Interview with Bill Taylor of The Bitteroots; Playing 6th Anniversary Show at Eddie’s Attic May 17th
The Bitteroots, a local Atlanta band that has shared the stage with a who’s who list of legendary musicians, are celebrating 6 years of awesome music this Saturday at Eddie’s Attic. Atlanta Music Guide sat down with Bill Taylor,one of the founding members, and chatted about the band’s musical influences, Atlanta’s awesome music scene and what’s to come in the year ahead.
Your 6th anniversary show is coming up at Eddie’s Attic on May 17th. Got anything special planned for the evening?
Yeah it’s our 6th anniversary to the day actually from our first show in 2008, a backyard party in Decatur, and this will be the third year doing it at Eddie’s Attic. We bring back a lot of friends and guests, so we do have a lot of guests sitting in, and we’re actually going to have a mini acoustic set to begin with and then an electric set after that.
The Bitteroots has undergone some changes in the lineup of the band How has your band’s sound changed and evolved over the past 6 years?
When we started out for probably the first year and a half we were a pretty solid cover band, then we started writing, and we’ve actually finished four recording projects, two full length albums and two EP’s. We had the addition of Kyle Bryant about a year ago, and the sound has really evolved into more of an improvisational jam band sound. So no two shows are the same anymore and there’s a lot of improvisation. We usually have one different person that sits in with us at every show, anywhere from a sax player to another guitarist, or a pedal steel to percussion, something that really kind of augments that particular show, so it’s always a little different. On the May 17th show we’re bringing all of those guys back. I think at one point we’re going tohave 11 people on the very small Eddie’s Attic stage. We try to keep it really fun and fresh, and we’ve met a lot of really great musicians along the way that sit in with us from time to time.
How much of a live show is improvisational?
Well they’re built around songs that we’ve recorded and put on our albums, but live, a three minute song on the record might end up being ten, twelve, or twenty minutes live, so it just depends. We just never know where it’s going; we know how we’re going to get there but we don’t know how long it’s going to take.
Your music has roots of jam, blues and folk to it. What musicians would you say influence your band the most?
We all come from different places. Personally I’ve always been listening to the more improvisational bands like Phish, Widespread Panic, The Allman Brothers and Grateful Dead, but each of us kind of come from a different spot and the evolution of our sound has really been going that way for probably the last two years. There’s influence of pop music in there as well and just straight ahead rock, as well as a little bit of alternative and obviously the folk stuff. Depending on the song, there might even be a little bit of country as well, just because of where we’re from, it’s hard to kind of get away from it, so we’ve kind of embraced that as well. We have a lot of songs that were written when we were in different spaces during those times, so I think it’s a pretty good catalog and it kind of pulls from all different types of genres.
When creating those songs is it a collaborative process? Do each of you contribute to the creation of those songs?
We don’t have a strict way of doing that, so most songs come out of just playing, and Laura, who is our lead singer, is the primary lyricist. The music almost always comes first, and then Laura will write words. Our previous guitarist Dan was also quite prolific in his songwriting and we still play a lot of his tunes today. But the newest batch really come more out of collaborative jamming and playing, and then Laura will write the lyrics right on top.
What’s the best thing about being a part of Atlanta’s live music scene?
There’s just a lot of really, really good music in Atlanta these days. Everybody is extremely accessible; any given night you can go to any of the major clubs in town and see just really just top notch musicianship going on. We, sort of being part of that scene and being able to have met some really good people, have been able to play with a lot of our favorite bands out there along the way as well. Atlanta’s got a great music scene.
Who are some of those musicians you’ve been able to play with?
Allgood, Colonel Bruce Hampton, Cigar Store Indians. We have some friends of ours that we’ve been playing on and off with for many years – Lindsay Rakers Band. So we pull some of those guys for different shows, we actually have some of those guys sitting with us for future shows as well.
Where does the name Bitteroots come from?
It’s actually a mountain range out from Montana all the way to Idaho. A buddy of mine years ago thought that would be a great band name, and when we were forming this band it was one of the names that got thrown out there and it’s just the one that stuck.
The Bitteroots play their 6th Anniversary Show this Saturday, May 17th at Eddie’s Attic.