Matt Chase and Chris Rogers started their careers as two solo acts that often shared a stage at bars in college towns around the country. Eventually, the inevitable happened as they officially linked up to form the duo, Southerland. The pair’s debut EP, ‘Six String Sessions’ was released Friday, August 23rd and serves as an introduction of the band to the world. The acoustic, three-song collection is lyrically driven, as Matt and Chris view themselves as songwriters first, artists second. “We wanted the songs to speak for themselves,” Chris said. “It all goes back to how we started this.”
Chase and Rogers met in the writing room and quickly became buddies. After a couple of years playing small gigs together, the guys decided to head down to Florida for the Key West Songwriters Festival. They secured a late night residency at a local spot to perform for a few hours after the BMI shows wrapped up each night. “We had a lot of buddies down there so we had them come show up and hop on stage and play some songs,” Matt said. One of these guys was Luke Combs, who was right in the middle of his ‘Hurricaine’ success. Combs was accompanied by an explosive energy from the crowd and Lynn Oliver-Cline, the founder of River House Artists. She was so blown away by Chris and Matt’s performance that night, she offered up a deal on the spot for the pair to be signed as a duo. Although flattered, Rogers and Chase politely declined the offer.
“Neither one of us wanted to be a duo,” Matt said firmly. They had both put so much time and effort into their own careers. Chris added, “It almost felt like you were throwing away those five years, which is not the right way to look at it, now that we know what we know now. Everything I did up to that point was preparing me for this. We were slowly developing ourselves as a duo without knowing it.” So a couple years later, after Lynn’s unwavering persistence, they ended up caving in and signing on to officially give the duo thing a shot.
Through songwriting and putting together their debut EP, Matt and Chris knew they wanted to be 100% authentic. “The songs that we have been writing have leaned towards that lyric-based music. We wanted that to shine through and not to get the songs muddied up with a ton of production,” Chris said, supporting the decision of releasing an acoustic EP. The stories that live within country music songs are what Matt and Chris fell in love with at the beginning. It’s what drove each of them to move to Nashville and pursue this career. Putting out this acoustic collection shifts the focus to truly allow fans to fall in love with their songs.
As the writers behind all of Southerland’s music, fans are getting an honest glimpse into Chris and Matt’s lives and personalities. On the ‘Six String Sessions’ EP, each of the three songs are slightly different in subject, “All of them still make sense to our voices, we’re not trying to do something we’re not. Being songwriters we want to write about so many different things.” Matt described. “This is our showcase for the world, you only get one chance to make a first impression… We wanted to show people a little bit of a 360 view.” The three tracks most authentically showcase who Southerland is. “I want people to walk away knowing who we are and what type of music to expect. The thing that we pride ourselves on is that we want to sound exactly how we do on that EP in a live setting,” Chris said.
What you hear is what you get with Southerland and some local fans can account for that. The pair recently made a stop with Ray Fulcher and Faren Rachels at Six String Grill and Stage in Foxboro, MA. “Thing is about being the opening slot is you do you 40 minutes then get to hang out,” said Chris. “We love performing but we almost love even more watching other people do their craft,” Matt added. The guys had the chance to do a formal Meet & Greet before their set, and stuck around during the show giving them plenty of opportunities to get to know some of their New England fans. The two raved about the venue and it’s proximity to the legendary Gillette Stadium. If you missed out on this show, be sure to catch Southerland next time they’re in the neighborhood.
To listen to Southerland’s ‘Six String Sessions’ click here.