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We got to chat with Riley and Zach from The Georgia Thunderbolts a few hours before their last show on their European tour with Black Stone Cherry. Don’t miss their southern rock music and learn more about their band!

Hi guys how are you? How’s the tour so far?

Riley Couzzourt (lead guitar): It’s going fantastic man. Great crowds a lot of rock and roll over here.

Zach Everett (bass guitar): Yeah, was that a great time, especially for our first time in Europe now. Most of our first time on the plane, so it’s yeah, it’s been cool.

How are the European audiences?

Zach: Wow they eat rock and roll alive, man, it’s like a new world that never even stepped into until now. So hopefully, we get to come back more because I really appreciate it and they really pay attention to what you do. And it feels great being over here doing some shows and stuff.

How was you gig in Bordeaux yesterday?

Riley: It was sold out. Of course, it was Black Stone Cherry crowd, but hey, plus for us. (laughs)

Did you manage to taste some local wine?

Zach: Now I actually haven’t drank any wine and all. (laughs)

Riley: When we played in Spain, they gave us a bottle and had our name on it and a picture of us. And I thought we finished it off. But I did see some like homemade wine in the fridge yesterday. Catering, that’s all there was wine and water. And I was like: ‘ah, don’t really drink either one of those.’ (laughs)

So can you quickly introduce your band for people who don’t really know about you yet?

Riley: Yeah, we’re The Georgia Thunderbolts. You’re speaking with Riley, the guitar player and Zach, the bass player. Then you got TJ Lyle on lead vocals, Bristol Perry on drums and Logan Tolbert on rhythm guitar.

How can you describe yourselves musically/sonically? Apart that you’re a rock and roll band.

Zach: It’s like where we come from really comes out of music. Because we don’t necessarily try to be anything, we just write whatever. And whatever comes out is what’s you’ll hear. So it has a lot to do with the part of America that we come from, you know, yeah.

You released your debut album last year. How was it to release new music and obviously a big step for a band with a first album, after/during COVID?

Riley: I’m just glad to have something out at the time, I think we all are, we actually signed our deal with Mascot before the virus had hit. And we didn’t know if we’re going to get to do anything because label signs a band, and then you go into a lot, and you can’t even support that record or anything. So, we got lucky, and they decided they’re going to do an EP with us. And after that, touring started coming back you might have to wear a mask here, or have a shot here, whatever best, we start playing the shows again, and released the album and everything seems to be doing great.

Did you have to postpone the release of the album?

Riley: Yeah, we were supposed to release the album. It had been done for a year or so. And then now it’s been out for a couple of years. Because we’ve just been trying to tour on it for all that lost time, during that whole pandemic time. Been trying to get back at it.

You named your album after its 10th track? What kind of witness were you looking for? Or what for?

Zach: I like that’s one of songs were like, everybody has a different meaning now, which is something that we like about our music. So, I don’t know, I think I like to think it’s like just people that don’t believe in you. And then you do what you wanted to do. And that’s what I like to think but everybody has their own meaning.

How did that song stand up to be the title of the record?

Riley: I had thought about the ‘what it meant‘ as a song. TJ wrote the song, the lyrics to the song and I just thought about it when I was listening to it and I was like, how you were doing this and like your closest friends that you thank you, really don’t support you when it comes down. You really look at it like it’s mostly people, some people you know, from where we’re from, but we have a lot of support as well at home but my biggest thing was like the lyrics and the song are basically saying: ‘look at us now you.’ We’re not bragging or anything but it’s like we worked hard for this, we’ve been going at it for almost seven years now. So it’s like, why would you not do your debut album that because it’s like that song. It’s like, here we are. Can we get a witness now?

So, it’s kind of statement?

Riley: Yes. Perfect. I had the Babylon. And you just summed up in one word. (laughs)

That’s why we’re here. (laughs) Here are some of the tracks: ‘It’s Alright,’ ‘Set Me Free,’ ‘Take It Slow’ and they do sound like personal statements as well. Is music a way to empower your fans and your listeners?

