By Rachel Blackwell, Studio M staff //
Dressed in a multicolored cardigan, black skinny jeans and leopard-rimmed vintage glasses, Chandler Brown takes a seat outside MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, the place where his dream began almost two years ago.
Brown, 21, is one of the lead vocalists, as well as the keyboardist, for rising Nashville-based band New Suede.
Throughout his childhood, Brown was raised on country music and fell in love with the classics such as Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. When his mother bought him a copy of “Zeppelin 1” on his 10th birthdasy, Brown was exposed to a new frontier of music.
“Zeppelin was my first exposure to rock music, and it was what really got me into the genre,” he says. “But my first musical love will always be the sound of old country and old blues.”
New Suede began to piece together in 2015, when Brown met guitarist and vocalist Eli Perron, a fellow MTSU music business student. The band expanded when Brown met drummer Alex Ramsay and bassist Matt MacPhail.
In the past year New Suede has been playing for crowds both big and small. Nearly 50 live shows in 2017 have taken them everywhere from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to festivals in Pennsylvania, as well as various shows in Middle Tennessee.
New Suede emphasizes a collective and creative songwriting process. In their relatively short career, the band has already released three singles online. In August the band released its latest single, “Believe.”
“I’ve noticed that it’s been quite a few people’s favorite song of ours so far,” Brown says. “It’s much slower and very stripped-down, as it is a love ballad.” He adds, laughing, “I didn’t know we would ever wind up writing one.”
New Suede is currently finishing their debut album, which should be out by the end of the year.
“Fortunately, we have a lot of friends in the audio department at MTSU, which has provided us with a lot of valuable studio time,” Brown says. “As our first album, we want to make sure that we’re putting our best work out there.”
Although Brown hesitates to compare New Suede to other bands, he says their sound is influenced by Zeppelin, ’70s British rockers Free and “funkadelic”-type sounds.
“When it comes down to it, I think our signature sound is really just an accumulation of each of our different musical backgrounds,” he says. “For example, I was raised doing country music, Matt is a metal music guy, Alex is really into jazz and blues, while Eli is a classic-rock junkie.”
All of New Suede’s members either currently attend or have graduated from MTSU, and they say the MTSU community has been vital to supporting local bands. The students within the school’s music program as well as organizations such as AMP Entertainment and Omega Delta Psi (MTSU’s Recording Industry organization) have been especially supportive, even in small ways, like plastering the campus with New Suede stickers or sporting the band’s T-shirt.
Brown says he has several hopes for New Suede’s future.
“First and foremost, we’re focusing on the album release,” he says. “Second, we definitely want get a van, so we can all travel to our shows together. Down the road, I’d really like to go on three-week tour, probably over the summer, as well play some bigger shows with some bigger artists.”
He adds: “I think there’s something magical when a group of people come together to get creative. Personally, I couldn’t and I don’t see myself doing anything else with my life.”
Rachel Blackwell is a journalism major at Middle Tennessee State University.
Studio M, a project of the College of Media and Entertainment at MTSU, allows student journalists to be published statewide and nationwide. It’s made possible through grants and donations from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Tennessean and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.
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