Cincinnati-born artist SH! started a multi-tiered fundraising project in Charleston, S.C. this holiday season. Starting with a live concert and moving on to an art sale, He's trying to raise money to buy gifts for under-privileged children.
The program, dubbed Presents From Punks, started five years ago as a benefit concert featuring a variety of musicians. But this year, SH! has moved into the visual art world by coordinating an art show that will do two things at once.
I drifted off Thursday night and had my wonderfully fitful sleep punctuated by the strangest dream. Like most dreams, it was disjointed and surreal, but it made an odd sort of sense. It’s never easy to describe these nocturnal apparitions but it was so vivid, I shall give it a try.
Friday, July 13
I was walking downtown. I knew exactly where I needed to go but I didn’t know exactly how to get there. A ridiculously convoluted route got me to the desired entrance, I received my press credentials and a map of a fascinating kingdom which I entered through the back gate, popping up in the midst of a Craft Beer Village, a place I would revisit many times.
Because of family obligations, I had arrived late, and the celebration, which had been dubbed Bunbury, was already in full swing. I headed for what I perceived to be the main concentration of activity and there ran into Brent and his wife Kat, who I frequently cross paths with at these sorts of soirees and who are always a welcome sight and great companions. Almost immediately, I encountered my nephew Jim, who proceeded to buy me a multitude of beers, a welcome refreshment on a steamy afternoon.
We made our way to the Globilli stage to see The Crash Kings, a keyboard/bass/drum trio that made sounds like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath with a twist of Styx (when they were a decent Rock band) refracted through an Indie Rock prism. Keyboardist Tony Beliveau was improbably wearing a long sleeve flannel shirt in 90-degree heat, but he said they were from L.A., so he may have legitimately been cold. They played songs from their eponymous debut and a few from their as-yet unreleased new album, there was an epic bass solo at one point, and Beliveau made other worldly sounds with the use of a whammy bar on his rig, which I had never seen before. The Crash Kings were incredible, and they would have kicked 1975 square in the balls.
At the Landor Stage, Ponderosa were cranking out some sweet Indie Rock/Soul from their first album, Moonlight Revival and their new album Pool Party, which ultimately led to a cover of Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U.” Kalen Nash, clad in a much cooler serape and stalking the stage in Hobbit-like bare feet, bemoaned the loss of the Southgate House and said to the crowd, “Let’s bring that back.” We couldn’t have agreed more.
Back at Globilli, O.A.R. were giving a sizable audience a fair dose of heartland Indie Rock and getting an enthusiastic response in turn. The band started in Maryland but rose to prominence as students at Ohio State, and became something of a regional phenomenon. Much like the Dave Matthews Band, O.A.R.’s reputation grew by grassroots methodology and hard work. Marc Roberge acknowledged their local ties and thanked fans for their loyalty with a rousing set. Jim’s pals Andre and Kevin arrived at some point, more beers were acquired and all was well.
I took my leave of Jim and his friends to check out Ra Ra Riot at the Bud Light Stage. I love their studio brand of visceral Chamber Pop/Indie Rock and they most certainly do not disappoint in the live arena as they tore shit up good and proper. Ra Ra Riot make compelling feel-good music but I always feel a touch of melancholy when I listen to them, remembering their courage and loyalty when they remained together as a band in the aftermath of losing their original drummer John Pike, a drowning victim five years ago. Their biggest successes have come in the wake of that tragedy, but they remain in contact with Pike’s family who have in turn remained fully in Ra Ra Riot’s corner. That is truly inspirational, and that depth of feeling is translated into every note that RRR puts out into the universe. The real headline from RRR’s set was Wes Miles’ announcement that Bunbury was “the best run festival we’ve ever played,” high praise from a band that’s attended SXSW, CMJ, Seaport Music Festival and a good many others.
