A Dose of Nashville Rockers, The Prescriptions
Photos: Jace Kartye
About a year or so ago I found myself at The Shrunken Head watching a buddy fill in on bass for Columbus four-piece Tennessee Traffic (currently on hiatus). Having no prior knowledge of them or any of the other acts, I went in with no expectations. Coincidentally, the opening artists on that night had wandered up from The Volunteer State themselves bringing their southern sonics along for the ride. The polished and intimate performance they put on that evening sucked me in and left an impression that has me still listening to them to this very day. The band I speak of is Nashville's five-piece indie rock outfit The Prescriptions. Fortunately, the guys were kind enough to talk to me about how they came to be, the process of getting to where they are now, and some details of what's to come.
With their yearning guitars, weary breaks of harmonica and sun-baked hooks, they bring a potent southern vibe that compliments their organic style of storytelling. Using elements of rock, folk, and country as their foundation, they construct a well-balanced sound that doesn't associate too closely with any one of these. They've planted their roots in the soil of southern soaked sounds, but their branches seem to grow beyond these boundaries, allowing room for those with other musical tastes to also hang out in the shade.
The group came to fruition after vocalist/guitarist Hays Ragsdale left his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama and took refuge in the music scene of Nashville. Ragsdale, who had been writing music for some time, was convinced by a friend that his creations were audience-worthy. Not long after, he recruited hometown friend and soon to be bassist Parker McAnnally to help him bring his ideas to life. In 2015 Hays and Parker put together a band to record some of Hays’ songs that he had been writing/preparing for the past couple years. During the process of fleshing out the arrangements, getting to know each other and doing the actual recordings, they realized that the workflow was enjoyable and surprisingly intuitive. With the decision to turn the project into a group effort, The Prescriptions were born.
Not long after, the group released the "Either Side EP" and ensued on a spree of gigging in the Nashville area and beyond. The four-song EP which was produced and mixed by Parker McAnnally introduces to us the unified sound that The Prescriptions ride atop, but it also gives us a glimpse of several different directions that the band is capable of going. The longing tones of slide guitar and outcries of harmonica on tracks like "She Is Waiting", contrasted with the driving rhythms, choppy high gain guitar, and ruckus on "His Song", reveal two very different sides of this young group. On songs like "My Stranger", they step closer to a more upbeat and modern sounding indie jam, putting their southern tones in a much more subtle position. Last track on the EP is "Can't Ask For More" whose stripped-down nature and twangy strings portray leanings closer to folk with sprinkles of country.
Despite having an affinity for southern sounds, the vocals of Hays Ragsdale don't abide by the confines of these musical styles. He ditches the twang and presents his down to earth and honest lyrics with a modernized vocal style. His soothing voice and harmonization flow effortlessly with the music, a quality that he maintains even at the peaks of his anthemic choruses.
Overall there is a unified sound that underlies these first few works of theirs, but each track has something of its own to offer. With their first full-length album in the works, I couldn't help but question what direction they'll go now that they have a few years of playing under their belt. Here's a bit of what they had to say about their upcoming album which they expect to be ready by this fall.
Me: I saw that you're recording your upcoming album at Sound Emporium, what was that experience like?
Them: We actually recorded only about half of our new album at Sound Emporium Studios, which was incredible due to the rich history of that studio and the fact that subjectively it is one of the better studios in town. We recorded the other half of the album at Battle Tapes w/ its owner, Jeremy Ferguson. Jeremy is doing great work with all sorts of artists from East Nashville.
Me: I feel like your EP was an excellent display of what you guys are all about. You have a strong underlying sound/feel, but each song on your EP also shows a few directions you're capable of going with your music. Any particular direction you're going with this album?
Them: This album we’ve been working on is a trip even deeper into the direction and sonic palate on the EP, executed by a band that has now played shows together much more. Something we really enjoy about working together is that the songs will often grow and change, ebbing and flowing with everybody's ideas. We never settled on a particular musical style while making this record, just tried to make each song come to life, and naturally, everybody's musical influences affected the final outcome. This record is more experimental in some ways, but we also really wanted to accomplish the feel of a band playing songs in a room so we tracked a good bit of it live.
Me: Are you guys going to tour in support of this album? If so what do you think that tour will look like?
Them: We’ll definitely be touring to support the new album, hopefully stretching from NYC as far west as Colorado and Texas... California dreaming though.
I've always had a taste for southern styles of music and those songs that feel like a warm breeze as you drive with the windows down into the sunset of a summer day. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to new music from these guys, and I'm hopeful that they'll drop by Columbus when they hit the road. In the meantime, check out their EP and a video of them below!