Joshua Loner and the Flower Children from the Future

Loner: A new band that’s willing to collaborate, and find community — from the clean confines of Vinyl to WonderRoot’s cramped basement gallery.

LONER: A self-proclaimed cult of melody
Photo credit: Jeff Hulteen

uesday, July 5 — a sold-out show at Vinyl. The air conditioning was merciless. A crowd of perfumed teenage girls stood on tenterhooks anxiously awaiting LA rockers Bad Suns, forgetting they would first have to watch a local band: Experimental, jazz-pop-rock outfit, featuring the group’s namesake Joshua Loner, singer Shae Edman, flautist Carolyn Reis, saxophonist Kassle Molinar, and drummer Chris Gravely. It was LONER’s second show ever, and though the vibes were different than the flower crowns and fun times they experienced the week before at their first show at Wonderroot, Loner says it felt great onstage. 

??My mom actually blew out her vocal chords singing with John Mellencamp,” he says.

pparently they went to college together in Bloomington, Ind. Occasionally they sang together on stage at a bar called the Bluebird. “I’ve always felt this weird legacy where I need to avenge her vocal chords,” Loner says.
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And so he did, mouth wide open so that one could almost see them, veins on the verge burst out of his head.  ? It’s difficult not to feel enrapt by Loner’s enigmatic and mystical presence, melodies that soar in unexpected circles above backing brass from Molinar and jazz percussion from Gravely. That, paired with Edmond’s delicate vocal trills and Reis’s flute, makes for an experience that weaves the vulnerable ups and downs of Loner’s storytelling with a kind of trance. Onstage, Loner rips himself wide open and invites you into both ecstatic and painful life experiences. Then he attempts to let them go. 

The Bad Suns crowd was moved enough to ask others to step aside so they could see the stage. The crowd at Wonderroot before them was just wondering: Where did this ethereal band come from? Equally cosmic circumstances.  ? “We ended up establishing all these connections with people individually,” he says. “Then one Thursday, I called up everybody and everyone I’d jammed with in the past couple months and I was like just come out, let’s all play. Everything was really organic and it all just came together.” 
Though Josh has always been a singer and a folk artist, 10 years in Georgia has influenced the kind of songs he writes, and how he writes them. He’s recently started using more hip-hop techniques to make pop music, and has worked with producers Dallas Downin and Kenny Muto of Tomuto Sounds. “I like big beats and catchy riffs,” he says. ”There is something about playing rock that doesn’t jive with me, because it’s really masculine and I like to sing in falsetto.”

Loner’s songwriting is, across the board, introspective and poignant. On the surface, songs such as “Bioluminescent, “Storm Front,” and “Fresh Don’t Lie” are harmonious and pleasing to the ears; the words, though poetic, thrash their teeth at the system, seek freedom, and air shared grievances. “That’s my mission,” he says. “Social, political critique hidden under catchy melodies.” 

Loner feels it’s best to write when an emotion is “really burning,” rather than let it digest and intellectualize it. “If people want to think, people read,” he says. “Music is to make people feel, and that’s what people want, the evoking of emotion. Almost like taking a snapshot, encapsulating the human emotion of a moment in that melody.”
In the next week LONER’s two show tally will double, and the group will continue its crusade of confusing the Atlanta music scene. According to him, that’s taking an already-mixed bag, throwing that into a new bag, and shaking it. “Everyone’s got the talk, but when it comes to booking shows for some reason it’s always going to see four of the same bandThat’s not even fun for the audience. There’s a huge R&B scene, a huge jazz scene, the hip-hop scene; why is the music segregated? That’s the question.”

here’s something to be said for the birth of a mixed genre and gender group who are willing to collaborate, and are able to find community everywhere from the clean confines of Vinyl to WonderRoot’s cramped basement gallery. 

LONER plays RowdyDowdy at Fort Pryor w/ Not Blood Paint, Noesin, and To Too My on Sun. Jul. 31. Free. 8 p.m. 730 Pryor St. SW.  The group also plays the Sewing Room on Mon. Aug. 1 w/ Dream Culture and Ricci. Free. 9 p.m. 1614 Hazelrig Dr., and again on Wed. Aug. 3 at the Downtown Players Club w/ Harley Alexander, Dandy Warhol, Big Brutus. Free. 9 p.m. 98 Broad St. SW.