Riley: Yeah, that’s our biggest thing. It’s making a relationship with people like doing these shows here and go into the merch table and seeing all these people like even people that come in wearing your shirts that come from the United States, which shocks everybody man, like when you go into a venue 4000 miles away from home and you see good wearing a shirt you’ve never been here. It’s like a crazy man. But that’s our whole thing and why we’re doing this. If we didn’t have so much fun on stage and so much fun meeting new people and hanging out with new people through our music, then we would have no point in like getting up there and play and they’re not really.

We found your record globally mid-tempo, but rock solid. You guys sound like a real live band, ready to deliver a performance. Like some old American rock band, for example. So first, do you agree with this statement? And which bands inspire you? And how do you approach music?

Zach: I definitely think that we sound like a band, for sure. We’ve been doing this for seven years now. And like, you know, when we first started, man, you were what? 16?

Riley: Yeah.

Zach: And like, we would just drive to the garage and practice after school and then go play in the bars around town. So like, we’ve been doing the live thing for years now. It’s just now we’re getting to play our music and stuff like that. So we’ve been cutting our teeth on being a live band for several years now. So that’s what we love. It’s like you said we do it to go play shows live. So I agree with that statement for sure. Yeah.

Riley: And it’s like, there was a part that he mentioned in there. And I totally forgot what I was going to say. (laughs)

And what about the bands that inspire you?

Riley: Oh, yeah, that’s what it was.

For example, if we do compare you with Black Stone Cherry, just music wise, it’s not really the same thing. Because we think they’re more riff driven. And you’re more mid-tempo and building longer songs also. So yeah, that was also one of the points that stood up for us that it’s a rock band that… like we want to make the comparison with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, those kind of bands that are like five or six or seven on stage doing something, but we thought of them when I listened to your album, because that’s the just the way we felt things.

Zach: Yeah, what we said earlier, when I was talking about the music that we grew up around, and like kids, they’re from the south in the United States as well. So in that whole scene I remember listening to the radio, my dad and Skynyrd‘s on, like just getting it’s all, AC/DC‘s on, Black Sabbath is on the radio, bands like that.

Riley: We’re from that close to where they originated. So even if, of course, we heard it growing up and everything and listen to it, but I feel like even if, like, we would have never even known about any of that, just because of where we’re from, like when we played with people, we’re just gonna say that and also think that because of, it’s just the way life is just the farm just like here, just like they have their own thing here and just like they have their own thing in Germany, it’s like, that’s what’s so great about it is like, bands that start in Germany, and they start playing around people relate them to older bands that had started in Germany. And that’s just because you’re from that setting. So your music is literally you can pick somebody apart just from that.

So which bands are from your neighborhood?

Zach: Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers. Who else? Atlanta Rhythm Section, Molly Hatchet.

Riley: Drivin N Cryin, Blackberry Smoke. Tons!

What’s the biggest or main asset of your band in your opinion? Obviously, there’s the voice. But as we said, also the tracks that are also groove oriented. So is it the association of both of those things that makes your band?

Zach: Yeah, I think so. What we write is like, we just get in a room, all five of us and we’ll start playing music somebody will have some kind of riff or groove or whatever it is. And then we’ll just play it and flesh it out. And TJ will write lyrics sitting there, listen to us. So it’s kind of a, it’s just kind of a combination of all kinds of different stuff.

How long did you take to write your first record? Was it something easy to achieve?

Riley: We always write, so like, we might release an album, there might be 50 more songs sitting there waiting. So, I’m not going to say it’s easy, because I don’t want to jinx us and us not be able to produce songs like we have in the past. But it certainly was just like fun for us, like just getting a room together and write, like no stress, nothing. Go into the studio and record it. So I mean, to me, I want to say yeah, I’m just going to say yeah, it was easy, because it’s just what we love to do is what comes naturally to us.

You’re also playing a cover live, which is on the record as well. ‘Be Good To Yourself.’ Why this specific track? Any special meaning for you?

