Not Really a Country Band: Nashville’s Great Peacock Chug Up Midwest Guitar Driven LP ‘Forever Worse Better’ (INTERVIEW)

Frontman/guitarist Andrew Nelson of Nashville based Great Peacock certainly tells it like it is when describing the inspiration behind the band’s third album Forever Worse Better (released 10/9).

“We’re struggling to find success, and I want people to know we’re struggling, just like they are. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, though, and you can work hard to get to it,” says Nelon about the ups and downs of being a real “rock” band that isn’t going to be doing any “hey ho” singalongs in the immediate future, despite its lucrative temptations.

Consisting of Nelson, guitarist/harmony vocalist Blount Floyd, and bass player Frank Keith IV, Great Peacock have been just about everywhere since Making Ghosts, their 2013 debut record that introduced them as modern-day interpreters of the American South’s rich musical history. 2018’s Gran Pavo Real tightened their club level rock with radio-friendly

So with the atrocity of 2020 in the midst of our musical consciousness, what better way to welcome the year than having a new Great Peacock record. Forever Worse Better hits home in a nostalgic, cozy, and reverb-drenched fashion that fits like a soft flannel yet throws the middle finger like an ungodly tattoo. Nelson’s vocals are part Jack Daniels soaked and part green tea, bringing a well-worn validity to his laid back storytelling vibe. Yes and there’s plenty early Seger, Petty, and JJ Cale in there.

“The first half of the album is about feeling empty and looking to fill that void with romance,” says Nelson. “It’s about a girl, and I didn’t wind up getting that girl. The second half — and the album as a whole, really — is about learning to love and accept yourself. Those themes tie in with this being the band’s third album. We’re struggling to find success, and I want people to know we’re struggling, just like they are. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, though, and you can work hard to get to it.”

Upon the recent release of Forever Worse Better, Glide caught up with Nelson about finding that golden era of rock amongst other things…

This record is about the three-way intersection between drive, desperation, and determination. How much did being your own producer allow you to touch these themes and do you feel if you had an outside producer the record would be different sounding?

Well, it’s an ambitious thing to be your own producer. The very act of bearing that responsibility means it’s going to force you to try your hardest to get every little thing right. I’m very glad that we didn’t hire someone else to fill that role. The album would have been way less personal. Having the authority and time to chase every little detail I wanted to give the album a truly unique identity, in my opinion.

Were you hesitant about putting a record out that you couldn’t immediately tour behind?

Maybe, a little at first. But, once we got to around May we knew we couldn’t just keep waiting.  Since the songs are so personal, I knew I had to get them out sooner rather than later. We all miss touring pretty bad right now! We’re looking forward to 2021 for sure.

You are not a country band but I can see how you can fall into that category. What do you feel are the positive and negative associations with country and what country artists of any do you feel bridge the gap between music and fanbase?

The only negative association I see is that having that label put on us might prevent more straight rock fans from checking out our music. But the genre is very fluid these days, right? We are definitely not a “country band.” We love country music and have songs that lean more towards Americana, but we don’t really keep up with the country music scene or the connotations that come with it. We definitely feel closer akin to a festival band than a radio band so we have to depend on playing really well and gaining fans that way. We have a pretty broad fanbase, young and old, black and white, straight and not. We’re grateful that everyone feels comfortable coming to our shows no matter what their politics are. But we’re also not afraid to speak our minds when it comes to what we believe in. So far, that has never been an issue for us.

The Americana scene is getting pretty crowded up these days coming at you from all sides of Mumford, Orville, Avett, and Sturgill. What are your thoughts on it?

It’s nice that there is a term for it that is inclusive and allows a radio format to exist for traditional rock and other types of music that the corporate gatekeepers won’t allow on mainstream radio of any genre. We just don’t want to be typecast. We feel like we lean more rock than Americana but we understand the label and are happy to be included in it. We just want people to know that when they come to our shows, you’re gonna see rock show – even though we wear cowboy hats.

Who have you been compared to that drives you nuts?  

We actually can’t really complain about this! All of our comparisons have been to our heroes. I embrace all of it! I’ve never heard of us being compared to any shitty sounding artists. We get Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty A LOT –  who can complain about that? We also get a certain musician who shall remain unnamed due to personal bad behavior, but still has put out a body of impressive music – so we’ll take it if that’s the comparison people are making. We also get Jason Isbell a lot – who is at the top of his game right now, so that’s nice too. Of course, I don’t think we sound exactly like anyone else – we have our own thing.

The guitar lead on “Old Man” is vivacious – how was that lead born and who do you most feel influenced by as a lead guitarist?

That has a harmony thing going on. I’m sure the ABB fans will understand where we were coming from on that. My favorite guitarists are Neil Young and Mike Campbell. Neither one is flashy or “notey.” Their feel rules the situation. But thanks for the compliment!

You were going to work with Duane Trucks of Widespread Panic – how do you guys know each other?

Duane is buddies with our manager. the one thing we’ve really learned in this business, it really is all about who you know – but not in an incestuous, problematic way, just that the longer you’re around and the more people you meet, the more opportunities come your way. He was originally gonna play the drums on the album, but he hurt his back the week before tracking. Our on-again/off-again drummer Nick Recio came instead and absolutely crushed it! Nick is my favorite drummer I’ve ever played with. We were glad he could join us on this album – felt like old times.

I pinpoint a very late 70’s/early 80’s Tom Petty feel on “All I Ever Do” and “Strange Position” kind of like Dylan LeBlanc  – you particularly fond of that era and what do you feel is the golden era of rock?

Funny you mention Dylan Leblanc. “All I Ever Do” has a lot of reverb. I think it’s safe to say Dylan likes reverb too! I’ve got no clue what the golden era is. There’s stuff I love just as much from the ’90s and 00’s as the ’60s and ’70s. The golden era of rock is probably from when The Stones started till the day they finally quit. I mean, they are the greatest Rock and Roll band of all time.

Great Peacock- is a bold name- what does it stem from?

A drunken, summer night of Bushwhackers in West Nashville. We just thought it sounded funny and unforgettable. Kinda important, yet approachable. Who knows?

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