Atlanta roots rock power trio The Roycrofters found one hell of a way to mark the band’s first anniversary last weekend — the act has been selected to represent the city of Atlanta in the Hard Rock Rising Global Battle of the Bands. Last Friday night, at the Hard Rock Café downtown in the local battle band finale, lead singer John Kalina, drummer Joseph Kalina and bassist Nick Carey blasted through a ridiculously tight 20-minute set of songs from the band’s eponymous debut album, captivating the crowd and the judges. “My goal was to find a band to send through who’s really going to represent Atlanta well,” explained judge and Ticket Alternative co-founder Iain Bluett. “For me, this is that band.”
Like the original Roycrofters, Elbert Hubbard’s early 20th century counter-culture band of crafts folk determined to keep artistry alive in the era of the industrial revolution, Joseph Kalina says his band is all about hard work. “Our parents raised us that way,” he tells Atlanta magazine. “We’re a very ‘do it yourself’ band. I’ve been playing in bands since I was 14 and every band I’ve been in has always felt like the underdog.”
The trio emerged a year ago from the remnants of the Atlanta jam band five-piece Sinsemelia with a stripped down, organic rock sound more reminiscent of Humble Pie and Led Zeppelin than Phish. The Roycrofters could be sonic siblings with another Atlanta act, Grammy winners The Black Keys.
And like another famous local band, The Roycrofters guitarist/lead singer and the trio’s drummer grew up listening and playing music together. “I like the brother dynamic in bands,” says Joseph. “You’ve got the Black Crowes, you’ve got Kings of Leon, you’ve got the Allman Bros. And sure, we occasionally get into stuff with each other but we get over it quickly because we’re family.”
The band’s serious work ethic also sets The Roycrofters apart in the Autotune era where most musicians their age (John is 22 and Joseph is 25) shirk the rigors of the road and practicing the art of live performance in favor of standing in line overnight to snag a wristband and instant fame from Ryan Seacrest.
“Like the artists and crafts people we named the band for, we really value things created by hand by individuals,” explains Joseph. “Music, like most things, shouldn’t be mass produced. Like the original Roycrofters, we’re about using our hands, our head and our heart to create our sound. As a band, it’s about keeping it human, keeping it us.”
To keep updated with The Roycrofters gig schedule, visit the band’s Facebook page.
Photo of The Roycrofters by Emilio Lugo/ejlugo.com