Who is your favorite all-time burlesque artist? Midnight Martini from Colorado. Her movement is so engaging and sexy while still being silly and incredibly creative.
For me its the feeling I got when I heard Lou Reed “Walk On The Wild Side” on the radio when i was a boy has never really gone away. It made me love rock so much. I was probably 8 or 9. The song was so exotic. Such a trip far from my world. I was so hooked on this thing that came out of the radio. “Jumpin Jack Flash” on an AM transistor radio in Philly in the early 70’s was pretty magical.
So its escape and energy and fantasy and freedom for 3-6 minutes when tuned in. That feeling is hard to beat.
Also–In the early to mid 70’s all I listened to in my fathers old Jeep were 8 track tapes of, Willie Nelson live, Ernest Tubb, Charley Pride, And Hank Williams.
3.0 – Is there an artist that sets the barometer for you today?
Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and the mid period Rolling Stones
They wrote songs so honestly. “Swinging Doors” what a brutal song. “Black Rose” is hard to top. “Let It bleed” is an amazing release as is “Beggars Banquet”.
The Stones from that 69-73 period is hard to get around. I think all of my songs have a taste of “Torn and Frayed” in them.
I think just did not care how honest and sincere I was. It was my goal to get it right like Merle Haggard done on his classics. Every song is a true story on Untethered. With that it was easy to to be free to let the songs come to life.
I was also very tuned into the detail of the pedal steel and acoustic guitars. The levels and accents of both made it sound the way it does. All of this comes with getting older and being more patient and relaxed.
Many things on this recording were done on the spot in the studio. It was very organic you might say. And with that I let go and let people do what they do best. Very rewarding.
5.0 – What did it take to get the sound you were looking for on the record?
I knew it in my head.
I had a clear vision of what it was I wanted and but at the same time it was not letting that idea take control. The Stones song “Let It Bleed” and that LP was the basis for the entire release production wise. The instrument selection along the way was fun too. Some of my old guitars & mandolins & banjo’s would just step right up and say this song is my song. I then focused on the acoustic track and the snare.
I had a family. My Son was born right after 22 Dollars came out. We had a daughter two years later. So life was busy for me just that simple. In 2011 we moved from an old stone house built in 1926 to a new townhouse. No house maintenance and the kids being older was a real treat. The songs just poured out that summer.
Simplicity and tone.
My live gear is very basic. 59′ Grestch 6120, 58′ Fender tweed deluxe amp and a early 70’s Echoplex. That’s it.
The studio is a real treat. I have been collecting vintage instruments since the mid 80’s when I was in college. Nothing is more fun than bringing these old guitars, mandolins, banjos, steels and amps to life. I want them all to be used and to sing. Let the instruments do their job. I’m just strumming.
Typically its a title or a key line in a song and I build on that. The song “Every Empty Bottle” was originally called “Reinvent The Feel”. I came up with that line one night in my garage and wrote it on the side of a box with a sharpie pen. I looked up at that box for over a year. Then I used the phrase in the song. The idea of reinventing a feel stuck with me. The song wrote itself after that.
“High water” was written during the hurricane we had in august of 2011. The amount of rain was used as a parallel to a past romance I had. The song just spun naturally out with using the vision of a big flood and a tough breakup. The riff was much more rock as I was using barre chords. I changed the feel using the first position voicing.
I have always been somewhat of an outsider with the rockabilly scene. Gas Money was described once as “The Replacements of Rockabilly“. We have never really been embraced as a rockabilly band per se. Nor did I want to be. We play lots of rockabilly but there was something a little wrong about the way we played it in the 90’s.
I have a deep love for rockabilly and I always will. The shit that comes along with the music however is somewhat silly. I have had an odd relationship with the genre for a long time. The music is magic but the scene surrounding it makes me a bit uneasy. Those big rockabilly shows are like Halloween parties.
Playing live now however we do three sets of classic honky tonk and rockabilly. The bars and clubs we play are interested in dancing and drinking not original music. We don’t get paid playing our tunes. The classics are really fun and ya know who else in Philly is playing George Jones “You’re Still On My Mind” with a pedal steel player on a sat night. No one. I think in a way it helped my song writing with playing classic honky tonk songs.
It is true. I have a few pre-war Gibson flat tops, 50’s Gretsch hollow-bodies as well as some pre-war Gibson mandolins and banjos. Each one really is unique and has its own voice and character. As a player I can pick up a guitar at a friends house or at a vintage guitar show and just “feel” it. Especially the pre-war mandolins and banjos. They want to talk and just don’t get out like they used to. yeah old wood is magic without a doubt. It’s intoxicating if you get hooked on it.
Where did your affinity for traditional rock & roll begin? I was a young teenager, living out in the country. A record store in the nearest town opened up, and I’d go there to special order hard-to-find stuff like The Stooges (you can’t find proto-punk in Buffalo Valley, Oklahoma). A cool girl who worked there gave me a gift- a Buddy Holly box set that was on the liquidation shelf. When I heard his rockabilly stuff, primarily the Decca stuff (Blue Days Black Nights, etc.), it was so moving. It was wild, rockin’ music, with country inflections, and full of life. I had a little band then, and we started greasing our hair and putting Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis in our repertoire alongside our Ramones, Nirvana, and Stooges material. A very Oklahoman thing to do, it seemed.
