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Welcome to the Get Sad Y'all Artist Spotlight!
We'll be doing these every week, typically on Fridays, to showcase artists from around NC and beyond. If you'd like to have your band featured in an upcoming spotlight, shoot us an email.
This week we chatted with John Booker of &DearFriends.
Who are you?
I'm John Booker and I sing and play guitar in &DearFriends, along with Aslan Freeman (bass, vocals), and Curtis Armstead (guitars, keyboards) - plus our live bandmates Chris Carr (guitars, vocals) and Jon Sebastian (drums, vocals). We're from here in the Triangle - a couple of us live in Chapel Hill, a couple in Raleigh, and one of us has been living in Nashville, TN for the past couple of years.
Where did your band name come from?
This project started with a bunch of unfinished ideas of mine that I took to my best friends Curtis and Aslan and they helped me turn them into real songs. A few folks were telling me to make this a solo project - even suggesting I just call it John Booker. I mostly didn't like that idea (especially since it turned into an extremely collaborative album - with tons of special guests), but for a bit I toyed with the idea of it being "John Booker & Dear Friends"....after a few days of thinking about that I realized the friendships and collaborations were the heart of the project, and it clicked that &DearFriends was the most fitting title. I ran it by Curtis and Aslan thinking they'd veto it, but they loved it. The only other name I considered was Weird Summer, but we named a song that instead.
Who do you think your band sounds like?
I feel like every song on our upcoming album has a couple of fairly specific musical influences, but as a whole I don't think there's an across-the-board reference point. Folks that have heard the album have mentioned the following bands to us, so I guess this is our RIYL: Death Cab For Cutie, Pinback, Nada Surf, Radiohead, Foo Fighters (I'm assuming the quieter stuff?), Seam. The Sea And Cake and The Posies are a couple of my favorite bands, and we're lucky to have members from those bands feature as special guests on a few songs - so I think there are some similarities there as well. For our Emo fam, I also have always loved Motion City Soundtrack, so I'm sure there's some of that influence in some moments on this record - plus MCS's Josh Cain pops up on a song too!
What are the plans for the band over the next year?
Our album will be out near the end of the year on Portland, OR's Greyday Records (vinyl/streaming)! We'll play some shows here and there, put out a couple music videos, etc.
Pick one song in your catalog that everyone should check out.
Check out our latest single, "Don't Follow" wherever you like to stream your music (Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp, etc)!
Anything else to add?
We're really excited about this record - we've all been making music for a very long time, and have been super lucky to make several albums, etc - but I truly feel this is the best thing we've done and I can't wait for people to hear it. A year and a half ago this wasn't even an idea, but then we went through a really tough summer together full of trauma and loss and this record suddenly poured out of me (after having not written new music for over 5 years) and my favorite people helped me see it to fruition. Thanks for reading and hope to see you all around!
Check out music from &DearFriends below and look out for a new single from them very soon.