The first EP by Greenville’s Shady Recruits wasn’t even supposed to be an official release, per se. The band was started in 2016, a sort-of side project, a place for two members of Upstate blues-guitar phenom Marcus King’s band, drummer Jack Ryan and horn player Justin Johnson, to play with some their veteran Upstate musician friends: bassist David Katilius, keyboardist Marcus White and guitarist Charles Hedgepath.
The EP that they eventually released in 2019 was meant as a calling card for concert bookers, a taste of the salty soul-funk, groove-heavy rock and jazzy improvisation that they could bring to local stages during breaks in King’s touring schedule.
But the six-song, self-titled EP caught on with local fans, and suddenly The Shady Recruits were packing clubs all over town, stretching out those six songs into fluid, flexible jams that showed off their musical muscle.
“We’ve actually teamed up with Marcus King on this next record,” David Katilius says. “We went up to Marcus’s house in Nashville, and he’s got a little home studio.”
“We cut it pretty much in a day” David Katilius says of the band’s first release. “Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised at the reception it got.”
It still didn’t feel like an “official” debut for the band, though, and that’s something the band is getting ready to fix. Stripped down to a core of Katilius, White and Ryan, The Shady Recruits are working on a new, more polished album that features one of the hottest young blues guitarists in America.
“We’ve actually teamed up with Marcus King on this next record,” Katilius says. “We went up to Marcus’ house in Nashville, and he’s got a little home studio. We actually laid down some demo recordings. We’re heading back up to Nashville soon to start laying the official tracks down.”
“And one of the cool things about that session was that Pete Levin, who used to play keys and organ for Gregg Allman, actually stopped by, and we’ve recorded some jams with him.”
The material for the as-yet-untitled release will hopefully be out this summer.
“We’re shooting for about seven or eight songs on this one,” Katilius says. “A couple of them I actually wrote myself; a few of them started as organic jams with all of us, Marcus included, And one of the cool things about that session was that Pete Levin, who used to play keys and organ for Gregg Allman, actually stopped by, and we’ve recorded some jams with him.”
King is serving both as a producer and guitarist on the album. It helps to have one of the best guitarists around today helping out in the studio, but Katilius says that overall, he’s happy with the band’s trio setup of bass, keyboards and drums.
“Since the start of the Shady Recruits, it’s really been the three of us as this driving-force rhythm section,” he says. “So it’s gonna be interesting to see how the three of us put those ideas together with the ideas that Marcus brought to the table.”
Katilius adds that the band’s experience with King as a producer has been just as rewarding as their experience with him as a musician.
“It’s been it’s been great working with him,” Katilius says. “He’s very clear and direct, and he’s very good at presenting ideas and giving advice on how to flesh out an idea and improve on it. We’re really stoked about where this can take us for the future.”