The Old Paints
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The Old Paints

Birmingham, AL | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Birmingham, AL | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Rock Indie




"The Old Paints: Pure Pop And Country From Birmingham"

Birmingham band The Old Paints are known for their upbeat sound and a percussionist who plays the log. Yes, that’s right, a log. The group draws musical inspiration from artists and bands such as Woody Guthrie, Wilco, and The White Stripes. Their second album, called This Machine, comes out this summer. For WBHM, Joseph Thornton talked with band members Andy Harris and Breely Flowers about their music and the forthcoming album. The Old Paints play Wednesday, May 26 at Saturn Birmingham.

The Old Paints are:

Zachary Cooner: electric guitar
Breely Flower: vocals, drums and percussion, acoustic guitar
Andy Harris: vocal, acoustic & electric guitar, bass
Van Hollingsworth: electric guitar - WBHM 90.3 FM

"The Alabamian"

For Birmingham band The Old Paints, stardom is not an expected goal. The current duo has no plans to set an official release date for the new album they are recording in February. “We’re not famous anyway,” Harris reasons casually. “Y’know, Little Rock or Atlanta, they’re not concerned when we’re releasing our record.”

Despite limited expectations, the band is looking to grow in the new year. The duo is currently in the middle of booking several southeastern shows, one of the first being their Feb. 13 performance at Montevallo’s own Eclipse Coffee and Books.

Currently, Harris sings and plays guitar while the other Old Paint, 18 year old Breely Flower, handles percussion duties. The pair plan to bring a few more members into the fold to expand their sound. Virginia Phillips, a recent UM graduate and member of psychedelic rock band Plains, will handle bass duties.

Harris formed the Old Paints two years ago after returning to Birmingham with the goal to play music again. The original line-up quietly released an album simply titled “First Ten Songs” in 2013.

Eventually, Harris’ band began to dissolve. He considered going solo with the name until he found Flower at a weekly Open Mic Event he hosted at Good People Brewery in Birmingham. “We just kinda made it up as we went along and have gotten pretty tight,” Harris said.

The Old Paints’ live sets include stripped back acoustic originals peppered with Ramones covers, whom Harris calls “the greatest American rock band ever.”

A video on’s Birmingham sessions features the band playing the Magic City referencing “Anything.” As Harris sings and plays a repeated pop lick on the guitar, Flower’s bright voice joins in as she taps along on not a drum kit, but a large yellow cedar log.

This piece of timber is The Old Paint’s percussion instrument of choice for the hundred or so shows they’ve performed. Harris cut the log from a cedar tree about a decade ago. He explained that it features great acoustics and is much easier to set up than a typical drum kit.

“I’ve never been the kind that thinks, ‘Well you have to have this kind of guitar with this kind of setup and this kind of amplifier’…The things that are mass produced, that’s convenient, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the way it is. You can make music on anything,” Harris said.

For the band’s Montevallo debut, Harris promised that the Old Paints will “kick a little booty” and that Eclipse’s small size will only heighten the performance.

“I like intimate. I like being next to people and having to be in the moment with them. I feel like live music starts to be some kind of a party. It is about the people that are there, it’s not just about the musicians. There is some sort of dialogue that takes place.”

During the set, the band will perform a mix of covers, old songs and new tunes off the upcoming record. Patrons may have the chance to hear Harris’ fake love song to Hermione Granger aka Emma Watson. He chuckled as he attempted to explain the purpose behind the song. “Is she the most beautiful woman on Earth? I don’t know..maybe.”

While the Old Paints have several career defining goals they hope to achieve in 2015, Harris jokingly said that a personal one is for Watson to hear the song once it is properly recorded. “Whatever happens from there is just fate,” he said. - Birmingham’s The Old Paints talk Eclipse show, new record

"Let's Get This Party Started"

“Playing music is fun, but it’s more fun to play in public than at home. It’s also more fun to play with a band instead of alone. I like having fun at the highest level,” says Andy Harris, who began Birmingham band The Old Paints. He hosts the Wednesday night open mic night at Good People Brewing Company, where he essentially “held auditions without telling anyone” to put together The Old Paints. The band is a mainstay in local joints, including Rojo and the Cahaba Brewing Company. A couple of years ago, Harris decided it was time to record an album.

