Formed at the University of Kentucky in 2010, Year of October is the passion-project of Phlecia and Josh Sullivan. Mixing their diverse influences of Led Zeppelin and The Beatles (Josh), and Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald (Phlecia), Year of October stands out due to their unique Nashville-rock edge, and soulful, swirling vocals. Previously, the band released their debut LP Stories and sophomore album Golden Days which found them touring throughout the South and building a loyal fan base. Their latest album, Trouble Comes, is a groovy, distortion-laced album that teeters between an aggressive and soulful rock sound. Here, Josh answers his Essential 8 including where he finds inspiration, how they pass the hours in the van, and much more.
With "Come & Get It," what was the “a-ha” moment when you knew the song was completed and perfect?
We had an “a-ha” moment with our song “Come & Get It”. Phlecia and I had already written the verses and chorus but hadn’t played them with our drummer Kody yet so in practice it was the first time that he had heard the song. I’d had the verse riff for a few years, so I already had a decent idea with what I wanted to do with it and when Phlecia started singing the verse we came up with the chorus very quickly. The chorus just led right into the bridge and we didn’t really have to talk about anything. I just had to help Phlecia come up with some of the bridge vocals and polish the melody here and there and we realized we had a new song. It was a great feeling and Kody and I came up with the ending very quickly as well. It was very refreshing to write a song so quickly and it felt good to come up with it so naturally. I wouldn’t say that the song is perfect by any means but it’s a fun one to play. We are always tweaking our music and trying to improve upon it.
Where do you draw inspiration from when writing?
I draw inspiration from a lot of different places. I read as much as I can, and I also watch a lot of films. I love a good story whether is fiction or nonfiction a good story can be a great source for a new song. Phlecia and I watch as many films as we can as well, and we draw a lot of inspiration from those stories. Phlecia is an amazing painter and artist and I get a lot of inspiration just from watching her draw or paint a picture. Each song is totally different where I become inspired and it really comes down to what I’ve been doing and what I’ve been into. We also listen to a lot of different kinds of music and we try not to limit ourselves when it comes to the music that we’re into. I listen to a lot of folk music and music that doesn’t sound like the music that we play at all. It’s important for me to always find new music to be inspired by.
When/where do you do your best writing?
We do nearly all our writing in our living room on the couch or just upstairs in our band room. We’ve written some songs on the road, but I’d say at least 90% is in either of those two places. We write a lot of our songs on acoustic guitar to get the structure down and then work with the full band to flesh it out fully.
I do nearly all my writing at night. I’m a night owl and I tend to stay up late, so it really works for me to get a lot of writing down at night. I also feel that the writing tends to come more naturally at night anyways.
What’s the best advice you have ever gotten from another musician?
To just get out there and play. When we first moved to Nashville I was so worried about playing our songs perfectly that I was having trouble booking a show. I just kept putting it off and putting it off and my friend told me to just get out there and play. I applied this thinking to putting out our records as well. You can tweak something repeatedly and when you do that there gets to be a point where you lose objectivity within your own recordings. I try and not overmix on our records and really try and let the songs be themselves. I tend to overthink everything, so this is really the best advice I could hear from a friend. Get out there and don’t worry about being perfect or waiting for the perfect timing. In real life there isn’t a perfect time to do something.
What’s the best advice to give to a musician just starting out?
I would say to listen to as much music as you can and don’t get down on yourself if you have trouble playing something. Playing music takes a lot of hard work and patience. You can’t expect yourself to just take off right away and you’ve got to put the time in to get what you want out of it. Practice the parts that are difficult for you by slowing them down and playing them as much as you can.
What are your “must have” albums for the road?
Led Zeppelin 4 for me. This is probably my favorite record of all time and I listen to it on the road all the time. Another record that I can always put on is The Beatles “Abbey Road.” That’s probably my favorite Beatles record and one that I can listen to any time. My favorite nighttime album is probably Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon.” I listen to that one a lot on headphones right before I go to sleep or even if we are just winding down after a show. There is something about the way he sings on that record that I really gravitate towards. He has such a sadness about him that I love on that record.
How do you kill the long hours in the van?
We spend most of the time listening to music and talking about it. I never get tired about talking about music and that’s what we spend most of our time doing. We also make up stories sometimes where we will go around the van and everyone will tell a single sentence which turns into a story. This is a fun game that we play for longer trips in the car and it usually ends up ridiculous and with all of us laughing. We also talk about the latest movies we’ve watched and books that we’ve read. I don’t feel bored when we are in the car because we generally have so much to talk about.
Is there a recent release you cannot stop listening to?
I’ve been really into the new Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings record, “Soul of A Woman”. I love classic soul and funk music and the Dap Tones record label is one of my favorites. The Dap Kings are a great band and I was so devastated when Sharon Jones passed away last year. I was able to get the colored vinyl limited release of this one and I had been waiting for it for a long time now. It is a fantastic send off to one of the modern greats and every song on it is awesome. I will be listening to this record for a while to come as I do with all her records.
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