Decent Folk

Summer Hymns' summer hymns define the purdy South

"I don't really know what to say about that [Kindercore] scene," he admits. "I know a lot of people in those bands, and they are my friends, and I know that when many people hear 'Athens' they think 'Kindercore.' To some people it's a good thing, and to some people it's a bad thing. I don't really know if it's good or bad. Some people have probably checked us out only because we are from Athens."

The baggage that comes along with made-in-Athens is kind of overwhelming for Gresham. He thought about taking the band's hometown off the Clemency liner notes just so people would listen without prejudice.

"It's kind of hard to really see Athens for what it is when you're in the middle of it," he says. "It's a different kind of town. It's a transitional town because it's a college town. But I never thought about the music here before I got here. I didn't care about R.E.M. or anything like that, and when I came here I came to go to school, not be in a band. The scene here is mostly college cover bands that play frat parties and people who play small shows with their friends. But the town is very, very supportive, and that's why there are bands in Athens that are always on the verge of something bigger."

Summer lovin', had me a blast: Zachary Gresham, left, is living the sweet life.
Summer lovin', had me a blast: Zachary Gresham, left, is living the sweet life.


Summer Hymns performs July 27 at Dan's Silverleaf, with Chris Lee.

He almost seems to be referencing himself. Summer Hymns embodies every aspect of the band-on-the-verge cliché: Clemency is the most accessible, melodic and polished of their three full-length efforts, their critical buzz is deafening and, as the result of a new lineup (which replaces moonlighting members of indie darlings Of Montreal and Elf Power), the band is able to tour whenever it wants. Even though at 26 Gresham is still a pup by many standards, he is starting to feel like it's now or never.

"I've been playing music a long time," he says. "I tell myself, 'I'll keep doing it till I'm 25. If nothing happens, I move on.' And you get to 25 and you're like, 'I'll keep doing it till I'm 27.' Now I'm almost 27. I guess I'll give myself till 30."

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