Artist of the Month

On a monthly basis, spotlights a Georgia artist that we feel is furthering their career in country music. Below is our current artist of the month. We hope you enjoy reading their interview and getting to know this artist more. Be sure to check out their music, videos and schedule for the month. If you are a Georgia-based artist, 18 and over, and would like to be considered for Artist of the Month, please contact us with your name and a website to review.

Our February Artist of the Month is Laughlin. Read their interview below as GC asked them questions about their career in country music.

GC: Lets get Georgia familiar with you all. Where were both of you born and raised and now live?

Laughlin: Allison: I was born in Marietta, GA and met Zach when we both at school at UGA in Athens. We lived close to Athens for the first couple of years out of school and recently moved back to Cartersville which is where all of my extended family lives. Zach: I was born in Columbus GA and spent 18 years of my life there before moving to Athens GA on a UGA baseball scholarship. I now live with the better and prettier half of Laughlin in Cartersville GA!

GC: Tell us what where your both of your early influences in music?

Laughlin: Allison: I grew up singing in church choir and both of my parents are talented pianists, so I have been immersed in music as far back as I can remember. I have two sisters, an older sister and a twin sister, and I learned to sing harmony by picking out different parts with them to songs we heard on the radio. When I was younger, I listened to everything from Shania Twain to Frank Sinatra to the Eagles--all the way to N*SYNC (so to say I have broad range of influences in music could even be an understatement!) Zach: My dad was a big fan of classic rock, therefore I was a huge fan of classic rock music such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zepplin, ACDC, Eagles, and many more. He also introduced me to other great artists such as Prince, Billy Idol, Bruce Springsteen and other legends! As I got a little older I started to get into Country music as I was huge Alan Jackson fan along with Garth Brooks and George Straight! Now I would say that I am a fan of all music because I love Michael Buble, Sinatra, and a HUGE fan of 90's alternative music such as Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls, Spin Doctors, Vertical Horizon and the list goes on and on! Needless to say, I love music!

GC: What was both of your's experience in performing before starting the duo?

Laughlin: Allison: When I was little, believe it or not I was actually incredibly shy. So I followed my twin sister to dance practice and started taking lessons myself. I realized pretty quickly there was nothing like being on stage. I had always been in chorus and loved singing but I never really performed as a singer until high school. I got involved in a couple of pageants which helped me pay for college, and while I was looking for talent music, I just found that I loved singing country music the best. It was so relatable and I just emotionally connected with it. Zach: I got started in elementary school when I was introduced to Chorus. From them on I fell in love with performing on stage. I spent the rest of the school years involved in Chorus even making All State Chorus for 3 of those years. A cool story about All State Chorus is that Allison and I both made All State during our 8th grade school year and were placed in the same co-ed choir in Savannah GA. Keep in mind that we did not know each other at the time but would eventually meet 7-8 years later at UGA, fall In love, start singing together in DT Athens, and now pursuing music full time! Crazy how Gods pulls people together!

GC: When and where was the first time you two performed together?

Laughlin: Allison & Zach: the first place we played out live was at a little place in Athens called the Mad Hatter (which isn't even there now!) we had met a manager in Athens named Brandon McEachern (who was Scott Brantley's manager), and he literally walked around with us downtown Athens in the middle of the afternoon while the bars were opening and just asked any bar managers he knew them if we could play them a song. And that was kind of how it happened. I don't even know if we got payed for that gig, we just wanted to play for our friends. What is sad is we had no idea how a sound system even worked. We figured we would just plug the guitar into the system and plug the mics in and it would amplify the sound. We didn't know we had to have a monitor so we could actually hear ourselves! I truly hope there are no videos of that show anywhere...

GC: What was the moment that you two decided you want to pursue a career in music?