Somewhere between O.A.R. and Ra Ra Riot, I ran into Sean Rhiney (Messerly & Ewing) and Brian Kitzmiller (Black Owls), and was introduced to a flock of people (between them, Sean and Brian know every human in the Tri-State area) whose names are lost in a haze of previous beers but who were constant friendly faces in a sea of humanity over the next three days. I raise a perpetual glass to your continued well being and camaraderie.
It was back to the Globilli stage for The Airborne Toxic Event (named for a phrase in Don DeLillo’s 1985 chemical spill thriller, White Noise), which I’ve found to be one of the better muscular Indie Rock outfits. On the surface, they might seem like one of many innocuous radio-friendly ciphers but they’ve got a fascinating back-story, a fairly intricate sound and impressive songwriting talent. Frontman Mikel Jollett and his TATE cohorts played with a calculated frenzy to a rapturous response, and Jollett even injected a few serious moments into the festival’s spirited atmosphere to plug the Wounded Warrior Project and to offer some bi-partisan criticism (“Don‘t tell us you’re with us if you’re for cutting veterans’ benefits, don’t tell us you’re with us if you’re for raising taxes on returning veterans...”). A show with a message and a blazing soundtrack … not too shabby.
Then it was back to Landor for the most anticipated show of the night, and quite possibly the best show of the festival; the triumphant return of Cincy's Foxy Shazam. Eric Nally was in rare form, in both gymnastic stage behavior, microphone stand ballet and crowd interaction. A sampling of his repartee: (facing GABP) “Hey Votto, if you can hear me, hit the motherfucker out of the park..."; “I did an interview and when I read the story, the writer said we were unique, and I said, ‘Yeah, we‘re unique, just like everybody else..."; “Spill a little wine over here, spill a little wine over there, eventually everything’s red, spill a little blood over here, spill a little blood over there, eventually everything’s dead.”
During “Unstoppable,” someone winged a bottle of Gatorade at Nally, who flung it straight back and took issue by singing “Whoever threw that Gatorade is going to pay” at the close of the song. He then chastised the offender, saying, “Don’t make me explain to my kids why I have a bottle of Gatorade stuck up my ass,” and noting that he would let security allow the thrower backstage if he wanted to fight. Classic Nally.
Later, Schuyler White danced on his keyboard then tossed it onto the front row of the audience and dove into the crowd, playing while the audience held him in place. Classic Foxy. The crowd went batshit crazy when Foxy launched into “I Like It” from their latest and best album, The Church of Rock and Roll. At the breathless conclusion of Foxy’s set, the bar was officially set for the next two days.
With a fairly elaborate stage set complete with women on trapezes and giant video monitors displaying some sort of acid freak-out movie from the ’60s, Jane’s Addiction clearly trumped Foxy in terms of spectacle but fell short in terms of raw energy. Dave Navarro peeled off plenty of scorching riffery, his patented classic combination of ’80s Hard Rock and ’90s AltRock with his guitar set to stun, Stephen Perkins bashed his kit like a man possessed and new bassist Chris Chaney supplied a thunderous heartbeat, while Perry Farrell stalked the Globilli Stage like an earthbound raptor, howling his way through a set comprised of songs from their latest album, last year’s The Great Escape Artist, and heavy on the classics from their other three discs.
The show couldn’t be characterized as lackluster or phoned in, as it was a feast for the senses; plenty of engaging trappings and a propulsive soundtrack that tapped into memories of a visceral and compelling band on the edge of the alternative frontier two and a half decades ago. It was all incredibly entertaining, but it was a far cry from the scalp-tingling urgency of JA’s hungrier days, which is why this tour was designed with so much visual overload; few if any bands are able to recreate their earliest chemistry 25 years after the fact. My favorite JA memory will always be their opening set for Iggy Pop in 1988; seeing Jane’s at Bogart‘s that night was the aural equivalent of licking an electric outlet. I was certainly not disappointed with what transpired during JA’s Bunbury set, but neither was I spellbound by it. And Farrell’s humorously profane diatribe (“Let the pussies hear you!”) linking Pete Rose’s absence in the Baseball Hall of Fame to Jane’s Addiction’s lack of nominations two years after their eligibility was a bit awkward; he seemed to think steroids were somehow involved in Rose’s case, and as far as JA is concerned, well, four albums over a quarter century span, regardless of the influence of the first two, does not a Hall of Fame career comprise. I was glad to have experienced Jane‘s Addiction in the 21st century and I like the bombast they’ve created to present their old and new material but, as Blue Oyster Cult once noted, this ain’t the summer of love.
