The Mississippi septet Rosco Bandana are the product of teenage rebellion and its consequences; of lost love, false starts and, above all, lasting friendship. They’re what happens when a group of kids take a chance on a long shot and – against all odds – it pays off. There’s also a Blur cover thrown in for good measure.The group began – spiritually, if not specifically – when principle songwriter Jason Sanford, at that time acting in open and active defiance to his strict Christian upbringing, wandered into a tobacco store in a Gulfport mall to buy smokes and struck up a conversation with the kid working behind the counter. “He was like this real cool, hip, indie sorta character,” Sanford explains, “and he ended up turning me on to people like Elliott Smith, Bright Eyes, Iron and Wine, Neutral Milk Hotel. That’s kind of how it all started.” His parents were wary of encouraging their son’s budding interest. “They wanted to keep me in this tiny bubble,” Sanford explains.
“At the time, I was into metal,” Pribyl says. “So I went to this open mic night, and Jason was playing this honky-tonk stuff. I remember thinking, ‘What the hell is this?’” But the best friendships are built on compromise and the more Pribyl and Sanford started playing together, the more a specific sound started to emerge – one that blended a ragged bar-rock attitude of bands like Uncle Tupelo with a few mild nods toward the iconoclastic end of contemporary country, like Jamey Johnson. Their core in place, Pribyl and Sanford soon began looking to expand their lineup. “Jason started an open mic night at a wine bar,” Pribyl said. “From there, we’d invite 10 or 15 people to come with us out to this abandoned house and we’d just jam. We sort of hand-picked the band from there.” In the kind of romantic twist all great rock stories require, one of them was Jason’s old flame Emily Sholes. Another was Jennifer Flint, whose fiery vocals serve as a scorching counterbalance to Sanford’s down-home croon. “I first met Jason in 2006,” says Flint. “He was in one of his first bands, and I honestly just fell in love with the way he wrote.” Local attention inspired the band to enroll in a Battle of the Bands contest sponsored by Hard Rock, which they handily won, and they soon flew out to Los Angeles to work on their debut with acclaimed producer Greg Collins (U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt) at The Nook Studio.