by Caleb Calhoun
It’s a Wednesday afternoon and I’m hanging out with my boy Andrew Scotchie at his other job, working box office at Asheville’s legendary Orange Peel venue. We are chatting about life in general, and his brand new album Family Dynamo in specific.
“Artistically with this album we wanted to say that we are a rock band but we can include so many other styles,” Scotchie explains. “As you play and go see bands and travel and grow up your musical horizons broaden. You get inspired by all kinds of things.”
This, The River Rats third album, certainly marks a major step in the bands evolution. Known early on for Scotchie’s fiery lead guitar and more of a southern rock vibe than anything else, Family Dynamo takes major steps into much more mature territory both musically and lyrically.
While much of their earlier music focused on relationships and angst, this new record goes to some much deeper, and much darker places.
“I think lyrically one thing that is a theme throughout this album is mental health,” Scotchie delineates. “There were some moments that were really planned and then some that just spilled out of my brain.”
“Being in a family that has a history of mental illness and some tragic loss,” he continues, “I have dealt with a lot. Much of it (the album) was natural but a lot of it was me being upset about how people are treated. Our society doesn’t provide the resources or the tools or the guidance they need, and that became a major theme.”
Not many musicians are any more well qualified to speak to these issues than Scotchie, who lost his own father when he was only 17. His father was the foreman at the Mountain Spring Valley Water plant and had been forced to fire an employee for theft, then to take out a restraining order after the employee responded with violence. According to Scotchie,
“The guy got put in jail and the DA at the time, Ron Moore, let him out on bail even though he was an obvious threat with a history of violence and crack addiction. When he got out of jail he went straight to the warehouse and shot my dad.”
That was in January of 2008, and this album, nearly a decade later, is a tribute to his father, and a call to our communities to understand and support mental illness better. But this theme is not merely lyrical.
Musically this album dovetails perfectly with the things being said. Much more psychadelic than their earlier work it brings at times a darkness akin to something you would hear from The Black Angels or other bands in that genre. Of course, it does this without leaving it’s dirty south roots or it’s calling card Scotchie thrash.
Talking to Scotchie i understand that he sees this album as a culmination of all of the music he has ever made. Having followed him for years and listened to the record myself, it’s hard to argue with that assessment.
“There were times it was hard but out of the love for the music and for each other we stuck it out and didn’t give up. Plenty of times this band could have given up. The career. It’s fucking hard,” Scotchie tells me as we finish up.
“But I am not scared of it anymore. Especially with the new album I am confident and ready. I just want this album to have a chance cause it has a great message. It’s unique and the best recording we have yet. It’s very reflective of where we are as a band.”
Check out their brand new single, premiering exclusively through Live Music Daily, and pick up the full album everywhere on May 17!