At some point during the JA set, I spied my most excellent zen editor Mike Breen, so I sidled over for some quick face time (being freelance I don‘t get into the office as much as I probably should), and he seemed to be digging the show greatly. I look forward to his thoughts on it because I greatly respect his musical opinions in a completely non-ass nuzzling way. (Editor's Note: You're hired! Fireworks rock! And "Free Pete Rose"!)
And Jim’s wife, my niece Robin, came late to the festival but somehow spotted me in the twilight and gave me a nudge in the back. Even though she is only five years my junior, I have been married to her aunt for almost three decades, and so I am and will forever be Uncle Brian, which is both touching and charming. A good number of the nieces and nephews I inherited when I started dating my wife have kids of their own now. Time and the generations march on.
I left Mike to his JA reverie when I spotted revered music connoisseur and branding legend Matthew Fenton (once an occasional CityBeat music contributor), who came down from his lair in Chicago to experience Bunbury’s inaugural year. I had e-mailed him to ask if he and his most excellent girlfriend Kelly would be in attendance, but never heard back. Turns out he’d quit his job after last year’s MidPoint and has taken up the study of improv comedy at Second City, a program from which he will graduate next month. I am both astonished and completely unsurprised because Matthew is a genius that makes geniuses insecure. Matthew assured me that Kelly would be around for Saturday’s festivities and introduced me to his older brother John, an equally princely guy by all indications.
Now we have a festival.
Saturday, July 14
I made my way back to the media entrance, this time being tended by old friend Jacob Heintz (Buckra) and the lovely and talented Sara Beiting (a former CityBeat all-star). The cloud cover was heavier, and it had already rained relatively hard north of the city but it didn’t seem to have impacted the downtown area too badly. I grabbed a beer and made my way through the throng … or did I make my way through the throng and grab a beer? The skies were not the only things that were partly cloudy.
At the Globilli stage, I was just in time for the start of Alberta Cross, a British duo now getting their mail in Brooklyn and fleshing out their live sound with a full fledged band. They sported an expansive vibe that had an appealing Verve quality, or Oasis without the contentious brothers problem screwing everything up.
Now in it tenth year, one of Cincinnati’s most celebrated bands, Wussy (led by former Ass Pony Chuck Cleaver and his equally skilled songwriting partner/co-frontperson Lisa Walker), has amassed an amazing discography so far. Beginning with 2005’s Funeral Dress, the group quickly developed a reputation for the “ragged glory” of its performances, both live and on record. That sense of recklessness worked impossibly well with the band’s fractured, soul-burrowing love songs and the unbridled tense, passionate energy between its co-leaders. Early on, Wussy often sounded on the verge of falling apart, but there was always something magical about the group that assured you that, even if by Scotch tape and rubber bands, the band would hold it together.
But with each successive release, Wussy’s edge-of-cliff nature gradually dissipated. By the time of the rockers’ third album, an eponymous affair in 2009, Wussy had become a more confident, cohesive unit. But not in the way, say, Paul Westerberg went from alcoholic Punk poet to “mature” singer/songwriter. As the band’s fourth full-length, Strawberry, shows, Wussy isn’t getting boring. They’re just getting better. Which, considering how powerful albums like 2007’s Left for Dead were, is almost scary.
Five Finger Death Punch is one of the most popular Metal bands in the world. The band has a catchy, melodic sound that resonates with its crowds and the band's songs have become arena anthems across the country. Five Finger continues to tour on its third studio album American Capitalist. Currently, the group is out headlining the Trespass America Festival with the bands Trivium, Pop Evil and Killswitch Engage.
