Earlier this week, I caught up with Austin Landers for a little Q&A.
If you haven’t heard Austin play music, then maybe you recognize his name from one of his other gigs. This cool cat hosts the Lakelands’ hippest radio broadcast, The Austin Landers Show, weekdays from 3-5 p.m.on Sunny 103.5 FM. His weekly wrapup on Facebook is the go-to source for updates on local music and he’s also the voice in the press box at Lander Bearcats baseball and soccer games.
Next time you’re watching the local talent rock out, look for Austin -- he’ll be the guy with the long, brown hair, a crowd of friends beside him at the bar between sets, and a Carolina Panthers T-shirt on his back. But don’t be fooled by his cool, casual exterior. When it comes to music, Austin means business. A lot of people don’t know what it takes to be a full-time music man, so I’m giving you the inside scoop:
LB:How did you get into music, and what instruments do you play?
A: Growing up, my dad always had music playing. Tons of classic rock. I liked most of it -- Hendrix, ZZ Top and the Allman Brothers -- but I also found out what I really liked in high school, which is anything from rock, indie and emo to hardcore, punk and rap music. When I was 18, I asked for a bass guitar for Christmas, started playing and eventually moved to guitar and even owned a drum set for a while. For a long time, I was the guy who played whatever somebody needed. The first real band I played in was called The Weathers.
LB:Who are your favorite recording artists?
A: The constants over the years are: The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Bright Eyes, Modest Mouse, Ryan Adams, Jimmy Eat World, At the Drive-In, Colour Revolt, mewithoutyou, Cursive, Steely Dan, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, David Bazan and Radiohead.
LB:Which musical ensembles are you in?
A: Currently, there’s Bad Weather States -- we’re recording an album right now. Bonnie Situation, covering ’90s tunes. And as of the last month, Mucho Dinero, my first time singing lead in a band. I enjoy all of the bands in different ways and have a blast with all three.
LB:What do you think about Greenwood’s music scene?
A: In the last 10 years, I’ve seen it continually growing, and that’s wonderful. It’s awesome that almost every day of the week you can find live music here in Greenwood, and we have so many great events like Uptown Live, Music on Maxwell, Springfest, Oktoberfest and the Festival of Discovery. I hope we’ll continue to see more bands play rather than just acoustic acts.
LB:What do you like most about your radio show?
A: I enjoy just being able to be a DJ every day as a career. I’ve always had a passion for music and I love being able to play some of my favorites and expose our listeners to different artists and bands.
LB:Who do you enjoy playing music with most?
A: Everyone I’ve played with possesses something I admire and value. I started playing music with Granger Smith years ago in a jam band called Brown Sugar Substitute, and I’ve watched him grow into the lead singer/songwriter for Bad Weather States. Nic Massey plays rhythm/lead guitar for BWS and makes the whole band sound better, even helping me create bass lines for our original tunes. Duane Terry is an absolute beast on a guitar and my personal favorite on lead in Greenwood. I also love playing with everybody in Bonnie Situation. Last, but not least, Will Thompson plays drums and is creative, consistent and sings wonderful harmony.
LB:What advice would you give to local kids just starting out as musicians?
A: Music is a wonderful vehicle. Have fun, play with friends and enjoy the ride. If you want to make a career out of music, then practice, watch and learn from those who are more experienced. I never took music lessons, but I’ve learned from everybody. Get comfortable with small crowds first. Then get out there!
If you’re still making plans for the weekend, add this Friday night at Montague’s to your agenda. Austin will be playing with Duane Terry as the Waterloo 2. Austin has an easy, unassuming voice that reminds me of the band America who released classics such as “Ventura Highway” in 1972. Before their final set, request Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” -- my favorite of Austin’s covers -- and don’t forget to tip your local talent.