Nashville natives and friends since their teenage years, Promised Land Sound will take their deeply soulful rock music to the stages of Bonnaroo for the first time this week.
“We’re all super excited about going and playing,” said Sean Thompson, the group’s lead guitarist and vocalist, in a recent phone interview. “It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, and we’re going to camp out and take it all in.”
The 15th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival starts Thursday and continues through Sunday in Manchester, Tenn.
Composed of brothers Joey Scala (bass and lead vocal) and drummer-vocalist Evan Scala, along with longtime friends Thompson and guitarist and co-lead vocalist Peter Stringer-Hye, Promised Land Sound is set to appear at 9:15 p.m. Saturday at the Who Stage.
Bonnaroo’s sprawling festival grounds are an appropriate setting for the emergent band, considering one of its first big breaks shortly after forming four years ago involved Jack White, the Nashville-based rock star who has headlined the renowned festival’s main stage in the past.
Ben Swank, co-founder of White’s Third Man Records retail, recording and concert space just south of downtown Nashville, had known many of the band members from their past in the well-regarded local band PUJOL. He and White then arranged for the band to record and cut a live, 7-inch record.
“[Swank’s] been a friend of ours for a long time,” Thompson said. “He approached us asking us to do a show [at Third Man Records] and, like every show they do there, they record straight to vinyl. .. It was just really fun.”
Not long after Thompson and Joe Scala’s break from PUJOL, Joe’s younger brother, Evan, joined the band, and two and a half years later Peter Stringer-Hye completed the quartet that is now Promised Land Sound.
The band’s musical inspirations come from rock classics such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young and the Grateful Dead. Thompson said playing music is all about finding their own voice while admiring the sounds of these music legends.
“The whole point of our band is all about the ride and seeing what’s going to pop out on the other end,” Thompson said. “It’s kind of an adventure writing songs.”
Fans should expect a Promised Land Sound setlist that includes songs from their first two albums, “Promised Land Sound” and “For Use and Delight,” with the possibility of some new songs.
“It’s definitely going to be pretty jammed out,” Thompson said. “We’ve been working on a lot of new stuff. It’ll be a surprise.”
Once the band’s four-day Bonnaroo adventure comes to an end, the band will spend the summer alternating between traveling the country’s music festivals and creating music for their next album.
“We’re going to take a couple of writing retreats out to cabins and hole ourselves up for a week or two at a time and kind of do nothing except write the record,” Thompson said.
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