Young band bursts onto music scene

By Jessi Stone Guide editor | Jan 22, 2014

They may be new to the Western North Carolina music scene, but already Joe Lasher Jr. and his band are making a name for themselves.

The band, made up of four young men with eclectic music styles, has been together for nine months and is ready to release its first album. The band will hold an album release party from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 1 at Highlands Brewing in Asheville.

“And we haven’t even scratched the surface yet,” said Zach Haney, the 21-year-old lead guitarist. “We’re already thinking about the next record.”

Haney and 20-year-old bass player Jason Surrett are both from Canton and played together in another band before joining forces with 17-year-old lead singer Joe Lasher Jr. The band was complete with the addition of drummer Will Beverly.

Back in May, Haney and Surrett were at Music City in Asheville like usual when the storeowner heard them playing and told them they should meet Lasher. They ended up meeting him that night at his house to jam.

“It’s been crazy from there and everything has happened insanely fast,” Haney said.

With the songs they knew and Lasher’s originals, the band began to find its sound and started playing together in Asheville, Sylva and Haywood County.

When asked how he would describe their sound, Haney said, “a redneck version of The Black Crowes.”

While all the band members are into various genres of rock music, Lasher’s unavoidable country twang would ultimately be the deciding factor in the kind of music the band would create.

“Joe’s voice is suited to country, but we’re all rockers,” Haney said.

In November, the band went into Crossroads Studio in Arden with Van Atkins to record its first album, “Devil in a Jar.” They were able to complete 11 songs in two weekends.  Spending four days in a studio for 13 hours at a time was quite an experience for the musicians.

“It was enjoyable in the beginning but frustrating toward the end,” Surrett said. “Being in a band is harder than it looks — it’s like being married to three other guys,” he joked.

Many of the songs were written the result of the band’s collaboration while Nashville songwriters with Rare Spark Media contributed two songs — “Hate Me Now” and “Hillbilly.”  Haney said “Hate Me Now” had a Tom Petty sound and was one of his favorite tracks on the album.

They described some of the songs as typical fun country songs — like “Hillbilly,” while others have a little more depth — like “That’s Not Me.”

“Joe writes about trucks, mud and women,” Haney joked.

“Devil in a Jar” is being released independently, but Haney said the ultimate goal was to land a record deal.

“The goal is to be on the radio and you have to have a record deal to get on the radio so we have to keep working hard at it,” Haney said.

“Kiss Country is behind us so that’s going to help us out,” Surrett said. “They’ll be doing a live remote from the release party and playing pieces of the record during commercials.”

As for their musical influences, Haney idealizes Joe Bonamassa, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Rolling stones, Blackberry Smoke, and other blues-based musicians.

Surrett’s influences range from Robert Johnson to Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam.

Haney and Surrett have never had a music lesson and neither of them can read music — it’s just something in their blood. Surrett’s father used to tour in a gospel band and he wanted to learn guitar and bass about six years ago to follow in those footsteps.

Haney’s mother and sister are singers, his brother plays drums and he picked up the guitar about eight years ago.

Haney and Surrett said none of their success would be possible without the support of Joe Lasher Sr. — their lead singer’s father. Lasher Sr. played rhythm guitar with rock band Mother Soul for many years and had the connections needed to get them gigs, get them in the studio and get big name songwriters to contribute to the record.

This is our day job – I want to play guitar and it’s fallen into place,” Haney said.

The release party on Feb. 1 is open to all ages and admission is free. “Devil in a Jar” will be available for purchase as well as through all major digital outlets, including iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.

Joe Lasher Jr. will also be performing at Hillbilly Woodstock this summer at Maggie Valley Festival Grounds. For a complete list of dates, visit www.joelasherjr.com.

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