Originally from Kentucky, Everette – made up of Brent Rupard and Anthony Olympia – began performing together in their early 20s and throughout their time at university before moving to Nashville. They released their debut EP, ‘Slow Roll’, back in 2018 and put out the follow-up album, ‘Kings of the Dairy Queen Parking Lot Side A’, last year, as well as making their UK debut at C2C last month.
Shortly before their C2C appearances, I caught up with Anthony and Brent to talk about their new song ‘Gonna Be A Problem’, how they approach their songwriting and more.
How would you describe your music?
Brent: I would say… we hear a lot of ‘rock and roll twang’. I call us hillbilly hippies. What do you think Anthony?
Anthony: Yeah, I definitely hear there’s an element of some… I feel like rock and roll is probably one of the things that comes across first, with our loud guitars and big drums. But there’s also some bluegrass and classic country sensibilities. And at the same time, I hate to put something in a box that it’s just one thing. Genre is such a tricky thing but I feel like it’s… We used to say ‘back porch rock and roll’. Which I kind of dig because it’s something that we’d want to be playing to our friends, couple of guitars, sitting on the back porch, having a drink, on a beautiful day like it is here in Tennessee.
Are there any songs you particularly enjoy playing live?
Anthony: Man, we have one song that’s just a barn burner. Which means it’s just like country punk rock mosh pit. It’s called ‘Dang The Whiskey’, and it’s fast and it’s furious [laughs]. I feel like Vin Diesel should be popping in.
Brent: And it’s true. It’s about going to jail in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and I did go to jail in Bowling Green, Kentucky years and years ago when I was younger. And we wrote a song about it. So I’m with you Anthony, I’m excited about that one. I’m excited about… Since we released ‘Man Of Constant Sorrow’, our version of it, we haven’t got to play it out much live so I’m excited about that one.
How have you found the reaction from UK fans? Has there been anything about their response that surprised you at all?
Anthony: That’s a good question. Life has been so full lately I haven’t been paying attention a lot to social media, sorry! [laughs] Brent’s been paying more attention to it because he’s a stronger person than I am [laughs]
Brent: [laughs] I don’t know about that. But no, I’m excited. We’ve been told by many people on our team that we have to get to the UK, that you all would embrace us and that makes me so excited. Just to… I mean, any time you think people can feel your music and feel what you’re trying to put into it and reach people, you wanna get to the folks and strum your guitars and see them smile, jump around and hang out and party.
You’ve mentioned ‘Man Of Constant Sorrow’ which has been a staple song of yours for a while but which you recorded only recently. What drew you to that song in the first place and why did you feel this was the right time to record it? And did you expect it to have as much impact as it has?
A: Brent and I, when we started Everette – I guess that was what, four years ago Brent?
B: Yeah, somewhere around then.
A: We had written a bunch of songs together. We’ve been playing music together for 16 years. But anyway, so this particular project, the band name came from the movie ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’ and George Clooney’s character Everett is where we get the name from. And long story short, we’d been playing this song in our set, acoustic sets mainly, as a way to have an opportunity to say where our band name came from – it’s from the movie, because we love it, and our journey is similar to the Soggy Bottom Boys. Mainly because our bottoms are always soggy [chuckles].
But it just… it always goes over like everybody just explodes with joy when they hear that song, which is wild because it’s so sad. Anyways, we put out a couple of videos out there into the interwebs and one of those videos was with Dan Tyminski who was the original voice of Everett in the movie, when we were just jamming with him in our writers’ room a couple of years ago. And it feels like every time we put that song in the world, it blows up.
So we thought, “We should just do our own version”. And we had no idea that it would become a single. We recorded ourselves, kind of like a rinky-dink ‘oh whatever’. And then, shoot, it’s out there [laughs].
You also made a visualiser video for the song recently which looked like a lot of fun – how was it recording that clip?
Brent: It was so much fun. We had the idea of making it kind of like a garage band, just some young guys rehearsing in a garage, and the guy who did that video just understood exactly what we were trying to go for and I think he nailed it. We had so much fun. There might have been a little bourbon drank during that video [Anthony laughs] to accentuate the good times.
