Atlanta based band, The Deadfields, bring a rousing, rowdy, folk rock mixture of music to the stage every time they perform. Their rising popularity is not only due to their excellent songwriting, vocal, and musical abilities, but also to the “fun factor” that they bring to their shows. Their songs get people tapping toes and dancing in the aisles almost from the first note. We spoke to Geoff Reid and Brandon Markert from the band to get a feel for where they have come from and where they are headed. Be sure to check out the photos and videos of the band at the end of the article.
How did all of you come together to become “The Deadfields”?
Geoff: In Feb of 2011, me and Jeff Gardner got together to drink beer and play music. That combination sparked the magic.
Brandon: Jeff & Geoff were already starting to make demos and they had an ad up on craigslist for a drummer. I listened to the songs, and being into acoustic music, I told them they didn't need a drummer. They wanted one, and I was the guy that got the part. I learned the songs they had, plus a few covers. Then a few months later we started writing together.
What is the origin of the band name?
Geoff: It was just an idea to create a visual - dead fields in the late fall, after the harvest. Time to celebrate the end of the hot summer blues, and being with family during football season. When we found out that “dead fields” were also lyrics in a Tom Petty song called “Down South,” we ran with it.
Brandon: They already had it picked out when I joined. I liked it. The imagery of the harvested cotton fields (from south GA), thanksgiving football games, and food is what I see when I think of The Deadfields.
Coming up with a band name is usually a long term commitment. What names did you guys toss around before settling on “The Deadfields”?
Geoff: “Flat Shoals”, “Tugaloo River”, “2 J’s and a G”, “Goblin Cock” (Goblin Cock was already taken), the list goes on...
I’ve seen and heard a variety of descriptions for your style. To me, it crosses genres. How would you describe the style of the band’s music? Who are the biggest influences on the band’s musical style?
Geoff: Roots Rock/Americana - of the rowdy variety. Influences range from Pearl Jam to Son Volt, and everything in between and outside. We’re all over the map.
Brandon: Hi energy, harmony-heavy, roots rock. Energy? Foo Fighters. Harmonies? Traditional bluegrass and 80's metal. Lyricism? Folk.
How does your songwriting process work?
Geoff: Varies from song to song...The first album mostly consisted of me and Jeff working together to complete a lot of my song ideas. The next batch of songs has had some more multi-band member collaboration on some songs, and less on others.
Brandon: A combination of all. All of us write independently. Sometimes we write together and the magic happens. Sometimes we're blessed with a good song while we're alone. We have a democratic voting system for what sounds good.
Everyone has a different motivator for embarking on a musical career. Where do you see yourselves headed??
Geoff: I want sustainability. I’d just love to be able to support my family for the rest of our lives. That’s gonna take a lot of fans, supporting what we do for a long time!
Brandon: Top of the charts. I want to pay my mortgage with royalties! I'll always want to write and perform.
Where and when was your first live performance together?
Geoff: Kirkwood Spring Fling, Atlanta GA. I think it paid about $100.
Brandon: June 17, 2011 was my first show with the Deadfields although I was opening in another band. Didn’t make a penny. My first gig as a member was Smiths Old Bar about a month later as a paid opener upstairs. It was a packed house and I knew that it was magic from the start. Really great performers and executors. But the real attitude of the live energy came when we got Chase Alger in the band in March 2012. His heavy rock background showed up in every performance. Still does. That's why we're the “Bash Brothers”.
Every band has a performance horror story. What’s the worst thing that has happened at a show?
Geoff: One time we ran out of beer. It was horrifying.
Brandon: Chase's battery died in the middle of the 2nd set at a gig in my hometown. He threw it on the ground and asked if I had an allen wrench while I was still playing! He was frantic. He still doesn't have a backup... He got it changed after a really intense troubleshooting session.
And the best thing?
Geoff: That same night, Chase managed to hustle a sixer of PBR tall boys from the bar manager. Heroic stuff.
Brandon: Someone once did a back flip to “Dandelions” during a dance-off. That was pretty ridiculous...
What is your dream venue to play a show?
Geoff: The Tabernacle, Atlanta GA
Brandon: Red Rocks
What do you enjoy most about being in a band?
Geoff: Creative Freedom
Brandon: Being a team that created music, and by default, culture. Then sharing it with the world is pretty awesome too!
When did you get your first instrument, and what was it?
Geoff: Age 17, I got a Fender Stratocaster American Standard electric guitar, and a Fender M-80 amp. I was inspired by my cousin Chris Reid, who played guitar, and Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and all the music coming out of Seattle in the early-90’s.
Brandon: In middle school concert band I was assigned the oboe for the 1st year. Afterward I was allowed to pick. I chose percussion. The next year I got a drumset and quit band. Been in rock bands since 8th grade!
Who do consider to be the biggest influence overall on your individual music style?
Geoff: Eddie Vedder
Brandon: Probably Nirvana. I loved Nirvana in middle school and HS.
What is the last thing you listened to on your iPod/CD Player?
Geoff: A band out of Connecticut called “Pour Old Shine”
Brandon: The Gourds – “Pill Bug Blues”
What is your “Secret Pleasure”
Geoff: Katy Perry
Brandon: I'm not shy with my music, but I'm pretty sure I'm the only one in the band that LOVES NOFX.
What was the first “big time” concert that you saw?
Geoff: Milli Vanilli - Greenville Auditorium. I think I was 12. Went with some friends from middle school. It was amazing. Their vocal pitch was perfect!
Brandon: No one came to Albany, GA, so I saw Creed when they got their hit. I was in middle school, and their drummer had a full cage and was pretty showy. That was fun for my 13 year old ears.
What’s the best concert you have been to?
Geoff: Wavefest Charleston SC - 1996 - Wilco, Son Volt, Blue Mountain, Ben Folds, Seven Mary Three were among the bands that performed that day. My favorite was seeing Jay Farrar’s demeanor on stage. He was completely un-theatrical - just letting the music do all the entertaining. Something about his realness and sincerity struck me to the core.
Brandon: I think it was Foo Fighters at Hangout Fest in 2011. They were covering for Cee Lo b/c he was double booked. They played a bunch of BS covers that they'd never play, since they were also headlining 5 hours later. The fact that they rocked out, covered for someone else, and then did it again that night with an even better show was amazing. The best live show ever.>
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
Geoff: Probably working a desk job somewhere, wishing I would’ve followed my dreams.
Brandon: Carpentry is fun. Mainly because you can always make something better just by rubbing it with sandpaper or painting it. I grew up working in a shop, and to me, it's the purest, most simple example of improving something with a little effort.
Geoff Reid (Lead vocals, guitar, harmonica)
Jeff Gardner (guitars, mandolin, vocals)
Brandon Markert (percussion, vocals)
Chase Alger (bass, vocals)
Corey Chapman (pedal steel, dobro, banjo)
Click on any image to view larger version and launch slide show. Photos courtesy of Mother Shutter Photography.
Where I'm From"
"Often Wrong, Never In Doubt"