St. Paul and the Broken Bones will kick off the band's spring tour at the Bijou Theatre Wednesday to promote its new album.
As the group's first full-length album, "Half the City" is the follow-up to the EP it released last year. Browan Lollar, the band's guitarist, said the traditional soul-fueled album is meant to be relatable for listeners with St. Paul and the Broken Bones' eagerness to capture a certain moment.
"We played the whole thing live in the studio to capture the band and (lead singer) Paul (Janeway) live in a room," Lollar said. "Most of the songs are about love, heartache, loss, but with a positive outlook. It's about somebody who's not going to wallow in the sadness."
While soul music is often associated with an older generation, the band has members in their early 20s, which Lollar admitted he believes is a testament to their "fresh take" on soul.
"In the band, we talk a lot about how soul music got really split in production and got away from the classic sound," Lollar said. "We wanted to do a continuation of that era. In the 60s and 70s, that was young people's music. It translates the same way. It's picking up energy from the stage. We all wanted to be in a band like that."
The band has made trips to Knoxville before, playing at Barley's and The Valarium previously. However, this tour marks the beginning of a big venue and location change for the band. The group's Knoxville performance is the beginning of its tour to promote the new album. Then, the band will travel up to the Northeast before heading west and ending the tour in Los Angeles. St. Paul and the Broken Bones will also hop across the pond and spend a few dates in London.
Lollar said fans should expect a "high energy" show from St. Paul and the Broken Bones as all the members draw off each other for drive.
"It's pretty crazy. Paul is a really energetic guy." Lollar said. "Everybody in this band has an energy exchange with Paul, and he feeds off that. It's like a loop, and I think the audience feeds off that. Our live shows want you to come and have fun listening to music."
Last fall, the band played on WDVX's Blue Plate Special. Now, they will be playing Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn., this June and headlining the Bijou. Despite this growing popularity though, Lollar said the band isn't aiming for superstar success.
"The biggest we ever want to do is like an amphitheater," Lollar said. "You start losing sound quality and the ability to connect with an audience if you get any bigger."
After having the group on the Blue Plate Special, Tony Lawson, WDVX's program director, said he sees St. Paul and the Broken Bones as a "dynamic" and "exciting" band with "a lot of potential."
"They have been getting in front of a lot of people over the last two years," Lawson said. "It's building a very positive vibe about the band.
"They're writing and arranging some good tunes and have the great ability to deliver them live."
Actually hailing from Knoxville, Lollar was born at Fort Sanders Hospital to what he calls a "real musical family." Seeing St. Paul and the Broken Bones' performance at the Bijou as a sort of homecoming, this performance will fulfill a personal dream for him.
"This is an opportunity to come and show them that you can make a living playing music for a living," Lollar said. "I'm so happy for the opportunity to play the Bijou. It's been a goal since I was a kid, and I can't tell you how excited I am to play the theater."
Described by Lawson as a "breakout" band, Lollar said he doesn't think he can disagree but admitted he credits this success to the versatility of soul music.
"It feels like it," Lollar said. "When you're standing on the stage looking at the audience, it's hard to tell a demographic. We have people of all ages and colors. And that's great. Maybe that's the point of soul music to begin with, to bring people together. But we're more popular than we were a year ago."