It’s no secret there’s a shift in the musical front when it comes to Country and Modern music. More and more Urban and modern influence is moving into Nashville. Not to be confused with the newly formed Hick-Hop genre, the musical mixture of acts like newly formed Tennessee group “111”, are bringing a more diverse and dynamic sound/content ratio. With Rock, Hip-Hop, Blues, and Classic Rock/Americana as influence, you can assume there would be a calamity of contrasting content to sound. Not so much with this group.
Formed by Popular DJ and producer Tom “Tommy Boy” Evans, 111 is a manifestation of a vision to create an open platform sound with no genre reservations or association, but very soon into the project, it was evident the southern influence and lifestyle was pushing the group in a Country/Rock type cage. Made up of 3 members, local Middle Tennessee artist and contractor, Sean “O.D” O’Donnell, originally of Florida, Former Latino Jam Records artist Robert “Gato” Griffin, originally from El Paso,TX, and Tennessee born Evans who spent most of his life in Kansas City. These three found their way together thru friendship ans chance.
Evans states, “It was like if just fell to earth like a comet” Explaining how “111” came to be. After long time friend and artist Robert Griffin set up a time to bring a neighbor and friend O’Donnell to a studio session to track a demo of a recently written song, Evans was inspired to dig further into the possibilities of taking the song and the talent to the next level.
“After the session was over and Rob and Sean left, I sat for hours wondering how I could approach the situation. I seen every kind of music that we loved and grew up on reflected in all of us as a whole. It was inspiring to see each artist as an individual but united. hinted in the meaning behind the name 111” as Evans explains how the music was a potential melting pot of many different elements.
“I knew by the next day, I had to take the leap of faith in my vision. I had always wanted to be an artist at heart, but I have spent my whole life on stage behind artist and working behind the scenes. I had let my loyalty to others and my own self doubt restrict my effort into standing as an artist vs producer and DJ. But after seeing things from the outside in, I seen Sean and Robert as spokes in the wheel to provide balance and stability to what I could bring to the table musically.”
Evans not known for his works particularly in Country music, spent 2 years on Music Row recording and rubbing elbows with some industry big guns, but being his main background was Rap music, he was quickly shunned and overlooked in the growing Hipster/Mainstream scene. “Working with and touring artist like Juvenile, Afroman, Crime Mob, and more, left me in an outcast category in Nashville, So when I left, I felt like if I came back, it would have to be on my terms with something that represents who I really am, and I bet it will be liked. 111 is that thing!” Says Evans.
111 is a mixture of almost all musical genres but yet all original at the same time. “We have a skinny irishman rocker, a mexican rapper, and a chubby Dj…It’s Brilliant!!” Evans explains as he gets into the dynamics in the sound and image of the group. “3, thirty somethings from each end of the map and demographic combining to form a “Southern” act.. Yea, very pitch savy…not! But somehow it works” Evans says.
111, (pronounced “one-eleven”), adopted the name due to 111 being the road that connected them from one member to the next spanning from Bledsoe County to nearly Anderson County Tennessee. But additionally, it is also due to the power of the number and deep meaning spiritually along with each “1” representing each member and combining to create 111. The sound is combined just the same way. Heavy guitar riffs and thumping backbeats, their sound is ZZ Top meets 2 Pac with a twist of Classic Country and Blues. The group introduction video “Alive”, currently on youtube, the song reflects heavily on current times and even features a few clips of events in the video it’s self. “Keeping it simple is a plus” Evans says. “We have few elements in the production end. I wan’t people to experience the music. Humans can only hear 3 sounds at one time. So why not give a solid minimal component arrangement vs a very overproduced sound.” “Alive” reflects this with only 4 tracks and vocals. But simple worked. the video recieved over 10K views fairly fast to be a debut video from a new group with NO fanbase. None! “I wanted us to come out of nowhere” Evans told interviewers as he explained how some bands and artist spend years trying to build local and regional fans. “I took all of the knowledge I had gained along with all of the mistakes I seen others made and came up with this idea and formula of just doing a sneak attack. And so far it has proven to be a good thing. We take it serious, but Basically, we just want to make music we want and have some fun, whatever comes, comes”
Lean vocalist, O’Donnell has a unique but familiar sound as his tones and roughness is simular to artist like Nirvana frontman Curt Cobain. No a typical Country sound. A fan of bands like the Beatles, Led Zepplin, and acts from the 60’s and 70’s, O’Donnell brings that forgotten flare of decades before mixed with his own self developed style of playing and tuning of his guitar. His myterious and reserved personality adds to the equation also. Now lead men are out and in your face playing star, O.D finds a way to fall back in the spotlight not giving the viewers the whole image. Leaving you to wonder, “Who is he? What’s on the other side of him?” Then there’s “Gato”, throwing a heavy latin accent into a Southern project is also a twist many haven’t attempted. But just like everything else, it worked and fit perfect. Those two elements plus a turntable and an 808 created the mashup we call “111”. Very worth checking out.
111 plans on releasing their first EP this spring accompanied by more videos and a few tours to support the release. We look forward to hearing more from them in the future. Follow links below to check out music, videos, and social media pages.
Alive – Music Video