University of South Carolina students and friends Patrick Drohan, Taylor Nicholson, Bryce James and Max Becker had been playing music together for a few years, but they were hardly a serious band.
They had not released any music together, and there was certainly no talk of touring. They were playing mostly covers for bar tabs and beer money.
A Facebook message from guitarist and fellow Gamecock Dave Bedingfield in summer 2011 would change all of that.
"He just sent a message to all of us asking if we wanted to get together and jam sometime," Drohan said. "We had never met this kid before but said OK, so we went over to his house, and something special happened. We were just playing covers and jamming around, but there was clearly a lot of talent in that room."
Nearly a year later, the quintet, which performs as Atlas Road Crew, have made a name for themselves in Columbia with a sound that is a throwback to the great Southern rock bands of the 1970s and recently released a five-track EP produced by Hootie and The Blowfish guitarist Mark Bryan.
Atlas Road Crew will perform Friday at The Smokehouse on Hilton Head Island and Saturday at Plums in Beaufort.
Drohan discusses working with Bryan and the band's New Year's resolution.
Question. How would you describe Atlas Road Crew's sound?
Answer. I think we have built a lot of our reputation and our following on bringing back that classic rock 'n' roll sound. We've been influenced by The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Also, myself and another guy in our band are really into funk music, so we try to integrate that into our live shows as well.
Q. How did you come to work with Mark Bryan?
A. Our mentor in Columbia knew Mark and got us a meeting with him. We played some of our songs on some acoustic guitars. It was really like a tryout, but he liked our sound and agreed to work with us. We were really starstruck at first, but soon we were playing songs and drinking beers with him, and we went to his house in July to record the EP. We were there six nights, recording about 15 hours a day.
Q. Have you guys played much outside of Columbia?
A. We are based in Columbia so we have performed at a lot of bars and fraternity houses there, but word spread to Clemson so we've played shows up there and in Charleston, and we have some shows lined up in Athens, Ga., and Richmond, Va. There really seems to be some buzz growing regionally.
Q. What's next for Atlas Road Crew?
A. It's our goal in 2013, probably in the summer of 2013, to go up to Boston and back on a three-week tour. We have already started working on some new songs, and we are hoping to have enough material to release an album in late 2013 or early 2014.