The Farewell Drifters have finally made it to the land of their musical roots. This Nashville-based quartet have as much Beach Boys coursing through their music as they do Bill Monroe. And it’s that unique and totally fresh sound that has made people take notice. The group, led by frontman and guitarist Zach Bevill, have spent the last few weeks driving from the Pacific Northwest down to sunny Southern California for their first West Coast tour, and will make a stop at McCabes in Santa Monica this Friday. Prior to their arrival in our fair city, Zach and I talked about what makes the band so unique…..
How did you get started in music?
Zach: I grew up listening to the Beach Boys –some of my earliest memories are of my dad putting his old records on and medancing around. So my earliest performingroots mostly stem from growing up in Peoria,Illinois and being influenced by the sounds around the house.
What was the genesis of the band?
Zach: Josh [Britt] and I met six years ago in Nashville andimmediately bonded over our love of sixties music and folk music. Josh was playing the mando and we both got introduced to bluegrass around the same time and started incorporating it into our sound. Josh’s brother Clayton joined us immediately on lead guitar and the band just grew from there.
What are the band’s biggest influences?
Zach: Definitely a sixties element in there: the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan obviously. Butonce you work your way back from those artists and see who they were inspired by, you start discovering deeper roots. John Hartford is a big influence too. He was always artistically true to himself, andnever let anyone paint him in to a corner just because he played banjo orfiddle.
What’s your first west coast tour been like so far?
Zach: We’ve mostly been around Portland over thepast few days. There’s been such awarm reception out here, I’m kind of wondering why we didn’t do thisearlier. We have a strong fanbasein the southeast, but in general people out here are just excited about this music.
We are so thrilled about playing California forthe first time — almost feels like it did the first time we played NewYork City. We learned [Simon and Garfunkel’s] The Only Living Boy in New York for that trip, so for this one we decided we would learn California Stars — the lyrics are by Woody Guthrie but we’re doing the coverby Billy Bragg & Wilco and it’s great. But being in Califeels like a major milestone for us as a band.
If you could go back to any decade, when would it be?
Zach: It would have to be the Sixties. Between the Beatles and the Beach Boysand the folk revival, it’s all about the Sixties.
What is your drink of choice?
Zach: I am a big fan of any microbrewedporters. Really in to portersright now. St Charles Porter by Nashville’s Blackstone Brewery is my favorite.
If you didn’t live in Nashville, where would you be based?
Zach: I really like Virginia and North Carolina, butit’s hard to imagine being anywhere other than Nashville. Though just today I was saying thatif Portland was closer to our families, I could totally see myself living here.
What are you most looking forward to in Los Angeles?
Zach: I want to see what the coolest thing is inLA right now. Like, what is it that I can’t miss at this moment? Also, I’m a coffee nut, so I’m looking forward to checking out some great coffee places.
Have to ask, who had the idea for the Members Only jackets on the album cover?
Zach: That was Josh’s idea — we were definitelyinspired by him because he collects those jackets. He has a whole closet full of them. We ended up going through his collection and found all thecolors we needed…. they seemed to fit who we are as a band.