BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors will be returning to the Magic City next month, wowing fans with their newest album “Strangers No More.”
The band will be performing at Iron City Birmingham on Sept. 13 at 8 pm, one of their many shows across the U.S. from now until November. The folk rock band will be ending the year with their annual holiday concert “Drew & Ellie Holcomb’s Neighborly Christmas” on Dec. 20 and 21.
“We’ve been out with Darius Rucker for most of July and August and it’s been really fun,” Holcomb said. “It’s been a great summer, especially playing all the new music and the crowds have been really receptive to it and we’ve just been having a lot of fun on stage.”
Holcomb says the response to “Strangers No More” has been overwhelmingly positive from both fans and critics alike, with the single “Find Your People” going number one on the Americana charts after its release on March 8.
“What’s been really fun about this album [tour] is that people are reacting more to the new stuff than the old stuff, which is kind of a dream for a band,” Holcomb said. “We even asked fans on Instagram yesterday ‘What songs are you excited to hear in the fall?’ and it feels like 50% of the answers were songs from the new album.”
Holcomb describes the tracks of “Strangers No More” as being “perfectly suited” for music-loving audiences, with anthemic songs handcrafted for a live show.
“This album sort of lends itself to a little bit more of a high energy, standing room kind of crowd and so we felt like Iron City was the right spot for that, and we’ve never played there so we’re very excited,” he said.
Holcomb says so far, fans have been the most enthusiastic towards the songs “Find Your People,” “Dance With Everybody,” “Fly” and “On A Roll.”
“Those four seem to sort of be head and shoulders above the rest,” he said. “The songs ‘That’s on you, That’s on me’ and ‘All The Money’ have been really fun live especially as well.”
Drew Holcomb and the Neighbor’s last album, “Dragons”, focused on a combination of family and everyday life. In comparison, “Strangers No More” takes a different approach.
“I think the album is about community and solidarity in a world where we’re all sort of surrounded by bad news, division, tragedy and building something out of the ashes in the tense moments that we all find ourselves in,” Holcomb said.
While not as obvious as previous songs like “See the World,” heartfelt songs inspired by family life still make their way into certain songs such as “Troubles.”
“It’s kind of a heavier song, more sort of pensive, thoughtful song I wrote the week after the Uvalde tragedy and I just love that song,” Holcomb said. “The night that I wrote it, my daughter sat next to me and sang along and I just had a sweet moment of thinking about, ‘Oh, it’s a weird time to be a parent in this world,’ but just her sweetness and kindness in that moment was very inspiring.”
Holcomb revealed that the album was inspired after the band got back together to record new music after 18 months of separation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The group spent 10 days in Ashville, North Carolina, running through tracks Holcomb had written during their break and experimenting with new styles of songwriting and recording.
“I would say this album is musically the sound of freedom, just genre-freedom, songwriting-freedom, singing-[freedom]. We just kind of let ourselves do whatever we wanted [with writing and performing]” he said. “You have no idea which songs are going to kind of rise to the top so it’s been fun to see that the songs that have risen to the top are, musically and songwriting-wise, pretty diverse.”
Birmingham has been a staple stop for the band since their early beginnings in the mid-2000s. It’s a city Holcomb describes as “underrated” and a “great music town” he always looks forward to stopping by to perform or visit friends.
“When I first started, I basically focused on five cities to try to build an audience, and it was Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Atlanta and Birmingham so I just have very nostalgic feelings for Birmingham because it’s one of the places that we originally started kind of cutting our teeth as a band,” he said. “It just always feels like home to me [and] where the audience has been with us for a long time. I see people who were kids when they saw us play, and now they’re bringing their kids to the shows. I just think there’s something unique about having a long history in a city.”
The setlist for the Birmingham show and beyond is currently in the works by the band. Holcomb recently posted a link to Set the Set, a website that allows fans to vote on what songs they’d like to hear the most, for the upcoming tour. He also assures fans that the band plans on “mixing up” the list for fans that plan on attending multiple shows.
“Building a setlist is about [having] perfect mix of the new songs, the old songs that everybody expects to hear, and songs are a mixture of deep cuts and album tracks and then obviously a couple of covers,” Holcomb said. “And we’re working on a song with the opening act, so that’ll be cool too.”
Just as he’s cultivated a relationship with the Magic City, Holcomb hopes that people leave the September show with a sense of community and an urge to create.
“I hope they feel inspired. I hope they feel like they’re part of a community,” Holcomb said. “My favorite concerts always leave me inspired to go create and make something beautiful myself, and I hope that’s how people feel after leaving our concert.”
Tickets for the show can be purchased on Ticketmaster. You can also check out other dates for shows on their official website.