Voted Kentucky’s Favorite Musical Group in 2016, Jericho Woods are bringing a fresh sound to country music while still maintaining the traditionalism that often feels MIA in the current state of the genre. With their roots planted in bluegrass and folk, and their influences ranging from punk and indie rock to Americana, southern rock and even jam band, these Kentucky natives have created a sound that is truly all their own and will not be heard anywhere else on country radio right now. In an email interview with Josh Mitchum (guitar & vocals) and Paul Priest (bass & vocals), I got to know the guys of Jericho Woods and how their musical influences have helped them create their own identity in country music.
“Well, Paul and Jory (Hutchens – strings player) have both been very involved in Bluegrass music their whole lives. I played in another Country/Rock band previous to Jericho Woods. So our influences range from Bill Monroe to Tom Petty and from John Cougar to Foo Fighters! We love Southern music mostly, but are really just huge fans of melody and the song,” Josh explained. Paul added to that by saying, “For me, 80’s and 90’s country groups like Diamond Rio, Shenandoah, Little Texas, NGDB (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), and Desert Rose Band are a huge influence on what we do. Those vocals!!!! Lots of rock too. Mellencamp, Petty…all the southern rock bands, and Bluegrass music for sure. I’m nuts about The Osborne Brothers.”
Their latest release is a six song self-titled EP released in May that perfectly showcases these influences, as well as gives listeners excellent insight into who Jericho Woods are as artists. “We’re super excited about it. Skidd Mills produced the record, and it’s just got a big, full, almost heartland-rock sound. We hope country audiences love it as much as we do. We’re very proud of it,” Paul told me in our interview. “Better Now” is the lead single currently impacting radio and it’s an excellent representation of the EP as a whole. The upbeat, romantic anthem is no doubt jam worthy in a very Tom Cruise singing “Free Fallin’” in that infamous Jerry McGuire scene we all remember kind of way. In fact, if you’re not listening to this song cranked up in your car with the windows rolled down then you’re doing it wrong.
“For the first time, we had been able to move away from music as a part-time thing to it being a full time endeavor. We had always juggled careers and family with music. So this song really is kind of an expression of the freedom,” Josh explained. Paul elaborated by saying, “Josh was the main writer on that one. The song came about as we made the shift from having “normal” jobs to doing Jericho Woods full time. We feel “Better Now” about life in general these days. It’s a good pick for a first single, as we feel the overall sound and feel of the tune really represents the overall sound of the band.”
When asked about their goal while writing “Better Now,” I think Paul put it pretty well when he stated, “Our goal with that song, and all of our songs, is to write something that connects with people. Real life stuff. The good, bad, pretty, and ugly. Real songs for real folks.” No doubt fans will appreciate the band’s honesty both in their lyrics and in the way they strive to appeal to fans with a certain wholesomeness that’s also easily relatable. This feeling of familiarity that comes from listening to Jericho Woods can also be seen in the way they try to maintain relationships with their fans via social media. As Paul explained it, “We want our fans to know us, so we get pretty personal on social media. Our fans are our friends, and we’re just like them. We think that’s super important.” Josh added to that by expressing that it’s definitely easier to share with their fans on Instagram versus Facebook or Twitter. “You can give people a real view into regular day to day stuff. It’s a good way to chronicle our travels too!”
For fans anxious to catch Jericho Woods’ live show, the guys will be out on the road touring all summer and Fall promoting the record. They’re also really excited to try and hit some new geographic areas they haven’t been able to visit yet and hopefully broaden their listener scope. As Paul exclaimed, “We plan to tour as much as possible. We love the road, and we love to meet people and make new friends. LOVE touring!” As far as what you can expect from their stage show, Josh revealed that they try to keep it as high energy as possible. “We try to mix up the show too, let it ebb and flow. Covers we might play would be stuff by The Allman Brothers, Garth Brooks, Petty, or Mellancamp.” Paul also described the band’s live show as fun and added, “We promise to give anybody that comes to see us 110%”
Today’s country music is full of talent, and while every artist is unique in their own way, Jericho Woods offer something different that I think will really appeal to every type of country music fan looking for that next new artist to blow them away. They stay true to their down home roots while still managing to stay relevant in the modern age. It can be easy to forget the traditionalism of country music when you’re caught up in trying to shake things up within the genre. For Jericho Woods, though, maintaining balance somewhere in the middle is not only key, but also very important to who they are as artists.
“As far as Jericho Woods goes, I like to say we are “rural” music. We are somewhere in between the new stuff and traditional music. Most country folks have the largest musical pallet of any other genre: they like Ralph Stanley, Merle Haggard and George Strait, but they also probably like Jason Isbell, Lucero, Drive-By Truckers, and everything in between. It’s an exciting time to be in country music, if you ask me!”