Saturday, April 21, 2018

Southern rockers Fowler's Bluff find inspiration in Florida life

Fowler's Bluff are the true definition of a Florida band. They're as Southern as Lynyrd Skynyrd, sans the accents and twin lead guitars. Their songs' soundscapes are as expansive as the surrounding gulf, leaning heavily on atmosphere and emotion.

Bassist/vocalist Todd McBride and guitarist George Eckerle have been collaborating since the early '90s on projects like the Boats and Real Shoals. In 2011 they joined with Mike Todd, (keyboards/vocals) and Chad Marin (drums) to form Fowler's Bluff. Their name stems from a town on the Suwannee River that the band visits to recharge their musical batteries.

McBride and Ekerle enlightened us on all things Fowler's Bluff.

Tell us about the connection between your music and the town.

Eckerle: Mike's father owns property up on the Suwannee River in a little town called Fowler's Bluff. It's a neat little place. They have four or five buildings; one of them is a big cement building with a tin roof. So we were like, "Let's go up there and mess around." We didn't have any songs yet. We had maybe one or two really good ideas, works in progress. … We started writing our songs, finishing songs … meeting each other. From there, it's been a perennial event. We go up there and we'll take three or four days and write and play music all day. We'll wake up and have breakfast and wrap up at three or four in the morning. It's this incredible experience.

McBride: We go there to reset ourselves, and remind ourselves what the project is. Then bring it back here and fine-tune, sharpen the edges, rehearse, then share it with the audience.

I'm sure that bond becomes evident in your writing and the final product.

McBride: It does, for sure. It has defined the band from that point on. I like to think that our music — the lyric, the sounds, the dynamics — is all about being genuine. It's like, "I'm gonna crack my chest open for you and show you every bit of emotion I have, and if you buy into it you're gonna understand what we're doing." That's how we approach it. A lot of it's about loss and dealing with life. We want to take the listener with us emotionally. It's very cinematic in nature.

That being said, your music seems deeply rooted in Florida, fishing and water in general. What is your relationship with these?

McBride: Growing up near the beach. George worked as a fisherman for several years. I love fishing as well. … When I write lyrics it's common for the imagery to occur in my mind, 'cause I have such a history with the beach and fishing. Some of the most impressive views I've ever seen in my life have been from a boat.

Eckerle: My happiest place in the world is 30 miles offshore. Being on the water out there in the middle of nowhere, there's something beautiful about it. That's a common theme that recurs with us, but I think we're talking more about fluidity. It's more about nature than water.

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