Get To Know: Alabama Shakes [Watch, Listen]

The journey began during a high school psychology class in Athens, Alabama by vocalist/ lead guitarist Brittany Howard. Only learning to play the guitar a few years earlier, Howard approached classmate, Zac Cockrell in an attempt to play music together. She stated, “I just knew that he played bass and that he wore shirts with cool bands on them that nobody had heard of.” Not long after writing songs on the floor of Howard’s house after school, Cockrell recruited Steve Johnson as a drummer. He was also an employee of the only record store in town. Howard and Cockrell embraced his “punk-metal edge” he brought to the table. Later on, Heath Fogg was added to the band as another guitarist. At the time, “The Shakes,” covered songs from artists Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Otis Redding as guidelines to play together.

With a steady loyal fan base, the band noticed their rise in popularity during an appearance at a Nashville record store. Here they were introduced to Justin Gage who posted their song, “You Ain’t Alone” on his blog, Aquarium Drunkard, calling them “A slice of real.” They woke up the next day to emails from record labels, managers, and publishing companies. Immediately blown away the band Drive-By Truckers, offered the newly named “Alabama Shakes,” a slot to perform with them, sight unseen.

In between day jobs, Alabama Shakes earned stellar reviews after an October performance at the CMJ Festival in New York City. MTV called them “one of the top bands to look for in 2012.” While, NPR named them “one of the best bands of 2011.” Jon Pareles described the Alabama Shakes in a glowing review as “a thunderbolt dressed in bluejeans,” in the New York Times. As word of mouth spread and constant offers to tour increased, the band was finally able to quit their day jobs.

The release of their first album, Boys & Girls, will include the six songs recorded from their initial Nashville session as well as five other songs recorded during the past year. Alabama Shakes stated this album demonstrated the sense of groove and space they learned from their idols. Their spring tour begins on March 9th at the sold out Lincoln Hall in Chicago. You can pick up Boys & Girls on April 10th at music retailer stores, Starbucks, or pre-order it on iTunes.

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