Lebanon, Ohio is a town known for sprawning Woody Harrelson and Michael Larson, a shady ice cream truck driver who did a infamous Rainman-type trick on the game show Press Your Luck back in the day Google it, great story. The city also gave birth to the country's latest hipster sensations The Buffalo Killers, who, after six years and four albums are approaching the peak of their powers. They're touring behind their latest album Dig. Sow. Love. Grow., which Indy can sample tomorrow at Radio Radio.
I recently spoke with Andrew Gabbard, guitarist and co-vocalist for band as he was preparing to leave for the tour. Andrew and his big brother Zach -- Buffalo Killer bassist, vocalist -- grew up in Lebanon soaking up the music on their father's collection; '70s fare like Neil Young and especially The Grateful Dead.
It wasn't long before the brothers had the bug.
"Once I started really pursuing music, Cincinnati was the place to go and see live local groups and touring acts. I've learned so much from watching the local bands of my time," says Andrew. "I kind of missed out on the Sudsy's experience. But I've spent many a night at The Comet and when I was younger, The Void."
From these forays, Thee Shams was born. They quickly made a name for themselves, recording a pair of fine albums for Fat Possum Records and touring with The Black Keys. Dropping the keyboard, played by Joseph Sebaali, who switched to drums, the brothers formed The Buffalo Killers.
In short order, they began attracting attention with their new sound, which was much heavier and more organic than Thee Shams' garage racket.
"We didn't really decide what we were gonna sound like," says Andrew. "We don't care about genres. We have a lot of influences and I guess it shows. We just write songs, show up and knock them out. We like to rock. Song by song."
He pauses and laughs. "Song and groove assistance."
The band's second album, entitled Let It Ride, was produced by The Black Key's Dan Auerbach and Got the attention of the Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson, who soon had the band opening for The Crowes.
"Dan taught me how to dance and Chris taught me how to roll a joint properly," Andrew chuckles.
The band decided to take their time with 3, their third album.
"We wanted to try and take our time with a record and see how it came out." Andrew tells me. "Some of the best songs I've ever written are on that album. It was our baby." He pauses a beat. "Now, Dig.Sow.Love Grow. is our baby."
And what a nice fat baby it is. The opening "Get It" is the heaviest track the band has recorded yet a Sabbath groove with just the right touch of Mississippi grit. The album moves through one sound after another like the After the Flood-American Beauty dynamic of "Blood on Your Hands" to the Early Plastic Ono Band yowl of "Those Days" and "Graffiti Eggplant."
"Things are easier," Andrew says of the recording process. "We've really learned a lot about each other and what we can do. Less thought goes into things. We're just the band who supports the song."
Fans can expect plenty of new material, too.
"Me and Zach are writing songs constantly and we're just trying to stay on schedule and at least put a record out every year," he says. "We've always got the songs. There's generally no theme with our albums; it's just songs about our lives and what's going on in our little bubble. We're very fortunate to be able to put out records. We're just trying to keep it up."
So, what can we expect tomorrow at Radio Radio?
Gabbard is quick with an answer.
"When we play live, we drink a few beers, smoke a joint, get loose, have fun, connect with each other, connect with our audience. We give 100 percent always. And we are always sad when it's over."