Last week Oklahoma rock band Taddy Porter made their return to the Michigan area, where they have one of their biggest followings.
After having been away from the area for awhile, the band ended up playing in a number of Michigan locations throughout the week.
Their week began with a show in Battle Creek at Planet Rock and then moved on to the Pike Room in Pontiac then the Machine Shop in Flint and then it was on to a Autorama afterparty at the Soundboard at the Motorcity Casino in Detroit and a show at the Loft in Lansing.
I caught up with the band in Pontiac after a intensive soundcheck before their show at the Pike Room.
After a winding and confusing trip downstairs to the green room, we found that we had lost bassist and backup vocalist Kevin Jones along the way.
The rest of the band chose to go ahead and start the interview without him.
Q: You are out playing some new songs from your upcoming second album?
Andy Brewer (lead vocalist and guitarist): Oh yeah we are actually playing mostly new songs tonight.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the new album?
Andy: Well we just got back from Nashville where we were recording. I think it has been like 2 1/2 weeks since we’ve been out there and we have not heard the full mix yet. We plan on hearing it in the next week or so. It’s a lot different from our first album and that is exactly what we were going for.
Q: Different in what way? Different genres, a faster beat?
Andy: I would say a different genre altogether. I mean it’s definitely still us and what we want to do is still there but we just picked a different path. You have both ways that you can go. You can either go left or right and we chose the road less travelled which is a more narrow road. It’s harder to see people and catch new faces on a narrow road but you do what you feel is right and hopefully you’ve made the right decision when you get to the end of the road. [Looks around and grins.] Sweet analogy right? Hey!
[Kevin finally makes his way into the room to the amusment of the rest of the band.]
Kevin: I got lost like nine times on the way down here. Chris [Whitaker, road manager] was like oh I’ll show you where it is and then got on the phone and just walked away!
Q: You are working with some big producers on the new album?
Andy: Yep we worked with Mark Neill who produced the Black Keys’ Brothers album and we worked with Dave Cobb, who has produced bands like Jamey Johnson, George Jones…
Kevin: Waylon Jennings.
Andy: Mark has produced for a bunch of great bands that at first I had never heard of but after listening to his music it was all like amazing stuff and that was exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to get into a room with some producers who had our kind of same genre in mind. At first we were so green that we just kind of let whoever was there just kind of take the reigns for us because we didn’t know what we were doing. It’s not that we weren’t happy with it but it is just that there was some stuff that we didn’t say when we were in the studio. It was like, oh I wish I could have changed this, but we just didn’t want to step on any toes during the first round. This time it was more so that we wrote the songs ourselves and had a style that we were trying to work with and we showed it to the producers and they helped us achieve it.
Kevin: And arrange it.
Q: For tonight, how many new songs are you doing?
Andy: I would say probably about six. Six new ones?
[ The rest of the band agrees.]
Q: So how many old ones then?
Joe Selby (lead guitarist, backing vocalist): 6
Andy: 5 or 6
Q: Are you doing “Long Slow Drag” finally?
Kevin and Joe: We still don’t have the keys.
Doug Jones (drummer): Probably not.
Q: You could do it as a acoustic with guitars.
Andy: We could do that. It would probably sound cool with a bunch of reverb on it. If you made it all kind of like you know, [gestures wildly while miming guitar playing.]
Joe: Well Detroit is one of our biggest radio markets so…
Andy: Do they play it here? Do they play it here in Detroit?
Q: Yeah I have heard it here.
Andy: Oh cool!
Q: You said there is no release date yet but do you have an idea or target for when it will be released?
Doug: In the middle of the Summer.
Q: How about a title?
Andy: Titles. We have been kicking around a few. The one that seems to be more fitting, because of the genre that we’ve chosen, I think is probably going to be the one we go to because we’ve found a bunch of similarities and correlations with the style of music that we are playing.
Kevin: And with Oklahoma. It has got the whole roots thing in there still.
