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Old School Abbey Has Got a Fresh New Sound

By Staff | Feb 29, 2008

Old School Abbey is a band of men bound by the goal of creating fresh new music from an eclectic blend of influences. Hailing from the area of Beckley, Matt Mullins and Nick Durm had been playing acoustic guitar together for about a year or so when they decided it was time to find a band and record an album. One month later, “Girl Like You” was in the can, and the band was set to tour. Now coming up on its one-year anniversary, the band returns my call right before sitting down for a practice session.

“This week is kind of unusual for us, we rarely practice, we usually just use our shows for practice,” says the co-front man Matt Mullins. This may be the source of OSA’s powerhouse rock—two men (Matt Mullins and Nick Durm) have made their own core sound, and the rest of the band boosts the style of the music. “We were playing a lot of R&B like the Temptations and stuff, when Gibson (the appropriately named guitarist) came and added a more rocking, Led Zeppelin style.”

A hybrid breed of musician crossed with Led Zeppelin and the Temptations is by no means an accurate description of the band. Across the album, the breath of Ben Harper, Dave Matthews, Keller Williams, Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, John Mayer and a whole host of acoustic solo rockers echoes across each track. Through the acoustic heart on your sleeve radio sound, is a genuine desire for expression. Growing up in a less than urban area, OSA transcends niche culture and speaks universals. “A heart breaks as easy in a small town as it does in a big town,” Nick responds toward hometown.

 The album, “Girl Like You,” comes off as a powerful album, weaving through upbeat ska punk like rhythms, to sweet light acoustic numbers and even the soaring ballad. Speaking of the soaring ballad, Old School Abbey will be featuring, “Lay Down” in the next issue of Relix magazine. Matt was very excited, “We all freaked out about it, we are big fans of the magazine and listened to it when we were touring to hear new bands. We all felt like being featured on the same compilation as Eric Clapton, who we all admire, was quite an accomplishment.”

“Lay Down” may not trump “Tears in Heaven” but it certainly does an amazing job of mood setting ambience. The track feels like “Hotel California,” yet somehow manages to be more hypnotizing, with a slightly less “these guys must be stoned” atmosphere. Also, when you see the Eagles live, you are less likely to expect them to go from “Hotel California” to a song that sounds like a teenage drive anthem (“Boys of Summer,” does not count, because that was only Don Henley, and it is by no means awesome).

The album, recorded in Tennessee, is quite a feat, but it is not the only place OSA succeeds. “We have fun and mix it up live, and like to see everyone dancing and having fun identifying with the music,” says Matt. The band plays each song to the letter, but when the need calls, it’s not afraid to jam either. The most distinguishing characteristic of OSA’s live show is it plays high energy and makes it quite obvious it’s having fun living the dream of rockers.

The band is chock full of crazy stories from the road, and attending its live act makes it quite obvious OSA has generated a following already. The band has already played with acts like Chris Barron of the Spin Doctors, and as mentioned previously, has been featured with songwriters such as Eric Clapton. Old School Abbey is on the rise, and I would recommend checking it out. Live is the best way to experience the band, but “Girl Like You,” is an amazing CD if you cannot make it out live. You may want to pick up the CD so you will be familiar with the old work, because a new album is already on the horizon. The band has 53 songs in its catalog, 13 already on a CD, which means there are 40 tracks just begging for a chance on their upcoming album.

OSA finds its sound just as fitting coming from a preteen’s iPod as it does from a bar full of smoke and liquor. It will pass your time on a long drive and bring the crowd to your campsite at your next music festival. OSA drives a sound from Beckley to the masses and speaks in a language that breathes as clearly into the ears of the music aficionado as the pop radio crowd. OSA is based in Beckley, with sights on the world. You can get your fix for Old School Abbey on iTunes or MySpace, and you may check it out at www.oldschoolabbey.com.

Contact Taylor at tkuykendall@graffitiwv.com