Music is a necessity. Whether I am just actively or passively listening it is something that has always been present within my life. I can’t put into words the impact it has made on me. It is truly indescribable.
I started learning how to play instruments when I was seven years old. I took piano lessons and attended Sacred Harp singings as a small child. Plus I was obsessed with Jerry Lee Lewis. I guess you could say music was a mandatory fixture in my formative years.
What are some of the different projects and instruments you’ve worked with?
I currently write and play original music with Jesse McClendon in Mants Brothers. I am a former member of the bluegrass band called Pickett’s Charge. Believe or not, I used to sing bass in a southern gospel quartet called The Billy Gray Quartet. As far as instruments go, I have worked with too many to name. Recently I have started learning the tenor banjo, so it has definitely been an interesting ride so far.
Who has been your most influential teacher?
My most influential teacher is my father, Dennis George. My father has always been an encouragement to me. From the time I was just learning how to play a Bb flat chord on the ukulele to our after-church Sunday ritual of playing old jazz and fiddle tunes for hours on end. Without my Dad I don’t believe I would be where I am musically today.
Other than your dad, how has your family contributed to your love of music?
I have a brother named Jarrod George who is an amazing musician in his own right. His guitar playing is stellar. Jarrod has always been an influence on me. He got me into the Stones and the Allman Brothers. He pretty much helped me broaden my musical palette as a child. My mom, Tonia Edmondson, is a big part of my musical life due to our collective obsession with seeing Punch Brothers when they are playing anywhere within driving distance. Also she is a pretty rad songwriter and a helpful critic when it comes to lyrics.
Who have been some of your biggest influences ?
It’s a long list, so I guess you will get the abridged version. The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Punch Brothers, Big Star, The Rolling Stones, David Grisman, Tame Impala, Gram Parsons, Bill Monroe, Miles Davis, Radiohead, and Eliot Smith.
The main instruments I play are mandolin and guitar. I can play about seven different types of instruments at least decently. Including the preceding instruments I just mentioned, I play piano, tuba, trombone, tenor banjo, and ukulele.
Well like I was saying earlier Mants Brothers is a creative project Jesse and I share where we write and record original music.
The beginning of Mants
Jess and I have been playing music together for years. I guess you could say Mants started when we started getting together Friday nights after football games to write music. We didn’t actually begin to play our music live until we met Chris Dupree at a local songwriters showcase. The first Mants show was actually the first Men and Mountains show. I have always found that to be pretty cool.
The writing process
The writing process for Jess and I used to be instrumentally based and the lyrics were added to compliment what was going on instrumentally. Recently, we have been experimenting with how we both approach songwriting. Sometimes the lyrics might come first. Sometimes the song won’t fully develop itself until we are ready to record it. In other words, several fragment-based pieces of songs exist but have not reached a level of cohesion. It has been a rather fluid songwriting process.
What is your favorite part about creating music with Jesse?
My favorite part about working with Jesse within any musical capacity is that we somehow always seem to be on the same wave length. We are kindred musical spirits regardless of where we are geographically or side projects and other interests. I do believe that we will always be working together musically in some configuration.
Yes we have three albums out. We recorded Out of this Moment in a dorm room when we were sixteen years old…talk about lo-fi. A few years later we cut Synthetic Pets which is lo-fi but with a few added musical elements. Last year we released an album called Needed Things. It was actually the first time we recorded our original material in a studio setting. That album is a pretty accurate representation of the music we have always wanted to create, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the skills and attentive ears of Lucas Smith. I encourage anyone who wants to record music to visit Lucas. Lucky Sound Studio is probably the most stress-free studio I have ever recorded in.
Currently Jess and I are in the early stages of a new Mants record. When I say early I truly mean early. I have been in talks of collaborating with Katrina Barclay in some capacity. My dad and I have actually been working on some material. I’ve been playing a lot with him lately.
The vinyl collection
I started collecting vinyl records when I was around eight years old. However, I didn’t get serious about it until I was either sixteen or seventeen. I own approximately four hundred records including albums and singles. I really like my original Louvin Brothers records and I have a few jazz records like Mercy Mercy Mercy that I really love and play too often. As far as most sought out records go, I have been looking for an original Strangeways, Here We Come by the Smiths for a while now. I mean of course there is the internet; but, I do prefer stumbling upon things like that because there is a level of satisfaction you get when you personally find that record you have been looking for.
Why do you love music?
My favorite part of music is the fact that you can express things about yourself or other people in a way that can touch people. I love music because it brings people together. Music is a way to create a cosmic unity that not many other art forms are notorious for accomplishing.
The best advice I can give is to practice. Don’t settle for less than what you are capable of producing. Music is not an art for the faint of heart. If you want to play music in any capacity it takes a level of dedication and patience. I encourage anyone who wants to learn.
Just remember music requires heart above anything else.