Jimmies Chicken Shack – Interview

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Jimmies Chicken Shack

Larry, what’s up? How you doing?

Good, Jimi! What’s up with you? I hear you have a busy schedule today.

Hey, man, I’m sorry we got to you late. It’s just been a crazy ass day!

Where you at right now?

Right now I’m in Indiana, Pennsylvania.

I hear the traffic was a little crazy.

Yeah, the highway was closed off and shit.

The new record (Bring Your Own Stereo) is doing pretty well right now. You got to be happy.

Oh, hell yeah!

The band has said its goal is to confuse people; it definitely confused me. This is really diverse record. I never heard anything like this record because the record is sectioned off into swing, ska, pop rock, and heavier tunes. I wondering if you would comment on that and tell me some of the responses you heard about the record.

I mean, people seem to be getting it and liking it. I guess we always had that mix of doing a bunch of different things, especially if you come see us live. On the first record ( Pushing the Salmanilla Envelope) it’s more clumped together, kind of that, the high-energy hard tunes. With this record we were just going to go everywhere that, there has always been these songs that we not would necessarily play, now it’s like we don’t want to be part of niche. Let’s just take what songs are good, and no matter what kind of song it is, and just do it. I don’t know; the band’s taste is definitely scattered all over the place and I’m glad the record is like that. I love our first record but I like the new one better. I think it’s because the record is truer to who we really are. The energy on the first record but also there is this negative energy transcended from recording it to listening to it, and I can’t even listen to it that much. I love a few songs to death, but overall the new record is truer to us. Believe me, our stuff is not going to get any softer. I’m sure our next record could be just as bizarre, but there’s always going to be the hard rocking stuff, but at the same time I like a lot of pop music and reggae.

It really shows. What categories or labels have you heard the band be thrown into? I hate to say labels!

Some people have said, we like to call it ‘mutt rock.’ (laughs)

That’s a great description! (laughing)

Others have called it ‘love punk,’ which I thought was really funny. (giggles)

The diverse songs, such as “Lazy Boy Dash” has a great mesh of swing/ska and rock, “Fill In The Blank” goes in a different direction, and you have the hit single “Do Right”. Talk a little about those tunes.

“Do Right” is like five years old. It’s a pop song I wrote years ago that we really never would have played but the label heard it and said this has to go on the record. I was alright. “Fill In The Blank” we wrote collectively as a band over the fall last year when we were getting ready to work on the record. Out of the songs on the record that we wrote together, like “Spiraling”, “Face It”, “Fill In The Blank”, and “Lazy Boy Dash”, I love all those songs because they all have pieces of us in them. And the rest of the tunes are songs I wrote either awhile ago or, songs like “Silence Again” and “Pure” are some of our oldest songs. “Pure” is older than our band. “Silence Again” was again like five years old, like “Do Right”, but it was something that we’d never played. The other guys who used to be in the band didn’t really like that stuff. “Waiting” and “Trash” were written in that same week, just before the week we were ready to record. I just one day wrote “Trash” and was working on “Waiting” at the same time, two totally different songs but they happened in the same week. “String of Pearls” is a couple years old, and then the EP we put out, Slow Change, that’s some of our favorite stuff right there.

I think it’s great that you guys did that for the fans too!

We always liked having long records where there’s a lot of music going on, but sometimes that’s not a smart move. But this way you get two cd’s or something you have never heard. I think it’s really cool of the label to do that too.

I think some bands get carried away with EP’s, but, on the other hand, bands like Radiohead and The Verve have better EP’s than some bands have records, you know what I mean?

Oh yeah.

Backing up to an early comment about this record. The band saw two members leave, Chaney (drums) and McD (guitarist). Now go into the new record, talk about how the new members gelled and how the vibe was created for this record.

Basically, we became a much better band when Double D and Sipple came on. We did so much touring with them in the past; it wasn’t like they were really new members. When we went to do the record, these guys are just more open to more music, they’re really into a lot of the new record. Actually, Chaney loves our new record, man. He came out and visited us when we were recording and he really loves our new stuff. It was just the mood and the people, they were happier to be in the studio. We all want to be there. The first record was really tough and some people were not there every today and did not want to there, it was more of a trial than anything, but this time it was everybody was so psyched to be there.

Did the schedules and touring bother the band?

Well, Jim McDoughan never toured with us, he left before we’d toured for the first record. Double D had been with us. Anywhere outside of Maryland nobody knows Jim McDoughan was in our band, other than see his name in the records. Sipple toured at least a year and a half with us. For Chaney, the life itself was not suited for him and he was not happy doing it. He wanted to leave but we asked him to try the road out and he did, but and it just was not working out.

You guys said you were surprised with the outcome of the record thanks to your producer Jim Wirt (Incubus).

We give our producer a ton of credit for the way the record came out. He really, first of all we want someone who could take each song knowing that they were in very different worlds and go there genuinely. First of all, Jim being as schizophrenic as he is (laughs) stylistically, he was able to love “Face It” for as hard as it was and make it hard and still love it and still love “30 Days”. It was his idea to use the stings and the backup vocal stuff, which we would not have necessarily done. It took a little prodding on his part to convince us into it, and I’m glad he did because he took each song to a different level.

I saw the video for “Do Right”. It’s hilarious! Who came up with the idea for the video?