What was the first record you ever purchased, does it still resonate with you? Raising Hell by Run D.M.C. I helped my dad pull apart scrap metal in our barn, and I used that money to buy a tape deck along with that tape. I love that record; it’s certainly a classic piece of American music. Run DMC are the Bill Haley of hip hop. There’s something daring about the drum sound on that record. It’s mixed like an 80’s hard rock record.
Are you happy with how “Sings & Signifiers” turned out? Yes, very – and I’m looking forward to the next. I think we started out just to make a good, traditional Rock N’ Roll record. Somewhere around halfway through the recording process, I summoned the confidence to play Jimmy a couple of song ideas, which were “A Gentle Awakening” and “Signs & Signifiers”, two decidedly, uhhh, “abstract” takes on the Rock N’ Roll medium. He was stoked. We were in agreement. I think for the next record, we’ll be pushing songs in more experimental directions. I’d like to apply contemporary, fresh ideas to everything I love about Rock N’ Roll. There are elements of Bo Diddley in “Signs”, but it’s darker, and meditative. “A Gentle Awakening” has some heavy things happening. Our cover of Tiny Kennedy’s “Country Boy” has some off-center arrangement. I think I mentioned mixing Raekwon from Wu-Tang and and Son House for that track. That’s the stuff I’m most excited about.
What does the album title mean to you? A screwy nod to postmodern semiology. Roland Barthes. Art school pretentiousness. Good times!
At first blush “Signs & Signifiers” seems quintessentially American music, what other influences are you moved by? I’d hope to think I have pretty broad and eclectic tastes. Man, I love American Rock N’ Roll, and I gravitate towards it, but I am ultimately a student of all music.
How did Chicago become a part of your story? I was part of a fabulous band, The Stark Weather Boys. Great band, really high-energy stuff. Incredibly loud and swinging drummer. Really the first time I was focusing on musicianship – we were trying to play dual-harmony telecaster leads at maximum volume with total physical commitment. Jimmy Sutton in Chicago happened upon our MySpace page and listened to the songs. He invited us up to Chicago to play some shows, and we hit it off. We started talking on the phone quite a bit, and he eventually asked me if I’d like to record at the studio he’d just finished building. It grew from there. My last trip up there, Jimmy had a gig at Buddy Guy’s Blues Legends, so I tagged along. I saw three or four blues bands that night, and it was like: “Gee, I’m in Chicago, watching blues at Buddy Guy’s place.” It was like going to the Ford plant to pick up a Model T.
How was the album recorded? I had written about half the material on my own in Oklahoma, and the rest was put together in Chicago. It was an incredible experience. Alex Hall, who is an outstanding drummer, and also an outstanding engineer, would run into the control room, get the levels, start the tape rolling, then would run into the studio, hop on the drums, and we’d go. A live performance situation. It was effortless, man! A great story about Alex – he was sitting at his drums, and we were going to rehearse the first song we’d ever played together. It was “Dimes for Nickels”. I said, “Man, I kinda want a “Chuck on Chess” thing for this one. Not that fast, staccato way people usually play when they say “let’s play a Chuck Berry thing”, but that atmospheric, slow, rolling thing”. Halfway through my sentence, Alex pulls out his wallet and lays half of it across his snare, and pulled out his keys and hung them on his ride, and started playing a slow, deliberate swing beat. Boom, it was perfect. I remember thinking, “I’m going to be OK. These guys are listeners.” If you look at the “North Side Gal” video, you’ll see that Alex’s wallet is on his snare!
Does one have to use relics to capture that sound? Your temper and intention can be affected by your tools and atmosphere. Recording live to one or two tracks with all of these amazing tube-powered, gun-metal grey, industrial-looking artifacts affords stacks of atmosphere. I’m not sure you HAVE to use mid-century equipment to capture that sound, but it sure puts you in a mood. Hi-Style studio feels good to be in. It’s a very special place to record. Jimmy has built something special over there. Capturing live performance in-studio is a diminishing art. I recently read that Frank Black likes recording that way – you can catch some very special things.
Would your style be different if you weren’t from Oklahoma? It would, it would. I’m in love with having grown up in Buffalo Valley, Oklahoma. I’m incredibly proud of my state’s rich musical history. Charlie Christian grew up here, for Pete’s sake. I’m very grateful for growing up in a rural environment, and to hear old guys play country music at the Yanush community center, and to eventually drive to Tulsa and watch N.O.T.A. at the Cain’s Ballroom. Can you imagine? Hardcore punk in the home of Bob Wills. At 15 years old, I was playing Conway Twitty songs at pie suppers with my best friend’s Dad’s Country & Western band, and at the same time we were working on our little punk band, driving to Tulsa and Fort Smith to look for Dead Boys records. My Dad is a jazz and blues fanatic, and he was giving me these little Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker tapes. I consider myself to be very lucky, all the wonderful music I was exposed to. Oklahoma is such a great place. I’m even growing more comfortable with my accent in polite conversation.
A spaceship lands in your back yard – they want to understand rock & roll, what do you play them? “Keep A Knockin'” as performed by Little Richard on Specialty Records, 1957. Man alive, that record is a SHOT OF LIFE!
Interview from http://www.WOBBLEHOUSE.com