At the Controls

Charleston City Paper | March 8, 2006
It may have been a long time coming for tall-standing Atlanta-based songwriter/producer Alan Yates, but he’s finally at the helm of his own refined power-pop/rock band. The frontman and his mates — bassist Brian Bisky, guitarist Willie Boos, and drummer Michael Lamb — return to Charleston this week for a show at Cumberland’s behind a melodic collection of guitar-driven tunes entitled Red.

Born and raised in the Jonesboro/Stockbridge area just south of Atlanta, Yates grew up listening to outlaw country and vintage rock ’n’ roll — from Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson to The Beatles. As an engineer, he worked at Stockbridge’s Real to Reel Studios, where he met and worked alongside Ed Roland and Will Turpin of Collective Soul. After a long run as a studio engineer/producer and audio wiz in which he worked with the likes of Shawn Mullins, the White Stripes, Elton John, and Sister Hazel, he recently branched out as a proper bandleader.

The new album’s clean and crisp the production is striking. The guitar sounds definitely have an edge, and the drums have a tight, roomy sound — but the overall sound is big and bright. Did you aim for a certain studio sound with this session?

ALAN YATES: I used a lot of people’s influence’s. Working with artists and musicians in Atlanta, I just use what friends give me through their music. When we started the project, our goal was to keep it simple, something we could reproduce live. I need to mention Alex Lowe, who coproduced the album with us; he really helped to bring it all together. Learning to produce initially came out of a necessity, as I didn’t want to have to rely on others and stay on someone else’s clock when doing my music. I felt the quickest way to developing was to be able to spend whatever time I needed; to cut out time and money limitations so I could learn how not to sell my own work short.

How would you describe the lyrical tone of Red and your singing style as compared to other contemporary pop-rock artists?

AY: That is a tough one, but it definitely reflects where I am, and where the band is emotionally today. I would have to say it’s a junkyard of all kind of influences. Growing up in Georgia, I was raised around country music, but as a kid I found out about all the classics: Zeppelin, Van Halen, AC/DC … everything a youngster should know and love.

When did the Alan Yates Band first take shape and who was officially involved?

AY: It all started with songwriter demos and evolved from that. My drummer, Michael Lamb, has been with me pretty much from the start. We’ve been lucky to work with some great musicians along the way, but by far the lineup right now is the strongest as a group.

Coming up playing in the Atlanta area, do you think your music ties in with a certain Atlanta or Georgia modern rock sound? Where does the band fit in the Atlanta scene?

AY: We can play pretty much any venue here in Atlanta. That’s what I like about what we have going on; it can be as acoustic or as rock as we want it to be. Atlanta is a great city that lets you be as diverse as you want.

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