When Mobile's southern rock and jam band, The Backseat Drivers, recorded their first album in 2021, they were in high school.

Though life has gone on after graduation, they still manage to find the time to play together.

"In the end, it's something that we all love to do, and it's something that we have a lot of fun doing," Drew Travis, a band member, told 1819 News in an interview.

Travis, now a student at the University of South Alabama, is the lead vocalist and plays the keyboard for The Backseat Drivers. He's also one of the band's two songwriters.

Travis met his fellow band members over several years at a summer rock band camp put on by Full Scale School of Music. 

Full Scale School of Music, led by Mobile musician Daniel Driskell, hosts several music camps for children from the first to 12th grades at the Azalea City Center For the Arts.

"I've always loved music," Travis said. "I've never had anybody in my family play an instrument or really be a driving force behind me getting involved or anything like that."

When he was four years old, one of Travis' neighbors offered him piano lessons, and his parents took the neighbor up on the offer. After about four or five years of taking lessons, he started teaching himself.

He met Emerson Roberts, now the lead guitarist for The Backseat Drivers, at the Full Scale School of Music in 2015. Over consecutive years, he met drummer Noah Condon, guitarist Zackary Kuehn and bassist Gus Garrett.

The group formed The Backseat Drivers in 2018. Travis said their first gig was in May 2019 in a parking lot. Since then, they've played everywhere, from bars to weddings around the Gulf Coast.

"Years later, we've got our own little name for ourselves," Travis said.

Travis said each group member brought different musical influences to the mix. The major ones include the Allman Brothers Band, the Beatles, the Grateful Dead and Phish.

The Backseat Drivers recorded a single in 2019. In 2020, the band's mentors at Full Scale encouraged them to record an album at Dauphin Street Sound, a professional recording studio in downtown Mobile.

The only problem was that the band members didn't have the $14,000 needed to use the studio. But instead of giving up or drowning themselves in debt, the band saved the money they made from playing gigs around town.

Another local musician, John Cochran, helped them build a setlist and mentored them throughout the process.

Travis figured out how to get their album on Spotify when all was said and done. 

"Really, it was a trial and error thing," Travis said. "… We definitely had to teach ourselves and do some hardcore research. You hear about bands from the 60s, whether it be Muscle Shoals or Motown or all these different record labels. Now you don't even need anything like that. If you have a computer and if you have a few hours of research, you can basically have your own album, have your own single, whatever you want. It's great. We're very fortunate to kind of be able to do that, I think."

Now that high school is over, Garrett is at South Alabama with Travis. Condon is a student at the University of Southern Mississippi. Kuehn attends Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Travis said that though going to school is a change, the band still gets together to play gigs. Condon's connections at Southern Miss have even expanded their outreach to places like Hattiesburg and Biloxi, Mississippi. Kuehn generally comes home for the holidays, but when he's not there, they play with four.

"We just love playing together, so we're still going to keep doing that," Travis said. "As far as on a professional level, we're still kind of keeping it up in the air. Basically, the only thing we know for certain is that we have fun doing it. We love playing with each other, and we just love playing gigs in general. As far as we're concerned, we're going to keep doing that and see what … comes of it later."

Travis said that they've recently started discussing the possibility of recording an EP over the summer in 2023. He said the band had developed its style of music since its first album. 

"For this one, we're definitely looking to change it up a little bit," Travis said. "We've started loving different kinds of music, and we're kind of playing differently now. It's kind of an evolutionary process of us forming our own sound. We're definitely looking forward to get together, write some songs together, and to have a bunch more originals to record."

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email will.blakely@1819news.com or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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