“I truly believe that there is no unsigned band out there that works as hard as we do. The goal is to keep on pushing until this is our lives.” – Harlen Lawrence of Favored Sons.

When a band throws a cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” into their mix of punk and hard rock originals, the crowd tends to take notice. Such are the shows of Tallahasee group Favored Sons.

One week before their Gallery Night show at Hopjacks in Downtown Pensacola, Florida. Frontman Mitch Patti and bassist Harlen Lawrence were interviewed for my weekly music column in the Pensacola News Journal. 

Here is a link to the PNJ article and the full interview follows below. 

MS: Favored Sons, How did you begin? What’s the story?

MP: We started back in spring of 2008. Originally just started with me and Russ our drummer. We lived together when we were still going to college and I moved around bands playing guitar and I couldn’t really find anything that serious going on. Him and I played music together in high school for a brief stint, but he was more serious about going to school, but I just asked him if he wanted to jam on some songs I had written because I wanted to start singing and we just started, just for fun, put something together, made a couple of recordings and then I met Luke (Stavenau) a few months later, our lead guitarist. Just had him over and things just kind of instantly clicked personality wise and we’re all into the same music and stuff too. And then we played the Tallahassee circuit for awhile and we’ve gone through…Harlen’s (Lawrence) our third bass player. He joined last year and everything’s really worked out for the better since last August.

MS: What kind of music did you guys listen to growing up?

MP: We all come from different backgrounds, but we all share a common interest in the same genres. I come from primarily a heavy metal background and hard rock, Luke comes from a punk background.

HL: I grew up in Pensacola. I started studying jazz when I was in high school. I was really big in jazz influence, but I like playing rock. I played in a bunch of rock bands in Pensacola and some cover bands and stuff.

MP: And Russ, our drummer, is the 90’s grunge rock guy.

MS: The name, how did you come up with the name Favored Sons?

MP:  When we first started, we didn’t have a name for the longest time and we were big Queens of the Stone Age fans, so we were trying to be like them. And originally, I think, Russ came up with The Favored Sons of something else. We were trying to think of name or something that we could attach it to and one of our other roommates at the time who ended up being one of graphic designers for awhile just said, “Why don’t you guys just be Favored Sons.” And we were like, “That works. Easy!” Not a lot of thought went into it.

MS: What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at one of your shows?

MP: Oh man, usually the craziest thing I see is something one of us ends up doing. We played Hopjacks a few weekends ago, the craziest thing I’ve ever seen is, we were playing Hopjacks and one of the PA speakers was up above us and we sat it kind of catty-cornered and we weren’t really thinking. And as we were playing, we’re all jumping around and stuff and it started shaking the speaker and Luke, I guess, unplugged something and he bends over and the PA speaker comes crashing down behind him and almost lands on his head. So it could have been really bad, but we lucked out. That was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.

By the end of the night, I’m usually in the crowd myself making people listen to me or Russ. Nothing too too crazy at our shows; your typical equipment and wardrobe malfunctions you know.

MS: Who came up with the idea doing the Blackstreet “No Diggity, No Doubt” cover?

MP: We’ve been covering that song for close to a year now and it’s always a crowd favorite. I can’t even tell you how we came up with the idea to cover it because I don’t know…we really enjoy being different especially in the cover scene, you’re going to find a lot of bands playing the same songs, so we try to create some new angles and come out of left field and I had actually done a couple of videos with the split screen thing just myself covering a couple of songs and then just tossed the idea out there, “Hey let’s do a band one.” And it’s kind of the most ridiculous song to watch four white dudes play.

MS: Do you have a CD of your music?

MP: We released a record last August called “Never the Whole Story.” Totally self-released; that’s what we’re promoting right now. We probably will be for another six months or so. You can actually hear the whole record at Reverbnation.com/favoredsons. You can hear all the tunes for free, but you can buy it at Bandcamp. favoredsons@bandcamp.com. You can actually buy the physical release and we’ll mail it to you ourselves and you can download it from there too. We have two other unofficial releases before as well that you can’t really get anymore.

