- Associated Press - Saturday, February 11, 2017

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Members of the band Native Blood communicated musically when they formed the group. And that was about it.

“About once week, we just started jamming,” said bass player Wesley Williams, 27. “We never really talked. It was all about the music. We didn’t even become friends until about a year into it.”

“I think we were bandmates before we were ‘friend’ friends,” said guitarist/singer Ross Turner, 33.

They practiced in the house, where drummer David White lived. “Twenty cats running around all over our equipment,” said White, 28.

None of that stopped them from making music. “It felt so good every time we jammed,” Turner said. “I hadn’t done it in a while. We were coming up with some cool stuff really fast.”

Two years later, the Native Blood musicians now resemble blood brothers. With numerous shows under their belts, they have released a self-titled EP and are planning to record a full-length album.

All of them had been away from music for a while when they first got together.

Turner, who is from Long Island, played in cover band in New York. “They were all cops,” he said. “And they all had families and stuff, and I was like 20. The Bird Section. Because all these guys grew up on streets like ‘Robin Lane,’ ‘The Cardinal Way.’ So this is exactly what you’d think a bunch of cops would call their band. We covered U2, Aerosmith, The Black Crowes.”

He moved to Memphis from Atlanta, where he’d been in a band called Summer Camp Sinners, to take a job at 98.1 The Max, where he’s a DJ in the 3 to 7 p.m. shift.

Turner began performing stand-up comedy in Memphis. “I think it’s a level of narcissism mixed with being a masochist because you feel like what you’re saying is important enough to say in front of a crowd, but at the same time it’s one of the most painful experiences you can ever have.”

Williams, who was born in Miami, played snare drums in the fourth grade. “That was the first time I was ever on stage, so that was cool. And I remember messing up completely at the end. I forgot to hit the cymbal, man.”

After moving to Memphis when he was in his teens, Williams began playing drums and guitar at Bolton High School. “I finally got into playing bass. Nobody had a bass guitarist.”

He was in a band called Adaje for about four years, but he quit the group because he worked three jobs and was going to school. “After that I kind of put it up. I’d play here and there. I started doing more athletics. Started doing triathlons. All types of stuff. I did my first half-marathon two years ago.”

“We introduce him as the strongest quads in rock and roll,” Turner said.

“Quadzilla,” Williams replied.

White, who moved to Memphis from Byhalia, had stopped playing music for a while before Native Blood. “I jammed so long without really being in a band,” he said. “A few years ago, I got something together with a couple of guys and played two shows at Juicy Jim’s on Highland. It was Arada.”

But he left the group. “I had a falling out with a friend and just didn’t play for awhile.”

White met Turner through a mutual friend, and they began playing in the attic.

Turner met Williams while working out at UT Health Science Center recreation center, where Williams is a pool/deck attendant, personal trainer and swim instructor. “I think we chit-chatted here and there, and the next thing you know we finally figured out we played instruments,” Turner said.

They decided to play a show after they got enough material. They took a kayak trip “as a bonding experience” before they played their first show, Williams said. “We got five songs and figured out a cover just in case we wanted to play a little bit longer. We started thinking about stage presence and all that stuff. And that just came with practice.”

“We have some videos of one of our first shows, and Wesley is just standing there, not really moving,” White said. “Just doing his parts and stuff. And now he jumps all over the place.”

“Now people with face tattoos are going, ‘You’re a maniac,’” Turner said.

He writes most of the lyrics, but the band members collectively write the music. “At first we were saying ‘swamp rock’ - muddy, grungy, murky, whatever,” Williams said. “But then as we kept going on and wrote all these songs, I feel like the best way to explain it is, ‘We’re a heavy ‘90s rock band.’”

The Native Blood members now hang out with one another and even went on a kayak trip together.

Turner said a guy in another band recently told him, “You know how spoiled you are? You know how long I had to grind away with really terrible people before I got a group of guys you can just jam with and play shows with? Because it really is terribly hard to get on the same page with other people and play a show.’”

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