CityBeat was able to spend some time with the band’s lead guitarist Jason Hook to discuss, among other things, the band’s feverish tour schedule and the effect it has on the band members' relationships, as well as what makes the music so addictive. The Trespass America Festival comes to the PNC Pavilion at Riverbend tomorrow (Wednesday) night.
CityBeat: What has been the highlight of Trespass Festival so far?
Jason Hook: Well, the first show was awesome. We opened the show on Friday the 13th just outside of Denver. The place was almost sold out, packed. We had all of our friends, family, record label, managers and agents with us. It was a massive party (and) it was day one. It was awesome, really awesome.
CB: Who leaves the biggest mess backstage at Trespass?
JH: The biggest mess? As far as what, a hot mess or just messy?
CB: It could be either.
JH: I’ll give both to Ivan (Moody, Five Finger's frontman).
CB: OK, I wouldn’t picture that.
JH: Well you don’t know him as well as I do.
CB: Is it true that he still throws up before he performs?
JH: I haven’t seen that lately but it might be because I tend to steer clear of him a little bit more than usual because of that. But he does do that. That is not an urban legend.
CB: You consistently are having these hits with huge sports and military following. What is really the formula for creating a modern day Rock anthem?
JH: I think that you have to keep things simple. People like a really consistent beat, something that has a good thump to it. Obviously, an easy to follow storyline or a relatable storyline and as many hooks as you can get into each section of the song for example the intro, the verse, the pre-chorus, the chorus, the bridge, the solo — all those are sections — and if they get too long or drawn out or too complicated or the resolution set too high for the listener, they just miss out and it will go over their head. A big part of having an anthem is having something that is simple enough that many people can grab it easily like “Rock & Roll all night and party every day.”
CB: Does the band ever write songs for a specific audience?
JH: Not really. Most of us in the band have a background where we grew up listening to heavy bands but bands that were also on the radio. That reflects in the music we make. None of it is really contrived. We just do what we like. Fortunate for us, it catches with a lot more people. Once you try to do something that is not honest, it is really hard to repeat it. You are always chasing or guessing what to do. It is better to know what you like to do and just do it.
You always have the crazy crowd surfing at the shows, the biggest Rock on the Range crowd surfing in history. Do you ever worry about fan safety?
JH: All the time. All the time. It freaks us out. I see people getting beat up pretty good out there, especially the people in the very front row because people crowd surf up from behind them, they can’t see that these 220 pound guys are being launched forward and the people in the front row are the last people that these heavy people land on their heads on the way into the pit. You get a lot of people getting smashed, and they have no idea it is happening until it happens.
I keep saying, “Is there something we should do to discourage this? Should we say that we want people to be careful and keep your eyes open?” I do see a lot of people getting hammered, and it freaks me out. We are always thinking about it.
CB: How do you stay friends living in such close quarters and being on the road almost all year?
JH: How do we stay friends? We stay away from each other. The only way to control how we all get along is to make sure there is a good amount of separation. You need a little bit of on and a little off.
For example, we get hotel rooms. The band gets hotel rooms. We get them every other day. The hotel rooms are essential and it doesn’t matter what it costs to have everybody be able go and have their own private space to go make phone calls, answer e-mails, relax, watch the TV program they want to watch, whatever. The off is just as important as the on because if you get too much together time all the time, then you are likely to have the engine run a little hot, you know what I am saying?
CB: Who in the band is more likely to get into a fight backstage and who is more likely to get laid?
JH: I don’t really want to focus on the fighting, but as far as the sex part of it, I would say, all the girls like Ivan. The rest of us are just sort of swinging the bat. They all seem to want to get to Ivan. So I would say answer "A"—my final answer — Ivan.
