IIIrd Class, made up of longtime friends Crow, Top Notch, and Silent J, have a sound that fuses Folk, Rock, Hip Hop, Pop and R&B. "Before you can start to discover yourself, you need language to put those thoughts into," said Crow. "We provide language and music that may challenge what you think but helps you grow." The trio all write and arrange together and since they formed in 2012, the group has piled up fans in the US and overseas. They have eager management, a brand new sound, and of course, Epiphones. Anticipation is high for their debut EP later this year.
The group stopped by the Epiphone showroom to pick up some new gear before heading out on the road. We spoke with Crow and discovered that he nearly quit the business for good before Top Notch and Silent J brought him back in a big way.
How did you guys meet?
I met Top Notch and Silent J through a friend who works through John Rich and Cowboy Troy. We came to Nashville around the same time. We used to dj at a club together called Graham Central Station (now closed) and through them I met Top Notch. We never worked together but we rolled together.
Years went by, the other band I was in fell apart. I had to find work. I went back in the military. I started getting letters in Iraq saying 'come back... we could start a band.' I said I don't know about that. I've been in two other bands that have been signed and got to a certain level and it didn't happen.
What was different this time?
I hear young bands say: 'when we get signed. I'm going to do such and such...' And I'd say, don't focus on getting signed. Focus on what you're going to do after. They thought I was a bitter Nashville artist (laughs). It's not about getting signed. It's about getting work.
So you were through with the band-business?
I just wanted to write. When I ran into them on the street, I said let's just get together and write. Let's do some collaboration. I had come back to Nashville just to reestablish myself as a songwriter. That was my whole mission. I wanted to write with a wide range of people. That was the idea. IIIrd Class wasn't going to be a band. It was going to be a writing group, a production group.
Tell me about your first rehearsal. How did it all come together?
It happened during the first meeting at my apartment. I lived in a little studio apartment. All I had was a bunch of instruments around. We kind of just started combining. Silent J had a song called "Free" and me and Top Notch added on to it. We thought 'hmm---this arrangement might work.' But we weren't thinking of a band. We thought we could go out together for writer's nights. 'We'll call ourselves something.' It was that week of just jamming and writing that I started to see something. We had four songs---I said let's go try it out somewhere. We went to Bourbon Street Boogie Bar--a friend of mine let us come up at the end of his set. And people went: 'what is this?!' And it took off from there.
Where are things now for the band?
We just finished our debut EP and we're just waiting to release it. It's all about timing. We've opened up for some old school major acts that gave us some clout. The old heads like it and the new kids like it. That's where we're at right now. And these Epiphones are just fantastic. This is just what we need. We can't really go wrong with instruments like these.