Peach Jam Podcast: The Georgia Thunderbolts
The Georgia Thunderbolts: a group of "kids" from Northwest Georgia being praised by rock n roll legends, mentored by Grammy-award-winning country artists, and playing sold-out shows in Europe. They're on the cutting edge of the Southern Rock revival and share stories of playing for pennies on Broad Street in Rome, GA.
Peach Jam Podcast features stories and songs recorded live in our GPB studios from a variety of incredibly talented and diverse bands and artists who call the Peach State home.
Jeremy Powell: Where are you guys from?
TJ Lyle: Based out of Rome, Georgia.
Jeremy Powell: I love that. So I'm from Rome. Just so people know. Full disclosure, I'm from Rome.
Riley Couzzourt: You're a good man.
Jeremy Powell: I don't know about that. But I'm actually from a suburb of Rome. I'm from Lindale, and you guys are based out of Rome. But you're from suburbs of Rome. You're from, Armuchee and Taylorsville. Like, we're talking small towns.
Riley Couzzourt: Oh, yes.
Jeremy Powell: Yes. And now you're, like, traveling the world, playing rock and roll.
TJ Lyle: It's wild. Yeah.
Riley Couzzourt: If you just sit back and think about it sometimes, man it seems so wild. It seems so crazy.
Jeremy Powell: Tell me about going to Europe.
TJ Lyle: Oh, God. Hmm. Exhausting. Yeah. Entertaining.
Zach Everett: Drank too much.
Riley Couzzourt: Yeah, Yeah, yeah.
TJ Lyle: No, it was incredible. It was a great experience because not a lot of people our age or even around our age get to do that kind of stuff. And we were very fortunate to go with people who had a great fan base over there, Blackstone Cherry and it was incredible. They treated us great and we get to play in front of a bunch of people every night. And it was wild. It really was.
Jeremy Powell: But what you're doing now. Started in high school.
Riley Couzzourt: Yes.
Jeremy Powell: How old were y'all? Were you seniors in high school? Like, take me back to that day. Tell me how old you are, what you were doing, and how it turned out.
Riley Couzzourt: He was a junior. I was a freshman, and we started playing like Metallica and things like that in the garage, just goofing off, you know? And then, uh, you know, we had a thing going on for maybe a year, and we started playing in these little Mexican restaurants and things like that. And I'm thinking I don't even know if I'm 15 at the time. 16. And after that, we started, like, Booking shows like somebody said, like Schroeder's and things like that. And, um, Zach came along with us.
Zach Everett: Yeah, I was junior then.
Riley Couzzourt: So he was a junior.
Jeremy Powell: I got to jump in because I know Schroeder's. You say it, like, we booked shows a Schroeder's. Schroeder's is where you get, you know, fried potato skins in Rome. That are amazing But.
Riley Couzzourt: They threw a few at us. No....
Jeremy Powell: It's a little deck on the back of a small restaurant on Broad Street in Rome. But it's it's for you. It was like, Oh, we booked a show at Schroeder's.
Riley Couzzourt: Dude, you should have seen this piled up in front of the door at the Mexican restaurant. Man, you should have seen us sitting on the sidewalk of Broad Street playing with our guitar cases open, waiting for a little, little penny to hop in there.
Bristol Perry: We used to go at every gas station in Armuchee and just walk in there and ask if we can play out front.
Jeremy Powell: So you went from being high school students, grinding it out and working on all these songs to play these tiny little shows to somehow somebody saw you and said, We can give these guys a record deal.
Riley Couzzourt: That was that was Richard Young from the Kentucky Headhunters. That's that's sort of where everything really started. I mean, if you want to think about it like we played a show at the Agricultural Festival in Summerville, Georgia, uh, that's where it was, right? Okay, Chattooga County, Summerville, Georgia. And we were playing, and well, I saw Richard from the head of the Kentucky Headhunters sitting over there watching us, and I walked over to TJ I said, Look to your left. He's all I know. So we get on stage and he's like, Richard came over like this "Well, boys, y'all want to come up to Kentucky and cut a record?"
TJ Lyle: That's exactly how he talks.
Riley Couzzourt: And we're like, Are you kidding? Dude, I'll do anything you tell me to do. You want five jumping jacks right now? So anyways, we go up there and we cut this record. Well, Richard's a mastermind, and he starts pitching at all these people. And eventually we had a showcase up in Nashville and we got signed to Mascot and, you know, booking agents and all that stuff. But we need to thank Richard Young first and foremost. Any time we talk.
TJ Lyle: We wouldn't be here on the show without him, that's for sure.
The Peach Jam podcast from GPB features songs and stories from a variety of the incredibly talented and diverse bands and artists who call the Peach State home.
Recorded live in our GPB studios, you get a front row seat for the intimate musical performances and free-flowing conversation from a truly eclectic variety of Georgia musicians. You can find more at GPB.org/PeachJamPodcast — please download and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform as well.
And check out GPB's YouTube channel for exclusive live performances from all the feature artists.