Andy: So we’re thinking about, and this may not be it but this is one of the ones, Stay Golden. When people say stay golden if you’re a reader then you think of The Outsiders book with Pony Boy or if you’re an old lady you think of the Golden Girls.
[The band dissolves into laughter.]
Kevin: Good lord!
Joe: I always think of the Golden Girls man!
Andy: I think that’s a classic example! I mean the Golden Girls, they were lovely, lovely ladies!
Joe: I think they popped over to every generation.
Andy: Oh, they did! I was little and I still know them. I know that one lady, not Betty White but the other one, the one that was more of, you know…[raises eyebrows.]
Rest of the band: Blanche!
Andy: Yes, Blanche! She was a little, you know she’s passed away unfortunately, but uh you could always tell that she was the scandalous one. You know she was like, “I’m gonna get me a man!” [Andy shares with a high feminine voice and head shaking.] She was kind of a floooozzyyy!
Rest of the band: Floozy!
Andy: You know a old broad sleeping around. I’m sorry! [laughs.]
Kevin: [Shaking his head.] Talk about Blanche and he just goes off!
Andy: Anyways, we have some lyrics on the album right now that are talking about golden in like different ways and so it is kind of like we said, stay golden. We paint the word golden in different ways throughout the album so we have it in there more than once and that is why it would be appropriate.
Kevin: Is The Outsiders based in Tulsa or is the author who wrote it?
Andy: Both. Yeah it was based in Tulsa.
Kevin: I did not know that!
Andy: Stay golden Pony Boy! I remember reading that you know?
Q: A new catchprase? Everytime you high five someone you can say stay golden.
Andy: We can hit that!
Rest of band: Stay golden!
Doug: Stay golden man! [Gives a high five.] That’s a good idea!
Andy: Write that down!
Joe: We’ve got it on the recording.
Andy: Golden high five!
Q: So what is your favorite song off of the new album?
Andy: Umm, it is funny because we just started playing these new tunes like four days ago so we’re still very, very new to them and right now we’ve had people say that the song called “Changes” that the people have been digging it.
Q: We heard a little of that in the sound check.
Andy: Yeah it’s like old school kind of. Kevin told me earlier and then my dad sent me a text right after about “Let It Begin”. [Looks at Kevin.] You told me that you were really digging it and then my dad said it.
Andy: And I’m a big fan of that too just because of its attitude. And I like the song “Evil” and so I think it is gonna be great because there’s a bunch of songs on that album that have their high points. A lot of tunes get to a certain part of the song and it’s like you really enjoy that part of the song. Pretty much all the songs are like that. I can find an amazing part in every one of them. That is different from the first album because there were moments in the first album that I was like, you know, making a cringe face. I wish we could have went back and changed that part or whatever you know. And that’s the freedom of being able to play your songs live because if you don’t like what you’ve put on the album you can always correct that live. We do that all the time. We’ll lengthen songs like a minute.
Kevin: And we’ve already started doing that to the new songs.
Doug: Yeah we’ve already added like three new parts to things.
Andy: We tweak and change as we go. It’s cool.
Joe: It’s supposed to be that way.
Kevin: Or you know that was too short.
Andy: Jam out a little more.
Q: Kevin, we noticed your glasses in sound check. How are you going to twirl your head around like you like to do?
Kevin: I took them off. I can’t wear them. Maybe I can get those goggles like the NBA uses.
Andy: You would look like Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys!
Q: You’re out this way for a week?
Andy: Yep. This is our favorite area to come up to because we can always count on seeing a bunch of our friends. We find out we’re coming up and people start hitting us up to say I can’t wait to see you.
Kevin: There’s a song on the album called “Count On Me” that is kind of based on that.
Andy: Yeah we’ll be coming back around. Exactly.
Q: And you’re going to be playing the casino?
Andy: That’s an afterparty. That’s kind of like the main reason we booked this little tour because they got a hold of us and then everything lined up really well. We like coming up here so we booked the tour.
