By Robert Goldberg | July 9, 2023
📸: shot by Tori McGraw

If a hedonist is a person who believes that the pursuit of pleasure is the most important thing in life, then Hedonistas are a funky, jam-powered collective of pleasure-providers who bring an energetic atmosphere that gets audiences movin’ and groovin’ from the first note. This group of lifelong friends includes keyboardist and vocalist Jake Keeble, guitarists Max Blount and Peter Brazeal, keyboardist and bassist Hunter Tredway, and drummer Sawyer Drummond. Together, they’ve been rocking out for almost 10 years. The Atlanta-based quintet was ecstatic to play their first show at the Sultan Room in Brooklyn, opening up for Moon City Masters and Suzy Jones. We were all ready to embark on a funk and soul-driven rocket ship of musical bliss, and Hedonistas would be the fuel to our fun.

Right from the get go, you could tell poor choices would be made tonight as the band started with a sing along fan favorite “Bad Decisions.” “She don’t care about the money, She don’t care about the fame, caviar and champagne to her it’s all the same, she likes whiskey and cigarettes…”  From there, the band transitioned into their uplifting groove, “Figure it Out,” a cheerful tune reminiscent of Vulfpeck that highlighted Jake’s vocals and Max’s guitar prowess. The crowd roared as the band began their next track “Move Out (Groove Out)” with a slow build to an electrifying guitar solo led by Peter.

We wouldn’t be doing this review justice without mentioning the angelic look that Hunter was rocking, with his heavenly locks flowing via an on-stage fan (a similar look to Dave Schools from Widespread Panic). The band continued their sonorous blitz with “Ordinary Man,” which included a tease of Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” and tease of Escort’s “Cocaine Blues.” An absolute audio assault erupted on the stage when they performed an upbeat cover of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by The Four Seasons, followed by a seamless transition into their soulful original “On the Run.” They followed up with their new original song and band favorite, “Unchained.” Debauchery poured from the group’s performance and infected the crowd, who continued to boogie like they were at a funkadelic Tipitina’s soirée. 

With their high-energy stage presence, funky syncopated cross-rhythms, and myriad of lyrical and instrumental virtuosity, Hedonistas bring an eargasmic original sound that’s sure to get you moving. They ended their performance with an absolute banger honoring Tina Turner by covering her rendition of “Proud Mary” (by Creedence Clearwater Revival), which transformed the Sultan Room into a homey, southern honky-tonk. Now that’s Hedonistas baby! Check out Hedonistas newest single “Do You Remember,” featuring Suzy Jones streaming on Spotify now.

We caught up with Hedonistas last month where they answered a few questions for the groovement.

How did you first get started?
Hunter: So it started with me, Sawyer, and Max in high school. We already knew Peter and decided to have a jam session with him, and then we were like, “holy shit, this kid is so good! He’s gotta play with us too.” For a while, we were just playing instrumental stuff, messing around playing covers with a couple singers…

Sawyer: Playing P-Groove Covers…

Hunter: Yeah, and then Jake expressed interest and said that he wanted to play in a band that was a mixture of TAUK and The Main Squeeze. We replied “We can make that happen,” and then Jake came to a jam session and had an audition for an original song we created and then became our singer.

Jake: Yeah, I’d say we’ve been a band for about 10 years.

Sawyer: And we’ve all known each forever, some of us since middle school, some of us earlier than that even.

What was the first concert you all performed at?
Jake: Max’s Brother’s Wedding!

Hunter: But the first public gig we had was a festival in Milledgeville, Georgia called Sounds of the South.

Max: Yeah, Sounds of the South was the first public performance we did, which was in 2016, on April 8th.

Jake: We have a fond memory of Sawyer trying to steal the sign for that festival but we won’t get too deep into that. We were all super nervous but luckily had a lot of liquid courage to get us through the set. Great times.

What do you guys feel is the best song you’ve released and why?
Hunter: We’re gonna say our new single, “Unchained,” now streaming on all music platforms. Honestly, it’s the best representation of who we are right now and we obviously love all the music we release, but it feels most familiar to us right now.

Max: If it was an older one, I’d say It’d be “Fluff Stuff.”

Hunter: Agreed.

Sawyer: Yea “Fluff Stuff” is one of my favorites. But to Hunter’s point about “Unchained,” we recorded it all DIY ourselves and Hunter mixed the whole thing. We all had input, but Hunter really took the reins here. Sometimes, you’ll hand over a mix to someone, and you hope they are aligned with your vision, but Hunter knows what we want, so it really feels like a big accomplishment to do it all by ourselves.

Jake: Also, some of the songs we are about to release are the ones I’m most proud of as well.  But again, talking about “Unchained,” the track shows how far we’ve come lyrically and where we’re at right now. It’s kind of about manifestation, taking over, chasing the dream, showing up, and actually doing it.

