Music City newcomers Leo Brooks and Andrew Millsaps comprise the duo Neon Union. Together, they vow to continue bringing a neoteric sound to country music, with "808 kick drums married to a traditional country lyric and anthemic pop melodies."
While sometimes singing about being "redneck rich," Leo says they love vibing out and letting their upbeat music transport listeners to a place away from stress of everyday life.
Since signing with Jay DeMarcus’ Red Street Records in 2022, Neon Union was named Billboard’s Rookie of the Month, and earned performance slots with the ACMs and CMA Fest. They also opened for musical acts such as Scotty McCreery and Pitbull. The duo's debut, charted single was “Bout Damn Time.”
With lyrics like the following, Bout Damn Time set the expectation of the fresh, snappy bop these two singers were setting out to deliver:
"It's about damn time,
We threw a party on the radio waves,
Singing what we live,
Cause it's all we know to say,
There ain't been a song
For the hey-y'all outlaw, down home kind and
It's about damn time."
Fans admire their bluesy-rock, jamming-style, cut-through-the clutter Southern Country music, combined with "Sunday morning easy" lyrics. Many of their songs are heart-felt tributes to "the Middle of Nowhere" individuals, lifestyles and communities. "At our live events, they're telling us how much they enjoy that we rock out, that we're really doing it," says Andrew, AKA Saps.
This fall, they also specifically produced and showcased a hit single titled "This Side of the Dirt" as a way to express how thankful they are to their wife and girlfriend for supporting their on-the-road pursuit of the dream they're living. "We put out this song to remind them how thankful we are for every last day, hour, minute and second we get to spend with them," explains Andrew.
Both musicians have been influenced by a variety of artists. Leo grew up in Miami, playing guitar and listening to the music of Hank Williams and George Jones. He's collaborated with artists such as Pitbull (as his bass guitarist and musical director for 12 years), Lauryn Hill, Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige, Cee Lo Green and John Legend. Leo's family is from Roatán, a Caribbean island off the coast of Honduras, where country music and reggae are prominent music genres. Andrew grew up in North Carolina and says he's been writing songs since the age of 13. He played local venues in his home state before becoming a semi-finalist in the “Music City Song Competition.” When the two were introduced in 2021, they say they knew instantly that their sound and musical styles would blend to create catchy, memorable tunes, and that they didn't even have to practice harmonizing.
"Us together is a God-thing," they chime.
They plan to release a full-length album during 2024, with up to half the lyrics embodying their own original work. Leo calls Andrew a "lyrical genius," and Andrew applauds Leo's ability to create melodies and produce demos. Although, they admit they tweak each other during their creative process.
Why name their duo Neon Union? Andrew says the name represents the bar crowd, the party crowd, the blue collar crowd, everybody all in one. “It’s like neon lights, there’s so many different colors and styles, and everybody’s welcome to join the Union. Show up, show your true colors, be who you are. Let’s have some fun. That’s what it’s all about.”