Hailing from Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, you might expect more twang in Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors. The foursome, including vocalist Ellie Holcomb (Drew’s wife), Nathan Dugger and Rich Brinsfield, has more of an easy listening sound with catchy hooks. It's so addictive, in fact, that they have more than 40 TV placements and an exhausting touring schedule, performing with acts such as Ryan Adams, Susan Tedeschi and Robert Earl Keen. The group’s newest album, “Medicine,” is retrospective, taking the listener back to when Drew Holcomb was a solo act with emotional lyrics and a bluesy slant. They play tonight, June 24, at Friday Cheers, at 8 p.m., after Major and the Monbacks go on at 6:30. $10. 788-6466 or venturerichmond.com.
Richmond magazine: How did you get here? Where did it all start?
Drew Holcomb: I was a bored and introspective study abroad student in Edinburgh (Scotland) in the spring of 2003, so I got curious and started writing songs. It became a diversion, then the diversion turned into my life. It started at a barbecue and beer joint in Knoxville called Lucille’s (now no longer in existence). I was a senior in college and I convinced all my friends to come hear me play.
I had to play three 45-minute sets, mostly originals but some covers, too. It went a whole lot better than I thought it would.
RM: Do you write alone and what does that process look like??
Holcomb: I write in nine- to 12-month spurts, then I take 12 to 18 months off. I usually write alone, but I just started writing with Rich and Nate, my guitar player and bass player.
RM: Between all of you, how many total instruments do you play?
Holcomb: With Nathan in our band, that number is pretty much based on whatever is in the room. He can play anything except horns and violin/cello etc. One time, he bought an accordion in the morning, and played it on a record that night. He’s ridiculous. I have about 15 guitars. The ’67 Gibson J45 I play onstage a lot, I found at a pawn shop in Lexington, Virginia, for $600. Best deal I’ve ever gotten.
RM: You've played Richmond before. Did you like playing here?
Holcomb: Yeah, but only once and it was freaking cold. That crazy winter storm of February 2015. It was literally 15 degrees outside, so the only part of Richmond we saw was the venue.
RM: Are there places you'd never play again and why?
Holcomb: There are a few venues that are basically just college bars with a stage in the corner. They usually have bad sound equipment, rude security people and green rooms that feel like you are going to get a disease. We try to avoid those if possible.
RM: Tell me your, or a band member's, most surprising hidden talent?
Holcomb: Rich’s toenails do not grow. That is not a joke.
RM: Where/how do you find inspiration?
Holcomb: Lately, I find a lot of it in my kids and their daily new discoveries. It is such a joy to watch.
RM: Is there a most frustrating thing about the music business?
Holcomb: People don’t keep their word. That’s a terrible trait.
RM: Cake or yeast doughnut?
Holcomb: YEAST. For sure. And the best place to get them is Gibson’s Donuts on Mendenhall in Memphis.
RM: Who in your band is least likely to be on time?
Holcomb: Grant Pittman, keys player. Piano players don’t understand the concept of time anyway.