Hedonistas breathes life into ‘fusion music’

It’s no secret Atlanta is a southern hub for a spectrum of musical genres, but one local band blends the city’s diverse music scene into an eclectic melting pot of good vibrations that can be described only by their name.

“It’s Hedonistas, baby!” vocalist Jake Keeble said. “There’s really no specific genre because every song kind of takes a different turn. Blues, jazz, rock, latin, funk … even hip-hop beats.”

Hedonistas Max Blount, Peter Brazeal, Sawyer Drummond, Jake Keeble and Hunter Tredway enter Atlanta’s music industry with an unparalleled, genre-fusing sound.

The Band

While the multi-formatted fusion group may be a fairly new project—established in 2015—the same cannot be said for the band’s history together.

“We’ve all known each other since middle school,” Keeble said. “That’s kind of when this friend group joined forces. But the band really came together about two years ago… That’s when we actually started creating and writing original songs together.”

From jam sessions in their parents’ basements to the stages of Atlanta venues, the five suburbia-born bandmates grew up together as friends and fellow musicians.

“We’d been playing music together for a long time,” Georgia State student and co-lead guitarist Blount said. “And then when we all finally came together as a band, it was almost like, ‘How the hell are we not doing this already?’”

The Music

The group’s unique bond lends to an ability to write music collectively, despite differences in musical influences. Alluding to a giant harmonious venn diagram, they describe Hedonistas as a combination of the bandmates’ individual upbringings.

For instance, while co-lead guitarist Brazeal grew up listening to Johnny Cash albums, Tredway was drawn to the improvisational grooves of Herbie Hancock.

“In our core essence, each of us have such different tastes on the musical spectrum,” guitarist Brazeal said. “But we meet in so many places.”

The overlaps in this complex musical diagram come from joint influences, such as contemporary jazz groups like Snarky Puppy and older guitar legends like Eddie Van Halen and Jimi Hendrix.

“We have influences from everywhere,” Blount said. “But we try not to have any biases, and we strive for authenticity as much as we can.”

The band does so in a passionate and humbled manor, with each member bringing their fair share of musical aptitude to the drawing board.

The Process

“We communicate in our writing process,” Blount said. “There’s not just one big-headed Roger Waters type that writes all the songs.”

Drummond, also a Georgia State student, explains the process as a whimsical chain of events, presumably much different from the systematized structure of his finance program at the university.

Keeble integrates real-life experiences into his soulful lyrical composition, while riff-master’s Blount and Brazeal jam on guitar. Tredway acts as the band’s “compliment-machine” on bass, and, staying true to his surname, Drummond acts as the backbone that holds it all together on drums.

“Typically Max will be like, ‘I have these ten riffs…what do you guys think?’” Drummond said.

“And then Jake will start casually singing over it and we’re like ‘Wait, dude… that was beautiful.

Do that.’ And then Peter always comes in with a gorgeous addition…”

“It’s garage-band vibes without being a garage-band,” Blount said, in no way ironically referring to the fact that this entire cycle takes place in an upstairs room of his bandmates’ East Atlanta home.

The Vibe

Their debut single, “Spanish Lava Lamp,”—available for listening on Apple Music and Spotify—showcases Hedonistas upbeat style.

Described on their Facebook page as a “latin-inspired reggae groove that progresses into pure, unadulterated rock,” the track is a prime example of what this Atlanta band has to offer—an ability to take the listener on a musical rollercoaster.

Hedonistas and their funky tunes have Atlanta music-lovers thirsty for more, judging by their appearance on Atlanta’s 13th annual Sweetwater 420 Music Festival lineup.

“It’s people truly believing in us … which is the coolest thing ever,” Keeble said. “It’s hard to find that in the music industry. But the people we are surrounded by are all love. They want us to succeed. It’s the biggest blessing ever.”

The Inspiration

A symbol of the band’s erratic style, the Hedonistas logo displays a splattered Atlanta skyline.

“I’d say our music is very Atlanta cultured,” Keeble said. “And the city has 100 percent influenced our music and the amount of success we’ve had so far.”

As an employee of the popular music venue, Terminal West, Keeble has spent the past four years familiarizing himself with the Atlanta music industry. Joining the staff not long after the venue’s initial open date, Keeble sees many acts, from Atlanta and elsewhere, sell out the 600-capacity venue on a regular basis.

“Our influence comes from old school roots, but a lot of Atlanta bands have inspired us—more so than influenced,” Keeble said. “Bands that are really making moves and actively touring.”

Both Keeble and Tredway said that Hedonistas get a lot of inspiration from local groups, such as Funk You or Voodoo Visionary, both Georgia funk bands on the rise.

The bandmates said that musical groups that have a modest history also motivate them because the ability to relate to the process of becoming well known in the industry.

“Bands like Perpetual Groove inspire us because of the way they came about in the music industry,” Tredway said. “They started out small like us, but then eventually grew into a Southeast staple.”

Consciously observing artists and bands they respect fuels Hedonistas’ motivation to stay active within Atlanta’s music scene.

Brazeal said that challenging themselves to play complex music arrangements, such as those composed by jazz-rock fusion group The Dixie Dregs, also stimulates their growth as a band.

“You have to aim pretty high if you want to land anywhere near the top,” Brazeal said.

The Show

Dedication to music and friendship radiate throughout their high-energy live music.

“The fact that we’re all such good friends and have been for so long…” Blount said. “That chemistry translates.”

Drummond rhythmically constructs a concrete foundation of steady, yet dynamic drumming.

Tredway reinforces this rhythm with relentlessly funky, toe-tapping bass lines.

Brazeal and Blount complement each other through stellar harmonization and clean guitar technique that keeps the crowd on their feet.

Keeble enamors the audience with his sultry, sometimes rasp-tinged, and awe-inspiring vocal range.

“While still putting in a lot of care and effort, we’re on stage enjoying ourselves, too,” Keeble said.

The result is an organically charismatic live experience of good times and groovy jams.

“For us, music is kind of an escapism,” Tredway said. “And that’s what we want to provide for other people, too—forget everything for a night and just come out, listen to music, dance, have fun, and don’t worry about the rest.”

Hedonistas upcoming shows: Want to see Hedonistas live?

March 29 – Aisle 5: Atlanta, Ga.

(with The Vinyl Suns)

April 1 – Sigma Chi: Athens, Ga.

(with Chief Keef and Walden)

April 22 – Sweetwater 420 Fest: Atlanta, Ga.

(12:00-12:45pm – Lyrics & Laughter Stage)

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