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New Artist of the Week: Rob Leines

By Ross Jones

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“Well I don't remember much / I was down on my luck / with this busted lip and a brand new shitty tattoo” drawls Rob Leines, the cowboy of the journeyman's blues. Across 'Rock & Roll Honky Tonk Life', he hits you like a slap in the face after a heavy night on the Thirteenth Colony, the whole night flashing before your eyes as you get up, brush yourself off, and go at it all over again. There's no giving up in this world, and there's a damn good reason you are going to want to keep on fighting.

Leines, while ever the purveyor of twisted tales and sordid stories of late nights and fights, is a determined practitioner. His concoction of dirty southern rock and gritty outlaw jams forms the foundation of his work hard, play hard mentality. Having refined his sound over years of solid, bare-knuckle touring, his brand new album, Blood, Sweat and Beers, is the deserved payoff for paying such dues - a captivating, dynamic and surprisingly soulful record that's as sage as it is unsavoury. It's the work of an artist who bleeds everything into his creative output; highs and lows, confidence and self-condemnation, dejection and liberation. The fact he channels that into supremely riotous rock n' roll adds even greater texture to his sound.

"A lot of these songs are about blue-collar pride," he says. "They're about the workingman's experience. I'm trying to paint a picture of what it's like on the road, and what it's like in the South. My roots are still very much tied to the area, and you can hear that in the sound." Through his unwavering desire to bust his ass and make people move, Rob Leines is paying tribute to tradition while creating something timeless and unembellished. It's a raw and unyielding perspective of the world, fed by good ol' fashion life.

Blood, Sweat & Beers, Leines' brand new album, is here today to listen to exclusively at Holler. Ahead of it's full release on Friday, Leines' discusses how he gave up music to become a whitewater raft guide, how Muddy Water blew his mind and how making a living doing what he loves is what drives him most.

Where are you from and has that influenced the type of artist you are?

I was born in Hinesville, Georgia but moved around in my early childhood while my father was in the military, before settling back in North Georgia.

Speaking of influences, what were you listening to growing up?

Phew… There was a lot of stuff scattered all over the map. The earliest I can remember was my mother playing in a bluegrass duo and hearing them play old mountain tunes as a young child. Then, in early middle school, I was introduced to the blues. I borrowed blues greatest hits and listened to it through a little portable CD player on repeat. I was gifted a three-pack CD-set of Muddy Waters - King Bee, Hard Again and I’m Ready. That shit blew my mind, I knew if I was ever gonna sing, I wanted to be as cool as Muddy. Then came Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, The Stones, and ZZ Top. Early teens, I heard The Black Keys first record and found out it was possible for a scrawny lil white boy to have soul in modern day. In high school - like any young, rebellious teen - I found death metal and punk, while at the same time listening to older rap like Wu Tang, Biggie, Three 6 Mafia and Outkast (while being close to Atlanta). I was all over the map, until I found my own sound as an artist in my mid 20’s.

Did you ever want to do something other than music?

Around 18, I lost interest in playing music while working as a whitewater raft guide for about 5 summers. I went to welding school and got a series of jobs out west, making a career in construction. So, there are a lot of other interests that have molded the way I write and what I sing about. So yes, I want to do it all, but music is my priority, hands down.

Are you more creative when you’re happy or when you’re sad?

Creativity comes in all forms, but I would say I write better when I’m happy. Sad songs do come when I feel that way, but they usually have to resonate so I can articulate that feeling that is most vulnerable.

What drives you the most?

Making a living doing what I love, touring while meeting new people, creating and working for myself. The amount of people I’ve met throughout all this, who have been such a huge help because they believe in what I’m doing and want to see success. That is definitely the most inspiring and motivating part.

In general which comes first for you, the title or the song?

The song comes first, or the topic I want to sing about. The title just comes and it seems irrelevant to the song writing process. Build the song, the title will come.

Any nicknames you care to share? How did it come about?

[Laughs] I’ve been called a lot of things. The one that I’ve heard the most is "Road Dawg Rob” (Yes that's how we spell dog in Georgia). For an independent artist, we had a pretty heavy touring schedule up until a year ago (we all know that story) and the fact I have “Road Dawg” tattooed across my thighs probably has something to do with it….

Who would be your dream collaboration?

THE BAND!

What’s next?

I’m thinking about making a sandwich, I whipped up some mean tuna last night. After that we have our first string of shows coming this May and some awesome festivals through the year. I wanna get back on the road dammit! I'm already looking to record the third album. Keep moving, keep creating.

Rob Leines' new album, Blood, Sweat and Beers, is out this Friday. Listen to it exclusively here at Holler today. Watch the man himself answer a few more questions below.