Right on! The director came up with a parody on our hometown, like if everyone in the band came home and everybody in the town acted like they knew us. We just went from there; all the scenarios and the dialogue the producer had was stuff that was not necessarily true but funny, and I was like, ‘Well, wait a minute, because some of those things are actually true.’ So we changed and turned some things around to become more factual things, and I think it made it a bit more genuine. Also, it made it funnier. (laughs)

The song “High” had success on Mtv. How did you handle the pot/drug reference?

It never was a really a pot reference. Actually, the song was written about the exact opposite. The song was written about when I lived back in Portland, Oregon, about my friends who were rapped up into heroin. To me that song is me going, ‘What does it take to get you high? Is that really high?’ You know? I know a lot of people equate that to be a party song, ‘Ooh, yeah, burn one, light up a joint,’ and that’ s cool if that’s what people are getting out of it. There is a line that goes ‘You don’t like me when I’m high.’ That was my girlfriend saying she does not like me when I smoke pot, but it was not a point of really trying to hide that reference though, because it was never really there.

It seemed to come across that way.

Yeah, you’re right, but hopefully it’s a little bit more broad than that. But when you say, ‘What does it take to get you high?’ people are going to be like, ‘Pot, high, let’s get high.’ Of course, the reference is there, and it’s about singing about what you know. I mean, I like twisting issues like that. It’s always been amusing to me that people think it’s a party song, but in a sense it’s like a drug protest song. (laughing)

What about misinterpretation?

I think misinterpretation is one the coolest things that we are afforded as human beings! (laugh)

You’re the first person I have ever heard say that, and that’s a cool attitude to have towards people interpreting your music. I see that the band will be appearing on The Conan O’Brein Show and then the Donnie and Marie Show. How did you get hooked up with that?

I did not know, but it seems very appropriate for us. Hopefully we’ll tour with Rage Against the Machine and then tour with the Backstreet Boys. (laughs)

What!?

That would be awesome!

Could you even handle touring with Backstreet?

I don’t know, we’ll see if we can do it. Sure, why not? How many sold-out shows have they played filled with twelve-year-old girls who buy records?

What will their parents think of you guys?

Hey, at least they get to see a cool band before them! (laughs)They’ll actually hear real drums and shit.

How many ex-girlfriends equal into the equation for the lyrics on the new record?

I would say two, total. The majority of the songs for this record were about my last girlfriend but some of the older songs were influenced by a different girl.

Who was it that was always on your case?

The oldest one was always on my case, and the newest ex is the one that’s hard to forget.

What’s up with your record label, Fowl Records?

It’s going good, we have a bunch of acts on the label and a website, www.fowl.com Some of the best bands in Maryland are on our label, without a doubt. Actually some of my favorite music in the country is on the label. It’s really amazing. Bands like Underfoot is amazing, Coloring Lesson, Mary Pranksters, Live Alien Broadcast, are all awesome bands and totally different bands.

The music scene in Maryland and the southern states is totally different from what’s going on elsewhere

Yeah, I think our band reflects what the scene is like, if you listen to our records and go see our shows, you’re going to see a lot of different styles of music going, a lot of different stuff that seems to work together.

Are you bringing any of those bands out on tour?

I would love to do a Fowl tour one day, that would be awesome.

The website is pure candy. Who developed your site?

I developed the site myself. That’s kind of why they had me do it myself, because they really don’t have a lot to do with computers and they know I’m into the arts. So, we came up with the cartoon thing.

Have you always been into the arts and graphic drawing?

Oh yeah. I have always been into the arts, I paint, I’m into the physical graphic art and whatever I can get my hands on, you know.

The colors are so vivid and animated.

Yeah, like a fucking Simpson’s cartoon!

The site is great for fans because there are so many different features to check out. The faceplate on the stereo is killer!

Did you click on the odometer?

Nope.

You got to click on the odometer, man! (laughing in mid sentence) Check that out!

What about this book, How To Live Without a Job?

Basically, we were doing it when we were all living together, a bunch of prose we were writing. I would write a few lines and he would write a few lines; that’ s how the lyrics for “Let’s Get Flat” came out. Me and my friend, Joe King, he’s an artist too, we went to high school together, took art classes together, and lived together a bunch of different times. We would be hanging out getting blazed and playing music and writing chaotic stuff, so we wanted to make a self-helping book that said how to live without a job because people will always want to know how to live without a job. So if they pick it up and get a bunch of psychotic writing, we thought that would be funny! It looks like a self-help book, but it’s just a bunch of poetry.

Are you into writing short stories or anything like that?

Yeah, if I had the patience or the will to do it. I mean, we all come up with crazy ideas for movies and shit like that. Eventually my friends and me will put out some demented material.

So are you heading out anywhere?

Actually, we are leaving here and heading somewhere else in Pennsylvania. We have been opening for Fuel and now we are driving all over the country.

Closing comments?

If you like something on our records or on the radio, come see us and we’ll confuse you. If you don’t like something on the record or radio, come see us and they’ll like it. HA! The thing is that we’ve been in the studio four times as a band, we have on the stage together four thousand times! We like to keep them separate entities. The avenue for our record is a set of headphones and a smoke bedroom. So, you have to make a record appeal to that type of avenue. That’s the place we shine when we’re playing.

I hope you confuse people!

+ larry sarzyniak

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