Doug: The guy that plays keyboard on our album is from Detroit and he’s gonna be there.
Andy: He’s a really great guy. The show is with Ty Stone too. He’s 24 and we’re around the same age so it’s pretty cool that we’re playing with him.
Kevin: You see pics of him with blood on his keys. It’s like he was really getting down. This is the guy right here!
Q: He played the Stars and Stripes Festival in Mount Clemens the night before you did.
Kevin: Oh really?
Q: Yeah he opened for Ace Frehley.
Kevin: We were at that show when Ace started his set.
Q: And of course you are hitting the Machine Shop?
Andy: Yeah tomorrow night.
Kevin: For sure, for sure.
Q: How did you decide which older songs to keep in the setlist?
Andy: It all really depends on which songs that we like to play at the time.
Kevin: Whichever ones have the best feel for us.
Andy: Whatever old tunes that have the most energy for us. Some tunes don’t have that energy or some of our tunes fit the new set, you know?
Joe: The reason we really did this tour is to try the new songs out and now we can kind of fit the older songs in.
Doug: I think it really sounds awesome.
Kevin: I think we’re fantastic!
Q: How many more dates are on this run?
Andy: It was just a two-week thing planned out just to get up here and back down.
Kevin: It was like two or three weeks before that we even knew we were doing it.
Andy: Yeah we didn’t even know we were really doing it. We knew that we had the afterparty and then some shows fell through and we just kind of booked shows within the route. It’d be kind of cool, if we’re in the mood, to book shows on the way back down ourselves and make some extra dough.
Joe: I already had interest.
Andy: Yeah we’ve heard people say like we can get you in here, are you on your way back? So we may just spontaneously show up in some cities for the next few days.
Kevin: Just show up at a venue.
Andy: Honestly the coolest thing would be if we didn’t charge anything at all and then people showed up and were like whoa!
Kevin: They’ll buy a cd and a shirt! And one for the kid.
Andy: Exactly! We have an old like boot that we can put up on stage for tips.
Q: You posted something about maybe doing an international release for the new album?
Andy: Yes, we heard that and maybe I was a little bit too quick to say that but the people that are in charge or people that know a little bit more than I do mentioned it to us on more than one occasion. So fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you!
Kevin: We’re expecting.
Andy: Hoping and if that means a Canadian release then I’ll take it.
Kevin: Still counts!
Andy: We made some goals a long time ago and we have succeeded in those goals in the short term. All the short term ones have been taken care of and now we are pretty much on our long term goals and one of the big ones that we have now is to make it overseas. I will be completely humbled after that. Once we play a show over there I will be fine with any endeavor I have after that, you know? I mean something tragic, god forbid, could happen to the band and it would be fine.
Kevin: We’ll have travelled the world together so it’s all good.
Andy: Exactly. We touched and flown across the oceans or something like that.
Q: Is there anywhere in particular you want to play?
Andy: You know…
[The rest of the bands starts throwing out places.]
Joe: All of it.
Q: Do you have more touring planned after this?
Andy: Oh for sure. Once we get the album prepped and whatnot it’s going to be non-stop like we did last time. So I imagine that it’s going to be, for the next year, that we’ll be all over the U.S. anywhere they will book us.
Q: Last time you were here every month for like a year.
Andy: Yeah. We played a ton here in Michigan. In one month we played like six times which is not good I don’t think.
Kevin: Yeah we were here more than back home.
Joe: I think we had the record for most times at the Machine Shop or something.
Andy: I think it was like 7.
Doug: We may have tied it.
Q: So what are you guys listening to right now?
Andy: Right now we’ve been listening to…
Andy: Yeah, Mutemath put out a new album and that was pretty cool. Lots of cool tunes.
Kevin: Very groovy.
Andy: When we went into the studio we were listening to a bunch of late Sixties British Invasion bands like the Zombies and the Monkees and the Who.
Q: Which seems to have influenced the new album.
Andy: For sure. It’s definitely all in there.