The Georgia Thunderbolts

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Off the beaten path, beyond the hills, and tucked out of sight, creativity flourishes.


Whether it be on the banks of the Mississippi River or deep in the heart of the English countryside, rock ‘n’ roll lives, breathes, and burns on the outskirts. Hailing from Rome, GA, at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, The Georgia Thunderbolts rise up with a scorching signature style steeped in soulful southern swagger. On, Can We Get A Witness, their full-length debut for Mascot Records, the quintet—TJ Lyle [vocals, harp, piano], Riley Couzzourt [guitar], Logan Tolbert [guitar], Zach Everett [bass, keys], and Bristol Perry [drums]—conjure a tried-and-true spirit through a fresh fire.


“We all grew up on rock music,” Riley says. “Rock ‘n’ roll comes back around, but longevity depends on grinding it out. That’s what we want to do. We try to put in the work our favorite bands did. If I could think of three words to describe us, they would be ‘Hardworking, Determined, and Humble’.”


Bristol and Riley initially bonded over rock ‘n’ roll in high school. As their football teammates blasted rap through the locker room, they talked metal and hard rock. By sophomore year, they had a regular jam schedule, eventually joined by Zach. In 2015, they ended up on stage alongside TJ for an impromptu open mic session. TJ soon found himself at band practice as well. Inviting Logan into the fold, the line-up of The Georgia Thunderbolts officially cemented. They shared a wide swath of inspirations, ranging from southern gospel to Hank Williams, Jr., Neil Young, Little Feat, Waylon Jennings, Ray Charles, Merle Haggard to the hard rock of Ozzy Osbourne, Audioslave, Bad Company and of course, Lynyrd Skynyrd.


The town’s deep agricultural history means hard work is ingrained into the residents, and for TJ, he was taught the value of this from a young age. “My dad is one of the hardest working men I’ve ever known. From sun-up till sundown, he’s always working, not because he wants to. It’s a struggle to provide for the family,” he says. So, in turn, the singers’ days are spent driving bulldozers, bobcats or laying water mains, bustin’ his ass in the heat on construction sites during the day, and the evenings ripping up rock ‘n roll joints.


Having seen struggles first-hand, it’s hard for that not to shape your outlook. “It taught me the appreciation and value of life. It showed me from an early age that you have to work for what you have; nothing is handed to you,” TJ reflects.” “It’s hard work,” he continues, “but I have a piano at home, and no matter how exhausted I am, when I get in, I want to play music.”


So, when they sing, “Spirit of A Workin’ Man,” you better believe they mean it. “Being in a band means inclusion. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of brothers to travel and play music with; we’d do anything for each other,” he adds.


Gigging tirelessly, they cut their teeth by playing with Black Stone Cherry, The Kentucky Headhunters, Blackberry Smoke, Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Molly Hatchet and The Cadillac Three. Mascot Label Group President, North America Ron Burman caught one gig and immediately signed them.


Burman comments, “Growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, I have a strong affinity for great southern rock. When I first heard The Georgia Thunderbolts, I was immediately drawn in by their powerful, authentic, bluesy, and southern-flavored rock and great songs.  I went to see them play in Nashville at The Basement and was blown away. I literally had goosebumps and knew we had to sign them. The singer TJ has such a distinctive vocal range and style, and they are such a strong rock band. I expect great things to come from them.”

They recorded at the iconic Barrick Recording Studio in Glasgow, KY, with producer Richard Young. The album comprises of thirteen undeniable anthems, beginning with opener “Take It Slow.” Distilling whisky-soaked riffs, wild harmonica, and pulse-pounding drums into a simmering groove, it struts out of the gate with confidence and charisma.


“We have a story we believe in and want to share,” says TJ.


The title song represents “overcoming the obstacles in life,” he muses. “Everybody has their ups and downs, but it’s how you persevere and prosper through adversity that shows your true colors. “Can we get a witness” is a statement that goes out to anyone who has the desire and faith in themselves and others to be successful.”

Meanwhile, bluesy bends herald “So You Wanna Change The World.” Soulful vocals resound over clean guitar as TJ signals a heartfelt lead by urging Riley, “Go ahead now!”   “It’s about looking for better days,” explains Riley. “Finding a way to help yourself and those around you. Everybody coming together to try and make a change in the world.”


They examine their journey so far on “the first song we ever wrote,” the dynamic “Looking For An Old Friend.” The seven minute-plus “Set Me Free” rolls from a hummable riff towards evocative soloing and an epic final crescendo with TJ’s final howl, “Movin’ on. They also tried their hand at Frankie Miller’s “Be Good To Yourself,” infusing a muscular energy highlighted by powerhouse performances. “Miller was a huge inspiration to Rod Stewart, Paul Rodgers, and even Bob Seger,” TJ goes on. “We put our own twist on it.”


“It’s Alright” is about everyday life. “You have ups and downs whether it’s with relationships or friendships,” TJ muses. “The point is that there will always be better days ahead, and the sun has got to shine at some point.”


Their “anthem”, “Spirit of the Workin’ Man”, doubles as their calling card. Robust distortion gives way to fluid guitar leads and a howling hook. “It’s got a deep lesson to it. You can’t knock down the little man,” TJ says. “You strive to do better, persevere, and pull through hard times, if you have a strong faith and spirit.”


“I relate the song to our band as a whole,” Riley elaborates. “We all grew up humble. We’ll always be humble to the end. We were raised right to be five working men. It’s who we are.”


“There’s a message to what we’re doing,” Bristol leaves off. “It’s okay to be yourself. If you’re going through hard times, the music will always be there. We’d love to remind everyone of that.”


“Got a full tank of gas, and I’m headed down the road, no money in my pocket, destination still unknown,” they sing on the album opener “Take It Slow,” setting the tone for the album.  The Georgia Thunderbolts embody the blue-collar working man who has put their foot down on the accelerator towards the rock ‘n roll American dream.


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