Have Gun, Will Travel have been making music on their own terms for the better part of the past two decades. 2022 sees the group set to return to form with the Silver Sounds EP, bolstered by a newfound sense of energy and renewal following a quiet two years during the global pandemic. The jangly guitars and infectious hooks these Florida folk-rockers have built their brand on still remain, but the group’s latest effort sees them diving headlong into more “rock” territory — a shift the band pulls off seamlessly.
Silver Sounds showcases the band’s new direction right out of the gates. “Buyer’s Remorse” firmly plants itself at the outset of this new release, a rollicking anthem featuring harmonica and overdriven guitars that calls out the fallacy of the American Dream, while the overt rallying cry of “Resist The Machines” is a worthy entry into the modern protest song canon with its blown-out vocals and over-the-top distorted bass and guitar work. Such rock-leaning flourishes might come as a surprise to those familiar with the band’s previous releases, but the bandmates are quick to point out that it’s really always been there in some form or another.
“We all came up playing punk rock,” singer/guitarist Matt Burke notes for any listeners who may be thrown off by these seemingly new sounds. “I feel like we’re getting back into the spirit of what we were doing when we were all kids, just playing rock and roll. It’s not nostalgia…it’s a passion and an energy that we’ve always had.”
Formed in 2007, the past decade-plus has been anything but slow for the band. Burke and his brother (bassist) Daniel, guitarist Scott Anderson, keyboardist Edward Stork, and drummer Sam Farmer amassed quite the canon of material over the years, running the gamut from foot-stomping front-porch spirituals to strum-punk rave-ups, hill-country historicals, and indie-rock anthems. They’ve seen labels come and go, toured the country multiple times over, experienced all the cliche “trials and tribulations” of making a living in independent music, and are still going strong. In fact, they’re happier in their work than ever before.
“We’re still stoked about playing music,” Burke remarks. “We’ve got a whole new energy and we can’t wait to bring it out and show it off.”
It might be easy to assume an act that’s been on the circuit this long is about ready to quietly bow out, but that simply isn’t the case for Have Gun, Will Travel. The group’s longtime drummer left the band in 2019, and by the time the band had secured a new full-timer in the position, the global pandemic had taken its toll on the music industry. Rather than calling it quits in the face of such adversity, the group doubled down — the new lineup was essentially given two years of no-pressure, camaraderie-driven rehearsals, recording, writing sessions at their home studio in Safety Harbor, Florida, as well as a handful of hyper-local live shows to test out the new material when the opportunity presented itself. Built from the ground up, Everlovin’ Studios — taking its name from guitarist Scott ‘Everlovin’ Anderson — served as the band’s headquarters for these weekly hangouts and allowed the band to remain productive while touring was off the table.
For the brothers Burke, staking out a career in the entertainment business is literally in their blood going back three generations. They grew up on a tour bus, accompanying their parents as they performed in a successful Christian rock band in the 80s, learning the ways of taking a production on the road in their earliest formative years. Going back further still, their great-grandfather Rudy Bundy was a successful jazz clarinet player and big band leader through the 1930s and 40s, and worked as an executive for the Ringling Brothers Circus during its golden era. With two lifetimes of professional entertainment woven into their DNA, it’s no wonder that Have Gun, Will Travel has stood the test of time since its formation.
Now in the present, with the Silver Sounds EP set to be followed by the Voyager Golden EP in early 2023 (both to be pressed on 10-inch vinyl in silver and gold, respectively) and plans for the next LP already well underway, Have Gun, Will Travel are making a statement: they’re still here, and have no plans to hang it up anytime soon. This is only the beginning of what’s sure to be a busy few years for the band as they prepare to hit the road full-time yet again, as they continue along a life-defining journey of growth and discovery that has yet to reach its destination.
“Their music has a great energy to it with infectious, sing-along choruses and refrains” — Robin Hilton, NPR
“Organic, infectious Americana Pop”— American Songwriter
“Brings to mind more theatrically oriented bands like Okkervil River, Frontier Ruckus or the Decemberists.” — KRFC / Routes & Branches
“Southern rock, muscular pop, epic folk and Americana/country blended into a fantastic tapestry of music.” — When You Motor Away
“One of Florida’s best contributions to the Americana canon.” — Orlando Weekly
“With the musical sensibility of Old 97’s and the lyrical prowess of Lucero, HGWT paint a mesmerizing picture.” — Diffuser.fm
Publicist: Frank Keith