Whether playing songs that make you dance or songs that make you contemplate the message, Richmond jam band, Sully & The Odditoriums offers groovy vibes and a powerful voice.
Drawing inspiration from artists such as B.B. King, The Grateful Dead and even singer-songwriter John Mayer, the band presents a singular sound that is not only pleasing to the ear but also offers a platform for social and political commentary.
One of the band’s founders, Louisville native Sean Sullivan, said he draws a lot from his roles in theater for inspiration.
“Educational theatre is about getting your point across or finding your voice and letting it be heard,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said that he likes to write his songs to inspire change within the realm of political and social structures. He does so in a way “that can relate with more people,” even if it takes the form of a love song.
The group is a four-piece band with Sean Sullivan on the guitar and vocals, Bauner Chafin on lead guitar, Gerek Patrick on bass and Jon Watts on drums.
Three members attend EKU while the drummer attends school in Ohio. Sullivan, Patrick and Watts met through the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity on campus which eventually connected them to Chafin through mutual friends.
The birth of the band’s name came from Sullivan’s nickname, “Sully.” The addition of the back-up band, “The Odditoriums,” came after Sullivan traveled to St. Louis where he saw the term in the city museum and again in Maryland painted on a wall. Sullivan took it as a sign and ran with it.
Sullivan’s first songwriting experiences initially mimicked the “singer-songwriter” style, but after collaborating with the other musicians and hearing his love of deep acoustic tones complemented by Chafin’s electric guitar, they soon found themselves toward the extended grooves that characterize the jam band sound.
“I think we have a good mix of where we can get to that point of where we’re blowing your ears out with supersonic guitar solos, but at the same time we’re going to swoop you back into this reality of spaceville,” Sullivan said. “I call them swimmers. I like people to be swimming and be active with the music.”
For those who aren’t familiar with the term jam band, it is a term to describe music that is heavily based on improvisation.
“It’s not too terribly intricate,” Sullivan said. “It’s all pleasing to the ear, and groovy, and wavy.”
The band recently released a six-track EP, called “The Basement EP”, which was recorded in their friend’s basement in a single day. The EP features a range of instrumental grooves while showcasing persuasive tunes like “Stand Together.”
“I wrote [Stand Together] amidst all that Bernie Sanders stuff, and I wrote it as a call to action,” Sullivan said.
The end goal for the band is to make enough money to avoid a real job and pursue a musical career, Sullivan said. However, getting started is a challenge.
“It’s hard to get going and convince people you’re worth investing in,” Sullivan said. “With that being said, I love being a musician, and I wouldn’t trade it for world.”
The band is currently in transition and is coming up with a more cohesive band name as well as working on another EP which they will record the first week of February at a studio in Louisville.
The band has played at local restaurants and bars such as Madison Gardens, Stevie Ray’s Blues Bar in Louisville, Tee Dee’s in Lexington, and Halls on the River in Winchester.
For more information, follow their Soundcloud and Facebook accounts for new releases and information on local shows at soundcloud.com/sullyodditoriums and facebook.com/sullyodditoriums.