Around the holidays, many people start to think about home. Emo revival group, Downhaul, have two homes: North Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia.
“We all live in Richmond now, and definitely consider ourselves from both,” says lead singer Gordon Phillips. “’Cause we did start our band in North Carolina, so they’ve always had a special place in our hearts, and we love to get back there and play shows whenever we can.”
Downhaul’s new EP, Tornado Season, which was released November 2019 on Refresh Records, wrestles with the subject of home, particularly on the catchy second track, “Leverage.”
“Pat [Davis] and I are both from Stafford County, Virginia,” Phillips says. “I guess the thought behind that song is, as you get older you kind of feel this sense of, I should get home more, I should visit more. It’s just this cycle between feeling bad about not going home and letting that prohibit you further from going home, and then it kind of just snowballs.”
Downhaul’s Virginia roots might influence their songs in other ways, too. Like many modern emo bands, they have a hint of twang in their sound. Phillips notes that a lot of groups from their region of the country might incorporate elements of alt-country without even realizing it.
“People from the south or other places with country legacy might not even recognize the influence that growing up in this area has on their creative processes or singing voices,” he says. “You put something out and people are like, ‘this sounds kinda country!’ And I’m like, ‘I never thought about that.’”
Still, Phillips notes that where they’re from has less to do with how they sound, it’s more about the community they’re a part of.
“I think we’d be making the same music regardless of where we were. But it definitely influences us as a band in terms of the things we get to do, people we tour with, [and] shows we play at home.”
As the band is passionate about their community, it is unsurprising that they are using their music for a good cause. Downhaul are donating the proceeds from their new EP to the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), a Virginia-based not-for-profit that uses advocacy and litigation to fight for our planet.
“There’s only one Earth,” Phillips says. “And we’re depleting it hard and fast.”