Harris’s approach to creativity was a little bit less esoteric than you might think: “There’s not much dreaming happening. I have lots of ideas, but eventually you have to put them in motion. Otherwise, all this dreaming has no purpose,” he says. “Reality is the correct word. What am I doing now? What is a little more than I’m doing now? After writing and performing those first ten songs for a while, it was time to record.”

While some Kickstarter projects are grand, raking in thousands, many—most—aren’t that; rather, they’re a creative effort to make something and put it out into the world. The Old Paints album project appeared on Kickstarter on Sept. 10, 2012, and ran for 29 days; they exceeded their goal of $600 by $130 and put their album into the hands of the people of Birmingham (they mixed and mastered with Bud Brown at Higher Ground.) Harris, who also works at Mason Music, says beyond the production of the album, the project gave their fans a way to have a piece of the band. “I think there is a sense of pride or ownership with some people after they support you like that,” he says. “I see a lot of familiar faces when we play. Some people I really only know because I play music, and there they are in the crowd once again.”

If anything, the project was simply a creative endeavor along the way—Harris is quick to point out that there is always a new goal toward which to work. “Success can be a fleeting thing,” he says. “Even though we’re just talking about it on a local level, I still treat the next performance like it’s the most important one. And it usually is. I don’t get too satisfied, because there is always something else we could try. All I can do is focus on the next thing, whatever that is, and hope it works. If it does, I guess it’s a success, but it will be short lived as far as I’m concerned. It won’t be long till I’m looking for a new challenge.”

In any case, he’s a man who loves music, and he says he’s lucky to be involved in the Birmingham music scene in a number of ways. He’s also a man who appreciates a good picnic and would give a great TED talk: “Don’t sacrifice anything for art,” he advises. “Food, shelter, and clothing are way more important. Human love, human touch. Things like that. Just have fun with it. Get tired of being right all the time. Go on a picnic very soon. If you don’t want to shake on it, keep your hands in your pockets. You don’t get to be somebody else. Be yourself. Sometimes you just need to get out of the way.

“Don’t grow a beard only on your neck. Take a day off. Recapture the magic. It’s OK to say no, but it’s not OK to say nothing. Give yourself permission to do what you love. You know what you love. And learn to play the banjo for real. People like that sort of thing,” he says. “But if I could tell other people what to think, I would have been very famous long ago. This interview would be in Rolling Stone! But that’s not how it works.” - B-Metro

"The Old Paints"

Spinning yarns about cowboys and devils, The Old Paints bring western music out of the saloons and into the taprooms of Birmingham. They combine Western country with Southern and Appalachian traditional music to create their unique take on folk. The group draws inspiration from folk figureheads like Bob Dylan, and digs to the roots with cowboys like Jess Morris.

While many members play more than one instrument, The Old Paints typically see vocalist Andy Harris on guitar, as well as a number of folk instruments like banjo and mandolin. Previous lineups and recordings feature Adam Greene on acoustic, while William Harris handled drums and percussion. Jed Alford provided bass and vocals, and with additional percussion duties. Atlanta solo artist Aurora Adams lent her voice in addition to ukulele, harmonica, melodica, and accordion.

The Old Paints currently function as a quartet, with Breely Flower on percussion. While the standard drum kit makes an appearance, the band’s primary percussive sound is rendered via log. The branches and trunk of the repurposed tree torso offer a variety of clicks and clacks, and Flower often adorns the log with additional noise makers. The resourceful instrument colors the music with a “deep in the sticks” vibe. Recent additions see Virginia Phillips on bass and Mitch Guenther on guitar and vocals.

The band’s name was drawn right out of a long-running folk tradition: Old Paint is the name of a pony that appears in several old tunes, such as “I Ride An Old Paint” and “Goodbye, Old Paint.”

