They’ve barely been a band for a year, yet Family and Friends has made quite the name for themselves in both Athens and Atlanta. Band members Mike MacDonald (Guitar, Vocals), Casey Harper (Vocals), JP McKenzie (Electric Guitar), Tuna Fortuna (Bass), Maria Kindt (Viola, Vocals), Jandro Rios (Percussion) and Ryan Houchens (Percussion, Vocals) have an electric connection both on and off stage. From their mesmerizing stage presence and their foot-stomping, hand-clapping singalongs to their hilarious YouTube videos and awesome picture posts, this local band has easily made music fans a part of their family.
Family and Friends heads to the Drunken Unicorn this Saturday, February 22 and we got the chance to catch up with a few of the guys! We chatted about the band’s new EP, their tour plans and a few things they have in store for the show this weekend!
You guys have been a band for just under a year and have already had so much local success. Obviously your music is infectious, but what else makes Family and Friends stand out among other local bands?
Mike: Haha, well thank you! I think a large part of it has to do with community. Everyone involved has been nothing short of amazing along the way! For us, this is about being a part of something bigger than any of us as individuals, and doing it together.
Jandro: It is really developing into a collective of sorts and that’s what we were hoping for from the get-go. We want the fans to feel like they’re part of the family.
Ryan: For me, I think a lot has to do with the kind of people we want to be outside of the music. And we have two, very sexy, very intelligent, very masculine drummers.
You recently reached your Kickstarter goal of $5,000 and just released an EP last month. Tell us about the new tracks!
JP: We have been playing a rotating set of songs since September and really set our nose to the grindstone to get new songs out. The new songs are a good example of how Family And Friends is getting comfortable with ourselves.
Jandro: The EP has a wide range of emotions on it which is awesome. Even within a song you can feel totally heartbroken and then all of a sudden be in a fast-dancy-rockout without even realizing it’s the same song.
Mike: It’s pretty much a PSA that we’re here for you and that it’s okay to feel again.
You have several band members and a whole lot of instruments. It must be close quarters on stage and in the van. Do you pick fights like brothers and sisters or is it pretty smooth sailing?
JP: It is pretty smooth sailing honestly. We tease each other like brothers and sisters which is fun. I am bummed Ryan’s mullet is gone because that was always a guaranteed good joke and laugh.
Mike: When most people hear Family And Friends, I think they have this image of idealism, but that’s not really how families or friends for that matter generally work. We’re human. There are ups and downs for sure. When it comes to creating with a group of people, someone is going to butt heads. But at the end of the day, we have each other’s back, and that bond makes us stronger. I love these fools like no other, and I wouldn’t want to be doing this with anybody else.
Ryan: As far as on stage goes I strive to be unsure if my sweat is my sweat by the end of the set. That rhymed.
You’ve played Athens and Atlanta quite a bit. Do you have any plans to tour outside of the state anytime soon?
Jandro: Yes please.
JP: We definitely plan on getting out of the state very soon and on to the road. We are all really stoked on getting our music into new ears and hearts. We are currently lining some stuff up for the Southeast for the middle of March through April.
Festival season is approaching! What festivals would you guys love to play in the next few years?
Jandro: Coachella has always been a dream of mine.
Mike: Man oh man, all of them! Festivals are life’s nectar of the gods. I think you have to really try to have a bad time at any festival really.
JP: I would love to play SXSW, Coachella, Shaky Knees, and Counterpoint. Not really Counterpoint, but I want to see a folk-rock band play after a big EDM Dance party and see what happens. We have some in store that I don’t know if we can announce yet.
Ryan: We just got offered to play Bunbury Music Festival in July so we will be touring after our show up there in Cincinnati! For the future, we just need to keep working hard and it will present itself. Reap what you sow!
JP: Well, there you go…
You all are playing a show at Drunken Unicorn on February 22. Do you have any surprises in store for the crowd?
JP: We have some surprises in store for sure, but I think most of the surprises are going to come from random stuff that happens to us.
Ryan: ITS GOING TO BE SO FUN. I WANT MY MOM TO COME ON STAGE AND SING WITH US!
Jandro: I’d be surprised if everyone kept their pants on. Other than that, probably a sparkly vest or something…
Mike: We love surprises! It wouldn’t be a surprise if we told ya.
Family and Friends plays The Drunken Unicorn on Saturday, February 22 with Programs and Sehrmann!
$7 for 21+, $9 for < 21, 18+
Doors @ 9 pm