Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Q&A: Forest Fire Gospel Choir talk influences, changing Nashville scene


Four hours away in Nashville, Tennessee, students at Belmont University, a liberal arts college that is home to the Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, are immersed in crafting music and luckily have a readily available music community at their fingertips. Tuscaloosa has often welcomed Belmont’s musical by-products, including Moon Taxi and Judah and the Lion this year. Tonight, Thursday, April 12, will be no different as Belmont-curated rock band Forest Fire Gospel Choir brings their southern rock influenced sound to Green Bar starting at 10 p.m.

Can you tell me a little bit about the band’s formation and progression from 2015 to today?

Sam Hunt, Will Lynde and Nick Fields [plus Will Mcgee and Daniel Closser] all met at Belmont University. We all played in different bands and projects together our first years in Nashville. The band really came together when we all went to McGee’s lake house in 2014. McGee and Fields were recording songs for another band, and had brought Lynde and Hunt as support musicians. 

It was a week of long days and nights working on these songs, but we also used the opportunity to track a few songs McGee and Fields had written. When the dust settled from that project, we were listening back to the songs and realized we had a new band in the works. After that, we picked up the name Forest Fire Gospel Choir. Since then we’ve put out an EP, toured throughout the Southeast, and we just put out a new song “Oh Eleanor.”  

You met at Belmont – what do you think it is about college, specifically Belmont, that allows for bands to form?

Belmont’s biggest strength is that it’s in Music City. Nashville is an exciting place right now, and it attracts all kinds of transplants. Just in this band, we represent Memphis [Tennessee], Houston [Texas], Rochester [New York], Boulder [Colorado] and Los Angeles [California]. 

There’s a cultural melting pot of musicians here. All of these players come from all over, and they bring these unique influences and ideas with them. It’s exciting hearing it meld together. Belmont is definitely an epicenter of this. You take all these kids who want to do music differently and cram them into dorms together – something magical is bound to happen.

You released an EP in 2016 and recently released your single “Oh Eleanor.” How has the music making/recording process changed since the EP?

With five core members in a band, it’s easy to have five hands on a steering wheel that’s already erratically driving well over the speed limit. It’s hard to make music. Besides the whole artistic journey, studio time is expensive. We’ve recorded in some great studios in Nashville, Ocean Way, Columbia, the Tracking Room, but for this last song, we recorded everything in our basement.  There’s so much great technology that allows you to record yourself on your own dime and on your own time. 

That’s helped us make the kind of music we want to make. It’s been a process learning how to engineer – that’s Sam Hunt’s world – how to produce ourselves, and how to creatively collaborate. It’s worth it though. DIY forces you to grow. We want to know how to take our ideas all the way from start to finish, and we’ve got our hands in every part of the process these days.

What are your thoughts on the Nashville music scene? How has it helped you? How has it changed?

The Nashville scene is great right now! We have a little bit of everything. There’s a scene distinct from country that includes lots of indie rock bands, folk bands, synth pop bands, reggae bands, hip-hop and more. I’ve noticed a change in the country scene too with all of the pop and rock producers who are working here now. That’s all part of the melting pot. We’ve made friends with a lot of truly cool bands and people. We all cheer each other on. 

Currently, who are your biggest influences? Why?

We geek out about two things in this band: unique songwriting and unique production. Hunt and Closser love the dark pop stuff like Tame Impala, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Arctic Monkeys and Queens of the Stone Age. Lynde, McGee and Fields – the music trivia nerds – dig a lot of the classics like the Band, Joe Cocker and Leon Russell, but we look for that same soulfulness in newer bands like Alabama Shakes, My Morning Jacket and Dr. Dog. We love great writers like Father John Misty, Dawes and Randy Newman too.

How do you make your set lists for each show?

There’s a dartboard involved.

What are the band’s plans for the future?

Basically, just like, world domination?  But in a cool way where everyone’s singing along. Also, we have way more songs for you.    

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