At only 25 years of age, guitarist, singer and songwriter Andrew Scotchie has a thriving music career. A prominent fixture of the Western North Carolina music scene, Scotchie and his blues-rocking band the River Rats started out in 2011 as buskers on the streets of Asheville; today the group has released three albums of original music.
What inspired you to get into music?
At the first couple of big concert festivals I went to – I was 10 or so – I was immediately taken by the energy and the atmosphere. Everyone was there for the same reason; they were all watching the same thing. When I saw how the front man and the guitar players could get people so excited and so happy, almost instantly I thought, “I want to do that.” It looked like a very fun job. So I took guitar lessons, and then from there I got obsessed with it. I started playing in bands when I was 13.
Once you started performing, did you find that you were a natural onstage in front of people?
In middle school, I was the one in the band that would be jumping around, and having a good time, head-banging and everything. But there was a time in my high school years when I would throw up at every single show. The nerves would get to me so bad, I’d lean behind my amp and pretend I was fixing something. But it got better; my music teacher once told me, “Take those nerves you have before a show and use them as momentum.”
You started the Asheville Barnaroo Festival nearly a decade ago. Back then, did you ever have a sense that it would be so successful and long-running?
No, I didn’t. Especially at that age, you can’t predict something like that. We were going kind of show by show, event by event. And all we really wanted when we started as a collective of young adults was just to have an outlet, an event where people could play, meet people and get better at what they do. And I saw a lot of people grow. I like watching the old videos from those days; some of it is cringe-worthy and some of it is like, “Hm … we all weren’t that bad.”
What’s the meaning behind the title of your band’s latest album, Family Dynamo?
My cousin used to call my dad “Family Dynamo,” and that always stuck with me. I thought it was a fun combination of words; it simply means a power that generates family and community. And the title is also a really good way to pay tribute to the people who have inspired and pushed the band, been there since the beginning and wanted to see us keep growing.
The band seems like a musical family of sorts; does it feel that way to you?
Yeah! Keith [Harry, bassist] and I met at the Orange Peel; we were friends before we were in a band together. And Eliza [Hill, drummer] and I first met on the streets of Asheville at Downtown After 5. Went back to my mother’s house and rocked out. Keith’s a brother to me, and Eliza’s one of my best friends. We’re family.