Rather listen to this interview? Click here.
Rather watch this interview? Click here.
Born out of Nashville Tennessee, the rock/soul/fuzz band Year of October has exploded into the music scene through the release of their latest album Wastelands. Consisting of Phlecia Sullivan on vocals, Josh Sullivan on guitar/bass, and James Varner on drums – the trio has made a name for themselves through establishing their own creative sound through a combination of fuzzy guitarwork, blaring drums, and soulful vocals. All of which is immediately heard through the first few tracks on Wastelands like during the songs "Black Widow," "Greevil," and "Venom." Afterwards, the band momentarily decreases the tempo and slowed down the rhythm with the track "My Soul" – only to get the fire started again with the songs "Wastelands Pt. 1" and "Wastelands Pt. 2." The song "Out to Dry" simply exploded after the end of "Wastelands Pt. 2" and helped lead the album towards it's completion through the gentle songs like "Cut Me Open," "Fade Away," and "Buried Redux." Wastelands not only showed tremendous growth for the band since they released their first album Stories in 2012, but it also represented a new and creative direction that the band is diving into. Stay tuned for a recent interview with Phlecia, James, and Josh, as they described what it was like to create Wastelands and reveal what the band has coming out next.
Do you guys have a bar you like to frequent after practice?
Phlecia: "We play videogames and drink."
Josh: "Sometimes, non-quarantine sometimes. We do play a lot of Tower Fall though."
When were you guys formed and how did you come under the name Year of October?
Phlecia: "We started the band in 2010, so it's been going for awhile, and then James has been playing with us for about two years now. When we first started playing it was just me and Josh doing acoustic stuff and I felt like it was music that you would play around the campfire, so I wanted to take that feeling of Fall and make it go year-round. I feel like October is the best Fall month and so we wanted Year of October because it's the best. Now we write a ton of spooky rock music instead of campfire music."
How long have you each been playing music for, and what made you first start playing?
James: "I started when I was 13 and I turn 28 tomorrow, so awhile."
Phlecia: "I've been singing my whole life; my mom has videos when I was three years old – writing songs in the living room so I think it was just a part of me."
Josh: "I started playing bass when I was about 13 and I started getting into guitar when I was 15 or 16 so almost 20 years. I mainly played bass in bands and I played bass in Year of October for our first record, then we had a falling out with our guitar play – he didn't want to do it anymore, so out of necessity I started. Me and Phlecia wrote everything, but I started playing guitar because we had a bunch of shows lined up and we were like, 'Well we're not going to cancel them' so I started playing guitar and I think it's the best thing that's happened to the band."
Your combination of rock, fuzz, and soul is impressive to hear. What artists inspired you to create that unique sound?
James: "I'm really into hip-hop and rap music, as well as the heavier side of things like Metallica, Gojira, or Clutch."
Phlecia: "I mean I love old soul like Etta James, and Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, one of my favorite artists is Nora Jones, I love Amy Winehouse. If we go with the rock stuff, the Arctic Monkeys, or anything Jack White does."
Josh: "I love Zeppelin, Sabbath but then also newer bands like All Them Witches – that band is super dope. I also like a lot of folk music like Nick Drake and Sufjan Stevens. That's what's super cool about being on tour – we get to show each other new music, like James has shown us a lot of artists we've never heard of."
With four albums under your belt, how do you each feel the band has grown since your start in 2012?
Phlecia: "I think we're finally in a place closer to the sound where we wanted to be when we first started with that record. We did it to have music to book shows and so it's filled with songs that we liked and we're in more of the sound that we wanted at the beginning. I feel like we've grown into a heavier and more soulful sound, and that's where we wanted to be when we started – and we just now have the right people to do it with."
Josh: "We had a lot of people play with us – and a lot of great musicians. It's definitely a feel thing though because some songs you just can't play with certain people and I definitely don't want to say anybody was bad – because everybody was good. But with James we don't have to talk about anything, it just happens – especially live. To have the freedom to do what you want to do and to know what we want to do live, it's been really awesome. Ever since he started playing with the band, we have a whole other record after Wastelands and we're working on that right now, and we're working on other new music after that. So it's always challenging to write music, but all the pieces are there to continue doing that."
