Growing up in Effingham County, Nick Webb took piano lessons as a child and sang in the school chorus from fourth-12th grade.
The music was a little rowdier for his latest visit to his hometown.
Webb and his bandmates in the rock group I Anthem recently performed a concert at First Baptist Church of Springfield to promote the release of their first full-length CD, “West of Homeland.”
“This is the first show since the record came out,” said Webb, the lead guitarist and backing vocalist.
Webb, a 2005 Effingham County High School graduate, said he was “super-stoked” to perform for an audience that included “a lot of family and a lot of people I grew up with who have either supported the band or supported me being in the band for a long time.”
The group was formed in 2008 by guitarist and lead singer Tyler Edwards and drummer Tyler Bodkins, who met at North Greenville University in South Carolina. Webb joined I Anthem about three years ago, after having befriended Edwards when his previous band played a concert at Springfield First Baptist.
The two founding members of I Anthem wound up bringing Webb onboard “without ever hearing him play,” Bodkins said.
“Nick said, ‘You know what y’all need?’” Edwards recalled. “He said, ‘You need somebody to sing and play all the guitars,’ and basically he said, ‘You need me.’ We thought it was a good case, so we decided to let him in.”
Though I Anthem has been categorized as a Christian music group, Edwards describes them simply as a rock band, playing “loud guitar, loud drums.”
I Anthem is starting to make some noise on the charts as well. Their current single, “Enemy,” climbed as high as No. 9 on one of Billboard’s rock charts, on the heels of “Fighting Gravity” reaching No. 11 in the fall.
Anthem recorded its first EP, “The Things Our Eyes Can’t See,” in 2010 and a second one, “Not Afraid Not Alone,” a year later. However, from the time the band formed, the goal was to release a full-length record.
That dream became a reality largely from the band spreading the word on the Internet. Several people made financial contributions through Kickstarter.com, a Web site to raise money for projects of any kind.
“We raised just over 10 grand, which is a lot of money,” Webb said with a laugh. “It paid for everything, from the start of studio time to actually getting the CD in our hand. And a little bit of promotion, too.”
A theme of having hope and pursuing a dream carries through the 12 songs on “West of Homeland.” Life imitated art as the completion of the CD helped convince the trio to continue working toward their goal of making I Anthem a long-term success.
“This idea of ‘West of Homeland,’ with us being from the East Coast, everybody dreams of going to the West Coast,” he said. “The entire record is about chasing a dream, and the fact that Kickstarter worked and all of that was like confirmation of everything we’ve been doing.”
I Anthem’s music is available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify, and an online store is being developed on their website, www.ianthem.us. Until that is up and running, people can contact the band to order a copy of the CD, Webb said.
The Florence, S.C.-based band performs “close to a hundred shows a year,” Bodkins said, including a handful in the Savannah/Effingham area. Their next scheduled trip to this area is for the Rock & Roll Revival music festival in Savannah in March.
In the meantime, Webb, Edwards and Bodkins will continue to alternate between brief concert tours and the part-time jobs they work to support the band.
“We go out for a stint,” Edwards said, “and then we will work at home for another month — basically save up so we’re not homeless.”