Knox Hamilton was basically born in a church. All hailing from different states, the four-piece was formed after brothers Cobo and Boots Copeland met Taylor Flynn and Drew Buffington at their father's church in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Flash forward to a few years later: Boots and a handful of friends are being suffocated in plastic in the "Washed Up Together" music video, and Knox Hamilton have caught the attention of angry mothers and an anxious Katy Perry. While their sound is still very much rock 'n roll and guitar-driven, the guys take pride in providing comfort through happy lyrics, bells, synthesizers, and a whole lot of euphoria.
Learn more about the rising band in our interview below.
OTW: Where are you all from?
Taylor: I was born and raised in Florida and lived there for 2 years. Now I'm back in Florida.
Drew: I was born in Wyoming.
Boots: Cobo and I were born and raised in Texas for 16 years.
OTW: How did you end up meeting each other in Arkansas?
Boots: Our dad who's a pastor took a church in Little Rock about 14 or 15 years ago. We met Drew and Taylor in that church. We always played music and wanted to write together.
OTW: Since most of our readers are from L.A., can you give us an idea of what Arkansas is like and how it influences you and your music?
KH: I don't know if Arkansas does influence the music. We draw inspiration from our favorite bands, musically. Lyrically, I guess the laid back Southern-vibe is kind of rooted in our music. People always ask that about Arkansas and I should have a better answer but I don't really think Arkansas influences our music sound. There's no alternative scene in Little Rock, so there's not much to draw off of your peers.
OTW: What influences you?
KH: We grew up listening to '70s and '80s pop. Once The Killers came out with Hot Fuss, we were like, "We can do synth kind of rock." If that's being done, we can do that. They're a huge inspiration and influence on us. I grew up listening to a lot of '70s and '80s pop and rock, like Michael Jackson, The Beatles, and Bee Gees. We listen to a lot of hip hop too.
OTW: How did the concept for "Washed Up Together" come about?
KH: We got treatments from probably 20 or so directors. Taylor was like, "Dude, I watched videos and you've never seen that in a music video. That would be something that people would watch." It turns out that's being evident right now.
OTW: Who are all the people in the video that are being suffocated? How did you find these people?
KH: Close friends and family… A lot of people that lost a bet. No, they're a lot of the same people that our manager and label know. I don’t really know if there was a casting call per se, but it's along those lines.
OTW: We saw that Katy Perry tweeted the video. What was your initial reaction to that?
KH: We were freaking out. I think one of us cried.
OTW: Was that totally unexpected?
KH: Yeah, absolutely. I have a handful of buddies of mine that freaked out when they saw it. Honestly, her music is like the coolest in pop music. So it's pretty cool for someone that iconic to tweet out, regardless of whether it's the song or video.
OTW: Were there any particular crazy, funny, or interesting responses you saw from that?
KH: The head of our label, Angelica, texted us and said "I have a parent who's mad at me on Instagram." That means the video is doing something. That means we're doing something right. Because there was this one parent on Instagram who was just like reprimanding Angelica like, "This isn't cool, no one should try this, someone's gonna try to emulate it; it's not safe." I will say though that there's a breathe hole. You can't see that in the video because it's a tiny little slit over your mouth where you can breathe. At the moment it feels like the biggest, strongest person you know just wrapping you in plastic and not letting you go and you're like, "Is that button gonna quit working?!" There's a lot of stuff that goes through your head. Watching it back, you just laugh at yourself. In the moment, I could've died. It was a lot of fun.
OTW: Without using any genre names, how would you describe your music?
KH: Blue-eyed soul.
OTW: Can you describe how you want people to feel when they listen to your music?
KH: We want them to feel uplifted. We try not to be a big downer all the time. We're probably considered composers of euphoria, so you can call us euphoric composers.
OTW: Who are on your Ones to Watch list?
KH: HAWAI. We haven't played with enough people. We're usually the openers. We're the up-and-comer.
We have some friends, Colony House out of Nashville. One of our very first tours was with those guys.
OTW: What's your live show like?
KH: A lot of sweating, heavy breathing, mouth-breathing, hair product going in the eyes and burning…I think we're a little more rock 'n roll than people anticipate when they hear "Washed Up Together" for sure. We all have on black, right now.
OTW: What's currently in the works? What's next for you guys?
KH: We are releasing our debut full length album in a couple of months, super pumped about that.
OTW: Can you describe your new album, The Heights?
KH: There's a title track, "The Heights," and it's a really important song to the album so I figured that was a pretty fitting title. Like Cobo said, there's a lot of harder, more aggressive rock 'n roll. As you'll see with our shows, we're more guitar-driven than you think listening to the albums or listening to the songs. But there's also plenty of pop. But I think you can expect, like Drew said, we are a very positive band. It's hard not to at least feel happy with the bright chords and comforting lyrics. We'll get edgy later on, but right now we're just really happy people.
OTW: Do you write all the songs?
KH: Yeah, I will bring a full idea and the guys will put the Knox Hamilton touch on it. Drew has written a few tunes that we've done. We've all put our stamp on our songs. Cobo wrote the bells on "Work It Out," which is our biggest song to date.
OTW: When you're developing this euphoric rock 'n roll, where does the inspiration come from?
Boots: I married my high school sweet heart. We have a son–he's almost one and he's obviously my biggest source of inspiration and happiness. We've been collectively blessed with really good lives, and we've gone through really shitty times in our lives, too. But there's always music that you can turn to.
OTW: How would you define success for the band? What would happen when you would be like, we made it.
KH: When we don't have to sleep in the same bed as another band member. When I don't have to work when I get back home.
But a cheesy answer that's also true is that we've had a lot of successful moments like Firefly and Bottlerock in Napa where 2,000 people are singing your song. That feels pretty successful so I hate to give cliche answers, but you never thought writing that bell part in your bedroom in Little Rock, Arkansas would end up in that moment.