Morning State
Gig Seeker Pro

Morning State


Band Alternative Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Morning State"

“Morning State blew me away really, they surprised the hell out of me. I thought their album was great, but seeing them live just kind of solidified everything.”

– DJ L,
“Out There” Podcast, 8-24-2006 on -

"Morning State"

By Peter Stuart

"NONE OF US ARE ROCK STARS.” Guitarist Dave Williams is right — in more than one sense. The band Morning State is the story of a thousand stories, retold and relived. Rock group forms. Rock group struggles. A recorded effort of sorts is released. There are fewer open dates on the tour itinerary. Rock group feels good.

In some cases, rock group books stadiums in Switzerland and Germany. Morning State, hailing from Athens or Atlanta, depending on whom you ask, is still in phase two: struggling. Vocalist Russell Ledford doesn’t even own a guitar. The Les Paul is a borrowed item from bassist Joel Stevens’ collection. If you’ve been to one of the band’s few shows, they may have flipped you a free demo dubbed on CDR, the Sharpie ink barely legible.

Assembled in early 2005, Ledford, Williams, Stevens, and drummer Zach Sharenko represent a band piecing it all together.

“We want to do it from the ground up,” says Ledford, who toils in warehouse work, at times 70 hours a week, to help fund the project.

In August, Morning State will debut its first release, a five-song EP titled Retreat! which was produced by Geoff Melkonian, who notably has engineered Five-Eight and Modern Skirts records, among others.

“Everything’s a little rough around the edges, but it has some strong ideas,” says Ledford of the disc. “It’s not the tightest thing, but it’s honest.”

“We’re pretty straight forward. We want [songs] to pop and catch and not drag out. I like the pop formality but I do also like a band to go crazy a little bit.”

Morning State teeters somewhere in the middle.

Polite and soft-spoken, Ledford speaks of Retreat! with restrained enthusiasm but with researched optimism. The band did come close to taking home the grand prize at Atlanta’s Open Mic Madness last October, a testament to the group’s blistering live set which has both the ATL and Athens — and in between — talking.

His vocals hint eerily at Jeff Buckley. Had the late singer fronted Franz Ferdinand you’d have Morning State’s sound. Melodic, intelligent rock. Raw and emotional.

Arranging tracks on his computer during his college days at the University of Georgia, Ledford asked Williams, an old high school friend, if he wanted to be involved. With Stevens and Sharenko soon on board, the band pooled $250 to “flush out some ideas” with a demo referred to as The Leffer Sessions.

Ledford initiates the process with a melody. “I’ll begin a basic structure — basic guitar line, basic melody — and we’ll work it out,” says the 23-year-old. “We’re pretty good at telling each other ‘yeah, I like that’ or ‘yeah, I don’t.’”

A level-headed, laid-back approach steers Morning State’s progression as a rock outfit and explains the secondary meaning behind Williams’ “rock star” statement. The guitarist wears the blue collar when it comes to his own instrument — a practice makes perfect mentality that’s already paying dividends, according to bandmates.

“It hasn’t been until the past four months where I’ve gotten the hang of it,” Williams admits.

For now, it’s baby steps. Get the EP out. Book more shows. Connect with new fans. If the Georgia music scene is a party, the members of Morning State’s are the new guys nervously eyeing the red Dixie cups, waiting for the invite to grab a beer.

“We focus most of our attention on our live shows, our writing, and putting out recordings that are respectable,” says Ledford. “We definitely want respect. We don’t get stuck on doing things the same way as everyone around us, but we do want to make friends.”

Judging by the buzz created in a very short time, that shouldn’t be too difficult. - Southeast Performer

""Retreat!!!" Review"

"Morning State's five song release, entitled Retreat!!!, is a preview of what an entire album of thoughtfully and distinctly written songs could be. Morning State's goal is obviously to write songs that would translate to a live audience. The aim pays off as each song sounds as though it would fill the smoky walls of a club flawlessly.

The alternative sounding influences are present in Morning State's sound. The moving melodies at times make your head bounce up and down or even your entire body dance coolly around your room. Each song takes on a different style that showcases the musicianship of each band member. Russell Ledford's vocals are not to be dismissed, as he perfectly hits all the notes of his range with ease, blending power and delicacy.

The timing of Morning State in the present time is calculated right. A few years ago, this release could have been lost in the mix. Yet with an overabundance of pseudo punk, Morning State's release is indeed a welcome retreat back to "old-fashioned" alternative rock." - Performer Magazine

"Club Notes"

"It's rare to see a band dubbed "melodic rock" that actually delivers anything close to an attractively undulating collection of notes. Thankfully, this is the case with the semi-local four-piece *Morning State*, which is describing a line between Interpol, the Killers, and the Foo Fighters on Friday night back in Tasty World. In truth Morning State's lead man Russ Ledford combines qualities of both Morrissey and Robert Smith with a less operatic Jeff Buckley but with visual nuances of a fairer-haired Buddy Holly. Make no mistake, though: Morning State is a guitar band with no flouncy keyboards but plenty of new wave indie rock to offer between more melodic emo excursions. Morning State definitely has enough indie edge to please the regular crowd somewhere like the Caledonia as well as the vocal strength to please the pop purists. The band also boasts plenty of hard-struck straight rock and jauntily progressive off-kilter beats to get the most morose feet tapping along with gusto." - Flagpole Magazine (Athens, GA)

"Not That Complicated"

Joel Stevens lights yet another cigarette and picks up a wounded Epiphone guitar. “I only started playing bass when I joined this band, so I just try to get out what I hear in my head,” says Stevens.

