Austin and Holton Huffaker are in sync in ways most bandmates aren’t. Not only are they brothers, who both attend the University of Georgia in Athens, they’re also majoring in the same field — mechanical engineering.
That’s pretty in-step, for sure. But factor in the fact that these Brunswick natives are identical twins, and their connection moves to the next level. It’s likely not lost on audiences who’ve seen them play. Their rustic harmonies and mirrored movements — the synchronicity of it all — is a bit mind blowing.
Of course, it’s simply been a part of their lives, even before they were serenading crowds. Music was something that they ventured into together, when they were just 10 years old.
“I started with drum lessons and Holton started with guitar at City Music in Brunswick,” Austin says. “I really wasn’t enjoying music back then ... and the drums really weren’t my passion so I quit for a few years. But Holton taught me a few guitar chords when we got into high school.”
That re-lit the dormant spark. Austin started focusing on the guitar and adding in some vocal work. It was also around this time that the two started to gravitate toward country music.
“I really wanted to learn how to sing and write songs,” Austin recalls.
Unsurprisingly, Holton followed a similar path — a waning interest followed by a return to full focus.
“I didn’t play as often until we got into high school. Austin started singing and I started probably a year after him, working on harmonies, and blending the sound,” Holton says.
The two focused first on covering some of their favorite songs, sharing them with small groups of family and friends. Over time, their skills and confidence grew. They started billing themselves as the Huffaker Brothers, a moniker both simple and true, just like their South Georgia roots.
“All our friends and parents have been really supportive. We put our first song out our sophomore year, ‘What I Am,’” Austin said. “That was more Southern rock, I’d say.”
The songwriting angle became a major part of their vision. The brothers focused on creating their own voice, rather than re-sharing the thoughts and words of others. Of course, that presents its own share of challenges.
“We started doing more and more songs. We started recording a few,” Austin says. “And now, we have a lot more that we’re waiting to record.”
The process is a concerted one, they say. Sometimes one brother will offer up an idea or a guitar riff. They work together to breathe life into the phrases and notes, making it distinctly their own.
“It depends,” Holton says. “Sometimes he’ll have something or I may have a good guitar intro. Sometimes it’s just a lyric. Then, there are other times we write the whole thing together.”
Putting pen to paper isn’t easy — as writers of any variety know. And offering one’s heartfelt, carefully crafted words for popular consumption can be terrifying. But for the Huffakers, the chance of success is well worth the risk of criticism.
“It’s intimidating. At first, we did a lot of covers. But the originals are really what differentiates you from somebody else. A lot of people can play somebody else’s song,” Austin says.
The songwriting element is actually the ticket the Huffakers are hoping to ride to musical stardom. And they’ve already had a taste of it.
“We opened for Jake Hoot, who was the season 17 winner of ‘The Voice’ in Tennessee. It was really exciting ... we played for about 2,000 people there,” Austin said. “It was kind of nerve-wracking but also really a lot of fun.”
There’s talk of them being invited back to the venue to perform again. That’s certainly something the brothers are up for, in fact, they’re always open minded about what will come next.
“We graduate next year from UGA with engineering degrees, but we definitely want to explore music. We want to pitch what we’ve written to some important people in Nashville,” Holton says.
“That’s where we want to be ... so we might try to get jobs there then get into music in Nashville at the same time.”
“Mainly, we just want to live in Nashville and try out the music scene. If it doesn’t work, we having engineering to fall back on,” Austin adds with a laugh. “But we’re going to give it a shot for sure.”
Austin and Holton Huffaker, known as the Huffaker Brothers, can be found online at huffakerbrothers.com or on their YouTube Channel, The Huffaker Brothers. They also have accounts on Facebook and Instagram. The duo also performs at venues like Village Creek Landing and Captain Stan’s when home from college.