Best Band of 2016: Meet Good Night Alive
By Luke Usry
It’s no real secret that Macon is a city abounding with rock history landmarks. The Big House, Grant’s Lounge, Tic Toc Room (Once upon a time called Ann’s Tic Toc Lounge), The H&H Restaurant, Rose Hill Cemetery, and countless others…scattered fragments of geography and architecture that has each played a part in the robust musical legacy that has come to define Macon to much of the world. These monuments to our cultural and artistic heritage are invaluable vistas into the city’s music history, constant reminders of a past so iconic that it can shift our perspective of Macon’s musical legacy into the past tense. Do not be deceived into believing that this city’s capacity for musical greatness closed up shop with Capricorn. It is alive and well, fueled by a vibrant, kaleidoscopic music scene with modern landmarks of its very own. Monuments not to the glory of Macon’s musical past, but to the brilliant promise of its future.
One of these contemporary landmarks sits just off Pierce Avenue. Ensconced within the crowded residential block, the duplex is unassuming and easy to miss. It’s broad, spacious front porch faces the street with a quiet demeanor that seems oblivious to the rapturous, melodic alchemy that routinely occurs behind those twin front doors. For the last two years, this duplex has served as the home base of Good Night Alive, one of the most intriguing and exciting bands to show up on the scene in Macon in recent memory. Composed of Zack Horton (Guitar/Vocals), Bobby McCullough (Guitar), Nick Crumpton (bass), and Jesse Horton (drums), Good Night Alive has wasted no time solidifying its status as a musical juggernaut.
Although Good Night Alive wasn’t established in earnest until early 2014, their first practice was hardly a meeting of strangers. McCullough, Crumpton, and the Horton brothers share a decade-old friendship that encompassed early on the quartet’s shared talent and passion for music. They would spend the next several years as a kind of fluid, unnamed band, their countless hours of lighthearted jamming gradually yielding an intensive musical chemistry that continues to be one of the GNA’s greatest assets both on and off the stage,
Originating as a five-piece indie electronic outfit, the band’s early sonic explorations melded live instrumentation with electronically synthesized sounds. The songs penned during this era by lead songwriter Zack Horton demonstrate his acute lyrical and melodic sensibility while also varying enough in compositional style to indicate the type of experimentation paramount to every fledgling band’s quest to find a sound all its own.
When late 2014 brought about the amicable departure of their GNA’s keyboardist, the band found itself faced with a major creative dilemma. The absence of the keyboards left a prominent void in the band’s sound, one that could really only be filled by a replacement musician, or a comprehensive overhaul of the group’s established musical dynamic. Ultimately choosing the latter option, little did the members of GNA know that they had their first step in the development of the resonant, awe inspiring sound with roots woven deep into the soil of alternative and indie rock and branches heavy with the fruits of innovation. This shift toward a harder, more guitar-driven sound not only only lent itself to the smaller lineup but also presented Horton with a vast new artistic landscape ripe for exploration. And explore it he did, the band’s beloved duplex serving as host to fragments of musical brilliance that would coalesce into an arsenal of robust, compelling material that finalized the band’s departure from the electronic sounds of its past.
After a period of fine-tuning and natural evolution, this batch of new matured into a collective body of work bearing all the components necessary to bring the songs alive inside the recording studio. After a stint at Symmetry Studios in Warner Robins, the band emerged victorious, the authors of an album that they would simply call “Duplex” out of reverence for the birthplace of most of the album’s musical components. The album itself really is something to behold, a riveting, inspiring musical journey that manages somehow to convey the wealth of courage, passion, and creative genius that was undoubtedly required to bring it into existence.
Awash with the momentum spawned by Duplex’s release this past December, Good Night Alive shows all the signs of a band bound for great things, a sentiment that was only further bolstered by a 2016 win of the 11th Hour Reader’s Choice Awards’ coveted prize for best band. Armed with an innovative sound and a seemingly bottomless reservoir of talent, Good Night Alive has reached iconic status within a music scene hard at work writing its own chapter of Macon’s music history that, because of bands like Good Night Alive, promises never to fade into obscurity.