In conversation with heavy Southern Rockers The Georgia Thunderbolts

The Georgia Thunderbolts release their self-titled EP today (21 August) on Mascot Records and as we have already discovered, it is five excellent tracks which sit nicely at the heavier end of the Southern Rock spectrum.

MetalTalk editor Steve Ritchie spoke with the guys from Rome, Georgia, to find out more about the path to signing with Mascot Records, if they really like Led Zeppelin and what the chances are of seeing the band live in Europe in the post COVID-19 future.

MT: With an almost fast track back story, it is the classic tale of five guys meeting at school, gigging, being mentored by some bigger bands leading to a record deal and the release outstanding EP.

You make it sound so easy… but I’m sure thats not the case! Can you tell us about the early days?

Zach Everett – Bass: “Well back in those days it was a lot of late night driving and late night talks, lots of loud music and uncomfortable car rides.

“We never really complained though, we always look forward to doing it because it’s what we love to do.”

‘Looking For An Old Friend’ is the first song you wrote together. That must have been a special moment when you had finished putting it together. It’s a great track, building beautifully towards the chorus.

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Do you have fond memories of writing that song? Realising yes… maybe we can do this?

Zach Everett: “I remember the day we wrote that quite well. We were all sitting up in TJ’s house trying to do something musical and that just flowed out quite easily.

“I really believe that it was a moment of ‘Yeah, this could be a thing.'”

The EP contains a really rounded set of songs, all of which we really love. With the guitars and rhythm section, it seems like your sound is at the Heavier end of Country Rock. Would you agree?

Logan Tolbert – Rhythm Guitar: “I would agree, I also think that we’re blessed to be able to go from a Country Rock to Blues to some Heavy Rock and still sound like the Thunderbolts.

“We just write songs. Whatever genre they end up in is cool.”

Inevitably, with such a great debut, thoughts must turn to a full length release. How does the rest of your material hold up to these five tracks.

Is it a case of yes, we are ready for the first album, or are you taking these recent learnings and experiences into working on new material?

Logan Tolbert: “We’re ready for sure. We have a great team at Mascot that keeps everything rolling, along with Richard Young and we five are always itching to get back into the studio.

“If you want heavy, we got heavy if you want Country Rock we got that too.”

‘Lend A Hand’ is a cracking track. We thought there might be a Zeppelin influence behind that riff…maybe?!

Apart from the Southern Rock masters, are you influenced by the Heavier end of the market?

TJ Lyle – Lead Vocals: “There probably is a Zeppelin influence behind it haha! We love them too.

“Yes we are influenced by the heavier end of the market for sure, as well bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and bands like Van Halen and Pantera.

“Our music range consists of pretty much everything!”

Speaking of heavier bands – TJ’s vocals are great. There is a great range and power there.

In ‘Set Me Free’ I can almost hear a similarity, when singing in the lower range, to the great soulful singing of Ray Gillen (Badands). That might be a bit of leap…. but TJ has a great range… that scream towards the end of ‘Set Me Free’ is spine tingling.

Who are your heroes and inspirations?

TJ Lyle: “My heroes are people along the lines of Chris Cornell, Ray Charles, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Bob Seger, Paul Rogers, and people like Frankie Miller and I also like Jim Morrisons croon.”

We could sense from the EP that you are a cracking band to see live. The production was great on the EP, there is almost a live feel there… not over produced at all.

How was the recording process for you guys?

Bristol Perry – Drums: “It was such a great experience. We learned a lot through this recording process and taught them some things as well!!

“We loved recording at Barrick recording studios and of course Richard Young and Dave Barrick producing the album. We are so thankful for them.”

The Georgia Thunderbolts  - EP Cover

It must have been great to get picked up by Richard Young and then Mascot. Can you talk about how those initial contacts came about and why you embraced that great chance?

Riley Couzzourt – Lead Guitar: “We opened for The Heads (ed: The Kentucky Headhunters) in 2017, I believe.

“The whole time we were on stage jamming before The Heads came out and we melted the crowd. I noticed Richard Young watching us from the side stage.

“I walked over to TJ mid-song and said, ‘Oh My God, their guitarist is watching us play’ speaking of Richard.

“At the end of our set, Richard spoke with us while he was preparing to go on stage and said he wanted to talk with us after the show.

“He mentioned us coming to Barrick Recording Studio in Kentucky and cut an album. That was an offer that we could not turn down.

“Shortly after Richard, the president of Mascot Records North America, Ron Burman, come see us. He dug what he heard.

“Here we are now.

“Richard is one of the greatest guys I have ever met and we are blessed to have him and the Mascot team.”

Finally, thanks for your time. Any message for us Rock and Metal fans in UK and Europe? Any plans, once the butt of Covid is kicked, to cross the pond for some dates?

Riley Couzzourt: “Definitely hope to see y’all across the pond some time soon!

“We have always dreamed of playing in the UK and mainland Europe. The message I would like to leave you with is: Give us a try! We cannot wait to meet all of you across the pond.”

The Georgia Thunderbolts – Debut EP

Mascot Records

Release Date: 21 August 2020

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