JAMES & THE DRIFTERS
- May 2016 -
hAVE A BEER WITH JAMES & THE DRIFTERS
Formed in the small town of Huntington, Ind., in 2010, James and the Drifters began as the collective effort of folk artists Brent Chamberlin, Kyle Jackson and Tyler Gault. Shortly thereafter, the guys hit the studio and recorded more than 20 songs in eight hours. The tracks, relying heavily on the banjo, lap-steel, accordion, drums, guitar and three-part harmonies, laid the groundwork for James & the Drifter’s self-titled debut record. Six years and four albums later, James and the Drifters continue to evolve their sound, moving from dusty folk/Americana to a more rock-driven rhythm section, while maintaining their staple three-part harmonies.
The Band: James & the Drifters
Drinks of Choice: Kyle Jackson (Vocals and Guitar), IPAs; Andrew Scheer (Vocals and Guitar), Lagunitas Brown Shugga' Ale; Andrew Freehauf (Bass), Belgian-Style Tripel; Dan Willig (Drums), Slow and Low Whiskey
Kristen: I probably should have asked you guys what kind of beer you liked before this interview so I could have stocked up my fridge with your favorites.
Andrew Scheer: This is great.
Andrew Freehauf: Yeah, I think we appreciate all beer.
Kristen: Even the cheap stuff?
Kyle: Well, there was a time where I drank a lot of Hamm’s because in the small town that I come from, you could get a 30-pack of it for 12 bucks.
Kristen: That’s insane. That would never happen here in Chicago! And Dan mentioned a brand of whiskey called Slow and Low…
Dan: Yeah, it's made in Philadelphia and it's infused with orange and honey over a low temperature and a long period of time, hence the name Slow and Low. It's so tasty. You can drink it straight. It's 86 proof and you wouldn't know it.
Kristen: That was going to be my next question. Do you do it neat?
Dan: Yeah, I usually do it neat. Sometimes I mix it with ginger beer. Really any whiskey with ginger beer is kind of my cup of tea, but Slow and Low is prime.
Kristen: Do you think I could get that here?
Dan: Oh yeah. I found it mostly in the south. I actually have a bottle with me. It’s the type of whiskey that tastes better the more you drink it too, oddly enough.
Kristen: I don't have any fancy drinking glasses, but we should try some.
Perry: I normally just drink it out of Andy's mouth, so ...
Andrew Scheer: Oh yeah, belly button shots. We get wild. The belly button Jello shot's a little tough.
Dan: It's a great sipper. You want to sip it, not shoot it.
Kristen: That’s when you know it’s good. Since we’ve covered whiskey, we might as well talk about the wine. Who's the winemaker with Two EE’s here?
Dan: That's Andy.
Andrew Scheer: I am, yeah.
Kristen: Tell me about that.
Andrew Scheer: Long story short, it's a family business. My brother-in-law, my wife's brother, got turned on to winemaking in his younger 20s by his now father-in-law who's a winemaker. He went and studied at UC/Davis in the winemaking program and it became a project. They ended up starting a winery on the south side of Fort Wayne. I was living in Atlanta at the time that the winery opened – in-between jobs, aka unemployed in Atlanta – and they're like, "Hey, we're busy and we could use some help." I didn’t know anything necessarily about winemaking, but I went back to give some overall help. The more I was dabbling around and the more I was there, I started picking up more winemaking, so I've been doing it for about three years now. I read a bunch of books in preparation, learned the language a little bit.
Andrew Freehauf: Really you just watched the movie "Sideways."
Andrew Scheer: I did watch the movie.
Kristen:This may be a very dense question, but what is the actual process like? Do people actually stomp the grapes?
Andrew Scheer: We don't. That’s more for small batch wine.
Andrew Freehauf: That place does unbelievable business. It’s ridiculous.
Andrew Scheer: It has gone unexpectedly well. Indiana is a weird place to grow grapes, so we get all of our dry red grapes through a little boutique vendor in Clarksburg, Calif., which is around Sacramento. I think last year they sent over 22 tons on refrigerated trucks. They come in half-ton totes and we break them out into a crusher, which is essentially a stomper – an electric stomper.
