Nashville – Roadkill Ghost Choir, a six piece indie alt rock band, has so much going for it that the band was invited to Bonnaroo with only one, awesome EP on the books. Andrew, Zach, and Maxx Shepard (a trio of brothers) and three other band members cozied up on the stage at the New Music On Tap Lounge to play a set that included songs off their EP and new ones off an impending album. Andrew and Zach met us afterward to talk about how their influences, no-holds-barred sibling dynamic, and how the band became effortlessly awesome.
Caroline McDonald: Can you tell us a little about your band?
Andrew Shepard: Most of us live in Deland, Florida, so the band took shape in the central Florida area…a terrible place, haha.
Zach Shepard: It’s a strange place for music, but it’s a good place for us.
CM: How would you describe your sound?
AS: Spacey rock with a touch of that folky bullshit twang.
CM: How did this band come to be?
AS: I started writing music in 2010 on acoustic guitar and recording some demos in my room. I was offered a show, and I didn’t want to do it by myself because I’m a terrible musician. So my brothers and Kiffy, our pedal steel player, joined me for a one-off. We weren’t planning to make this a band, or travel, or anything like that. We played that first show and a few more, and we kept it rolling.
CM: Were there a lot of instruments in your home growing up?
AS: Our parents were always supportive. Our third brother and drummer went through a period where he was really into the violin. He never actually played it, but he had one.
ZS: They bought me a trumpet one year. I played it, like, twice.
AS: They would support our interest even though the instruments were never played, and no one bothered to learn them. They’ve been good parents.
Roadkill Ghost Choir At Bonnaroo - Gale Halverson
CM: What is it like to be in a band with your siblings?
AS: It’s easier to communicate. We’ve been mean to each other our whole lives, so we’re able to get to the point rather than worrying about hurting each other’s feelings.
ZS: There’s no tiptoeing around. We can just say, “That part’s terrible.”
CM: How did you come up with your name? It’s unique.
ZS: Thanks! Our guitar player came up with it. It started as a joke folk band that was originally called Lester Opossum and the Roadkill Ghost Choir, or Lester Opossum’s Posse. But we actually liked “Roadkill Ghost Choir,” so we stole that part when he joined the band.
CM: You played some songs that weren’t on your EP yesterday. Do you have an album in the works?
AS: Yes, it’s finished- it’s already mixed and mastered. It’s coming out August 19th. We’re excited about that. We’ve been sitting on it for a while, so it’ll be nice to have it out.
CM: Who lyrically inspires you, Andrew? I love your lyrics.
AS: I’m a big fan of Bob Dylan, of course. I also like Thom Yorke and some of Jeff Tweedy. I like Kurt Vile, as far as more recent singer-songwriters go.
CM: Who’s the best artist you’ve seen at Bonnaroo so far?
AS: Ty Segall’s been my favorite so far. Diarrhea Planet was also awesome.
ZS: Diarrhea Planet’s set was a lot of fun. The biggest moment for me was seeing Neutral Milk Hotel.
AS: Yeah, being able to witness that was awesome.
CM: So does Jeff Mangum happen to be an influence too?
AS: Yeah, I love him. We don’t sound anything like them, but I do love him.
After dabbling in many parts of the music industry—recording studios, PR, management, labels, publishing—I’m expanding into music journalism because I’m yet to find anything more rewarding that finding and sharing new music.
A longtime sucker for girls with guitars, my musical taste unabashedly follows the songwriting lineage of Dolly Parton and includes Patty Griffin, Gillian Welch, and Neko Case. But not to pigeonhole myself, my music love is big love that stretches from R.L. Burnside to Animal Collective to Lord Huron.
I’ve recently moved home to Nashville after living in Boston and Big Sur for several years. I’d forgotten how music pours onto the streets ten hours a day, seven days a week. I’m honored to share the creative explosion happening here. If your band is in the area or of the area, please reach out!
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