The Underhill Family Orchestra

Our very own Jackson and Elizabeth had the chance to attend the Gasparilla Music Fest this year. Tons of photos of that experience are coming soon. However, check out this interview and photo set now of one of Mobile, Alabama's finest, The Underhill Family Orchestra. With a funky sound that's hard to classify, you'll quickly fall in love with their contagious energy.

     There was plenty of talk about dogs, solid tunes, and hygiene routines. Keep reading to check that out: 

1.      Mobile, AL definitely has a soul in it. How has that affected your sound and progression as a band?

     Joelle- I think it has definitely influenced us by not being just southern rock or country or anything straightforward like that. Our sound is eclectic, just like Mobile, being in the delta and having that New Orleans influence. And it has the southern influence with all the family bands and their harmonies and instruments. It also has a pop-catchiness to make it fun. Mobile is a fun place, it’s a party place. It’s music you can dance or cry to.

     Ben- A lot of that comes out in the new album too. We have Mobile sound interspersed throughout the tracks, it kind of ties us into where we are from.

     Steven- It’s a place hard to put into words so we did it with music. There’s a lot of history, a lot of influence, and a lot of things that happen that affect our music.

2. What have been some major highlights of your tour?

    Joelle- Gasparilla Fest!! It really has been amazing. We’ve been trying to talk to everyone working here, and the fact that it’s non-profit and everyone is volunteering is amazing. They are going above and beyond like they are being paid. We also had a really good night in Charleston.

    Steven- The big cities have also been really fun to be in. We played Brooklyn for the first time. It was really cool because it was shoulder-to-shoulder. There were a ton of people in there. We played Denver for the first time, super packed. It helps you connect with people. We all want to be fulfilled in some way, and I think music is a way people become fulfilled.

3. Let me ask you about the face paint yester- (Stephen interrupts)

    Steven- People keep calling it face paint. It’s war paint. My favorite thing to tell people is we are more of a state fair than a battle. We like having our faces painted and having a good time. It’s also a solidarity thing. If we are ever lost in a crowded club, we look for the person with a hat and face paint. We are like the Power Rangers.

    Joelle- What’s cool is people have seen us before and will show up with their face painted. Or sometimes people at shows will ask, “Hey, can you paint my face?” So we will go around and paint people’s faces some nights at our show. And then it’s like a Power Ranger tribe.

     Steven- It’s like separating your real self from your music self and losing yourself to have a good time. That’s what Roy does. Right, Roy?

    Joelle- Roy’s band we found him in is called Vagabond Swing, and they paint their faces as well. We didn’t know that, and there ended up being 12 people walking around with their faces painted in New Orleans.

4. What’s one lesson you all learned quickly when touring?

    Ben- Manage your money wisely.

    Joelle- In New England, there are so many highway tolls.

     Roy- Leave early. Always leave early. Not the venue, just to where you’re going.

     Joe- You can sleep when you’re dead.

     Joelle- Red Bull and coffee

      Ben- Bring a sleeping bag.

      Roy- Learn to sleep anywhere.

5. You all have great hair. How do you take care of it on tour?

    Ben- Dry shampoo

    Joelle- Wear lots of hats. You can’t see the grease.

     Steven- I take a shower at least once a month whether I need it or not.

     Roy- I’ll wash my hair once a year.

    Joelle- Roy used to have dreads in a mohawk form. He’s growing them back. It’s rare we wash our hair. It takes two hours to dry.

6. What’s been your experience with Gasparilla?

    Joe- I’ve been listening to Spoon for years, and I actually got to meet them and talk with them for a bit. They were really nice guys.

    Roy- The hospitality has been great. Everyone has been so nice. There’s been no stress. It’s not liking playing a venue. In a venue, you have to carry all your gear and figure out a sound guy. Here, the sound guys are professional and know what they are doing.

     Steven- I talked about Jeremy Ellis from The Roots for two hours after their set. It was real cute to see them. I was such a baby about it.

7. How are you still growing as a band, and what are you hoping to get under your belt?

    Joelle- Playing shows is the best practice you can get. We practice all the time, but there is something about just getting out and playing. Things are different onstage than things that go on in a practice room. We also just want to spread the word. We want people to hear us and look us up after the show. Tentatively, our album comes out May 4th, and our first single comes out March 23rd. We want people to be as excited about it as we are.

   Ben- The best way to make the strongest impact on someone is just to be in front of them playing. The easiest way to get the music out and connect with an audience is to be on the road.

    Steven- It’s fun. We have fun. The hardest part of touring is being away from those you love. Three of us are married. I miss my wife and dogs all the time. They call it playing for a reason because it’s fun, but it’s also work. We get van fatigue all the time. It’s hard on us, but we get to meet you guys. If the goal of touring is to make money, I hate you. It’s about connecting with people.

   Joelle- People like to be part of what other people are passionate. We want people to feel something.

8. What are some songs on your daily playlist?

    Joelle- We actually have a Spotify playlist! It’s called “Underhill’s Latest Listens”.

     Steven- It sounds brand-y and weird, but it helps us listen to the same stuff. I’m personally a huge fan of Logic.

     Rob- I’ve been listening to St. Vincent and Portugal the Man a lot.

     Joelle- The new War on Drugs album is great.

(There was then a lot of jumbled talk over each other about bands and singles so just check out their Spotify playlist.)

9. What’s next?

    Steven- Sleep.

     Rob- I want to play Red Rocks.

     Joelle- I’d love to play the Tabernacle.

     Ben- Mainstage at Gasparilla

    Steven- I’d love to play Hangout again.

     We then proceeded to talk about dogs and share pictures of our dogs. Sorry you all missed it.


Make sure to head on over to Spotify and check out the The Underhill Family Orchestra, follow their playlist on Spotify, and give them a follow on Instagram.



 Words and photos by: Elizabeth Stafford


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