PLAYING ATLANTA: Bridges “Learn to Dance” as a Trio After Solo Beginnings

It’s officially spring in the South: the sun is up, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful… and the pollen count is through the roof. That’s not keeping the music lovers of Atlanta from getting out and enjoying themselves, though! Lucky for us, we’ve got plenty of rad bands to keep us dancing through the itchy eyes and sniffly noses.

Bridges is one of those bands. The Atlanta-based trio, made up of Alex Young, Chase Cross, and David Williams, still considers themselves a new addition to the scene, but if their funky, soulful, thoroughly danceable music is any evidence, they’re in it for the long haul.

“Learn to Dance,” the A-Side of the group’s latest single, is a rich, jazz-infused track that grooves with a Latin flair, transporting listeners to a sweaty, oceanside club in the Caribbean. As the trio preps for their next gig – a free show at the famed Georgia Theatre on April 30th – they took the time to sit down and talk all things music and forming a band with Audiofemme. 

AF: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me! Take me back to the very beginning; how did Bridges form?

AY: Bridges started as my solo project; I invited friends to play with me at different shows, but always wanted to be in a true band. Chase, David, and I met through our mutual guitar teacher. The first time we got in a room together to see if we could make music, we had immediate chemistry and came up with a new song in fifteen minutes. That song became our first single, “Wake Up,” and we’ve been a band ever since.

AF: How did you get into music? Did you guys play for different bands, or is this your first band?

DW: I was raised in a musical family and was heavily influenced by my father who was a music director and classical guitarist. I’ve played in two bands before this one, and also play professionally around Atlanta and the Southeast.

CC: I grew up surrounded by my parents’ love and appreciation for music and the arts, and was surrounded with music from Duran Duran, Grover Washington, and everything in between. I began playing guitar at the age of 9 and struggled with it for a while, and then began playing and studying the bass guitar very intensely about 3 years ago, and it has become one of my greatest passions since. 

AY: My grandparents shipped their old upright piano to my house when I was 6 or 7, and I took to piano immediately. Later, I picked up guitar, started singing in church, and started writing songs my senior year of high school. I went from solo gigs straight to Bridges; this is the only band I’ve ever been in.

AF: Alex, what was it like to see Bridges evolve from a solo project to a band? Were there any growing pains you had to work through, or did it just come together?

AY: The short answer is that it just came together…and then there were plenty of growing pains! I think anyone in a band would say that it’s sort of like a marriage. Our band had a great honeymoon, and then we had to do some work to figure out how to make things work long term. I still don’t know if we’ve got it completely figured out, but I do know that I’ve learned a lot about conflict resolution, communication, and giving and receiving grace through being in this group. And I think that we’ve all become stronger friends and musicians through the growing pains.

AF: How do your different musical backgrounds influence the music?

We all appreciate great musicianship, and artists who play with depth, complexity and purpose. We don’t like showing off for its own sake, or doing something musically that doesn’t serve the song. And we also like to go hard and play our asses off at our live shows. 

AF: Are there any bands or artists that you look to for inspiration?

There are many! Here are a few:

DW: The Beatles, Miles Davis, Pat Matheny, and Vinnie Colaiuta (session drummer who has played with everybody).

CC: Jaco Pastorius with Weather Report, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Grover Washington

AY: Sting and the Police, Dave Matthews Band, and U2

AF: What’s your creative process like? How has it evolved as you guys create more music together? 

AY: At the beginning, I wrote a bunch of the songs on my own, but as we’ve grown as a band, we’ve done more and more writing and arranging in the room together, which is really rewarding.

DW: Yeah, a lot of times we start with a musical idea from one of us, and then we build on it and come up with a song structure.

CC: I like my creative process like I like my salad: organic. 

AF: Your latest release, “Learn to Dance,” is this incredible blend of smooth jazz-inspired sounds, Latin percussion, and rock. Can you talk about the creation of the song? What’s it been like to play it live and see your fans loving it?

AY: The song started as a guitar riff, and I wrote the chords and lyrics around it. The lyrics are anti-escapism; they were inspired by Alice Walker’s book of poetry, Hard Times Require Furious Dancing. Chase came up with an incredible bass line that really brought new life to the song, and David brings the heat with a drum breakdown in the live arrangement.

DW: And we’ve loved playing it live, the groove is great, and it has evolved over time. There’s a lot of room in that song to maneuver and improvise.

AF: You’ve got a new single coming up soon; what can you tell us about it, and when can your fans expect to hear it?

We’ve got a couple of new singles on the horizon, along with some live studio videos. They are groovy. No specific dates yet, but soon!

AF: The Atlanta music scene has grown exponentially in the last few years; how has the city and the diversity of the scene impacted you as artists?

We still feel like we’re pretty new to the Atlanta music scene… there are so many incredible artists making really unique music. We’re honored to be a small part of that community, and excited to see it continue to grow.  

AF: What’s next for Bridges? 

The plan is new music and new videos! Also, a free show at the Georgia Theatre Rooftop on Tuesday, April 30th.

AF: Last question: best place in Atlanta for a drink and a live show?

We love Vinyl, Venkman’s, and Vista Room. And Alliteration.

Keep up with Bridges on Facebook, and catch them live with Xander Ward on The Rooftop at Georgia Theatre on April 30th.

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