Drive across the rural South with the window down and the radio on. Hit scan and listen as muscular country, drawling rock, high gospel harmony, low-country blues and old school soul meld together into something special and distinct.
That’s the sound of A Thousand Horses and the exciting new band’s debut, Southernality. The 13-track Dave Cobb-produced Republic Nashville album yielded the No. 1 RIAA Gold-certified hit “Smoke” before it was released in June. And fans have responded to the unique, hypnotic song in a way that shows the band’s all-genre mix of classic influences remains in the DNA of young music fans in the digital age.
“Subconsciously, our audience grew up listening to those albums that we all love too and the reaction so far has just been exciting,” lead singer Michael Hobby said. “To me country music’s always been cool. I grew up on it. There’s a wider audience now. The lane seems to be a little bit wider for artists like Eric Church and Jason Aldean to push boundaries. People call it Southern rock or people call it country or people call it rock ‘n’ roll. To me it just feels like it’s all just music now.”
Hobby is joined in the creative core of A Thousand Horses by guitarists Bill Satcher and Zach Brown and bassist Graham DeLoach. Their friendship and similar interests have helped them create a distinct swamp boogie that fits right in with country music’s current party paradigm. The sound clicked immediately with fans and ATH has since made its television debut on NBC’s TODAY, Fox’s Fox & Friends and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! The group also earned a CMT Music Awards nomination for Group Video of the Year and performed on the show the same week it made first appearances at CMA Music Festival and Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival.
The song Southernality reached unanimous No. 1 status the first week of June. Its power comes from the band’s chemistry, which was evident even in the earliest days when Hobby and Satcher met while checking out guitars at the only music store in Newberry, South Carolina. DeLoach, first cousins with Satcher, entered the picture summers and holidays while visiting from Georgia.
The trio moved to Nashville because it seemed like the natural place for their sound and soon invited friend of a friend Brown to join. They all lived together at first, writing songs, mapping out an ambitious approach. It was a special time when they formed the bond that would lead to their first record deal with a Los Angeles-based rock label trolling for talent in Nashville.
The best way to hear the album, though, is to catch the band on the road with Darius Rucker’s Southern Style Tour this summer. ATH’s core members augment the band on the road, adding a drummer, keyboard player and three backup singers to really bring home the nostalgic feel of rock’s three-guitar era.
“The whole concept behind this thing is we’re a big band,” Satcher said. “We wanted to showcase the whole thing. I think we’re able to paint the picture of certainly what it’s like on the album, the full vision we had when we wrote these songs.”