The boys of Morning State have convened in my tiny studio apartment in Charleston, SC. Frontman Russell Ledford looks through my CD collection, occasionally commenting on releases from regional acts that were never heard from again. “Man, I saw these guys back in Athens a few years ago and thought they were amazing. I think they broke up right after this came out,” says Ledford.

Guitarist Dave Williams sits in the corner with his girlfriend Rae, sharing a moment over the cover design of their new Retreat!!! EP. The first shipment just arrived from the factory. “Rae and I shut ourselves up in her apartment for days working on it," says Williams. "We went back and forth with the band until we had something that everyone seemed to groove with. We wanted something loud and different to separate us from the stuff other local bands were coming out with."

The group is in South Carolina to celebrate the EP’s release, and the headlining spot it grabbed at a Charleston festival was granted based solely on the strength of tracks posted on MySpace. The five studio tracks landed the guys prime gigs all over the region recently, including the Paste Rock & Reel Festival in Atlanta and a packed-out Masquerade.

The boys of Morning State - although some members recently lived in Athens, everyone's currently living in Atlanta - shrug off the strong positive response to their debut EP. Their unique design of mathematical rock is possibly pure coincidence (but more than likely not); Williams and Sharenko both logged hours at Georgia Tech and probably dream in quadratics. Williams is the kind of guy who can divide everyone’s share of a dinner bill within seconds. Tracks like “Push the Color Out” and “Spectacular” seem entirely numerical, and Stevens’ bass lines are astutely calculated to mesh with Williams’ and Ledford’s alternating guitar riffs.

On Retreat!!!, Ledford’s voice is near-perfect for the melodic, riff-based backdrop. He sounds like an ultra-romantic Andrew Rieger. Williams is short, fit and energetic - reflected in his quick barrages of difficult lines. He often climbs atop Sharenko’s bass drum during live shows, but still keeps up with Ledford on the many alternating guitar parts - equally as intricate as anything on Bloc Party’s debut. Stevens is the quiet outsider, but he makes it impossible to believe he’s only been playing bass for a short time. Sharenko adds complex, mindfucking beats.

When asked about the possibility of a a record deal, the band clams up. “You look at what’s on MTV, when they actually do play videos, and it’s all prefab. Technology has gotten to where you can make anyone what they want to be,” says Williams.

“This is first and foremost an artistic venture, which means many of the decisions we make will not make the most sense business-wise. Simply put, we want to do what we want, and we won't compromise too much on this,” adds Ledford.

When Ledford discusses music, he usually refers to the successful regional acts he shares bills with. “ I love all the old legendary stuff," he says. "But what I find most influential are those bands on our level or a little above that are extremely impressive without many resources - like The Explorers Club, Sovus Radio and the Modern Skirts.”

Morning State’s focus seems far from that of many other bands on the same level, though. The members have almost completely ignored their own regional buzz, and although this may seem like a cliché comment on any band, it also seems insane after seeing them play, when every move seems so perfectly choreographed. “I'm not so sure we're on top of anything,” says Stevens. “But I think we have a core set of unique songs that people are gravitating towards.”

The Retreat!!! EP title makes perfect sense; Morning State has spent the past year fleeing any kind of admission that the members are actually talented. Prying for some kind of an acknowledgment, I ask Williams about this. He says: “Our focus is on the music, not the other bullshit. We just try to support the scene.”

Ian Wheeler - Flagpole Magazine


Retreat!!! E.P. Release Date August 18th, 2006
Produced by Geoff Melkonian (Second Shift, Modern Skirts, The Whigs) Mastered by Alex Lowe (R.E.M, Edwin McCain, Sevendust)
Track Listing:
Push The Color
Give Out
20 Years

Single "Spectacular" Released April 2006
Mixed by Ben Allen (Gnarls Barkley, Cee-Lo, DangerDoom) Featured on Atlanta's 99x and nationally on Cinema Screen Media at over 1200 movie houses in the U.S.

"Must Go Up" Live Recording for Paste Magazine's first ever song of the day, Oct. 2, 2006.



Hi, I’m Russell Ledford and I play in the band Morning State.

The band is comprised of myself on vocals/guitar, David Williams on guitar, Joel Stevens on bass/vocals, and Zach Sharenko on drums.

We started around the beginning of 2004 when I took a batch of songs (written and recorded in my Athens apartment) and decided to start a band.

I had been in a few bands but all lacked the direction I desired. At the time Dave and Zach were in Atlanta attending college while Joel and I were doing the same in Athens. This explains how we are a band from both-Athens and Atlanta. Now Joel and myself are out of college and at the moment we all live either in or around Atlanta.

While- as a band- our influences are vast and varied it is those artists on our level or a bit above that provide the most influence. Some great bands from the Southeast that I like include Snowden, Sovus Radio, Modern Skirts, Psychic Hearts, the Explorers Club, Colour Revolt, and many more. Some of the bigger bands I like are the Beatles, Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett solo stuff, Radiohead, and probably any of the others you’d expect to find along side these.

We try and focus on writing good songs and translating them well into a live show. Thus far, Morning State has released one official recording, an E.P. titled Retreat!!!. It was recorded in May/June of 2006 and released in August 2006. We will hopefully be recording in the first half of 2007 as well as touring a good bit in support of the E.P.

Thank you for checking out our EPK.