When can listeners expect to hear something new or hear something from the album?
Phlecia: "We have seven songs tracked and about three more that we have to get tracked."
Josh: "We're shooting for nine or ten tracks depending on the length of everything, about seven of them are tracked with drums and bass and then I'm layering guitars and vocals right now. Our goal is to have something out hopefully before the end of 2021 but we shall see."
How long was the writing process for Wastelands?
Josh: "It was about two years; we had had some ideas before James joined the band and then once he joined, we were able to really hash them out and finish songs. In 2019 we toured with James and all those new songs, and we recorded during that time. But it was great because we wrote like three songs and then go on tour for a month and a half to two months, and then you have them really tight, and then record them. So, it was a really cool process, it was the easiest record I've recorded because it felt very natural. Everything was intentional and it was easy to see where the pieces fit. It definitely took off once James joined, the writing just feels natural."
James: "It feels good on the whole."
How did you come up with the name of the album Wastelands?
Phlecia: "I just think it felt right, we had a bunch of songs and we had someone else draw the artwork – but I was creating the words and everything for the album cover. We actually have another album cover created that the album is called Venom and we don't feel like it's right. I think 2020 felt like a wasteland of a year, so it just fit."
Josh: "We tried a couple different titles, we even debated making it a self-titled record, and it just didn't feel right. Then we were talking about 'Wastelands' the double song in the middle of the album, I think it's the exclamation point on the whole record."
What made you want to release the songs "Black Widow" and "Greevil" as singles for the album?
Josh: "'Black Widow' and 'Greevil' were the first two songs we finished writing for the record, and it's funny that they ended up being singles. We were talking about it and 'Black Widow' was a no-brainer because we wanted to put your foot down and it hit hard. 'Greevil' was just a great follow up to that."
What is your favorite song on the new album and what makes it so?
James: "Mine is probably 'Fade Away.' It's definitely mood dependent."
Phlecia: "That's actually mine too. 'Wastelands Part II' is my second favorite."
Josh: "Today mine is probably 'Venom.' We'll play them live sometimes and we'll play 'Greevil' and I'll be like, 'This is my favorite.' But then we'll start out 'Venom' and I'll be like, 'This is why I picked it.' I really like playing 'Black Widow' a lot, we've had that one the longest."
You recently released a music video for the song "Greevil," what was it like to make that video?
Phlecia: "During 'Greevil' – James had Covid – and so we weren't in the same room recording. So James had to record his drum parts himself, so he set up a camera and recorded those drum parts. Then I got all the footage and was going to do black and white, or red and white, and by some happy accident I added a blue filter on something and it went all weird 3D looking mess – like early '90s music video looking stuff. In the chorus there is a weird octopus creature that I have faded into the background over our faces and you can see it walking across the screen if you look hard. I'm probably the only one that knows that, but it's there."
Josh: "It almost looks like we're in the same room, it was a pretty cool challenge. But once you see the squid creature you can't unsee it."
What song would you guys want to see made into a music video?
James: "Probably 'Fade Away.'"
Phlecia: "I would love 'Fade Away' that's what I would say too. Josh wants to do 'Buried Redux' but I don't know it might be two against one."
Josh: "'Fade Away' would be dope. But it would be cool to do like a ten-minute music video, it would be like that Guns n' Roses video 'November Rain.' We can do that but with like zero budget."
You guys have played a number of different live performances since Covid first started. What performance has been your favorite?
James: "Probably the 5 Spot."
Phlecia: "Yeah I think so too. The album release was cool but I had to edit all that video together, so that was a lot of work. The 5 Spot we just showed up and played. It was great production and super fun."
Josh: "The album release one was cool too."
What is your favorite venue in Nashville to play at?
James: "I like the Cobra as well. That spot the End was cool."
