Return to Sons of Sylvia

Musicians Find Second Breath with ‘Sons of Sylvia’
By Mark Rozeman
Posted: 10/21/2010

Most up-and-coming bands would find the prospect of touring with one of America’s top-selling musical acts to be quite the daunting task. Having grown up in a larger-than-normal home environment, however, the three brothers who constitute the band Sons of Sylvia are accustomed to such chaos.

Currently, the three Clark brothers — Ashley, Austin and Adam — are touring as the opening act for Carrie Underwood, a venture that will have them on the road until December. On Oct. 27, they play with Underwood at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga.

“The tour has been incredible,” Austin Clark says in a phone interview with the Wheel. “Everyone’s like a big family. It’s a lot of fun.”

Certainly, the concept of family is a familiar one to the group. Raised in a family that included 11 children, the brothers first discovered their love for music through their father.

“Our dad was a big bluegrass fan,” Clark says. “He kind of got us hooked on that kind of style. [But] the older we got, we started listing to all kinds of genres we never really heard before. We started looking into rock, pop, country and blues. And all of it really influenced us.”

Teaming up with their brothers Alan, Aaron and Andrew, the brothers formed a country-rock outfit fittingly called The Clark Family Experience. Signing to Interscope Records, the band exploded onto the country scene with the single “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch.” However, due to financial issues, the band was forced to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and disbanded in 2002.

For a time, the band went their separate ways. Ashley played fiddle in Carrie Underwood’s band, while Austin and Adam toured with the country band SheDaisy.

In 2007, the three brothers decided to reunite and enter in the American Idol-esque reality competition “Next Great American Band.” Playing under the new moniker The Clark Brothers, the band beat out nearly 100,000 acts to become the winning band.

With newfound success, the band felt it was time to start again. This included once again changing the name of their band.

“After we won “The Next Great American Band,” we felt like we’d kind of evolved musically. We wanted our name to evolve as well,” Clark says.

In honor of their mother Sylvia, the band settled on the name Sons of Sylvia.

What followed were months of writing and recording songs, including a duet with Carrie Underwood on the song “What Can I Say” from her third album.

For their part, the band is highly appreciative of Underwood for helping them get their band’s name in the public consciousness.

“She’s been so gracious and so awesome,” Clark says. “We don’t deserve it at all, but she’s been amazing.”

In April 2010, the band released their first album under the Sons of Sylvia name. Entitled Revelation, the album boasts the single “Love Left to Lose,” produced by OneRepublic singer Ryan Tedder.

Other notable highlights of the album include the opening track “John Wayne,” which has Austin Clark tearing up on the dobro guitar, one of his instruments of choice.

“I love anything with a slide,” he says. “I grew up playing the dobro and lap steel. I love the way the notes move around so fluently.”

In terms of influences, the band culled inspiration not only from their country and bluegrass origins, but also from contemporary acts like U2 and Coldplay.

“I think, growing up with so many musical tastes, we just love music; it really doesn’t matter what genre it is. We just try to fuse it all together and do something different,” Clark says.

Having come a long way since their modest origins, Sons of Sylvia is living proof that the family that stays together can play stadiums together.