We talked about the inception of the band, keeping it together, and if they've ever witnessed a brawl while performing, you know- the important things. So hold onto your hat, as we go for a wild ride with the Defibulators...
Well, yeah- you know, if we're not having fun then we're not really doing the right thing I don't think. We just try to have a good time and and try not to take it too seriously and try not to take ourselves too seriously. We take the music seriously, but you know, not ourselves. And we try to bring some sort of younger, vibrant energy to some old style music.
The way I think about it is old country has been lost on a lot of people over the last couple of decades, through the eighties and nineties. Country became something different- more of a pop thing. It got kind of a bad rap or misinterpreted. We're not necessarily pioneers, here, I mean, in the last five or ten years there's been a lot of young people rediscovering old country music, old bluegrass, honky-tonk. I think people are trying to make up what they missed out on or kind of rediscovering country music and what it used to be instead of what it had become. [in Nashville]
What kind of music are you listening to as you drive from place to place?
Right now we actually stopped in Ann Arbor and went to a record shop and loaded up on a lot of old George Jones, definitely our favorite, the King of Broken Hearts- we listen George Jones as much as possible. We got some Louvin Brothers, Emmylou Harris, and some old fiddle tune compilation. Once in a while the old stuff, we try to listen to singer/songwriters from Texas like Townes Van Zandt, Blaze Foley.
I'm kind of stubborn actually, I don't listen to too much current music, except for friends of ours, our contemporaries. Hoots and Hellmouth, a really good band that we listen to, and Holy Ghost Tent Revival. Bands that we know, bands that we run into. But other than that, we just pretty much listen to old stuff, old Buck Owens, Wanda Jackson, Janis Martin, stuff like that.
What initially made you decide to form a band together?
Well, it was kind of a fluke. I was working in a barbecue restaurant in New York City and one of the other bartenders there was from New Jersey and he was a guitar player. I told him I was from Texas. He started talking to me about country music, or trying to talk to me about old music; I didn't really know a lot of the stuff he was talking about. I didn't really listen to country growing up growing up in Texas, ironically. So this guitarist from New Jersey started burning me cds of classic country and I got hooked.
Around that same time I met Erin, the other singer, and we were just kind of playing small covers, and a friend of ours had a punk band, and they were playing at this little dive bar in New York and asked us to get a band together and open up for them. So we got together the guitar player from the barbecue restaurant, and Erin and me and we started playing some rockabilly stuff and that's kind of where it started. Playing old covers. Then eventually we started writing our own stuff, what we're playing.
How do you approach working with such a large group of people?
We try to play with guys that are our friends. Everybody we play with in the band are friends. That's the most important thing when you're going out on the road, is just playing with people that are your friends first of all. And if you guys are getting along, then we're good. We're going to have fun playing.
New York is so expensive. It's not a very practical place to live for a touring musician. We rehearse very rarely in New York; everybody is so busy trying to make rent. So when we get on the road, that's really when we spend time with each other, working on new songs. It's kind of like we really have to get out of New York to actually make some progress.
What would you consider a successful show?
If people, at some point, dance. We always like to see people dancing. The biggest compliment we can get after a show would be 'I didn't know I liked country music' or 'I don't like country music but I like you guys.' That's always really good to hear- we feel like we're doing our job. We feel like we are doing justice to all the old country greats that we look up to.
If people interpret it as good country music, I'm not saying we are great country music, but if people think we are then that's the biggest compliment. If we had a mission that's what it would be: to try to bring some raw, pure energy to country music, as it was in the beginning, with old-time fiddle and rockabilly as opposed to [a] sort of canned, formulaic, pop version of country.
Has there ever been a fist fight while you were performing?
There's been a couple of fights. New York- one of our bass players got into a fight. I was talking to a friend in the audience and some drunk guy thought I was talking to him- which I wasn't. So he walked right up to the front of the stage and stuck his middle finger in my face. I had no idea what was going on. The bass player basically jumped off the stage and tackled him and it turned into a big brawl.
Where is the best place you have played?
We toured Holland once, Amsterdam. Holland and Belgium. We got free Belgium beer every night, and the people of Amsterdam are generous with their hospitality, albeit beer or smokeable items.
It's hard to pick a favorite, we play so many great places. Anywhere where we can jump in a lake or a stream or something near the show. We play southern Alabama or Florida, or this weekend at Blissfest we'll jump in a Great Lake after our set.
One of our favorite places to go back to is Knoxville. There's a great music scene happening there- a lot of great musicians, a lot of great people-sort of like an indie version of Nashville.
What is the next step for the band?
We're just trying to write and record this summer. We've got a tribute song to Hee-Haw that we're working on. I would like to turn that old ambulance, from the 70s... into a mobile recording studio, travel around, and write, and try to see as much of the country as possible and just play music. Just trying to tour and keep staying on the road...