When I received an email from Colin Adkins of Civil Brute awhile back, I was thoroughly impressed with the band’s first self-titled EP. It wasn’t until I actually met Adkins in person at Jackrabbits, where he was opening for Sea Wolf, that I realized just how good this guy’s voice actually sounded. When Adkins, who also plays guitar and keyboard, is combined with the band’s drummer Josh Wessolowski, bassist Quinn Mellon, and vocalist, guitarist, and keyboardist Drew Bond, the musical harmony forms something truly remarkable.
Describe how you guys all met and formed Civil Brute. Why Jacksonville?
Colin: I met Quinn in 2008 through mutual friends. Immediate boyfriends. Collaborating musically didn’t come until 2012 when Civil Brute formed. I became a huge fan of Drew Bond’s band, Opiate Eyes, in 2008-09. I don’t think I met him until 2010. Our relationship grew from there. In 2011, I saw a band called Neighbors perform downtown, whom I’d become a fan of, fronted by Brian Squillace. I ended up meeting Brian at Birdies in 2012. We got to talking, I sent him some solo work I had recorded and he introduced me to our drummer, Josh.
Josh: Friend, and local musician Brian Squillace, told me about a guy who had the best voice in Jacksonville. When I first met Colin, it was on July 4, 2012. We bumped into each other at the new downtown location of Underbelly. We talked about what we thought of each other and wanted to try to mesh styles. Now, at the time of us talking, an art studio called “Swagsonville” was open right next to where we were standing. We walked in, and there lied an old out of tune piano and a slapped together drum kit with cracked cymbals. We both sat down at our respective instruments, and the musical chemistry kind of took hold. After that night, Colin and I practiced at my house in Springfield for a while, where we wrote most of the Civil Brute EP. We knew we needed a bass player and thought of Quinn immediately. We played some shows together as a trio, our first shows being One Spark, and felt great about the performances, but we still felt there was a missing piece to the band.
Colin: Being 2013 now, since meeting Drew a few years ago, we’ve become closer friends. I had always wanted to perform and write with him. After a discussion between Josh, Quinn and I, we decided to ask Drew if he’d like to perform with us. He obliged.
Was there a particular show or experience where you guys felt like Civil Brute became a serious endeavor?
Civil Brute began as a serious endeavor!
How would you guys describe your sound?
We never know how to answer this. We’ve been likened to Local Natives, Radiohead, Arcade Fire Band of Horses, and My Morning Jacket.
What are some of your major influences?
Josh: “We draw inspiration from a lot of our friends and local artists. When it comes to bands, I love old soul music like; Jr. Walker and the All Stars, Al Green, Otis Redding, and Marvin Gaye, just to name a few.”
Colin: Louis C.K., Feist, Kid A, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye.
Both Quinn and Drew are great players. When asked, there answer was Civil Brute. They’re able to play whatever complements the song.
What do you love and hate about being in a band in Jacksonville?
I love that every Jacksonville band is the underdog.
I hate that every Jacksonville band is the underdog.
It’s an added to challenge to any band not located in a major city, but Jacksonville doesn’t have much of a music industry presence. In a city like ours, it’s more difficult to gain the right contacts and have national or international range. Our music scene is quite vibrant. Most people who complain about our scene aren’t contributing anyway, so it’s fair to discard their opinion. I wish the beach vs. downtown, or riverside, music comparisons weren’t a thing. They really aren’t that different.
What are some of your favorite venues around town?
Downtown; The Elbow venues are great. Underbelly’s sound is superb. 1904 too. But I’ve been moved by more shows at Burro Bar. Intimate venues are fun, at least at our amount of pull. Tim Hall’s spots, Jack Rabbits and Freebird, both quality venues. Fly’s Tie is the only beach bar we’ve played so far, and one of our rowdiest shows. Fly’s Tie on a sunday night during the summer is wild for some reason, just a bunch of rowdy music fans. It was great. Great spaces in riverside as well, not necessarily venues, but good spaces like Deep Search Records and Bold Bean that host shows periodically; intimate shows with unique listening experiences. It’s refreshing to flee the bar scene from time to time.
Best/worst show experiences? Crazy moments?
Best show experience would be One Spark. Our first shows as a band were at One Spark. If you were a part of that week then you know every night, every venue was packed with a receptive and responsive audience. That whole week was a blur. Show after show. Sweating. Making friends. Earning fans. FOOD VILLAGE. And on to the next show. Great experience.
Another great experience would be playing Deep Search Records 1 year anniversary party. We played with Opiate Eyes, Fjord Explorer, and Tambor. The vibe in that room that night will never be duplicated. No better than feeling than seeing people vibing to your music.
Worst experience? Nothing terrible so far. Minor sound issues here and there.
With the release of your first EP, what’s next for the band? LP?
Tightening our performance, building a relationship with our fans, booking the right shows, performing out of town more, [and] making a video. We’d [also] like to build our presence at the beaches. We’re enjoying being a young band. I’m not sure if we have a “sound” yet but I suppose we’re finding it. It’s quite liberating to be able to write whatever you want. You can expect our next release to be an EP unless something goes terribly right and we make an LP. It’ll be bold, more ambitious.
Listen to a preview of the band’s EP below.