There doesn’t exist a “Must Hear” list in the world that doesn’t currently have Alabama Shakes on it. We named them one of our 11 Artists To Watch in 2012, the New York Times had some pretty nice things to say about them and Rolling Stone’s been on their steeze for a minute. The Athens, Alabama, rock band sounds like a lot of different genres rolled all up into one, but don’t box ‘em in, man. “Retro soul is not what we’re going for, though it’s understandable why people say it,” says frontwoman Brittany Howard, who’s been compared to Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin and Otis Redding. “We take inspiration from that, but we all understand Black Sabbath, too.”
Alabama Shakes got their start like every good, ol’ fashioned American rock-and-roll band — in high school. Brittany Howard approached bassist Zac Cockrell after she took notice of his “cool band shirts,” with drummer Steve Johnson and guitarist Heath Fogg joining the mix shortly thereafter. The band grew rather organically in and around their hometown, gaining speed and notoriety after their live shows floored audiences — or should we say “metaphorically punched audiences in the face.” Howard’s soulful, raspy vocals sound like they’ve been marinating in aged whiskey and Marlboro Reds for many more years than she is old. And we only mean that in the best way possible.
Get to know our MTV PUSH Artist Of The Week with our exclusive interviews and live performance videos. The band opens up about how they formed, what goes down at an Alabama Shakes live show and one of their favorite cover songs to play: Led Zeppelin‘s “How Many More Times.” Howard explains, “It moves a lot and it’s very powerful. And it’s one of the hookiest bass riffs Led Zeppelin has.” Not exactly for the faint of heart. Also: effing awesome.
Alabama Shakes’ much-anticipated debut album, Boys & Girls, is out April 10. And be sure to check them out on “Live In NYC,” airing Tuesday, April 10, at 9 p.m. ET on MTV Hive.
+ Watch Alabama Shakes’ live performance of “You Ain’t Alone” below and check out more videos and interviews after the jump.
+ Alabama Shakes on forming as a band
+ Alabama Shakes on their live shows
+ Alabama Shakes on their upcoming album
+ Alabama Shakes on cover songs
+ Alabama Shakes, “On Your Way (Live)”
+ MTV HIVE: Alabama Shakes First Take