was as musical as their debut album. The two met in New York City when Haddad auditioned for the lead guitar spot in a band in which Florman was playing drums. And despite Haddad’s Boston roots and Florman’s New York birthplace, the two Northerners found themselves clashing in a country band that eventually inspired a move down South, but not for the reason you’re thinking. After touring with the band and stopping through town, the undeniable rhythm of Nashville brought them back. The two have been nestled in their East Nashville abode for about three years, depending how you qualify such a term, and in their brief residency have managed to release a debut album and an infectious realness into the musical culture.
Shine On was released in September 2013 and acted as the gateway piece for Them Vibes’ beginning. “We are a product of our influences,” notes Florman, which is evident throughout the album without detracting from their individual credibility. With their mentality that “it’s all for the song,” Haddad and Florman share the microphone and vocal lines, allowing their strengths in different areas to heighten the songs. “Cryin’ Shame” introduces the record with a reminiscent 60s drive, while other tracks renovate the blues and country in a way that fits the delightful rebels’ current style. Each song possesses its own wealth of musical nature, whether that be the catchy quality of “Lorelei” or the harmonic layers of “Need Somebody.” The collage of Shine On perfectly encapsulates Them Vibes’ introduction to the scene in a way that sonically echoes each man’s character of authenticity through unrelenting vocals and driving rhythms.
The writing of these songs is a very “symbiotic” process, and as described by the duo, it is a “piece by piece” development that lets the song guide the way. “Integrity is the most important thing to us,” stressing the band’s dedication to create music that reverberates a standard of rock music that would make Jagger and Page proud. Such musings have brought about five new songs with the anticipation of a sophomore full-length out next year, and they have fueled Them Vibes’ spark to continue to make and spread their tempting sound. Florman expressed, “I want people to say, ‘I just went on a journey with Them Vibes’ when they hear us.” And in addition to the listener’s participation in the journey, Haddad and Florman want to keep going on their own journey to create a “career that is respected, one that you are known for your music.” Well on their way to resuscitating a standard of timeless music that has been diminished in our popular culture, Them Vibes are building a repertoire full of sensual and grainy sounds with personalities and hearts to match.
Simply put, Them Vibes are themselves, in whatever way you hear them, and they are unquestionably symbols of rock and roll in every way. Go wander with them on Friday night at our Lockeland Springsteen presents event at the Stone Fox with The Cunning and Heaven’s Jail.