Our Copywriter, Brian Revels, is more than Spawn’s wordsmith extraordinaire – extending his talents into songwriting for his very own band, Brian Revels & the Heat Lightning. In fact, they’ve just released their new album, Jasper County Blues, on vinyl and wherever you stream music! And today we got the lowdown on Brian’s music-making journey.
What first got you into music?
My 7th grade honors lit teacher, kind of. I think I expressed some general desire to learn music and he was a retired rocker. He took my mom and me to buy my first guitar. I didn’t pick it up for two more years, but that’s where it all started.
What inspired the name for your band?
It was pretty straight-forward. I was driving back from a river trip with my ex-girlfriend and she said, “you should name your band “Brian Revels & the Heat Lightning.”
How would you describe the music that you typically create?
Simple, lyrical and earnest. I’m not very ambivalent with the song topics or intricate with the chords. I tend to default to the “three chords and the truth” approach.
What is your creative process like?
I try to make sure I’m always prepared to jot down a note, whether it’s on paper or into my phone. Voice memos work great because I can get down melodic ideas with the lyrics. But eventually I just find some time to reflect on what I’ve accumulated and hope a song comes out of it. I’ve written some songs in 30 minutes and some I’ve been carrying around unfinished for a decade.
Do you think your musical background helped guide your career path?
Absolutely. At 22 or so, I bailed on undergrad and went to a school for music near Atlanta. After graduating, I lived in Atlanta teaching lessons, waiting tables, playing gigs, working construction, hosting open mics and managing social media accounts for my band and eventually some local businesses. Income was never consistent and made budgeting a bigger challenge than it needed to be. And since I rather enjoyed the marketing work I was doing, I threw caution to the wind and a mountain of debt onto my credit history to fund portfolio school (The Creative Circus). I graduated in December 2019 and that’s what brought me to Anchorage in June of 2020 to work for Spawn. I also recorded the album throughout those two years at the Circus.
What song is your favorite on your new album?
“Full Moon Mind,” probably. It was already a favorite and my friends at the studio (aka Standard Electric Recorders Co. in Atlanta) really helped give it the perfect polish. The melodic hook that repeats throughout the recording still gives me chills and wasn’t originally a part of the song. A close second is the title track, “Jasper County Blues” featuring one of my best friends and favorite poets, James Murdock. My song is about going to his farm in rural Georgia and his poem is about coming to the city to visit.
What’s next for you?
Learning to love Alaska and all it has to teach me. More immediately, I’m just trying to get these vinyl orders out. The record came out electronically in May, but COVID pushed back the vinyl production a few months. They’re finally ready to be shipped as of this last week in September.