A little about the band.
They say rock and country stem from the same family having evolved from common roots. Think Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash, artists who were true pioneers of both idioms. That being the case, there’s no one better to host the family reunion between these two genres then the band that calls itself The Gasoline Bros.
Born and bred in Atlanta, Georgia, the Gasoline Bros. draw from both in equal measure. Their songs are stirring and soulful, sung from the heart, with an honesty and integrity that evokes back porch banter and gritty home- grown realities. And yet, they also possess a drive and determination that’s equal in its ferocity to even the most lethal rockers. The Stones wailing about Dead Flowers and Honky Tonk Women. The Faces extolling the virtues of booze and babes. Led Zeppelin doing that Misty Mountain Hop. The Byrds and the Burrito Brothers hoisting themselves on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and shit kicking their way to acceptance despite the reluctance of Nashville’s Old Guard. That’s the tradition the Gasoline Bros. draw from. Indeed, in many ways, the Gasoline Bros.’ roots are intertwined. Those looking for easy references might want to start by exploring that juncture where Waylon and Willie meet the Georgia Satellites and the Black Crowes. It’s not just a random encounter; it was the Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson who first suggested the group call themselves “Gasoline.” The two bands met while rehearsing in the same warehouse space in Atlanta during their formative years in the early ‘90s. The bonds were further strengthened when future Gasoline members Ray Strickland (vocals/guitar) and Doug Kees (guitar) played in a band called GI Wife with Johnny Colt, a member of the Crowes during their early incarnation.
Then there’s the traditions bred in a band that originates from the great state of Georgia. After all, when one shares a geographical heritage with the likes of Little Richard, James Brown and the Georgia Satellites, that common birthright is bound to be an influence. It’s little surprise to
find that future Gasoline Bros. member Billy Pitts once played with the Georgia Satellites, and Strickland spent a year as a guitar tech for the band’s Rick Richards. Looking back, Strickland cites Richards as a prime influence on his personal development.
“Watching an icon like Rick go about his business as a guitar player had a profound impact on me. He’s a true master when it comes to tone, style and swagger. He also taught me how to treat people with dignity and respect. He’s one of the nicest and most gracious people I ever met. If you want to be the best, it helps to learn from the best.”
Co-founded by Strickland, Pitts and bassist David Piper, the band played under the name “Gasoline” throughout the ‘90s and into the new millennium. However, it was a decade fraught with frustration. “We were banging our head against the Nashville wall,” Strickland recalls. “We were too loud, too rock oriented.” Strickland suggests that their efforts to parlay more rock into the country quotient, as purveyed with a solid southern accent, may have been emulated by some of the newer members of the Nashville elite in recent years. Regardless, unable to fit snugly into the
standard commercial regimen at the time, the band decided to call it quits in 2001 and return to civilian life as husbands and fathers, raising their families and opting for some income.
Still, the idea of reforming the band and giving it another try was never far from their minds. In 2010, Strickland, Pitts and Piper reconvened, christening themselves the Gasoline Bros. “We had been through so much together, so the new name felt right,” Strickland explains. “It may seem like a cliché, but when you face those challenges together like that, you do become brothers with bonds that can never be broken.”
It was Clay Bradley, the grandson of the famed producer and studio musician Owen Bradley, that encouraged them to continue. They first met him when he was an executive at BMI in the mid ‘90s and he made it his mission to introduce them to labels and publishers and also set up show cases, including a gig at South By Southwest. Bradley went on to an A&R position at Sony before eventually returning to BMI as its Assistant VP of Publisher Relations. “To this day, he still believes in the band and the music we make,” Strickland says. “I still have his personal cell number and he always takes my calls. He’s an amazing guy and a real inspiration. He continues to champion our band and has always insisted that we never give up.”
The Gasoline Brothers currently consists of Strickland, Pitts, Piper, Kees and guitarist Brian Huffman. In addition, they’re frequently joined onstage and in the studio by keyboard player Joey Huffman, a veteran of Hank Williams Jr.’s band, Soul Asylum, Matchbox 20 and the Georgia Satellites. And while Strickland is responsible for writing the songs, he credits a mutual mindset for making the music sound like it’s so in sync.
“Being from the South, we all grew up listening to Johnny Cash, George Jones, Buck Owens and the old school country artists," Strickland suggests. "Yet we were also fortunate to have older brothers and sisters who could introduce us to bands like the Stones, the Faces and Led Zeppelin. In addition, I've always related to bands like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and the Georgia Satellites - bands that respect their southern heritage and can replay those influences in a way that's fresh and sophisticated. I wouldn't say we sound like them, but we are cut from the same cloth."
After spending the past few years opening shows for the likes of Blackberry Smoke,The Band Perry, Rodney Atkins, The Georgia Satellites, The Marshall Tucker Band, and Chris Knight, the band is making a solid name for themselves on the road. And with a new album looming on the horizon later this year, Strickland couldn’t be happier. The songs, which Strickland wrote late last year, were cut live with Jeff Tomei, a producer whose resume includes work with Smashing Pumpkins, Matchbox 20, Jerry Cantrell, Skid Row, Soul Asylum, Edwin McCain, Colt Ford, Warren Haynes, and Collective Soul among others. “We’ve known Jeff for twenty years,” Strickland'' says. “We could not have done this record without him. He’s like a member of the band... the real deal.”
“Music has always been a part of our lives,” Strickland continues. “We play because it’s in us. We love the process of being a great band, writing and recording great songs and always trying to get better. It’s a gift not to be wasted. Money and fame have nothing to do with it. It takes a long time to figure that out but when your goal is to create great art, then it’s worth the time it takes. Our goal is to reach as many people as we can with our music and enjoy the process at the same time.”