Birmingham Sloss Fest profile: Walden

Birmingham Sloss Fest profile: Walden
Walden, out of Athens, GA, will take the Steam Stage Saturday afternoon at Sloss. (file)

Performer: Walden

Sloss Fest: Playing on the Steam Stage on Saturday, July 14 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.

Type of music: Nice-guy rock

About: Four friends from Athens, Georgia, who started out playing together in high school, have turned into a rock sensation, drawing audiences with their energetic sound and obvious connection onstage. Although they are known as rockers, the band Walden strives to focus on what matters: the music, the message and the people.

The group, made up of Jamie de Lange (bass guitar), Andrew Mendel (drums), Eric Hangartner (keyboard) and Richard Becker (vocals and guitar), say they are “stripping down” the stereotypes around rock ‘n’ roll with their music.

“I think what’s special about Walden is that we kind of just push ourselves and want people to push us as just normal guys … not like, grungy rock ‘n’ roll stars or something like that,” said Becker in a recent profile of the group in the Georgia State Signal. “And I think rock ‘n’ roll has developed a stigma over time — and rock in itself has evolved over time. And we kind of want to portray just four normal dudes just having a good time playing music and, like, anyone can do that if you really want. It’s tangible. It’s not like something so far-fetched.”

In April, Walden kicked off its recording career with the release of its debut EP, “Green Lights,” named for one of its earliest and most well-known songs.

The band’s stunning live performances truly shone when they won the 2017 Road to Bonnaroo competition for the state of Georgia. The group has opened for well-known acts, such as Moon Taxi and Twiddle, generating further fan support for their music.

Although the band formed in 2012, the first performance was not onstage, said de Lange, in Red and Black magazine. It was in a cul-de-sac in front of Mendel’s house. The guys invited all the students at their high school, and about 200 people turned out for the show.

Looking ahead, the recent University of Georgia graduates say their goal is to create and play music together for the rest of their lives.

“We are about to hit the world for the first time and start touring and traveling a lot,” Hangartner said in the Signal. “I think for me personally, it’s going to be really cool because it’s going to feel a little bit more final.”

Discography: “Green Lights” (2018).

You might have heard: “Green Lights,” “The Moment,” “Feeling Good” and “Fool’s Gold.”

For fans of: Mumford and Sons.

Social: Follow Walden on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Spotify.

Sloss Music and Arts Festival takes place at the historic Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, July 14-15 and features more than 40 performers on four stages. Buy tickets here.

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