The thing is, to chase girls around, which is also to chase the party or stay up, all these people show up and they want to hang out with the band. This is their big night out. The problem is, if we participated in everybody’s big night out, then we end up having 42 or 55 nights in a row, and it is physically too hard. Imagine having 45 New Years Eves in a row. What kind of shape would you be in after that?
CB: Yeah, bands now are a lot more, I don’t want to say mellow, but you can’t sustain (that type of partying) for long periods of time if this is what you are going to do.
JH: God knows we have tried it. We don’t want to hurt the band. We don’t want to hurt the tour. We have a responsibility to not only talk to people during the day but to play in front of these large audiences, and I don’t want to go up there hung over and feel like crap and be fuzzy and making mistakes. It’s very hard. It’s OK when you are a club band — nobody cares; “Get me another beer.” Everyone is drunk anyway, but now we are talking about playing in front of 15,000 people at 9 o’clock at night and it is a business now. It is for real.
Theory of a Deadman is a Hard Rock band that has made a dent in popular music with catchy hooks and sounds that appeal to the heartbroken everywhere. Together for over 10 years, they became hitmakers with their third album, Scars and Souvenirs, and the No. 1 hit “Bad Girlfriend,” along with other popular tracks like “Hate My Life” and “Not Meant to Be.” The band's fourth album, The Truth Is, was released last month and contains the hit single “Lowlife," currently lighting up airwaves on Rock and Pop stations across the country.
CityBeat recently spoke with guitarist Dave Brenner prior to Theory of a Deadman's set at the Kentucky State Fair, part of the Carnival of Madness tour. Brenner talked about the new record and hobbies on the road. Catch Theory of a Deadman and the Carnival of Madness at Dayton's X-Fest this Sunday. (Check the commercial below or visit here for details.)
Howdy folks! It’s your loyal, intrepid Bonnaroo correspondent Ric Hickey. Once again I am pleased and honored to be covering the big festival for CityBeat. We’ve been on-site for barely four hours and already this is shaping up to be one of the best Bonnaroo experiences that I have ever enjoyed.
This month, the Southgate House’s “Artist in Residence” series features a special pairing of two of Greater Cincinnati’s finest songwriters. Chuck Cleaver, formerly of cult heroes The Ass Ponys and currently a driving force behind Wussy, is joining Mark Utley, leader of Americana band Magnolia Mountain, every Wednesday in May, offering a rare chance to catch both singer/songwriters together and in a solo context. The free, 9 p.m. shows — which begin tonight — will also feature a different special guest each week.
"ATTN: Biggest bummer post-summer? Our grand opening weekend has been postponed. This weekend’s shows have to be delayed due to a few last minute construction challenges.
We are completely committed to opening the right way to make your experience the best it can be. We just can't in good conscious present anything below the very best.
Says Morrella: “We are sorry to have to delay sharing this magical venue with the music fans of the area, but our first concern will always be to make sure that it is safe and ready for public occupation. The City of Newport, our wonderful construction crews and crew of volunteers have all been working very hard to make this happen. We thank them so much. We look forward to seeing everyone next weekend for CincyPunk Fest. We will announce rescheduled dates for these shows very soon.”
Anyone who had pre-purchased tickets for this weekend’s dates may be issued a refund through ticketfly.com or may hold on to their original tickets for the soon to be announced rescheduled dates"
The grand opening of the Southgate House Revival at 111 East Sixth Street in Newport, Kentucky scheduled tonight at 9 p.m. and The Newbees CD Release show scheduled for tomorrow night, Saturday, October 6 have been postponed. This weekend’s shows had to be delayed due to a few last minute construction challenges.
The 1866 property, the former Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, has been under a massive renovation since May that includes all new electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems, as well as roof repairs and new flooring.
“We set a very ambitious goal,” said Morrella Raleigh “and we were very, very close.” “We are sorry to have to delay sharing this magical venue with the music fans of the area, but our first concern will always be to make sure that it is safe and ready for public occupation.
The City of Newport, our wonderful construction crews and crew of volunteers have all been working very hard to make this happen. We thank them so much. We look forward to seeing everyone next weekend for CincyPunk Fest. We will announce rescheduled dates for these shows very soon.”
