As the name People's Blues of Richmond might suggest, guitarist Tim Beavers and bassist Matthew Volkes began making music together to commemorate a mutual friend's funeral.
"Tim and I went to kindergarten together, but we never played music," Volkes tells Crossfade. "But in 2009, during our freshman year of college, one of our friends passed away. We played 'Wish You Were Here' on acoustic at the funeral. We were grieving and jamming, and before you know it, we were playing open-mic nights."
Let it be said, though, that PBR's music is not as depressing as the band's origin story or the name of its newest album, 2013's Good Time Suicide, would lead you to believe.
Rather, that album is reminiscent of early Modest Mouse, a celebration of hedonism with a cry of angst. Or maybe, as Volkes suggests, it's the other way around.
"We recorded the record as the real world was hitting us. It was expressing the pain and success we had. We were dealing with friends with drug problems. It sounds a little cheesy, but sometimes it's good to hurt."
Good Time Suicide was a swan song for People's Blues' original lineup, before adding drummer Nekoro Williams, a regular on the Virginia music scene and the son of Wailers drummer Drummie Zeb.
Now the band is a tight unit of close pals, passing around the telephone and finishing each other's sentences as their 15-seat van cruises through North Carolina. "The three of us live together now," Volkes says, "so we practice pretty often."
That closeness has contributed to the writing process. "Any way a song can come together, we'll take it, whether it's from a melody in mind, a bass riff," Beavers says. "We've put together six or seven new songs, which is a lot of fun to bring with us on tour. We're spanning a lot of genres -- salsa, punk, reggae -- for only three people."
And as the PBR guys bring their high-energy set around the country, life on the road is only providing them with more material and more stories to tell, like when a cop recently pulled them over.
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"We were all ready for a ticket or to get arrested," Williams laughs, "but then he saw we were musicians and he let us go, since his son is also in a band."
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People's Blues of Richmond. With Uncle Scotchy. Saturday, August 2. Will Call, 700 NE Second Ave., Miami. Call 305-577-5900 or visit willcallmiami.com.