Riley: I mean, not only is it like a positive vibe and song, but Richard‘s the one that our manager from The Kentucky Headhunters, he’s actually the one that had suggested it to us. And I’m going to be honest, I didn’t even know the song until our lead singer knows more about the answer to that question. He actually liked was Frankie Miller and that sort of like bluesy sound and stuff like that, which we did, too. But I don’t know. I’ve just never heard the song. But now I listened to Frankie Miller, and I like it. So. But yeah, Richard had a lot to do with us playing that song because he’s like a genius. And we just sort of listen to what he says.

Zach: And he brought it to us literally in the studio and was like: ‘hey learn this,’ we learned it in the studio that we just made it our own, like, I mean, because obviously every song has the way that the original person performs, if we just heard it in the studio and picked out the parts that we really liked about it and said: ‘okay, we’re going to play it like this‘ and just record that like the same day.

Isn’t that also part of the, let’s say, the spirit of the scene where you live, because we know that sometimes in country music or blues music or americana whatever, you can take some tracks from the past and rearrange it to make it your own.

Zach: There’s a lot of people that I think most people where we’re from, have at least one or two songs like that on the record.

Riley: It’s like ‘Midnight Rider.’ Yeah, we have. We did a Allman Brothers cover. I’m not sure if you knew that or not. But we kind of did it our own little heavier, a little more like a rolling Georgia twist rather than a Macon Georgia twist. Yeah, so that’s a prime example of sort of what you’re saying. We got buddies that do it like our buddies by Blacktop Mojo, when they first started, they was putting their own versions of covers on YouTube and ended up exploding, getting tons of views and we’re proud for them guys to go ahead.

Any new or recent music discovery you want to share or maybe the tracks you’re listening to right now?

Zach: I know we both listened to a lot of old bands you know like we set up the other night and with two and a half bottles of Jägermeister and listened to all the Pantera albums in a row.

Riley: Until 6 in the morning. (laughs)

Zach: We did got down the two and a half bottles. (laughs)

Riley: I’m going to be honest, like on the train heading to Paris. I listened to Gojira, Machine HeadMegadeth, Metallica, Trivium, Bullet for My Valentine. So yeah, we’re a Southern rock band, but I’ll listen to metal all the time.

Zach: Same here. But it’s we like country too because like we’ll be we’re the house drinking or doing whatever and be singing David Allan Coe and Merle Haggard and stuff and like, we’re like, on the way here when he was listening to all that I was listening to The Steel Woods and Metallica and it’s just, we just love music. Yeah, whether it’s country, metal or rock.

You just listened to the whole Pantera discography. So, whats your thought about this reunion/celebration they’ll be doing this year and next year?

Zach: It’s kind of a heavy question because we’re big fans.

Riley: I don’t know. I’m excited just to see that name again on like signs, banners and stuff. And I think they’re definitely going to be successful. I mean, they’re already headlining tours over Judas Priest. But I don’t know man Dimebag and Vinnie those people like sort of weigh heavy on our heart more than probably anybody else in the music industry says like.

Zach: The first time we went to Texas, the first place we went was to their graves to pay our respects because we’re like, yeah.

Riley: I’m going to say this I’ll go see him for sure. I’m going to love to go see him. I love Zakk Wylde but I don’t think that many would probably go for this if he was still alive.

Zach: I agree with you.

And the last question: we’re RockUrLife, so what rocks your lives guys?

Riley: Too many drinks will definitely rock your life. (laughs) You know what rocks my life is just not only rock and roll music and touring but also you know hanging out with the family and having a couple of drinks or two and barbecuing. That rocks my life. Everything I do I’m rocking man! (laughs)

Zach: Same kind of deal like other than play music. I love driving my pickup truck at home and being with my grandparents and deer season is coming up so yeah, we’re simple folk.

Riley: Yeah.

That’s it, thank you very much!

Riley: Thank you, nice to meet you man!