On their new album Tombstone Bullets
, The Cavalier Crooks
have produced an album that grabs hold with dusty, writhing fingers, and won't let go. It's rare to find a band that manages to wholly inhabit a different
degree than the masses, and even rarer to find one that makes music in
that place that's enjoyable.
Production and genre-labeling aside, Tombstone Bullets reeks of a band who longs for a return to the South, thrust in '70s rock, almost reminiscent of Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous.
Jeff Boone - drums, vocals
Josh Warner - guitar, vocals
Quinn Larson - bass, vocals
Cavalier Crooks have a real Southern roots-rock sound. How does a band
from Minnesota come to deciding, "This is the kind of music we love."?
all just love that kind of music, especially the blues. I think it's
where all our influences, and the stuff we like, ended up overlapping so
it makes sense to do that. We all love other kinds of music as well,
but this is where all three of us get excited about the same thing. For
me, a lot of it started with Zeppelin, Clapton, and the British
blues stuff from the sixties and seventies, and then looking into what
influenced them and finding some real gems. Robert Johnson, Leadbelly,
Lightnin' Hopkins...I sometimes find it odd that we get labeled Southern rock, because I think we ended up playing very American
sounding music via the Brits.
up I listened to a lot of Christian music -- most of it bad -- along with
the rock music everyone our age was into at the time- Nirvana, Weezer -- you know, back when they played rock and roll on the radio. I grew up
in Grand Rapids, MN back in the olden days when we couldn't find music
on the internet, so I pretty much had whatever was on the radio or my
friends would turn me on to. One of my drum teachers gave me some
Zeppelin and The Who, because of Bonzo and Keith Moon. I still remember
hearing the intro to "When the Levee Breaks" for the first time. That
got me hooked on Zeppelin, which led me straight on to the blues.
loved Led Zeppelin growing up. I used to listen to them all the time,
and try to figure out how they were able to come up with all of these
different sounds and diversity in their music. Once I started doing the
research on what Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones did as studio musicians,
and what kind of music Robert Plant and John Bonham were playing before
Zeppelin, it all made sense to me. That had a really big influence on
how I approached music from then on.
more of a goal to have a great musical amalgamation that was your own,
than to do what was hot at the moment or copy someone/something else. So
I started listening to a lot of different kinds of music and enjoying
delta/Texas blues, folk, rock 'n' roll, and so on. What's influenced me
most recently, I would say, is probably bluegrass and old/new country
music, as well as a dose of The Band. Partially because even if modern
country music sounds too commercial, the musicians playing those
instruments and the guitar lines they play are still WAY better then
most of whats going on in rock 'n' roll. Plus, if you don't know country
music and you don't know blues music, how can you play rock 'n' roll?
That's just my opinion, of course. But I love our band's sound, I really
do. I like to think that it is just the beginning of the sounds that I
started chasing after 17 yrs ago. I'm not that old, I just started
has been a bit of a resurgence in Southern rock recently. What do you
think of this? What has the reception in the Cities been like to this
rock has always been kind of a blue collar, every-man sort of music and
I think the state of the economy, politics and the corporate
stranglehold on everything has people thinking those kinds of thoughts
again. Even beyond the lyrics, music carries something in it that
speaks and I think that voice is resonating with a lot of people right
As far as the reception in the Twin
Cities, I really think people will get into anything if the artist is
genuinely into it. Obviously, The 4onthefloor have shown that there is
an audience for bluesy rock and roll here. Additionally, The Black Keys
and all the Jack White projects have gotten people's ears tuned into
that vibe again. Really, the Twin Cities has a strong history of rootsy
music going back to Dylan's days in Dinkytown. Bands like the
Jayhawks, Hayley Bonar, Son Volt, Red House Records and all their
stuff, while it's not exactly the same as what we do, that shows that
this community embraces that old school American music aesthetic pretty
interesting that it's called "Southern rock" to me. I think The Black
Keys have had a big influence recently on people being interested in
that dirty, unpolished, and brash sound again. They and Jack White's
various projects along with his Third Man Record label are what is "hip"
right now. It seems like every decade there is some shift in the
musical spectrum and now, especially with whats going on
economically/politically/locally, I think people want something
that they know is real. The Twin Cities are no exception in this case. I
think that is a huge reason why The 4onthefloor are doing well right
now. You can go to their show and hear simple music that kicks really
hard -- pun intended -- and watch Gabriel Douglas and those boys put on an
intense show. People want that, and I think we as a band have been able
to tap into that. It's brash, in your face rock n' roll that's rooted in
the soils of the Delta and Midwest.
How did you guys come to working with Gabriel Douglas on "Tombstone Bullets"? How did his contribution influence the song?
the time we first started playing, we had people saying "You guys HAVE
to play with The 4onthefloor." While that hasn't happened yet, we have
some mutual friends who got us in touch with Gabe. Quinn called him up
and asked if he'd do a guest spot on the record and he said yes.
had gone to a 4onthefloor show, and got to talking with Gabriel D
there. After that, I found out that he was a huge fan of the Farewell
Circuit, which is a band that my really good friend Danny O'Brien is in,
so I had a connection. We contacted him via e-mail or Facebook, I don't
remember which, and asked if he would be interested in being on the
record. He said yes. We didn't have a specific song in mind for him to
be on but we knew we had 2-3 choices that he'd be interested in.
