Little Tybee, an indie-folk unit of about five to eight members, hails from the music hotbed of Atlanta.
Thing is, said Josh Martin, who plays eight-string guitar in the group, Atlanta’s a hotbed for hip-hop — at least more so than it’s a hotbed for the kind of subdued, gorgeous melodies created by Little Tybee, which is almost proggy in its musical output.
But! (You knew a “but” was coming.) “There are a lot of cracks where there’s a lot of DIY, indie, experimental stuff going on,” he added. “It’s really great once you get a feel for where the greatness is. It definitely has its own kind of pace about it.”
Maybe the distinctions between forms don’t matter all that much anyway, although the collision of different worlds makes for a pretty good story: Some of Little Tybee’s recent converts are metal fans, Martin said, thanks to a posting of one of the band’s videos on Facebook by the prog-metal group Animals as Leaders.
“We’re not a metal band at all, but (they’re) really into our stuff,” he said.
Suddenly, “we had all this new fan base coming. It’s really strange ... these like walking testicle kind of dudes that are really into metal. And we’ve been more into that indie aesthetic, more reserved. These guys will come and be, like, really stoked, kind of that metal mentality,” Martin said.
“They seem to like it a lot. Most of them are not just coming in just for the guitar, or something they can relate to metal. They kind of use (us) as a stepping stone to start to appreciate that more reserved aesthetic,” he said, “rather than blunt, overt metal music. They’re almost trying to prove something; no offense to metal, but it’s almost like ... they’re trying to express something, not more than metal, but express a feeling not necessarily overtly or explicitly. So it’s interesting to see their reaction.”
Little Tybee formed five years ago, and is so named for an island on Georgia’s coast, near Savannah, where most of the group’s members grew up.
“We kind of met in Atlanta through different people, (but) our drummer and bass player have been playing together since, like, middle school,” Martin explained.
GO! Magazine caught up with Martin during the band’s stint last week at the SXSW festival in Texas, part of a five-week tour that takes Little Tybee across the country and back again, including two dates in Bend (see “If you go”).
All this comes before the May release of Little Tybee’s new album, “For Distant Viewing” — which is the reverse of how the album-tour cycle usually goes.
“We wanted the album to be done before the tour, but we’re pretty meticulous. And at the end, it started getting really hectic, and then our singer (Brock Scott) ended up getting sick; he had some kind of respiratory kind of thing,” said Martin, whose breathless speech is so rapid a put-upon transcriber may find himself praying for a slow Southern drawl to descend.
“It was one of those things where we had to make a decision whether we wanted to kind of fast-track it and release something we weren’t fully happy with, or just wait,” he said. “Ultimately, we were way more concerned with it sounding good than being, like, expedient as far as the tour was concerned.”
All the members of Little Tybee are on board with this uncompromising dedication to their craft, Martin said. “Four hours goes by, and you’re working on, like, 12 seconds of music. I guess there’s a pretty strong sense of what we want.”
Attendees of the band’s Bend shows can expect to hear plenty of new material and a few older songs, more of the latter if you can name those tunes.
“It’s kind of one of those things where you have to reveal that you know the names of old ones,” Martin said. “Then we’ll be like, ‘Oh wow.’ We’ll get excited and then we’ll play them, but for completely new audiences, we’re really excited about the new stuff.”
Martin said he’s cooked up an explanation of Little Tybee’s sound and existence, one that could win them more fans of all manner of genres, whether they fall into the more reserved, folded arms category or the more stoked, fist-pumping, lighter-lifting one.
“We are this kind of delicate ecosystem. It’s almost like we can’t play any specific genre of music by itself. We almost have to balance it out with this kind of eclectic variety,” he said.
“And it’s only because of our lack of discipline in each one that we’re able to mix them all together in this aesthetic that, hopefully, is appealing to different people from each. We can play something that sounds maybe tropical, or something that sounds more progressive or even jazzy, and have different people from (different) demographics come in and hopefully enjoy it.”
“Yeah,” he added. “I worked on that one a little bit.”