Raylon Summars, the drummer and one of the founders of Hillbilly Sins, said the band and its name were several years in the making.
“Anthony Sims and I had been trying to work out the concept and members for years,” he said. “It finally came together in August of 2011, when Nathan Renfro and Nigel Newberry joined. We knew we wanted to keep our country roots but we also wanted to be different than the traditional cover bands we had been in. That led Anthony to the idea of sinning against traditional music. It didn’t take long for him to come up with Hillbilly Sins.”
According to Summars, the only name that has stuck in describing their music is “outlaw.”
“We are not traditional country, but we are not rock,” he said. “We fall somewhere in the middle of all of the labels people use today. We decided at the beginning that we were going to throw out the rule books and play the music we enjoyed the way we enjoyed it. So far it has worked out pretty well for us. You’ll hear a lot of blues and Southern rock from Nigel’s Lynyrd Skynyrd roots. Anthony takes a lot of influence from classic country artists like Merle Haggard and George Jones. Nathan is our resident music database but is a classic rocker at the heart of it all. We still look for songs he doesn’t already know. Our lead singer, who we have named “Mike” for the time being, has a lot of Southern gospel and blues roots. I am more of a modern rock and blues influence.”
The combination of their musicality turns every performance into a head-rocking, crowd-screaming, soul-stirring good time for audiences who can’t seem to get enough of their edgy outlaw flavor.
“We love the interaction and response,” Summars said. “Our goal at every show is to deliver our brand of music to the best of our ability. We want people to enjoy the songs as much as we do. We feed off that energy. Seeing someone sing along to our originals and connect to a song is probably the greatest feeling ever.”
Seeing familiar faces “means everything,” especially when the hometown crowd comes out to support the band, according Summars.
“Our music is about the life in this area that we all experienced firsthand,” he said. “Our songs are true stories. We love the Cleveland area and everyone in it. Their support is the reason why we do what we do. Without them we would still be trying to put this thing together.”
Instead, the Hillbilly Sins are finishing their first demo album, “Dirt Road Gospels.” Fans eagerly awaiting their debut album will be very pleased with the results, according to Summars.
“We are very proud to say it will be available at our comeback show in October,” Summars said. “We already have plans to start another album soon. We hope to keep doing what we love and that is playing music for people the way we enjoy playing it. We have already been given so many opportunities that we never imagined would come. We can’t imagine what else is in store for the band.”
After opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd last June at Riverbend, the Hillbilly Sins stand ready to show why outlaw music is becoming the most wanted music in America, and why this outlaw country band has found a redemptive sound that many just can’t escape from. The Hillbilly Sins will be performing at Rhythm and Brews in Chattanooga on Oct. 25 and Nov. 15.
For further information, visit http://www.thehillbillysins.com.