Long before Matt Chase and Chris Rogers met in Nashville, the roots of their musical duo, Southerland, were beginning to take shape. Matt, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, had graduated from Wando High School and felt drawn to the Music City. After several successful guitar gigs at the Windjammer, an Isle of Palms venue, he approached his family about moving to Nashville, exploring music and finishing his bachelor’s degree. The plan worked, his parents agreed, and soon enough, he departed one Southern city for another.
To someone unfamiliar with the magic of creativity, it might sound fairly typical that Chris and Matt hit it off. After all, they’re both from Southern towns (Chris hails from Washington, Georgia); they share mutual friends; — including Ray Fulcher, who introduced them — and they both, of course, were living in Nashville. But the truth is, something far more unexpected took place – in short, they had immediate songwriting synergy. “We hit it off and wrote a song that day,” Chris recalls. “Matt and I were playing shows within a week!”
“We came together because we mixed as people and as artists,” Matt adds. “It was very organic.”
In those early days, things were slightly different: Southerland didn’t yet have a name, and Matt and Chris found themselves playing any dive bar gig they could — “and not all cool dive bars, either,” they joke. Still, they persevered, and eventually, the name Southerland came to them on a trip to Maine for a gig — a battleship called the USS Southerland, created at Bath Iron Works in the city of Bath, spoke to them. “We both perked up when we heard the word ‘Southerland,’” Matt shares. “We loved it.”
Though both musicians are fans of country music – including Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt and classic artists of the genre — Chris and Matt agree they are influenced by a wide range of artists. It’s not unusual to find either of them listening to rockers from the 1990s, such as Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, or to catch them at shows, keeping up with modern talents such as Dylan Marlowe, Randall King, Lainey Wilson and others.
“I was listening to Nirvana’s Unplugged when I was younger and first getting into playing guitar — but I didn’t realize the heft of that influence until a few days ago, listening to a Dave Grohl interview,” Chris shares. “And back in 2013, he produced an EP for Zac Brown, and I was listening to that this morning! We write and play whatever comes out of our melting pot of music that we love.”
Southerland’s newest EP, self-titled, consists of six songs, and Chris and Matt are planning a busy year of touring in new areas, from Arkansas to North Dakota. Reflecting on whether this EP is different from their initial record, Boot Up, they agree fans will recognize their core style, but songs evolve with what’s going on in life – the trademark of authentic artists. “It’s the same but different,” Matt comments. “We always have our classic touch of writing what we know, and we’re in a state of growing up and settling down — I’m getting married this year — so we want our music to reflect it.”
Staying true to themselves is paramount to Chris and Matt, and they agree that the “show business” side of things is best avoided. They’d rather follow their creative intuition – and if that means pulling out a notepad on a fishing voyage, so be it. The country music duo is committed to giving back and believes music changes lives. Chris and Katie Rogers support "Music Gives to St. Jude Kids" of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which is helping to treat and defeat childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
“The ideas might come when we’re in a boat fishing or throwing a ball for the dog . .. . the writing process is different every time,” Matt says. “You might start with a word, a melody — in any number of ways. We think about what we want to hear, and we think about what others want to hear.”
Songwriters with Southern Style
Chris and Matt are known for their music, but their Southern roots and sense of style are unforgettable to their fans as well. Here, they share what they wear, on stage and off.
What’s your personal style?
Chris: “I’m simple when it comes to style. T-shirts, jeans, and boots are usually my go-to. I’m a sucker for a white tee and jeans. Pretty classic and definitely simple. I should probably spice it up a little with some accessories, but other than a watch or maybe a simple kind of necklace I don’t think you’ll catch me in anything too flashy anytime soon.
Offstage, I'm a big fan of athleisure. My wife got me hooked on Lululemon. Haha.
Matt: I am right there with Chris. Our music and our brand is a tip of the hat to the common man and woman, and that's exactly how we present ourselves. Cool boots, band tees and a solid snapback. But I will take all the fashion advice that I can get.
How would you describe quintessential Southern style?
Chris: We think the idea of the quintessential Southern style changes depending on where you are or where you are from. Being musicians, we travel all over the country. Out west, the starched jeans that are stacked with square-toe boots are a common look. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer — just different influences based on your environment. But plaid, t-shirts, jeans, boots and a hat have been staples of Southern style for a long time. And I don't see those things disappearing anytime soon.”