One name missing from last weekend's Hometown Throwdown, the two-day festival at the New Daisy Theater featuring a sizable chunk of the local heavy music community, was one of the biggest.
For most of its 15-year history, the band One Less Reason, who headline their own Daisy show Friday, has called Memphis home. During that time, the group, led by singer-songwriter Cris Brown, has been one of the city's strongest musical performers, selling hundreds of thousands of records and appearing on top national tours.
But for all its success here, Brown, who lives far from the rock-and-roll craziness in a quiet residential neighborhood in Cordova, says the band doesn't feel much a part of the local scene.
"We've never really seen ourselves as just a Memphis band or a Jackson band," says Brown, explaining how the band established followings in cities like Jackson, Tenn.; Jackson, Miss., and Macon, Ga., before finally breaking through here on bills with Egypt Central. "Memphis is a hard nut to crack."
Originally from Missouri, Brown started the hard-core band Lapdog in the 1990s, and claimed Memphis and Jackson, Tenn., as its hometown. In 2002, they went in the studio with acclaimed producer Rick Beato and came out a different band. Adopting the name One Less Reason, they took on a more mainstream sound that reflected Brown's evolving songwriting.
An aborted deal with Universal Records ended with Brown suing to get back the masters to the band's debut record. Self-released in 2006, Everydaylife vindicated the band's approach, and they have mostly avoided the established music industry since. The 2008 follow-up A Lifetime Burning sold 400,000 copies, and 2010s Faces And Four Letter Words got off to a promising start, debuting at No. 1 on Billboard magazine's Heatseekers chart of hot new releases, before the band made the mistake of wading back into the label waters,
"Faces did great until we signed a record deal," says Brown of the group's woebegone deal with Arsenic Records. "We were 120 on the Top 200. It was No. 47 on the rock charts. Then a record label came along making promises of this and promises of that and took it over and did what record labels do, screwed it up."
Twice burned, Brown is determined to remain independent as the group — which also includes guitarists Jerry Bailey and Brad Butler, drummer Jeff Moore, and bassist Terry Brown — prepares for Friday's show celebrating the release of the first of two expected new EPs, A Blueprint For Withing.
After touring with Hinder and playing Rocklahoma and the Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival in 2011, One Less Reason took off most of 2012 to work on new recordings and for Brown to welcome the birth of his first child, daughter Averie.
Working in his own studio, Brown crafted a recording that he describes as the band's most eclectic yet, ranging from the hard-driving "A Million Miles" to the first single, the ballad "Uneasy." The subject of the band's new music video, "Uneasy" features an unlikely collaboration with country singer Blair Simpson. All proceeds from digital sale of the song, as well as through video views, will be donated to victims of Hurricane Sandy.
"I've got to make the record I wanted to make," says Brown of A Blueprint For Withing, which will be followed by an acoustic version and then another EP of new material later this year. "This record ranges from one of the heaviest things we've ever done to some of the lightest things we've ever done. I just don't like one style of music. I like music that crosses genres."