Both Dreamers & Realists: Easily Amused

Describing themselves as indie/alternative rock, Augusta-based, Easily Amused is a band composed of James Smith, Jordan Lee, Drake Randazzo, Benton Turner, and Josh Graulty.  On Friday, July 8 the group will be coming to Macon’s JBA for a free show in support of their most recent project called A-Side, B-Side. Easily Amused’s danceable sound takes inspiration from almost every genre, and their song “Sweet Angelina” sits their jam band influences front and center with a lilting guitar riff, swinging drum beat, and instinctive groove that causes feet to tap and heads to bob. The rhythmic wave of the verses builds into an explosive chorus reminiscent of the best American rock n’ roll coming out in the 1970s. I had the opportunity to have a conversation with EA drummer Benton Turner as they were cooling down from the road in Charleston after a string of gigs throughout the Southeast. 

MM- Will this be the first time in Macon for you guys?

BT- Yes, and we’re super stoked about being in Macon. We’ve taken a lot of influence from the Allman Brothers, so it’ll be really cool to get to play in their hometown. 

Yeah, I was picking up some southern rock/jam band vibes, especially in parts of your song “Sweet Angelina”.

Yeah man, you’re not far off at all! Our singles that we release still have a lot of that influence, but we also try to make them radio-friendly. Our live shows, though, we really incorporate more of that jam band feel. 

Having been listening to your two singles, there does seem to be an interesting mashup of musical styles at least in those songs, but it really works for your sound. 

Yeah, genre-wise, we’re all over the place. We are far more concerned with what feels natural and if it does, we follow through on it– and if it doesn’t, we just discard it. That’s pretty much the law we have set for ourselves. Literally, every member of the band has different musical interests. If you were to ask each of us what our favorite genres were, we’d all say something different, but honestly, I think that’s the best part of our style because each of our interests all come through in our songs.  

Well, Macon is a very receptive audience for any type of music, especially good music, and regardless of genre, you guys seem to have that covered! I see you’re Facebook says that Easily Amused is originally from Augusta, is that still home base for y’all? 

Yeah, we currently are all still in Augusta. We may have to relocate at some point in the next couple of months, it really all just depends on some opportunities that might be coming our way. But Augusta is perfect for what we’ve been doing so far because it’s centrally located since we’ve been playing from Jacksonville, FL all the way up to north of Chattanooga and east from there. 

Let’s talk about the genesis of Easily Amused. How did it happen? 

A couple of the members started three years ago and we were just a jam cover band. We were called Lotus and I. It was fun! We got together and wrote a song or two but not everybody wanted to push it much further than that. We also were still kind of trying to figure out the personnel dynamic and when we finally got a lineup and were being well received, we were just like, “Why don’t we just make this a real band?” We eventually found some good connections and started recording in Charleston with a producer named Wolfgang Zimmerman.

Is this the same Wolfgang Zimmerman that has worked with SUSTO and Futurebirds? 

Yeah, he’s had a lot of the bigger acts that he’s produced for in the indie, alternative scene happening in the southeast. The guy is just unreasonably talented and has a music career unlike anyone I’ve ever met. 

You said there was a point when you all decided to take your group from a cover band to something more original– when was this? 

Well, the full band has been [together] since January of this year. That’s when we really got our stuff together. We had actually tried to do it in July of last year, but our guitar player James Smith had to have open-heart surgery very unexpectantly. So, that knocked us out for about six months leading up to January of this year. 

Do you think your experience of starting a band in the year 2022 has been affected by the social media age and streaming platforms? 

Yeah, we’re constantly thinking about the dynamic of people not being really interested in albums. Listeners seem more focused on consuming singles and finding fresh new ones regularly. As soon as streamers wear them out, you have to be ready with more content every few months. I’d have to say it’s an uphill battle. The market is saturated because there are just so many people that want to do this– and rightfully so, it’s a really cool dream to have. But I think it only starts to work when you have both dreamers and realists because when you start putting those people together like we’ve done in our group, it really gets started. I’d say it’s also kind of the same as it’s always been as well because, at this stage, we’re at this as a band. We still have to make those sacrifices and commitments for this to work. Sometimes you have to go out and drive five or six hours just to make 500 bucks and then have to worry about where you’re going to sleep that night. It winds up being kind of fun but also stressful at the same time, and it’s definitely not as luxurious as some people might romanticize it to be. We do, however, enjoy every single second of it! 

When can we expect more singles to be released? 

We are actually planning on releasing a couple more in the next two to three weeks, so be on the lookout for that! 

Don’t miss the Macon debut of Easily Amused at JBA on Friday, July 8th! NO COVER!

Matt McMillan is a poet and singer/songwriter from Rochelle, Georgia. He has a degree in Political Science and attended law school until deciding to fully devote himself to writing in 2020. McMillan has played his songs across the southeastern U.S. and hopes to continue pursuing music and poetry for as long as it keeps coming out. He currently lives in Macon, Georgia.