“I don’t write love songs, I write un-love songs,” says singer and lead guitarist Brandon Strother. “That’s what a lot of my songs are about: getting rid of the bad and trying to replace it with something better, something cooler, something more exciting.”
Double Wide Soul is all about being exciting, an atypical mix of unusual elements that make a great band.Their headquarters is in an old Monsanto PCB testing facility in downtown Anniston. You can still see a glassed-in receptionist’s area, now a storage space for band merchandise and equipment; the white cinderblock walls have been covered over with posters, banners and vinyl records. Don’t tell anyone, but there’s a drum kit in the bathroom.
They’re a band all their own.
The group features Matthew Gravitt on guitar and Brandon Strother singing and playing lead guitar. The lineup changes around the two founding members constantly, with a rotating cast of characters, some of whom have history with the band from back when they still called themselves the Plastic Forties. Even the original name didn’t stay for long.
“I was like, ‘man, I like Double Wide Soul a whole lot more than Plastic Forties.’ Double Wide Soul sounds like something you can grab ahold of and hug,” says Strother.
Double Wide Soul is a group of friends on a blues mission from… well, maybe not God, but there’s some kind of divine intervention going on. The boys swing a funky, soulful sound when they play, clean channel guitars and Strother’s smoky voice mixing together over a bouncing bass and head-nodding drums to get the audience moving.
“I really enjoy engaging the crowd, and getting a reaction out of them,” says Gravitt. One of his favorite things to do is work one side of the audience against the other to get a rise out of them.
One night at a place in Birmingham, he and Strother found themselves playing an acoustic set to four opposing teams of the GO Kickball league, still decked out in their team colors. Sensing an opportunity, Gravitt turned them against one another for the band’s attention. He’d call out the teams that shouted the loudest and stir them all up over which team was more attractive. By the end, some of the crowd had joined the band on stage.
“That was one of the coolest shows we had, a whole kickball league that we were playing to. I had a girl on my lap brushing my hair out of my face while I was playing,” recalls Strother. The audience interaction, the connection with the fans, is what keeps things interesting. Sometimes the sets can last four hours, and the band never makes a setlist, instead taking requests and playing covers, as well as their original songs.
The band is currently working on a four-song E.P. to distribute to fans, venues and record companies. The hope is that they’ll be able to take the Alabama blues on the road and give people a taste of the South like they’ve never had before. Until then, though, the guys are going to keep doing what they do best: jamming, recording and performing.
“That’s what we’re trying to go for, short-term,” says Strother. “Long-term, kings of the world.”