What do you guys draw inspiration from?
Hunter: Right now, I get a lot of inspiration from other bands and artists who are either around our size or a step ahead. Those are the people we look up to and learn from to understand how we should strategize our path within the industry and social media. We love Funk You, which are like our big brother band who have always inspired us and even had Jake do a tour with them as well.

Peter: Definitely traveling as of late being influenced by culture, seeing other people who have played in certain venues, and just absorbing that energy. It’s inspiring because it makes me feel like we can do it too. Sometimes that feeling of accomplishment or achieving your dreams feels very far away physically and mentally, but actually being there and seeing it makes me believe it’s possible.

What would you like your fans to take away from your music?
Jake: When we write a song, not everything sticks, but a lot of the time, somebody will bring us a progression. That progression feels a certain way to me where I’m like, ‘oh, this is awesome.’ Feels so good for us to play it, and we’ll just keep playing it over and over again. And that’s the same feeling I search for in music myself, you know?

Hunter: I don’t think we strive to portray a certain feeling or try to get people to feel a certain way always. I mean, there’s a place for that, but usually it’s open to interpretation and we just want our listeners to be able to have a good time. We want people to want to listen to it over and over again, for whatever reason that is or however they interpret it.

Peter: Yeah, it’d be nice to be like a part of their routine. You know, you get up and you make a cup of coffee or you have your favorite drink. You get up and you go put on the record. And when you put on the song, it just sets the vibe for the day.

Jake: I usually write lyrics that are pretty broad. Anyway, it’s really just like, come dance your ass off at our shows. Our shows are just high energy, a lot of fun. That’s really the only message that we’re trying to get across.

Peter: Soundtrack music for your life

Hunter: And that all ties into our name, Hedonistas, as well.

Going off that, where did the origin of the name, Hedonistas, come from?
Hunter: I came up with it, unfortunately. Long story short, I really liked wordplay stuff, and I liked when people would end things with ‘istas.’ I just thought it was hilarious. Listening to NPR and hearing things like ‘the Sandernistas’ made me think, oh, that’d be really funny! And then hedonism was something not controversial, silly, and fun. The ‘istas’ made it kind of a statement, like we are Hedonistas, like fashionistas. So we’re just out there to feel good and have a good time.

If you could date any musician or celebrity, who would it be?
Hunter: I’ll start: Suzy Jones.

Jake: Dua Lipa

Peter: I would date John Mayer in an asexual way. I mean, we’d probably kiss a lot though.

Sawyer: I don’t know, I’m feeling like Lorde?

Max: Maybe a non-love triangle Stevie Nicks.

What was the first concert you went to?
Max: My mom got me tickets, and I saw ZZ Top with Zac Brown Band opening up at Chastain Park in Georgia.

Hunter: My first concert was the 2009 Blink-182 reunion tour.

Jake: My first concert was Jackson Browne

Sawyer: I think my first concert was Three Dog Night at Chastain Park.

Peter: I know mine was on New Year’s Eve, and it was a Big and Rich concert that my mom got us tickets to. It was a goofy time for sure, I think I was 9 or 10.

What’s the dream venue you guys would like to perform at?
Max, Peter, Hunter, Jake, Sawyer: Red Rocks

How do you all plan to get better as musicians?
Hunter: Playing live.

Jake: Yeah, just keep playing live music

Sawyer: I’m taking piano lessons to try and open up my musicality. Learning piano gives you a more well-rounded thought process when you’re creating something. When you’re the drummer, you’re just kind of zoned into your own instrument. You kind of have tunnel vision on what you think is cool, and you can sometimes miss what the song needs. But I think having a well-rounded approach allows you to kind of put yourself in other artists’ shoes.

Peter: I guess for me, as kind of a blues-heavy guitar player and a Southern rock player in general, getting back into acoustic folk and older, more traditional Americana bluegrass music has really helped me round out a lot of sharp edges. Also, just figuring out how to really learn the whole fretboard and a lot more techniques, but that’s just gonna be a whole process right now. It’s kind of more bulky Americana stuff, and it’s gonna be something to work on for next year.

Max: I think it’s good to learn parts from other instruments on your instrument. Like learn a trumpet line on guitar, or piano line, or vice versa. It’s kind of nice to play in a way that you wouldn’t hear a guitar player play it and see how you as a guitar player would play it. Opens you up musically. Different tips and tricks out of a typical routine.

What’s next for Hedonistas?
Sawyer, Peter, Max, Hunter, Jake: More Music! Check out our New Single “Do You Remember” featuring Suzy Jones streaming on Spotify now.

Connect with Hedonistas on Instagram, Spotify, TikTok and their website.

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