What more would you need to learn about a band that has made the original yet slightly creepy decision to hold their album release party at a world-renowned Hollywood cemetery? Turns out it's quite a bit. We had the opportunity to pose a few questions of our own to this monstrously entertaining group of swampy, rockabilly infused musicians and got some interesting answers for you.
Describe your music for our readers who may not be familiar with you.
Well, at our very first show, a semi-famous Drag-Queen named Constance introduced us as a "Pimpological phenomenon of musical mayhem." Well, she was swishin' around pretty close to the truth with that one. But since then we'd describe our music as haunted swamp garage rock, or what our sax-man Steve Carr likes to call New Orleans vampire rock. We like to play around with horror and gothic themes in our lyrics, but not in an Emo way; it's more of a laugh-as-you-burn vibe. Musically, it's a basic rock trio of drums, bass and lead guitars with banjo, sax, organ, and occasionally flute, clarinet, and trumpet layered over it for a rootsy bluesy swampy sound. But the main thing about us is RJ's vocals--he's a baritone bazooka with a lot of soul.
Who are your musical influences and idols?
Oh shoot, with six guys all who've been around since before the Walkman, we could do a Ken Burns documentary on that one. Currently we'd say Southside Johnny & Asbury Jukes, Nick Curran & the Lowlifes, and Jack White's phenomenal record with Wanda Jackson. Goin' back a ways: The Cramps, Electric Flag, The Meters, early Kinks and Rolling Stones. Goin' way back: Louis Jordan and his Orchestra and whenever Gene Krupa & Benny Goodman teamed up, somethin' bumpin' was gonna happen. You can hear all of these influences in the songs on Beast For Love. No doubt RJ channels some Elvis and Lux Interior in our live shows—-but only young cool sexy Elvis and he's promised us never to wear jumpsuit or a cape.
What was the first album, cassette, or CD you bought with your own money?
Well we surveyed the pimps on this, and were relieved no one admitted to making his first musical purchase the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
RJC: "I can't be sure. It was either B.B. King Live In Cook County Jail or the
soundtrack to Bonnie & Clyde. Yeah, a Midwestern church-singin' kid into both B.B. King and into Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, oh the layers of conflict and irony are endless. But what both records have in common is story-tellin' and grit. Me and the Pimps love story-tellin' songs."
Jeff Jourard: Surfin' With The Ventures.
Steve Carr: Duke Ellington's Festival Session.
Eddie Fish: Paul Revere & The Raiders.
Bruce Mann: The Best Of Jerry Lee Lewis.
Vic "Baron" Migenes: "I'll never forget the two 45s I bought with my own money. I walked 6 blocks to the closest music store from home and bought the Beatles' "Hey Jude" and "Revolution."
On March 10th, you are having your record release show at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery where many great actors and musicians are resting for eternity including Dee Dee and Johnny Ramone. If you had a chance to resurrect a few people to play with you on this great evening, who would it be?
Oh shoot, you spoiled the surprise! Now what're we gonna do? First, we're so jazzed to be playing Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It's gonna be a great show and we feel really lucky to be able to do a show there. Now just focusing on the talented souls at Hollywood Forever... obviously, we'd want Dee Dee and Johnny Ramone slashin' away on stage with us. Leaning a bit Goth ourselves, we'd get Rozz Williams to haunt the place. Eddie might just die for real if Luther Rabb clawed his way up on stage to play bass with us. And forget getting Steve Carr off a cloud if Woody Herman could interrupt his slumber to lend some that silky clarinet to the mix. And y'know what's revealing about that? Every one of those diverse musicians would find a familiar hook playing us.
Each band member brings some serious experience and impressive musical chops to the table. Does that heady mix of know-how and talent act as a help or a hindrance?