I also wanted to ask about your Opry debut back in January. What was that experience like?
Anthony: It was quite a day. I mean, leading up to it, we had another date booked last November 2021 and sadly I got sick. So we had to reschedule it. So there was anticipation and anticipation on top of anticipation. And finally we get there, and the Opry is wonderful to document your debut. There’s a camera crew literally as soon as we arrive, they’re filming us park and you’re on camera, you have to be on, you’re stepping into the circle. Brent and I are having these emotional moments, the heaviness of the history, the place, all the pictures around you and all this stuff – it was like emotional and mental overload.
And then finally, “all right guys, it’s time to play” and you get out there and there’s all these people and half of them are people from back home, people we went to college with, people we used to play in bands with. It was just like – I mean when that night was finally over, I was both drunk and actually drunk [laughs].
Brent: Yeah, it’s hard to keep all that in your skin, man. I mean, to be very candid here, I got home and just emotionally let it go, man. I was just kind of a wreck. ‘Cause so many people that were there have had our backs for so many years, way before we had the opportunity to play the Opry, and they’re there cheering us on. It’s just an overwhelming feeling.
I wanted to ask you both about your songwriting process. Do you have a typical approach to how you write or does it vary?
Brent: I would say it depends on the feeling of the day. You know, sometimes a jam session can turn into a song, sometimes Anthony has a really great… Anthony’s a great engineer so he’ll have something started already musically, or I might have something musically started and then we go from there. Or we’ll have a particular idea that’s honed in already or we’ll just have kind of a theme. But yeah, we love writing songs, that’s something we take very serious. And like I said earlier, that’s why we’re so glad to come to the UK to perform – because we work hard on these songs, and if you build something you want people to see it and experience it.
Anthony: You know, my favourite way, and I bet Brent you might agree with this, but my favourite way to get rolling on a song – because often we’re writing people that we’ve known for years. And every time you see them it’s like, you’re hugging, you’re embracing each other and then you’re just talking about this and that, whatever’s going on in the world, the big world out there as well as your small world at home. And in the midst of all that conversation which may sometimes go on for an hour and a half before you even play a chord or sing a note, and somebody says something and you just go like, “Oh! Is that a song? Oh my gosh we have to write that”. And because we’re all in that moment together, it can just unfold so naturally.
Anthony: You know, you don’t have to sit there and really think about the idea. It just goes like, “Boom! This song needs to be written right now.” I feel like those are the ones that turn out the best and feel the best.
Brent: And I feel like any time me and Anthony are just writing just us two, any of our songs that don’t have any of our friends on, it pretty much always happens that way. We recently wrote a song together called ‘Put Down Your Sticks And Let’s Get Stoned’ [laughs] and it’s not exactly what you think it would be about, but it kind of is. And it unfolded that way. It was just kind of there, you know?
Anthony: We were talking about the world is so crazy, and getting crazier, and we were like, “man, I feel like we just all need to love each other a little bit, you know, just put down our sticks and let’s get stoned’ and it’s like, yep! There you go.
Brent: Just party together and hang out, you know?
You’ve also just released your new song ‘Gonna Be A Problem’. What can you tell us about that?
Anthony: That one was started… I had a musical idea, I believe. We were writing with a couple of buddies, me and Brent and a couple of buddies, and it was one of those where the music kind of got us in the mind space and then I can’t remember who said it but it was like, “oh! Gonna be a problem”. And then we all kind of knew, “oh yeah, she’s gonna be a problem” or “you’re gonna be a problem”. So that was kind of like the birth, the conception of that one.
Brent: Yeah. And honestly, we weren’t gonna cut that song. Our buddy Jordan Davis had that on hold for a year. And he’s a good friend of ours. And then finally we decided to go into the studio and just try it out ourselves ’cause everybody said it was gonna be a hit and we were like, “hey, we need one of those” [laughs]. So we were recorded it and were like, “hey this does feel like us” ’cause at first we weren’t sure if it felt like us. And then when we went in the studio and put the guys together and the band together they knocked it out of the park. I’m so excited to put this song out.