CityBeat: I don’t know if people in Cincinnati know a lot about you. Do you want to tell us a little bit about what the band is about and coming to Cincinnati?
Jesse: We have never been to Cincinnati. This is our first show there. I’ve been there before with other bands and I’ve always loved the city. I’m excited to bring this band there and just show what I’ve been talking about because we always hear about how awesome the scene is there in Cincinnati. We are a straight up rock band from Nashville, Tennessee. There’s really no frills or anything too fancy in what we do. We like to put on a good show and get the crowd into a good mood and maybe help them party a little bit, dance a little bit.
Anna: Give them what they pay for. Perform on stage and have a good time.
CB: You guys are pretty known around Nashville I know and other places for high energy performing. I saw it for the first time in Chicago opening for Kid Rock and Bon Jovi. Can you talk to us a little bit about what that experience was like and how that all came about?
Anna: Yeah, totally. We actually won a competition to play that show. We put our music on this site called Ourstage.com. Ourstage has been real good to us. They were fans of our music. We had a couple songs that were number one for a few weeks. Then they put on this competition where people could vote on getting the opportunity to open for Bon Jovi. I remember we were in Georgia on the road and Jesse came across the contest and was “Hey dudes I am going to sign us up for this.” And we were all joking “It’s gonna be killer when we open for Bon Jovi.” And not really thinking of it but being positive anyway. And it came true. So we got a phone call that we won the contest to open for Bon Jovi at Soldier Field in Chicago. What was cool for me is I had never been to Chicago before. So my first experience going to Chicago was playing a gig at Soldier Field with Bon Jovi and Kid Rock. So that was sort of surreal. The experience was awesome but it was a little bit of a tease for us all because it was one show. We wanted just to do our best and kill it. I feel we all acted very professional about it. Everybody backstage and Bon Jovi’s manager told us how professional we were. It felt very natural. I’m just glad we have that experience under our belt and hopefully there will be many more to come like that.
CB: It was a great show. Very high energy. You have a video and a song called “Kitty Litter” that has gotten a lot of play. I saw an interview that the concept behind the song was “Girls can be bitches” and I thought that was the best line of the week. Can you tell me a little bit more about the song?
Anna: Yeah, sure. I mean that is sort of the basis of the song. Unfortunately from a little bit of experience. I called it “Kitty Litter” just because that is the nastiest thing. People call girls catty. What’s the nastiest part of the cat? That’s just how “Kitty Litter” evolved. I use a line in the song that it’s a pretty little ribbon that’s tied to a fatal disease. I write metaphorically, and that just sort of means that girls can come off as really pretty and friendly but once gossip gets involved, it can become deadly. It can bruise someone’s ego or friendship or that sort of thing. That’s basically what the song is about. Not all girls are like that, just some.
CB: I’d say most, at one point another, we are all guilty I think. You guys just had a song featured on TV as well right?
Anna: You can barely hear it but it’s so cool. It was on Burn Notice..
CB: What song was it?
Jesse: It was “Drop Your Panties and Roll” from our first EP Put Your Babe On.
CB: And again, another song that I like. Can you tell me a little background what that song is about?
Anna: Oh yeah, that song was inspired by celebrities and paparazzi and how people are coming out of clubs and posing for cameras. It’s how things can get crazy or dirty. It was written around the time that there was the Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan scandals wanting to show their coochies for the camera for exposure. That’s why I say in the song, “Filthy is as filthy does/ Don’t forget to pose for the camera/ Raise your glass to the writer” because the writer is basically gaining you fame for all of your bullshit. We weren’t originally going to call it “Drop Your Panties and Roll,” but our witty bass player Jairo, I don’t know, the most random shit comes out of his mouth. So I said, “Jairo, what do you think we should call this song?” And within two seconds blurted out “Drop Your Panties and Roll” and we started laughing so hard and just kept the title. It was just convenient that that title was what I was writing about.