Harris began played solo shows around town in 2011, and decided to form a band by the following spring. “Playing with a band is more fun most of the time so I got a few friends in on it,” he says. The Old Paints formed in April 2012, creating a unique collection of talents and instrumentation that includes banjos, accordions, and didgeridoo. Their first album, First Ten Songs features their country/folk sound plus a few contemporary tracks. It was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Bud Brown at Higher Ground Studios.

The opening track on First Ten Songs, “A Prayer For My Lord,” begins with a flatpicking guitar that introduces the song’s melody over simultaneous strumming. The chorus is sung by a bar crowd, accompanied by rowdy calls and the clink of glasses. The music itself is an update of the old Irish song “Whiskey in the Jar,” now told by a wayfaring cowboy.

“It’s fun to take characters like Pretty Polly, Old Paint, The Devil and more and give them a new life by extending their story and throwing them all in the same scene,” says Harris. “Most of our songs contain more than a few references, lyrically or musically, to other songs or cultural events.”

The Old Paints touch on an encyclopedia of subjects- with songs featuring religious figures, varying degrees of functional/dysfunctional relationships, life, and death- often delivered through music that could suitably accompany a jovial drinking song. Take from it what you will, though. “I think it’s important that the listener make their own interpretation rather than let the songwriter tell you what to think,” says Harris. “Once the song is out there, it doesn’t really belong to you anyway. The public can now do with it as they please.”

In “The Loner,” the Dylan influence comes through loud and clear. The instruments are scaled back to a forlorn harmonica and acoustic guitar, and the lyrics and vocals are reminiscent of “Positively 4th Street.” The song is not an impersonation, though, as The Old Paints are able to faithfully draw from their source material falling into parody.
The group picks up on the tongue-in-cheek mentality prevalent in country songwriting, and it’s used to great effect in “(How Can I Miss You) If You Won’t Go Away?” The singer suggests that some time apart is just what his relationship needs. This loving invitation to take a hike is delivered over a honky-tonk rhythm, complete with steel guitar. The band’s stories are intriguing to the point that the listener has no room to get hung-up on the thought of a song being introduced by a kazoo solo. In fact, the varied and sometimes eccentric instrumentation goes miles in developing the group’s character.

The Old Paints are continuously expanding their setlist, which can be heard live at a number of Birmingham’s popular venues. “We are thankful to be playing at a number of places in the next few months and hope the trend continues,” says Harris. “To return at a venue roughly once a month is a good thing. To play at a new venue where there is a new crowd is also a success. We’ve been doing a little bit of both and are excited to be riding a little wave.”

The group hopes to release a new record by the end of the year. “We are always writing/rehearsing new songs,” he says. “The plan for the second album is to release as much new music as a CD can hold.”

Harris also hosts Good People Brewing Company’s open mic night on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. (provided that the Barons are not playing across the street at Regions Field). - Magic City Bands


This Machine (2015, full album)
First Ten Songs (2013, full album)
Girl (Dec. 31, 2016 - cassingle)
FunnySexycool (later in 2017)



"...the varied and sometimes eccentric instrumentation goes miles in developing the group's character." -Magic City Bands

Yes, that's right. The Old Paints are the band with the girl who plays the log.

The girl is Breely Flower (vocal/drums/percussion) and after forming The Old Paints with Andy Harris (vocal/guitar) in 2013, they have played hundreds of shows at home and up and down the East Coast.

Starting with 2013's 'First Ten Songs' and 2015's follow-up 'This Machine', the Paints have written nineteen songs with plenty more on the way.  Their third album, FunnySexyCool, will be released in early 2017.

Flower recently won the First Annual Girls Rock Birmingham Songwriting Contest for her song "Girl." The prize included a recording session at Communicating Vessels in Birmingham. The single will be released on cassette in late 2016 and part of FunnySexyCool in 2017.

Other prizes include Audience Choice and Best Props at Sidewalk Film Festival's 2015 Scrambled Jam for the video "What Did Rock & Roll Ever Do For You, Anyway?"

Highlight festivals include Nebulosity Music & Arts Fest (2016), Greenlight Festival (2016) Sidewalk Film Fest (2015), McCalla Walla (2015), Druid City Arts Fest (2014), and Magic City Arts Connection (2014).

Band Members