Music sits at a fascinating intersection, connecting the calculable world of physics and the boundless realm of the human imagination. And you’d be hard pressed to find a band that embodies that intersection as impressively as Atlanta-based Little Tybee. The dynamic indie-folk sextet drifts between styles with ease, merging technical skill and feeling en route to a distinctive, multi-layered sound marked by violin and a rare eight-string electric guitar.
Having released four full-length albums since their start in 2009, the group is off on a nautically themed tour, anchored by new song “Lost in the Field,” with a stop here in Richmond at the Camel on Monday, March 12. I recently spoke with frontman Brock Scott about the band’s plans for this latest run of shows, his knack for defying categorization, and the root of his drive for musical exploration.
What have your prior experiences playing Richmond been like?
We’ve played the Camel in the past; we’ve played the Broadberry; played Gallery5; the Yerb, back in the day – that was our first spot that we played. And we’re good friends with [Richmond band] Night Idea. They’re actually on this bill with us and The Reign of Kindo… Every time we play there, the crowd gets bigger, and I think it’s a very musically tuned audience in Richmond. There’s a lot of great music that comes out of there.
How has being based in Atlanta benefitted the band?
There’s a strong music scene — a lot of underground musicians. Some of the best songwriters I know are around here. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to the music industry than just talent. You need to know how marketing works and how to run a business… You can have one viral video that reaches 200,000 people in a week, or you can tour for six months and maybe only play for 40,000 people. It’s a matter of identifying the tools that are available and seeing where you fit in the market and then finding your voice. Atlanta has allowed us the financial space to be able to explore that without [it being] an all-or-nothing thing. We’ve figured out what works for us — a niche — and [have focused] on that, and I think Atlanta cradles that type of exploration.
Would it be accurate to say your music has its own sense of exploration, given the way you incorporate genres?
We’ve got this wizard of a guitarist who is innovating at every turn. Josh [Martin] is unique in that he’s [exhibiting] technicality, but he’s pairing it with musicality. They’re techniques that are generally associated with the metal and prog worlds, and we tap into that. It’s strange, we see [that at] a lot of our shows. We have a lot of metal fans and prog fans. And I come from a singer-songwriter, more folky soul background, and we’ve always just kind of made it work… There [are] all these blogs set up — you have Pitchfork and Stereogum and Consequence of Sound — and people like to be able to categorize things and to be able to put them into a box. There’s a whole industry around it. Other people make money off of musicians and the fact that they can put them in that box. So, if you can create your own box, it’s powerful… That’s where my mindset has been since our inception. That’s why we always have a visual artistic pairing with everything we do. I went to Atlanta College of Art and Savannah College of Art and Design, studied sculpture, and I’ve worked in the film industry, and I understand the power of visuals. If you [combine them with] music, it can be very impactful.
What do you have planned for the upcoming tour?
I did a sailing trip in Greece a few months ago, and I filmed a music video. There’s this guy who was on the boat with me, and then two other people, and I filmed the whole experience. It was three weeks. In the video, there’s this captain, and he has two crew members, and he goes to sleep one day, and they disappear from the boat. When he wakes up, he realizes the boat is sailing by itself… Basically, that captain is coming with us on tour. We have a merch table that’s a [cutout] set of a boat, and the captain’s inside of it, and I’ve created a video for every single show on the tour. The captain is sailing to all these different islands, and each island is a different city on the tour, and we’re his crew… I have a street team in every single city on the tour, and I’m mailing them figurines [of the missing crew members], and then they hide them, and there’s going to be a photo scavenger hunt. If people find the figurines and bring them to the show and give them to the captain, he rewards them with a VIP package.
Where does your sense of musical adventure come from?
My parents didn’t really listen to a whole lot of music, but the music that they did have was more blues and folksy. A lot of Dylan, a lot of Leon Redbone, the Neville Brothers, the Beatles, stuff like that. I feel like when you’re younger, and you listen to music, there’s a lot more emotional attachment. It’s like a physical-emotional attachment. I don’t know if it was just for me, but [when] you listen to the way a symphony resolves from a minor and then makes its way back to the major in the full way, it almost brings tears to your eyes. It’s like when you’re younger and on a roller coaster. It goes up and over the hill, and you feel it in your stomach. But as you get older, that sensation disappears a bit. I feel like people who are really into discovering new music — that is part of the drive. It’s almost a drug. The way that people find that resolve is always evolving. It’s endless, and you can find it in the past. Ten years from now, I can look back to the past and get it from things I don’t now. But as my ear matures, that feeling exists in different places. So, it’s just finding that. And I love the search. It’s almost like a treasure chest when you find it.