Chelsea Kornse Photography
Chelsea Kornse Photography

Athens, Georgia-based folk rock collective Family And Friends will be performing in Nashville this Saturday at Musicians Corner, a glorious (and free!) summer concert series here in the Music City.  I caught up with Mike MacDonald (vocals, guitar) and JP McKenzie (guitar), who were in Athens getting geared up for Saturday’s show:

Eo8:  How did y’all become a band?

F&F:  A few of us knew each other in high school, but we never played music in a band setting with each other.  It wasn’t until after college that I (Mike) took a year off to pursue music, see how far I could get in a year, and then reevaluate my plan.  The band just kind of came together based on knowing each other from college and from around town.  We met our bassist because I work at the same bar with him, and Ryan, our drummer, plays in pretty much every band in town.  One way or another, we ended up in the same practice room, and we started playing songs together.  We had our first show at the end of year that I was going to reevaluate, so we decided to give it another year, and here we are.

Eo8:  Have you been to Nashville before?  

F&F:  Yeah we’ve been a few times now, but we always end up having to leave early the next morning or something, we want to actually stick around and see the sights.  (JP) It’s Father’s Day on Sunday, so you’ve got to watch out for that…(Mike) That’s a good call.  I think we may go up a day early to explore.  We always go to coffee shops, JP loves his coffee.  We both work at a coffee shop in Athens called Jittery Joe’s.  They’re awesome people; we actually are doing a roast with them for our own Family and Friends coffee.  Our first EP was called Love You Mean It so the coffee is called “Love You Bean It.”

Eo8:  Do you take coffee-preparing implements on the road with you?

F&F:  JP shows up with new equipment everyday, it’s like a coffee science experiment. (JP) I’ve recently started bringing a cold brew pitcher on the road, and then I also have an aeropress that I bring with me, but it’s one of those things, you have to put so much force behind an aeropress, and most of the time we have collapsable tables…hot water and collapsable tables don’t necessarily go hand in hand.  That’s how we lost our third drummer.

Eo8:  Let’s talk about your drummers….you have two of them!  

F&F:  We do have two drummers, and they face each other while they play.

Eo8:  I’ve been watching your video sessions from Glow In The Dark Studios in Atlanta, and one of your drummers had on the most fantastic onesie I’ve ever seen.

F&F:  (Mike) I know, I’ve been trying to get my hands on that onesie.  I’m pretty sure he went to Australia and he got it down there.  Australia is home of the onesie, obviously.  We did a show in January and he actually wore a monkey one.

Eo8:  You have a new EP coming out on July 17th called XOXO, what was the process of making it like?

F&F:  It was great, we went up to Echo Mountain in Asheville, an old church converted into a recording studio.  It was an amazing experience, a lot of fun.  At this point we’re so ready to get it out there, we’ve been sitting on it since November.

Eo8:  You have a big band, how does your songwriting happen?

F&F:  Originally, I’d (Mike) bring an idea to the band on an acoustic guitar, and we’d take it from there, hashing out parts around the original structure.  The stuff we write now is more of a conversation from the beginning, it’s definitely a lot more collaborative these days.  (JP) It’s really fun to watch these little musical ideas get fleshed out and turned into something.

Come to Musicians Corner Saturday! The music begins at 1:30 p.m. in Centennial Park….until then…..behold the onesie:


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