ASHEVILLE'S Andrew Scotchie is no stranger to the ups and downs of the music industry. He’s so well-versed in the mechanics of playing music for a living that he saw an opportunity to control his business and ran with it. Rather than rely on others to make things happen, Scotchie approach’s music with the same DIY determination as some of his heroes—both on and off stage.
Since forming several years ago, Scotchie & the River Rats have become a popular band throughout the southeast and are known for their high-energy live shows, fueled by Scotchie’s guitar prowess and powerful songs. They’ve played with the likes of Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, Sonny Landreth, The Blind Boys of Alabama, and Eric Gales over the past few years alone.
The guitarist, who’s coming to Savannah on Fri., July 19 with his band the River Rats, started writing music at a young age and gravitated towards the guitar immediately.
“My dad took us to all of the amazing concerts you could possibly imagine. The first concert I ever went to was Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special, and Mother’s Finest,” he tells Connect. “I went to school the next day and I had this look on my face. My friends were like, ‘What the hell happened?’ And I said, ‘Man, I’ve seen the light.’”
It was an unimaginable tragedy, however, that reshaped what music meant to him on every level. When he was 15 years old, his father was shot and killed by a former co-worker—completely turning the young aspiring musician’s world upside down.
“I went through months of deep, horrible depression. Self-medicating, not talking to people. My uncle picked me up one day, took me to a guitar store and said, ‘Pick out the guitar that you’re going to have for the rest of your life.’ And it’s still the guitar that I tour with,” he says.
“[Music] became out outlet; it became medicine. When you’re a teenager and when you’re in bands, you want to goof around and have fun. But after my dad passed away, I knew that this was going to be the thing that was going to make me trust people again. Those years after he passed were really formative for who I am as an artist now.”
Who he is now is a true, bare bones rock guitarist. The music of the River Rats is spirited, loud and raw with plenty of groove. Starting at such a young age allowed him to not only learn the ins and outs of being in a band, but also of running music like a business and taking control of his career.
“For every artist, what they do is really personal to them. So I recognized that as a way to not necessarily control everything I do, because there are always going to be things that are out of your control,” he says.
“But at the end of the day, you’re your biggest advocate. You’re your best manager. I think that if I’d ever said, ‘I’m just a musician and that’s my only job,’ we wouldn’t be where we are.”