Anthony: And as far as feeling like us, sometimes when you’re digging around creatively you might put on shoes that aren’t really yours for a minute, just to get outside of your norm. I found this funky modern sounding piano sound in the beginning of the song that’s like ‘do, do-do-do’ [laughs]. It sounds like it could be Bruno Mars or something. But I was like, “oh that’s a neat sound”. And then we just wrote to it with a chord progression, and then when we got the demo we were like, “yeah that doesn’t sound like us”. But playing it on a guitar, we go, “oh, OK”.
Speaking of Jordan, I saw the clip you put out with him on your social media recently and I know you’ve done things with people like Lindsay Ell in the past too. Is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with in future – either as performers or songwriters?
Brent: Elton John? [laughs]
Anthony: [laughs] Yeah. Paul McCartney.
Brent: No, we’re going on tour with Brothers Osborne when we get back from the UK and we love those guys, we’re big fans of their music. Of course, Eric Church, he’s – everybody loves Eric Church in our world. He’s kept it genuine, it seems like. But there’s a lot of artists we dig and we’d love to work with some day. I mean, we’re always open to whoever. The good thing about country music is it does feel very family-ish kind of a genre where everybody is so nice…
Brent: Yeah, it feels like a community.
Anthony: We’ve got a few friends that we’ve written songs with – Hailey Whitters is one, she’s so fantastic. Brent actually co-wrote a song with her that was out a couple of projects ago, and we’ve been writing with her…
Brent: ‘Glad To Be Here’.
Anthony: We have hopes to one day do something with her. You never wanna come at it as strategic – “all right, we should do something together!” You want it to be as organic as possible. But also Brent Cobb, he wrote ‘Way Back’ with us. I have a dream of us one day doing a song together. I think that would be so much fun I might start levitating.
Speaking of your Brothers Osborne tour and I know you were out with Sara Evans just before Christmas as well – how are you finding being back on the road?
Brent: It’s everything, honestly.
Anthony: I did not expect this to happen, but when the world did close down – just to kind of rewind a minute – in 2020, it was locked down. Couldn’t go anywhere. Well we could, but against… but whatever, either ways. So daycare was closed and my wife and I had, at the time, a two-year-old. And I had been on the road, we had been on the road a ton the first couple of years of his life. And so I became daddy daycare. Which I guess really you would just say I was a parent [laughs]. So I got to spend so much time with him and I got the bond that I felt didn’t quite exist yet, and then we’ve since had another child which is just the biggest ball of joy – he smiles at everything. It’s been really difficult to leave, it becomes more and more difficult.
But I also believe we’re doing something really worthwhile. It’s beyond any kind of monetary success or fame or anything like that. I really feel like our job – Brent and I say this every night when we’re playing, our job is to bring the joy. If there’s any kind of healing – I feel so hippy sounding but that’s what I tell my son, because he asks me, “Daddy, why do you go on these trips? Why do you play music for people?” And it’s like, “well, there’s a lot of people out there that are hurting or something, they just need to feel joy for a minute or they just need to feel somewhere else”. And that’s mine and Brent’s job. We play this music because hopefully that’s what it will do for them.
What’s the one song that you wish you’d written? Other than ‘Man Of Constant Sorrow’…
Brent: [laughs] There’s so many of ’em, but I’m trying to think of the first one that pops to mind. Um… I wish I would have written… ‘Good Ol’ Boys Like Me’ by Don Williams. Something like that.
Anthony: ‘Free Bird’. [laughs] Actually any Led Zeppelin song. Those guys… it’s just so cool and so free. I admire their willingness to just go all the way there. I’ve been in a big Led Zeppelin phase lately and every song just rips me in two, in all the right ways.
What does the rest of 2022 look like for you?
Brent: Well we’re at the Opry tonight, which we’re so excited about. But our plan is to be on the road as much as we can, bringing the music to the people. That’s the goal this year. And then we’re gonna be releasing ‘Kings of the Dairy Queen Parking Lot Side B’ this year as well.
Everette’s new single, ‘Gonna Be A Problem’, is out now on Broken Bow Records.