The New Family Dynamo

The River Rats are currently Eliza Hill, Andrew Scotchie (center), and Keith Harry. Their new album, Family Dynamo, combines the energy of their live shows with fresh twists of funk and psychedelia. Photo by AM Photography

At only 25, Andrew Scotchie has a thriving music career both on stage and behind the scenes — a Western North Carolina figurehead who tours nonstop with his high-octane band the River Rats. The guitarist/singer/songwriter calls the group’s current work, Family Dynamo, “the album we’ve been dreaming of making” — a group of heavily road-tested songs, all originals. Though the record contains everything from garage rockers to acoustic ballads to psychedelic excursions, the songs fade into one another and the album is meant to be played front to back, says Scotchie, “just like the vinyl we grew up loving.”

You started performing at age 13. Did you find that you were a natural?
In middle school, I was the one in the band that would be jumping around, and having a good time, head-banging and everything. But there was a time in my high-school years when I would throw up at every single show. The nerves would get to me so bad, I’d lean behind my amp and pretend I was fixing something. But it got better. My music teacher once told me, “Take those nerves you have before a show and use them as momentum.”

What’s the meaning behind the title of your band’s latest album, Family Dynamo?
My cousin used to call my dad [Tom Scotchie, who was fatally shot by a former employee in 2008] the “Family Dynamo,” and that always stuck with me. I thought it was a fun combination of words; it simply means a power that generates family and community.

You started the Asheville Barnaroo Festival nearly a decade ago. Back then, did you ever have a sense that it would be so successful and long running?
No, I didn’t. Especially at that age, you can’t predict something like that. We were going kind of show by show, event by event. … The first few Barnaroos were absolutely therapeutic. We used music as a voice and a release.  It also taught us how to be independent and build our own shows, run our own promotions and be accountable for everything. There’s always been a part of the Barnaroo spirit that pays tribute to Tom [by] advocating some of the ways he lived life and loved people.

The band seems like a musical family of sorts; does it feel that way to you?
Yeah! Keith [Harry, bassist] and I met at the Orange Peel; we were friends before we were in a band together. And Eliza [Hill, drummer] and I first met on the streets of Asheville at Downtown After 5. Went back to my mother’s house and rocked out. Keith’s a brother to me, and Eliza’s one of my best friends. We’re family. … Essentially Barnaroo and a lot of what the band does is family driven and encourages people to build a family around them for support. That goes a long way in life, and especially with all the turmoil in the world right now, people need family more than ever.

Andrew Scotchie & The River Rats play 185 King St. in Brevard on Friday, July 20, 8-11pm. For more information, call 828-877-1850 or see 185kingst.com.

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