MS: Let’s say, next week Gallery Night, Hopjacks-it’s obviously going to be packed, when you guys play it’s always packed. I’ve walked by there a couple of times, I couldn’t get in the front door to see you guys play because that’s how packed it was-What can people that have never seen Favored Sons before, what can they expect when they see you next week?

MP: You’re going to get a live experience that you’re not really going to see any other band do because we’re not afraid to take a lot of chances. Like I said with the “No Diggity” cover, we’re not afraid to really go anywhere. You’re not going to hear the same old thing. You’re going to hear some stuff that you’ve heard before, but it’s going to be off-the-wall watching four nerdy white guys do it. We’re super high energy and we’re fun. We’ll be the first to make fun of ourselves. We’re very serious about the performance and the delivery, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We just like to create a really fun vibe and try to get everyone experiencing their out there for.

MS: Let me ask you this. For Favored Sons, what’s the big goal? Is there an ultimate goal for you?

HL: Quit our jobs. We all work day jobs, night jobs whatever. In the past year, we’ve gotten busier and busier and we’re pretty much on a weekend warrior schedule where we’re either doing something in Tallahassee or somewhere else. We did Valdosta last weekend. The goal is to stay as busy as possible and work and we’re going to do another record here, sometime early next year. And the goal is to keep forcing our name out there as much as possible. I truly believe that there is no unsigned band out there that works as hard as we do. The goal is to keep on pushing until this is our lives.

MS: A few months ago, I interviewed Howie from Ballyhoo! and when you said that, it reminded me that he said pretty much the same thing. They just worked their butts off and then all of a sudden their playing with Foo Fighters and they’re playing these big festivals, so it’s like you have the right mindset right there. Just keep working.

HL: You have to, man. We’re friends with a lot of bands and band members out here and a lot of them just expect the success and the gigs and whatever to come naturally just because they exist. And they’re frustrated because their spinning their wheels and their unfocused, their undisciplined. We have a very, even when we’re not, we don’t really have like a gig coming up in the future, we still keep a very intense, rigorous rehearsal schedule. We stay busy even if we’re not playing that night.

MP:  If we’re not gigging, we’re practicing. It’s not your usual practice that you hear out of most bands. It’s more structured; we’ll set songs we do. These are the songs. We don’t drift off into a free flowing jam band. It’s very different than what a lot of bands that we play with in the scene out here do, where they just jam out on a tune for an hour and a half and try to build it from there. We have structure.

HL: We’re very focused.

MS: I like your ethic. You work hard at practice, let it fly during shows. That’s the way it should be. I’ve got a couple more questions for you gentlemen. It’s a Friday night, you guys could be practicing or going out partying.

HL: We already practiced today. (laughs)

MS: What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

MP: Wow. Good one. Don’t follow my advice and stick to your own guns. Everyone’s different. Everyone finds a way to make it. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, so the best way is your own way.

MS: Anything to add?

HL: I guess the best advice I’ve ever had was a studio bass player named Keith Bailey once told me. “Eat your vegetables.” It’s kind of open to interpretation, but the way I interpreted it was, “You got to pay your dues and you’ve got to work really hard, but eat your vegetables.” I think another one I heard was “Practice up and expect the worst.”

MS: This is the last question. Do you gentlemen prefer, Crunchy or Creamy peanut butter?

HL: Crunchy for sure.

MP: Crunchy.

MS: It’s unanimous. Perfect. Before we wrap it up, is there anything else you want the Pensacola people to know?

HL: We’re very thankful for how Pensacola has treated us. We’ve been playing there pretty regularly since October and for some reason-we like the Tallahassee music scene-we like being here, but Pensacola has treated way better, for whatever reason. I don’t know if they’re more open to how weird we are or if it’s just that we’re so different to what they’re used to. We really appreciate how the Pensacola crowds have been and how Hopjacks has treated us by far our favorite place to come to. We don’t really tell them how much we appreciate them. That’s really what I want them to know.

– Michael L. Smith