"Tombstone Bullets" came into the picture because of re-writing the
lyrics. I had struggled with lyrics on for quite some time. Then during
the recording process we decided that we needed an actual song instead
of a cool guitar thing separated by rhythmic interludes with mediocre
lyrics over it. So I went home and re-wrote the lyrics out having been
inspired by a book of blues lyrics that my wife bought for me on my
birthday. That book is full of inspiration. I believe it was a song
written by Willie Dixon called "I'm Ready" and the line is "I got an axe
handle pistol, on a graveyard frame. That shoots tombstone bullets,
wearin' balls and chain. I'm drinkin' TNT, I'm smokin' Dynamite. I hope
some screwball start a fight." Fantastic lyrics. It inspired me, and I
think Gabe too. His contribution flavored the song perfectly. He picks
up where I leave off and builds it really nicely to the end. I had
already recorded the whole song with the harmonies and we replaced the
second verse part of the song with him. He adds a little more ooomphf
to it and its just a perfect song because of it.
chime in here, and clarify a few details. Most of what Josh said is
correct, but Gabe and I had seen each other at other shows and met on a
few occasions, so were acquaintances. He's good friends with quite a few
of my good friends, so we had that connection. I saw him at Twin Town
one afternoon last fall, and just threw it out there. He said he'd love
to collaborate and we went from there. Gabe's a really busy dude,
between all his various projects, and it was super gracious of him to do
this for us. We couldn't be happier with how it came out. I'd also like
to give a shout out to Kari Gray from Farewell Continental, who sang
harmonies on a song called "Place your Bets." It's another of the
highlights of the record for us. We just had a ton of great support from
other musicians in the scene here.
How did you come to working with Alex Proctor, and why did you choose him for such a big project?
We knew Alex from his work with our
friends in Scattered Trees, and I would run into him occasionally at
Twin Town Guitars, where I teach drums. We had done some tracking with
someone else and while the recording was good, we realized that we
needed a producer that was going to be really hands on and push us to
hone the sound and the songs. About that time, Alex asked me about maybe
doing a record. We listened to a bunch of his work and talked to him
about what we wanted. He came into a practice and started throwing in
his two cents, and I think we knew within a half hour that he was the
guy. He really got what we were trying to do, but he comes at it from a
more pop direction than any of us do.
Proctor is from Crisis Line, and he actually
approached us on wanting to do something. I think he had seen us play at
Cause for part of a set and liked what he heard. We chose to work with
him because he was an easy hang and he got what we were going for. He
really took the initiative to sit down with us go over what our ideas
were and came to a few practices before going into the studio to hash
out ideas. It saved us a lot of time in the studio when your on the
Was there any particular life-changing events that moved some songs along when writing for this album?
Jeff: I'll leave this one to Josh.
I usually come up with the initial ideas for the songs, and then Quinn
and Jeff help shape them and finish them. We're all pretty involved in
the song writing process. I, of course, can only speak for myself. But
I've had 3 different jobs in the last year due to being laid off once
and fired once. I also got engaged and married during that time along
with other stuff life my now wife and I both had our cars die on us in
the same month. So I've had a lot of reasons to be frustrated, happy,
sad, and angry over the last year when I was coming up with the ideas
and lyrics for these songs. Jeff and his wife had a baby boy during that
time, too, so there were fairly significant life changes for
us. Overall, we got some great songs out of it all though, so at
least it all added up to something.
Favorite track off Tombstone Bullets?
Jeff: Right now, it's probably "It Ain't the Blues," but it changes.
think it's between "Taste the Back" and "Haulin' Oats." Last week, it
was between "The Child" and "Rollin' On." I can't really decide on a
you physically/emotionally exhausted after finishing an album? How do
you move on or motivate yourself to look at the next step?
for myself, having the album finished has actually been energizing. I
think we have something to show for our work and we have a better idea
what we are capable of now. When it comes down to it, we all really
like to play music so the motivation thing hasn't been too hard
Josh: I would say
that there has been such a big build up to get this finished that we are
looking forward to having it out and in peoples' hands. It's exhausting
to take a record from beginning to end. I'm super enthusiastic for the
release show, May 25th at Cause, but I'm also looking forward to moving
on and getting to the next EP/record.
Although you've just released this album, what's next for the band?
already have 4 or 5 songs for upcoming projects. We'll be opening with
a brand new one at the release show that I think people that already
like us are going to really dig and there's one that's brewing that
we're using as kind of a high energy instrumental interlude mid-set
right now. As far as what's next, we're just excited to get this record
out there and see how people react to it. That will kind of determine
Josh: We currently have 5 new songs that
we are working on, in addition to getting ready for the release show.
So, we are already moving forward and want to get another EP and album
out within the next year, if possible. So, buy an album and we'll be
able to get 10-12 more songs out to you that much sooner (laughs).
What can we expect at the CD release show?
our producer, is actually going to play with us on a few of the tunes
to add some of the stuff that's on the record that doesn't usually make
the live show. He'll add some extra guitars to thicken things up and
some keys. We've also got a surprise or two up our sleeves that I don't
want to give out, but let's just say I'll be stepping out of my comfort
zone a little bit...
will be a couple surprises and a few guest appearances. It's gonna be a
fantastic show and all the bands are looking forward to playing for you.
Bring earplugs if awesome is a problem for your ears...or if you care
about actually hearing your screaming grandkids some day.
The Cavalier Crooks will release Tombstone Bullets at Cause on Friday, May 25, 2012 with Ryan Traster, Taj Raj, Savannah Smith, and DJ Mary Lucia.
21+, $5, 9 pm
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