CB: You guys have a fairly new EP out right?
Jesse: Yeah, it came out March, just a little three song EP. Amy: What are the three songs on there?
Anna: We feature “Let’s Go,” “Party Dress,” and “XOXO.”
CB: Do you guys write your stuff?
Jesse: Yeah, the guys usually write all the music and will have a full song figured out or Jairo will have the song musically figured out or if we don’t we’ll kind of jam on it, a rift that either one of us has come up with. Then once we get that solid, we’ll bring it to Anna and just jam on it til she gets some words and melodies flowing. So everyone contributes musically, then we let Anna do her magic lyrically.
Anna: That, and then they come along and cut parts out here and there and turn it into a beautiful song.
CB: Do you guys have anybody you run it across. Do you ever co-write with anybody?
Anna: No. But we have a friend of ours here in Nashville who has approached us and has offered to help co-write with some stuff. My first reaction to that kind of stuff is pretty defensive. But this guy, he gets me and my writing style. I don’t know, I give him a lot of credit for that. So he has been coming to some of our practices. We haven’t written a song together from scratch. But he has been taking a few of our songs and sort of upping the game making it a little more “poppy” and making it a little bit more placeable as far as movies and radio are concerned. So, I am sort of working with somebody but in general we don’t at all.
CB: What’s your favorite song to play live?
Jesse: Good question. I can tell you mine. We are always writing so we have a handful of new songs that aren’t recorded yet. So mine right now at this moment is one of our newest songs called “March.” It’s got a bit of a different sound than we have recently recorded. It’s going in a little bit more of a “what’s hot right now” direction and got a lot of the dance feel but it’s pretty rock and pop. That one is fun for me because I get to play a little bit of a solo. So it’s a different kind of arrangement too.
Anna: Yeah, I actually agree with Jessie. That’s not necessarily my favorite song right now but when any song is new and fresh, you have fresh energy with the song. I’m not saying that always goes away but I’m pretty pumped about that song. Otherwise, we have a song that isn’t recorded yet called “Hey Kid” that is about the downfall of the music industry and it’s very anthemy. It’s one of those I can jump around a lot. I really like that one. “Let’s Go” is fun because it has the cheerleader chant to it but it’s not cheerleader at all which is awesome. I like “Sugar Cookies” because it’s all balls to the wall and crazy and I can jump into the crowd with that song and people can get into it and just want to dance. I try to write all of our songs to be fun to perform.
CB: What are you guys listening to right now. What’s in your Ipod or your car?
Anna: Right now in my car I’m listening to Iggy Pop’s Greatest Hits.
CB: Who are your influences when you perform or written in the past? I hear a No Doubt “feel” to your music.
Anna: Oh yeah if you mention No Doubt it’s totally cool. I have quite a few influences. Non-female anywhere from David Lee Roth to Freddy Mercury, even a little bit of Kurt Cobain. But as far as females are concerned, Chrissy Hines, Joan Jett, and Gwen Stefani for sure. I grew up in a really super religious home where MTV was blocked from the television. But when No Doubt came out, my parents actually let me listen to that CD. I listened to that CD until my ears were on fire. I admired her stage presence and I think her power sparked something in me and I woke up one day and I said that’s exactly what I’m going to do with my life. Everybody in my high school knew that I would do that one day. That dream is coming true. So yeah Gwen Stefani is up there but not my only influence.
CB: You brought up being raised in the religious household. I mean Nashville has a great music scene and I love to go to Nashville but one of the things that bothers me is the ultra-conservatism that is around town. Do you have to deal with that or has that ever been a problem for you?
Anna: I don’t hang out with those people.
Jesse: Well speaking of Nashville having a really good music scene. I’m not sure if you saw the Rolling Stone article but they just named Nashville the best.
CB: I did and I just read it last night and saw the article.
Jesse: Yeah that’s huge and I got really excited when I saw that.