Aw, thanks. That's very kind of you to say, we'll pass that along to our long-suffering wives and girlfriends. The musical diversity is one of the fundamentals of our sound, and it's awesome. It can only be a hindrance if we get in its way by trying to control it. Instead, we let each other express each song in their own way. Steve plays the sax or clarinet solo he feels for a given tune, same with Jeff on guitar, and even Vic on drums. Being a genre-bending band with a wide-ranging repertoire of styles, it happens that a given song may be pretty far outside the familiar territory of one of the players, but that's how we avoid musical boredom. On the other hand, our band is not a democracy. Luckily we don't have to make every musical decision by vote or consensus. RJ is the band leader and after a discussion if a musical decision needs to be made, then he makes it and we respect that.
Considering you have all previously been members of some highly influential bands (The Motels, The Bay City Rollers, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers), did any of you ever run into each other in past lives? How did you guys all finally find each other and come together
No way we're tellin' THOSE stories, you kidding? Plus, we were all probably too blasted to remember. Truth is though, that Eddie and Jeff and Vic have known each other most of their careers. They all came to the Dance Hall Pimps because they knew each other. RJ and Jeff started the band. Jeff's girlfriend was (and still is) a close friend of RJ's wife. They were into this underground cabaret scene in LA and one of the upcoming cabarets was having a Fairy Tale theme party and RJ's wife suggested he ask the promoter to perform his old original blues song "I'm No Prince Charming." RJ hadn't performed musically in 23 years so he asked Jeff to accompany him on guitar. That's how it stared, with RJ and Jeff as a duo. It went off, and when they were asked to come back to a subsequent cabaret, RJ and Jeff thought it would be cool to come back with a band. Jeff brought Eddie and Vic in. RJ's friend and Brother Mason, Bruce Mann, joined because he could play both keyboards and trumpet. After our original sax player decided to stay in the jazz world, RJ found Steve Carr via web search and originally asked if any of Steve's students might want some real stage experience. RJ sent Steve a rough track of "Beast For Love" and we were all floored when Steve said he wanted to join.
Things today are somewhat different for young up-and-coming bands. There is so much access to great music via the Internet and live show circuit. Do you think it's any easier today or are we fooling ourselves into thinking we can circumvent the mega music manufacturing machine?
Thank you so much for using the word "young" to describe us, even if indirectly. OK, you probably meant new or emerging, not really young, right? Oh, ok, well, anyway... Yeah, we are old enough to remember music before the Internet. Every one of us bought our first record on vinyl. No doubt it's easier to record music than ever, and there are countless ways to put your recorded or live music out into the cloud. It's a DIY world in music. That everyone can do it is great, that everyone does do it sucks. What's the point if all you can hope for is a few fans, some laughs, and no dollars? There has to be a way to cut through the mass of crap and identify what's really good and get those artists paid. For better or worse, the partnership between record labels and terrestrial radio (and to some extent the music press) used to do that for us. Of course, many worthy artists never broke into that club and their music is lost to us. But we're probably missing more great artists now than back in those days because today the major labels are falling apart financially and aren't developing talent anywhere near like they used to. The mega music manufacturing machine will always find a way to make a few superstars each year, that's a given. How a good musical artist can make a living in the tiers below super stardom, that's the issue. We think the answer is two-fold. First, consumers have to be willing to support their artists by buying their records. Yes, buying their records. We make no bones about this, we need our fans to support us by buying Beast For Love. It's the best way a fan can help an emerging artist. This making every song free to everybody is bleeding artists dry because there is no evidence that giving all their music away results in any indirect financial support. The second prong is licensing and publishing. Rather than songs on the radio–-which is way cool, of course—-the money gigs are songs in movies, TV shows, TV ads. That's why when we were offered deals from two record labels, we chose Lakeshore Records (the soundtrack & music division of Lakeshore Entertainment). Our record label doesn't promise (or even really try) to break its artists into superstardom, Lakeshore focuses on the licensing and publishing of the artists' songs. Like it or not, the year Vampire Weekend and Black Keys were both nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy, they made most of their money from licensing songs in TV commercials. Products are the new record labels... how's that for a scary story?
More Dance Hall Pimps: Official | Facebook | Twitter