After meeting at a local annual band performance in 2011, members of Southern Train formed a bond over real estate and music and have been performing together ever since.
With most of the six-member band having full-time jobs in the real estate market, they spend some of their free time rehearsing and making a name in the local music scene, booking numerous gigs including performing in Curtis Hixon Park during the Gasparilla parade.
Though the band is rooted in country music, they often perform an eclectic set, matching the eclectic crowds they play for that range from small bar crowds to an audience of 4,000.
The band recently came into The Oracle office to perform for the Artist in the Office series and discuss its music, inspiration and what it will do next.
For more information on upcoming shows, visit their website thesoutherntrainband.com.
Oracle (O): What genre would you place the band?
Michael Costa, vocals and guitar (MC): We play mostly southern rock. We’ve got a kind of country flair mixed in with classic and modern rock and even some pop. I guess our main thing is we just want everybody in the crowd to have fun and we’re going play a few songs that everybody’s going to love and people like to move to.
O: You play a lot of covers, but have two original songs. Do you prefer to play covers or original music?
Matt Watson, vocals and guitar (MW): We really prefer to play whatever’s going to get the crowd dancing. If we can write an original that’s going to get them to do that, we’ll play that all the time. A lot of our songs are fast tempo and kind of jazzy.
Kyle Burd, bass (KB): We want to try to incorporate some more original music into our repertoire. It gives us better opportunities to play for maybe a little bigger crowd.
Bill Reeves, guitar (BR): Our song we played today is called “Platt Street Bridge” and it’s kind of focused on Tampa. We thought that if we’re going to write an original song, let’s bring in something that the crowds will be familiar with and hopefully the style of music and the lyrics kind of tie together in familiarity.
O: How do you pick your cover songs?
MW: As you can see from the band, we have a very wide variety on an age group. Between us I think we cover like 20-something years in genres. So it’s kind of funny, everybody kind of picks like two or three songs and brings them to practice.
O: What inspires your originals?
KB: That’s across the board. A lot of that just comes from inside. When I wrote “Platt Street Bridge,” I just kind of thought about who my band mates were and the experiences of living here in Tampa.
(Inspiration) comes from everything from Merle Haggard to The Beatles to The Rolling Stones. So it’s just an eclectic mish-mash kind of like America, right? We’re a little bit of everything.
O: What are some of your favorite songs to perform?
Jamie Inman, vocals: “Whiskey River.” Anything with fun harmonies for me, even if I’m not leading the song. I sometimes have more fun with background vocals and that’s one of them. I love the Willie Nelson song.
MC: I love the Lynyrd Skynyrd song we played, “Gimme Three Steps.” I like the newer ones we play too like “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” that Jamie sings. I’m kind of more of a hard rock guy, the ones that rock harder are always kind of my favorites.
BR: I kind of like the ones when you’re looking out in the audience and you see people tapping their foot or they start standing up and dancing or kind of bobbing their head that’s always kind of a good feeling.
O: How was it performing at Gasparilla?
MW: That was a crazy day. We did two gigs on Gasparilla. We started out at the Junior League House Davis Island at about 8 a.m. We played there for close to three and a half hours and then we had to race over to Curtis Hixon Park where we got to play an hour and a half.
O: What do you have coming up?
BR: We’ve got actually quite a few really cool gigs coming up. On March 21 we’re playing on the Yacht Starship. April 12 we’re playing at Skipper’s Smokehouse with a local legend, a guy named Johnny G. Lyon and his band. We’re going to play out there, and some of the other gigs we’re going to be playing are the Margarita Festival in Curtis Hixon Park on May 24.
O: Do you have any plans to record an album?
KB: That is one of the things we want to do. Bill’s made some contacts for us to be able to potentially record “Platt Street Bridge.” We’ve got some other songs we’re working on. We’ll pull together three or four things and see if we can’t put something out in the next year or so.
BR: We were really fortunate last year to kind of go from not playing in front of large crowds to playing in front of 4,000 people at the Bourbon and Brew Festival downtown in November. After we opened for a group that was well known in Nashville and had won some Grammys for some songs they had written, we all walked away and said our next goal would be to open for some of our heroes that inspired us to play. It hasn’t come together yet, but we’re working on it.
Gene Selg, drums (GS): The great thing about Bourbon and Brew was that it was close to feeling like a rock star on stage with the lights, the smoke, everything. We played an incredible version of “Whole Lotta Love” and the crowd was into it and it felt electric at that moment. I just knew it was something I could get used to and wanted to do again.