Laughlin: Allison: for me, I really didn't know if I wanted to pursue a career in music. When we recorded in the studio for the first time, I got the bug. But, I kept talking myself out of it because we were very serious about school, and I was extremely career focused. I found out pretty quickly though once we graduated that I couldn't do both. My job was too demanding and music was just too much of a calling for us to ignore. And it was at that point I knew I couldn't ever give up music. We prayed about it a lot and finally made the decision to leave those "grown-up" jobs and find day jobs that were a little more flexible so we could put our efforts toward our dream. Zach: I got the bug when I was about 13 years old and decided that I wanted to learn how to play guitar. John Mayer and Dave Matthews played a big role in me picking up a guitar as I wanted to be able to play and sing at the same time! After I got the hang of it, I knew then I wanted to do music for anyone who would listen!

GC: Do you feel there is an advantage or disadvantage in being a male / female duet?

Laughlin: Allison: I think it's definitely an advantage to have both male and female on stage as far as having the built in harmony parts. What I think is actually the disadvantage to us (as bad as it may sound) is that we are a married couple. I think sometimes people think the whole husband-and-wife duo thing is a little bit novelty (we are always compared to Thompson Square) and that actually makes us harder to market. Many people assume a husband and wife shouldn't be singing about--for example--a bad breakup, or partying on the weekend. What we try to get people to understand about us is that: yes, we are married, and very much in love. And we have a great marriage! But, we are still individuals, and we still connect to music that isn't necessarily about being in love and happy all the time. We have our own pasts, and our own problems, and we write about them. I think any married couple can appreciate that! Zach: Allison said it perfect. But I will also add that the best part about being a duet is that I get to enjoy this ride with my wife as many solo acts have to leave loved ones behind or alone for periods of time which is very tough!

GC: Do any male / female duets in music, inspire you two?

Laughlin: Allison: I have always loved Lady Antebellum. I know they are technically a trio but they write so well from two perspectives/voices which is so difficult to do. They have completely mastered it, and I think I learned a lot from listening to them as far as writing goes. As far as sound, we love Fleetwood Mac. Again, not a duo, but their harmonies and just the whole feel of their music (production, instruments) is amazing. Zach: What she said! To reiterate what she said, I love Fleetwood Mac's sound and would love to bring that sound back for a Duet!

GC: You both have had a great run of success in the last couple of years. What has been the highlight of that success so far?

Laughlin: Allison: for me, the highlight hands-down was selling out Eddie's Attic for the first time. It's such an iconic venue, and everyone there was a friend, family member, or long time supporter who genuinely cares about us, the music we create, and our success. It's amazing how far you can come in just one year, and to see everyone there in one place who had impacted us in that year was a pretty surreal and emotional experience. Zach: Yea, the Eddie's Attic sell outs have been a huge highlight in our career so far! Also winning some of the Unsigned Only Songwriters competitions have been a blessing also! Looking forward too many more successes in the future!

GC: Do either one of do the songwriting or is that a team effort?

Laughlin: Allison: I think I picked up the songwriting bug first of the two of us. I definitely think melody line first, before the lyrics, and the lyrics just come naturally afterwards. Zach focuses more on the chord progression than the melody line, and trying to make that interesting in contrast to the melody--which really helps when it comes to making the song have more movement from the verse to the chorus, chorus to bridge, etc. and Zach focuses a lot of the rhythm and tempo (more so than I do). But lyrically I am extremely picky and I'll admit I can be a little bit of a dictator in that arena. But we do at least normally go in with an agreed upon idea or a hook to work around. We are really better as a team. Bouncing ideas off of each other is a fun process, but we definitely don't always agree. (Probably goes back to the fact that we are married). But I think that makes the song even better, because we force each other to dig deeper and almost argue it through. It's kind of therapeutic actually! Zach: So Allison is a monster when it comes to Lyrics and compositions of songs! I have had my moments when it comes to songwriting but she is definitely the back bone of our writing!

GC: What do you all have planned for 2016?

Laughlin: Allison & Zach: We have big plans for 2016! We think it will be a big year for us as far as moving things forward. Short term, we are really focusing on trying to perfect our show and be ready to get on a few tour dates with larger artists. We are already set to open for a few national acts this spring and we are hoping that will open some doors for us and expand our regional fan base. We are also busy writing and incorporating new original music into our set that hopefully we can start recording before 2016 is out.