They practice in an upstairs bedroom at bass player Jimmy Crenshaw’s Chesterfield County home. They don’t travel with an entourage in a fancy tour bus. They don’t have a lucrative recording contract, and they won’t release their first CD until April.
What the four members of Everwilde have – and what they hope will carry them to success in an ultra-competitive industry – is passion for making country music.
“We love playing together and we feel like it’s what we should be doing,” said Daniel Nicholls, who serves as the band’s lead vocalist and also plays guitar.
Nicholls founded Everwilde as a duo with longtime friend Shawn Drudge in 2007. Three years later, they added Crenshaw on bass and high-energy drummer Rob Gregory.
Adam Drudge had been playing with a local cover band, but filled in with Everwilde on a few occasions. Gregory’s departure created an opportunity for him to join a group interested in recording its own original songs and Drudge jumped at it.
“Everything just came together,” said Adam Drudge, who has worked to improve the band‘s Internet presence since he came aboard. “The biggest thing is we don’t try to outshine each other.”
There’s obvious chemistry among the bandmates, three of whom – Nichols, Shawn Drudge and Adam Drudge – knew each other long before they graduated from Chesterfield high schools in 2001.
Like the Drudges, Crenshaw graduated from Manchester High, but 20 years earlier.
“We’re all like brothers … well, Jimmy’s more like our uncle,” Shawn Drudge said with a laugh.
When the members of Everwilde aren’t playing music, they’re usually busting each other’s chops for one reason or another. There’s never any favoritism, either; at any moment, you never know who’s going to become the next target.
The good-natured back-and-forth sometimes turns into heated disagreements, but the guys never stay mad at each other for long.
“When you take four different people with four different lives and collaborate on something, you’re going to have issues sometimes,” Shawn Drudge added. “But when we get on stage, all that stuff goes away and it just clicks.”
Everwilde has been extremely busy since last spring. The band has played shows at more than a dozen different venues in Chesterfield and throughout the Richmond area. On several occasions, fans asked band members when they were going to put out their first CD.
“It used to be that we’d call anyone we could think of, asking if we could come and play at their place,” Shawn Drudge added. “Now people are calling us.”
With help from a local investor, Everwilde booked a recording session for Oct. 14-16 at Richmond’s In Your Ear Studio – better known in the music industry as the studio that produced Chris Brown’s Grammy-winning CD in 2011.
Nicholls wrote all 11 of the songs on Everwilde’s debut CD. The band finished recording it in one weekend and walked out of the studio with a renewed sense of purpose.
“It was like, ‘We’ve done this, but we have to keep going forward,’” Nicholls said. “If we want to do this as a job, we need to do it now.”
Everwilde’s music already has been featured on “Red Arrow TV,” a national hunting show on The Outdoor Network.
Everwilde’s new CD, “Further Down the Line,” will go public during the band’s official launch party April 5 at Uptown Alley.
Where does the band go from there? The ultimate goal is to sign a recording contract, but band members insist they’re not going to quit their day jobs and jump at the first opportunity that comes along.
For starters, they all have family responsibilities. Both Nicholls and Shawn Drudge are married with 2-year-old children. Crenshaw has two sons and Adam Drudge’s girlfriend also has two kids.
But all four men say their families believe in the band’s talent and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to help them make it big in the music business.
“We know we’re good enough to do this,” Crenshaw said.
So do Crenshaw’s neighbors, fans who frequently turn Everwilde’s high-decibel jam sessions into impromptu concerts.
“I think if we sounded bad,” Crenshaw said with a chuckle, “they would’ve shot us down a long time ago.”