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Music

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DeLand band Roadkill Ghost Choir discusses their debut album

New Roadkill record 'In Tongues' due out July 2014

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FMF FRIDAY: THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND PRESENTS ROADKILL GHOST CHOIR, with Case Work, American Party Machine, Good Graeff, E-Turn and DJ SPS

6:30 p.m. Friday, April 25 | The Social, 54 N. Orange Ave. | 407-246-1419 | floridamusicfestival.com | $10

Roadkill Ghost Choir’s Shepard siblings didn’t grow up harmonizing while doing house chores. They didn’t form a killer high school band that rocked the talent shows till they each graduated. No, Roadkill Ghost Choir is not the Avett Brothers of DeLand. Although three of the group’s five members are brothers – vocalist/guitarist Andrew Shepard, bassist Zach Shepard and drummer Maxx Shepard join guitarist Stephen Garza and pedal steel/banjo player Kiffy Myers – unlike the honed-since-childhood indie folk of better-known bands of bros, the Shepards had never strung a note together until Andrew was invited to play a gig at DeLand’s Café DaVinci three years ago.

Andrew thought a solo show might be dull, so he formed Roadkill Ghost Choir in January 2011 to add heft to his set, which was comprised of songs he wrote alone in his bedroom. He asked his brothers, who have remained in the band since then. It took around two months of shifting guitar players for the current lineup to be cemented. Andrew credits their sleepy hometown of DeLand for finding so much talent willing to join forces with him, but not much else.

“Everyone seemed to be into the idea of playing, so I didn’t have to pull a lot of hairs to get anyone to play with me. Plus, around these parts, there’s not much going on, so it was something to do,” Andrew says.

That first gig is one he cringes at when he remembers it, due to technical mishaps and the awkwardness of the impromptu arrangement. Still, it was a turning point for Andrew, whose songwriting process had always been so insular.

“It was really cool, especially for me, because I had been doing it by myself up to that point, and the only time I could really hear the music fully was through speakers,” Andrew says. “So it was cool to hear everyone else’s take on the songs, instead of just purely my influence on it.”

The rapid rise in attention his band has seen since those tenuous first few shows extended that freshly collaborative sound well beyond Central Florida and demonstrates a sort of serendipity in the band’s crystallization, which led to two consecutive official showcases at South by Southwest, a national tour with Dead Confederate and an appearance on Late Show With David Letterman (Jan. 17) – all before they released their debut album.

That’s due out in July of this year. It’s called In Tongues, and Andrew says it will be 10 songs that you should expect to rock a little louder than last year’s Quiet Light EP (though he swears their already-established indie-folk sound doesn’t stray so far as to completely drown out Light). One major example of a simple shift Andrew points out is that the banjo is less prominent throughout the new release than it is in perhaps their most popular song from the EP, “Beggars’ Guild.”

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