By local musician and contributing columnist Ashleigh Chevalier. Photo is a screen shot from their video.

Editor’s Note: I apologize for the headline error. It should be Andrew Scotchie.

Andrew Scotchie & the River Rats will be performing at 7 p.m. March 24, 2017, at Hard Times Cafe – Four Mile Fork, 5099 Jefferson Davis Hwy. in Fredericksburg. I asked Scotchi about his music.

Do you have a mission with your music?
The River Rats and I aim to deliver a high-energy rock ‘n roll experience everywhere we go. One concert can leave such a positive and lasting impression with people. We are aware of the positive or uplifting nature that music embodies.

The songs I write are typically aimed at unifying people, and expressing to the listener that they are not alone in what they experience. I am very upfront and open about my story. Losing my dad tragically at such a young age really opened my eyes to the cruel yet beautiful ways of the world, and I treat a lot of what the Rats do with urgency because I know life is so short and can be taken from us at any time.

Above the music or even the lyrical content, I hope the energy of our music gives people hope, and inspires them to follow their dreams and aspirations in life.

Music has given me such purpose, and I simply want to share the joy of music with everyone who is willing to listen.

What is your favorite thing about touring?
There will always be rough or enduring times of touring, but for me 98 percent of touring feels unifying and rewarding of hard work.

I enjoy being together with my band on the road for the reasons of spreading our brand of music, interacting with people of different cultures, and gathering more inspiration outside of our everyday surroundings.

I guess if I had to pick my favorite aspect of touring, I would say I really appreciate the experience of playing different venues, because it requires you and your band to adapt to a wide variety of settings. That ultimately hones your craft and enables you to become a more well-rounded performer.

We are all students. We are all still soaking it up. Touring is one of the best ways to continue learning and adapting.

What has been the hardest lesson to learn touring?
Ha ha! There have been more than a few, but I think the biggest lesson I would take away from my years on and off the road would be the power of flexibility or being able to adapt.

There are always going to be situations thrown at you that you must deal with in a professional manner, and you can’t let little things or situations out of your control ruin the experience for you.

I would also have to say I’ve learned the hard way that sleep deprivation does not serve performers well. Sleep as much as you can and often! Saving your energy for the show and for the crowd is very important.

How does the spiritual meet the musical for you?
I think a hook or a melody that is truly evoking remains one of the most crucial ingredients of a song. Equally important is the human or spiritual aspect of music. A lot of chordal and technical parts of music are taught and not necessarily inherent, so when you have songs that express a part of the human voice or soul that cannot be replicated or taught, coupled with some of the more technical parts of music, that to me is when spiritual meets musical.

I typically focus on the message and the hook of a song first. Once the basic premise is down and I know what I want to say emotionally or spiritually, I can then go back and further craft the dynamics and little intricacies of a song.

Who/What would you consider to be your primary inspiration for music?
My dad Tom was a huge motivating force in the beginnings of my music career. Tom passed away right before my 15th birthday, but for years before that, he was always taking me to concerts, turning me onto different bands and styles of music, and overall encouraging me to be an artist and to be my own boss.

After he passed, such a large part of me was driven to honor his life and his love for music. So, from about 2009 to about 2012, I had a few bands. When the River Rats started to take shape, I knew I had the platform for a variety of music styles, and a good group of people that I could call family.

My dad was a true family man. He showed me the value of friends and family, which is something I inject into our songs.

My mom Theresa has also been very supportive, and she’s there for me when I feel the most alone or confused. She is one of my best friends, and one of the bands biggest fans without a doubt.

What keeps you going?
After being in the River Rats for over 5 years, the support of the fans, the community, and fellow musicians are a huge motivating and inspiring force.

There are a lot of collaborations and a lot of moments that remind me that music is an ongoing journey.

I also really get driven by fans who take time to keep up with us, and who continue to show their support. I consider those people family and an integral part of the success of the music.

I would also have to say that my music teachers in college, including Dr. Ochoa in Asheville, North Carolina, and my teachers at Buncombe County Early College, were really encouraging and never asked me to be anyone but myself.

Dr. O was the first to show me “Sergeant Pepper” by the Beatles, and my teachers in high school also turned me onto a lot of different kinds of music. Most important, they all gave the idea of a career in music a lot of credit, and they knew that’s what I wanted to do. I still stay in touch with those teachers, and they still come see me play. It’s a pretty sweet thing. I love and respect them dearly.

What is on the horizon for 2017?
This Virginia tour kicks off our busy season. We will play almost nonstop until mid-May, when I go to Anchorage, Alaska, for some solo shows.

When I get back, we’ll do some outdoor events and festivals. I am so ready for festival season!

We are also working on new studio material that can expected on an album due out late 2017 or early 2018.

Asheville Barnaroo, the festival I founded, will celebrate five years this fall at the scenic event center of Franny’s Farm, and three years partnered with Asheville Music School.

I’m quite excited about 2017. I feel more at peace, more relaxed, and more organized than years prior. I want to continue making the fans that have been with us since the beginning proud. I want to keep expanding the possibilities of this band, and I want to keep learning as much as I can. I’ve been in music most my life, but really this is just the beginning.
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