Phlecia: "I mean my favorite venue to play in Nashville is Springwater just because it feels like a comfortable, dive-y home to me. We've played a lot of shows there."
Josh: "The Eastern is really cool. The End was also really cool, there's a lot of really good spots in Nashville. I mean 5 Spot is great too, it's awesome that they made that for bands."
Are there any livestream performances planned in the near future that you want listeners to know about?
Phlecia: "Yes March 19th we're doing one at a place called Live from the 615 and it's with our buddies the Dirty Delusions and it's actually their album release show. We've played in Nashville with them a few times and we've played with them in Western Kentucky."
Josh: "Yeah that show was super cool."
You guys have some merch that listeners can buy if they go to your website yearofoctober.com. Some items include patches with the band's logo on it, and Wastelands pressed onto black vinyl. What other merch can fans expect the band to release in the future?
James: "CD's, koozies, t-shirts, hats, bracelets, we're doing condoms too. It's gonna be awesome."
Phlecia: "I love our trucker hats too."
Josh: "At some point soon we have a new 7 inch that's getting pressed, actually right now we're doing 'Wastelands 1 & 2' for that. That's brand-new information, I just heard back for that, so that will be sweet. So, more vinyl, and more t-shirts coming out soon."
Your 2014 album Golden Days was recently pressed onto a multicolored record. Are there any plans to release a colored variant of Wastelands?
James: "If we sell them all. It's one of the best ways to support a band too. If you go to a show, you buy a band's vinyl, all that money goes to that band and you can bring something home that's dope and you get to listen to."
Phlecia: "I would love too if we sell them all. I would love to, I think purple vinyl would be dope. The reason Golden Days are colored are because we had a coupon, and it was cheaper to get the multicolored vinyl than the black. We love to listen to vinyl, we all collect vinyl, and it's one of our favorite ways to listen to music. So, I think we just wanted to do it that way. We've got a few at Grimey's, we don't' have any at Vinyl Tap – we should probably do that. We're going to takes some to the Groove as well, that's one of our favorite record stores."
Josh: "The 7 inches that we're doing, there will be some color variations there, and then the rest will be clear. But yeah, doing colored vinyl would be super dope. We didn't do our 2017 album Trouble Comes and I was really sad that we didn't get to, so when we recorded Wastelands I knew from the beginning that it was going on vinyl."
What music can listeners expect to hear from you within the year?
James: "We talked about doing Eminem covers, but like in a blues-rock setting."
Phlecia: "We played a few at the 5 Spot, so we have a couple of them up on our YouTube page."
Josh: "We do have some songs already live. One new one, it's called 'Paid Back in Spades' and it'll be on the new new record. We also did 'The Hounds,' so there are a few that are floating."
The band is currently unsigned and independent. Would you prefer to remain independent, or is there a label you'd be interested in signing with?
James: "It also seems like a lot of pressure."
Phlecia: "We like the independence, if we could keep the independence and have their contacts that would be great. If somebody offered us something that was really good and didn't dick us over, we would be down."
Josh: "If we had the right deal that would be great, but it would have to work out for us. But yeah, it all depends."
What is your desert island album?
James: "Billy Joel, 52nd Street."
Phlecia: "Oh god, that's such a good record. The Phosphorescent Blues by the Punch Brothers."
Josh: "I'd probably do Led Zepplin IV."
Is there anybody you would like to shout out or are there any announcements you would like to make?
James: "YouTube, Spotify, Bandcamp, Onlyfans, we're there."
Phlecia: "Just James has the Onlyfans."
Josh: "James' birthday is tomorrow, so shoutout to James. Check us out on our website, with a link to our Bandcamp, if anyone wants to check out our music we're streaming as well, and we have vinyl."
- Year of October Set to Release "Wastelands," A Ten-Track ... ›
- Year of October (@yearofoctober) • Instagram photos and videos ›
- Come & Get It - Year of October Official Video - YouTube ›
- Wastelands | Year of October ›
- Year of October, Fuzz Rock Soul, Nashville, TN Rock Band ›
- Year of October - Home | Facebook ›