Most brothers can barely get through an innocent game of hide-and-seek without throwing ‘bows and busting noses. But then there’s Wilson, Grant, and Bennett Billingsley.
Seven years ago, the siblings came together to found Billingsley, a rock ‘n roll group with quips of funk, R&B, and jazz influences. As noted on the band’s website, “Billingsley’s signature sound has been likened to the sounds you would get if you took the music of The Eagles, Coldplay, Sublime, and Foo Fighters and threw them all in a blender at full-blast. There’s a lot of broken machinery, some screaming, and a little blood.”
The bloodshed is metaphorical, of course. Though Wilson, Grant, and Bennett are incredibly close in age — 31, 28, and 27, respectively — they’ve played well together since elementary school, when their dad handed each an instrument and said, “Jam out.” Big brother Wilson gravitated to the guitar, Grant to the bass, and Bennett — who is described by their manager, Brian Wagner, as the “quiet…emotional center of the band” — to the drums.
They played gigs at their church in the years to follow, finally deciding to make the trio official after college. Since then, the Hendersonville natives have toured the Southeast and released two albums — all without stepping on (or breaking) each other’s toes. Impressed by this feat, we caught up with Billingsley ahead of their Saturday performance at Oklawaha Brewing Company.
You’ve all played music since you were kids, but what made you decide to make Billingsley official?
Wilson: If I’m being honest, there wasn’t a whole lot of thought that went into starting the band. It’s just what we’ve always done. I played in a few other bands in college, but I always knew that I had a really good one waiting for me when I got home.
How would you describe your sound, and how has it evolved over the years?
Grant: It depends on who writes the song. We play a lot of harmony-based rock ‘n roll, but everybody brings their own flavors to the table. Bennett writes a lot of ballad-type songs that are emotionally driven while Wilson offers jam band influences and funky strumming patterns.
It sounds like you guys write songs separately. Or is it a collaborative process?
Grant: Most of the time, someone will write a song by themselves and then bring a skeleton to the brothers. Then, it adapts.
Wilson: Yeah, totally. I may have a song that I think is almost done, but once Grant and Bennett get a hold of it, the song takes on a whole new vibe.
Speaking of songwriting, what inspired the latest single, “Long Shot”?
Grant: “Long Shot” was my genuine attempt to woo this girl who has a band up in Canada.
Was the wooing successful?
Grant: No. It was a very unsuccessful woo.
Wilson: You shot your shot. And you missed. [laughter]
Besides attempting to court ladies, what’s next for the band?
Bennett: We have an album coming out in June or July, so that’s our immediate plan.
How would you say the style of this album compares to previous albums?
Bennett: Our mom passed away a few years ago, so the album starts on a somber note. But then it builds and builds and builds into this funk explosion. We crawl our way out of the hole.
Wilson: Well said.
Billingsley plays Oklawaha Brewing Company (147 1st Ave. East, Hendersonville) on Saturday, Feb. 3, during the Winter Sound Music Festival. The free event runs from 2-11pm. For more information, see billingsleyrocks.com.