On October 19th, 1977, rock and roll legends Lynyrd Skynyrd played their historic last concert with all of the band's original members in Greenville, South Carolina.
Somewhere in that same town, at that same point in time, four young men were running in various rock and roll, blues and R&B circles within Greenville's modest - yet thriving - music scene. Eventually, all four musicians became ministers in the local church community. They started families and raised children. About two decades later, five of those boys picked up where their fathers left off and began making music of their own.
Introducing The Advice.
Contrary to any implications in their namesake, the quintet makes no claim to have all the answers. In fact, the extent of their educational platform - though profound in concept - is simple in action: "Love your neighbour as yourself."
Imparting such wisdom doesn't even require speaking a word, necessarily, and these preacher's sons are quite OK with that.
"We don't want to over-think this band's purpose," says The Advice frontman/guitarist Matt Houston. "It starts and ends with loving our brothers and sisters around us equally and unconditionally, lifting each other up as the body of Christ. We can't survive together without that."
So when Matt's older brother and band lead-guitarist, Jared Houston, happened upon Exodus 18 - where Jethro encouraged Moses to seek people within their group to help lift off his plate some of the enormous responsibilities of leading the Israelites - this advice resonated with the band's community-mindedness.
Were it not for the stereotypical rock-band dilemma - a revolving door of drummers coming and going, up until Sanchez Fair joined in 2007 - The Advice lineup has maintained solidarity since 2005, when then-15 year-old keyboardist Aaron Bowen joined the Houston brothers and bassist Jeff Madden for coffeehouse gigs around Greenville and, later, throughout the Southeast U.S.
No rock band on the planet wants its sound to be put in a box. The Advice manage to succeed in bypassing any stylistic pigeonholing, thanks to their eclectic range of influences and backgrounds - Motown to Southern rock; Smooth jazz to Contemporary Christian music; Tower of Power to John Mayer to Alternative Rock.
The list could go on.
Consistent with the band's knack for understating themselves, when asked, The Advice classifies their sound as "soulful rock". This is true in the same way one could classify Wal-Mart as a "store" - handfuls of extra adjectives are necessary. Four out of the five members are jazz-trained musicians. Sanchez can, and will, step out from behind the kit to play a variety of horns. The outfit's admitted soulfulness is best accentuated by pop-friendly, four-part harmonies so prominent and catchy, they serve as fundamental a purpose in their song crafting as guitars and keys.
However The Advice might possibly fall short in separating itself from industry peers musically, a multi-ethnic lineup is more often than not an effective means to standing out.
"The band's racial diversity has allowed us to come up with something especially unique for a broad range of audiences," Matt says. "Black, white, young and old, we've enjoyed honing in on a more timeless sound that's not unique to anyone specific."
Sanchez adds, "Being in the South, there's still an underlying racism in our part of the country - and maybe everywhere. There are "black" churches and "white" churches" in our town. Some of our greatest experiences as a band have been playing side-stage at some festival and people will come around the corner to check out what they're hearing. Ultimately, people - all part of God's Kingdom, regardless of colour and age - are congregated together, enjoying the same music."
Sticking close to the band's "love thy neighbour" mission statement, most songs on The Advice's Inpop Records debut EP - produced by Dove Award-winner Rusty Varenkamp - carry a theme of Christ's equal and undying love and, as His people, our call to love others similarly, without condition.
Lead single, "Forever Changed" - a bouncy, jazz-tinged, sing-a-long - is a slight variance to the aforementioned theme. Inspired by his father's liver transplant that went awry in December 2010, Aaron wrote the song's chorus in the wake of nearly losing a parent.
"(Aaron) got a call and drove to Charleston that night, prepared to say his 'goodbyes'," Matt recalls. "We prayed for Aaron and his father all night. The next morning, his father had experienced huge improvements in recovery. None of us are too emotional, but witnessing that kind of miracle put us all in tears. 'Forever Changed' was born out of that moment when we all realized the joy of the Lord that's in our hearts - even in very difficult circumstances."
The EP also includes "Your Love Sets Me Free" a summery, harmony-heavy, blues-pop track, which hit Top 50 at Christian AC radio last year as an independently-released single, and the blazing, 70s AM Radio-channeled "Your Light Shines".