CB: I think it’s true. I always tell people that I find Nashville to be an awesome place but also a frustrating place because I have seen people on the street or working at Trader Joes that I feel are awesome singers or musicians that are never going to make it, better than a lot of the people out there.
Jesse: That is kind of frustrating to see that. I think, with what we’re doing, there is a really strong rock scene going on here. Of course you have country, you have Americana, you got folk, got blues, whatever. But we find more success when we play shows out of Nashville. We love living there, we love playing shows there. But everyone is a musician and everyone is a critic. You’re a dime a dozen. You’re like everybody else in town.
Anna: Right, like everybody is a music lover but if they come to see you, they never want to show it. It’s either everyone is jealous of everyone else or everybody is trying to copy someone else. Nashville is a tough crowd as a lot of big cities are, but Nashville in particular. When we go out of town, it’s night and day. We have fans who are putting their hands up and trying to get as close to the stage as possible. When that kind of energy happens, that’s when they get the better show and that’s when I’ll jump into the crowd with them.
CB: So are you guys originally from there?
Jesse: I’m from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Anna: I’m sort of a mutt but I grew up in Montreal in my childhood and then moved to South Florida for high school and college.
CB: How did you guys all come together and form the band?
Jesse: Funny story. Anna and I actually met on the internet.
Anna: Before it was cool.
Jesse: Yeah before it was cool to meet someone on the internet. I was living in Indiana at the time and going to school there and I was in a band there and really tied down. So when I met Anna on the internet and saw that she lived in Florida, I was like “long distance relationship, okay.” And we had a really strong connection. Then we started visiting each other all the time and sparks flew. So she decided to move up to be near me when I was still in my other band. As time went on, that band fizzled out. Then we started writing together, and I realized that “Holy crap! This is really good. This is the best stuff I’ve ever done.” We couldn’t hack it in Indiana anymore, we wanted the big time and the closest option that seemed like the right place was Nashville. So we moved here about six years ago and we met the other guys when we got here. I worked with our bass player Jairo. We met Nathan via Craigslist when we were looking for a drummer. So a very unique come together of how it all started.
CB: So are you and Anna together-together?
Jesse: We are together-together.
CB: Does that cause any problems? That’s a lot of togetherness.
Anna: Oh for me and Jessie? No, every relationship has its problems but I think what’s really awesome about our marriage and being together is the fact that we have a common goal. So it’s not like I want to have babies and be a stay at home mom, it’s like “F that, we are going to do this together.” We actually have a lot of fun with it. Jesse and I are best friends first. When we’re on the road, we feel that too. I don’t know, it’s really unique, we get along really well honestly. We’re all really different people but it just happens to work.
CB: I think you have to get along to be in a band together for long periods of time. It’s a tough situation but if you’re good friends, you just kind of let things go.
Anna: Yeah for sure. I would love to spread the rumor that we are real rock stars that cause trouble, drug addicts, burn out all the time, real crazy, but we’re not, we’re actually super business-minded. And don’t get into any trouble, the worst thing we do is play dirty mad-libs in the van for like eight hours straight.
CB: You guys do this full time right?
Jesse: No, we all work 9-5’s and the band is like another part time job.
Anna: But we’re working on it to be full time. That’s our goal.
Jesse: That’s our goal to make a living at making music.
Anna: You really have to believe you are going to do it. It can get really discouraging. For example, all the guys do work 9-5 jobs. I used to. I’m more of a night person and I just started waiting tables and making more money doing that. I’m working at a higher end hotel in Nashville where all the musicians come through and all the main songwriters come through. And here I am wanting to make a living for The Worsties and overhearing shit bands getting signed and things are happening for other people. I am pouring their sparkling water and wanting to throw up in their food. It’s discouraging because you see things coming together for other people. But at the same I’m super positive because every goal we have set we have surpassed so far. We’re going to get there. Our time is coming. It’s hard.
Jesse: It sounds very cliché but there is a lot of power in positive thinking. If you will it, it will happen.