A Thousand Horses, a Nashville band with roots in the small South Carolina town of Newberry, has that Southern-rock country thang down. The band’s debut album, “Southernality,” summons memories of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Marshall Tucker Band as well as classic rockers Def Leppard and Aerosmith.
Produced by Dave Cobb (who’s also worked with country stars Jamey Johnson, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton and Americana master Jason Isbell), “Southernality” includes the band’s first hit, “Smoke.” The song became the first debut single by a new act in this decade to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay Chart.
“At first it was like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe it,’ ” guitarist Bill Satcher said of the breakout debut. “We’d never put a single out before, so we didn’t know what to expect. It was a big success for us. We celebrated for ... I think we’re still celebrating.”
As great as it is to release a hit, A Thousand Horses is especially grateful that the band’s fans want to hear the entire “Southernality” album in concert.
“When people come to the shows, a lot of them really dive into the whole thing,” Satcher said. “That’s what every artist who works really hard on an album wants, for everything to be heard.”
A second A Thousand Horses album is in the works. Meanwhile, the band’s new single, “Preachin’ to the Choir,” offers fans a big, working-class anthem.
“We love the song, and we’re glad people are digging it,” Satcher said.
“Preachin’ to the Choir” — written by Heather Morgan, Morgan Wallen and brothers Brad and Brett Warren — is the first song recorded by A Thousand Horses that the band hasn’t written itself. When Brett Warren, one of singer Michael Hobby’s songwriting partners, sent “Preachin’ to the Choir," the band knew it was a great fit.
After working with red-hot producer Cobb for “Southernality,” A Thousand Horses turned to another big studio name, Keith Urban’s producer, Dan Huff, for “Preachin’ to the Choir.”
“Dan produced a lot of records we love,” Satcher said. “He’s obviously an incredible producer, but he’s also a ridiculous guitar player. I was picking his brain a lot, getting him to show me how to play stuff.”
The story of A Thousand Horses began in Hobby’s and Satcher’s hometown. They met in a music store when they were teens as both of them gazed at a Fender Stratocaster guitar neither of them could afford.
Despite being a small place, Newberry had a great music community. There were opportunities to learn about music and places to perform.
“A lot of older people there taught us songs,” Satcher said. “It was a great place to grow up.”
In 2005, Hobby, Satcher and bassist Graham DeLoach (Satcher’s first cousin from Savannah, Georgia) moved to Nashville. Guitarist Zach Brown joined the band later. Although a recording contract signed with a Los Angeles label in 2010 didn’t work out, the band wasn’t discouraged.
“We had always wanted to be in band anyway, so we just came home from L.A., recorded our own EP and released it independently,” Satcher said. “We started touring. As an independent band, we opened for guys like Kip Moore and Gregg Allman. That helped us get an agent and a manager, which led to the record deal with Big Machine.
“It was never like we were going to stop being a band, just because we didn’t have a record deal. It’s what we love to do, so we just kept on doing it.”
A Thousand Horses
WHEN: Thursday, April 27. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., show starts at 9 p.m.
WHERE: The Texas Club, 456 North Donmoor Ave., Baton Rouge