Kristen: That’s just a little bit more efficient than stomping 22 tons with your feet.
Andrew Scheer: Just a little. In the last couple of years, we actually turned into a music venue as well. The winery as a venue is a thing that’s popping up. We’ve had a lot of success. We do concerts there on Friday and Saturday nights and I do booking. We're getting a lot of great local acts, some good regional bands and some nationally touring folks.
Kristen: Yeah, it's a nice middle point to stop for a lot of bands, I imagine.
Andrew Scheer: We catch people coming out of Chicago heading east or heading west, so it's a decent kind of midway point between Cincinnati and Chicago. It just one of those jobs that I fell into, I've embraced it and really enjoy it.
Kristen: Do you give these guys free wine?
Andrew Scheer: Yep.
Perry: I actually work there.
Andrew Scheer: Yeah, Perry runs sound there. He's front-of-house guy for some of the shows we have there.
Kyle Jackson: We kept a lot of our gear in their storage area and we practiced there every week for two years.
Andrew Scheer: We were originally rehearsing in my house and then we went through pretty extensive renovations…
Andrew Freehauf: He rebuilt the whole house.
Andrew Scheer: I rebuilt the whole house and we have a big storage unit at the winery, so we ended up rehearsing there for about two years.
Kristen: It's probably a nice spot to practice because there's no one around to file noise complaints.
Andrew Scheer: We're on about 40 acres, so we have a pretty secluded spot. We play at the venue occasionally, too, and locals will come out.
Kristen: I'll have to come down sometime.
Andrew Scheer: You should, absolutely. Anytime. We have food trucks there on Fridays and Saturday nights.
Kyle Jackson: It's a lot of fun.
Andrew Scheer: We have a hill that's kind of a natural amphitheater around the stage.
Kristen: That sounds awesome. I’m in. So, you mentioned Fort Wayne. Why that location over a bigger city?
Andrew Freehauf: I think family and significant others are a lot of it, honestly. Family is sort of what has driven the band from the beginning. When we started playing music, we weren't family by relation, but we were all living together. We were all essentially sharing everything: food, money, work...We were doing everything together. That was kind of where the music came from. We all just happened to be musicians who were living together. Kyle's the only remaining founding member of the band, but when the three guys that started the band got together, it was a natural thing.
Kyle Jackson: We spent a lot of time with each other, we'd all written a lot of songs on our own and we decided we should go record some of it and contribute some of our various abilities to make it bigger than what it is.
Andrew Scheer: It worked. They started playing and we all kind of trickled in from there over the next few years. There's a very familial quality to how the band came about and how we did everything. Then of course, we’ve stayed in Fort Wayne for our families. Our immediate families and our parents are all centered right there in Indiana that's kind of where the music comes from.
Andrew Freehauf: Then we kind of sunk our roots into it a little bit. We all have full-time jobs and some of us have houses. We all just decided we would try to make it from Fort Wayne. And those conversations about moving happened. We talked about moving the act somewhere, we did. We're very serious about this, but we felt like if we kept going at it long enough and got the right exposure, maybe we would catch a break.
Andrew Scheer: To some extent, there was a realization that this is home. We could go somewhere else, go to a bigger market and maybe not have to travel as much, but basically, all of us were born and raised in northern Indiana. It's just home. There's something about making where you’re from work. If you make someplace your home and fans know it's your home – this is where we’re from, these are our people, this is our band – hopefully that energy moves when you go to play bigger cities. People will know these are guys from a small big city.
Andrew Freehauf: It's more like a big small city.
Andrew Scheer: Right, a big small city.
Kristen: I know what you're saying.
Dan: There's one more aspect, too. We play with a bunch of different bands all the time, some of which are from here in Chicago, some from Nashville. Those were places that have come up in conversations as possible markets to explore or maybe relocate to. I'm not saying any of that is out of the question, but what we've found is that the bands we know have liked playing places like Fort Wayne because, especially in Nashville, the market is so saturated. They love playing smaller places. There's a band, Joel Levi, who are great dudes and awesome musicians. They're phenomenal. We've played four or five times with them. They're just so happy to be out and away and doing their thing.
Kristen: Yeah, I’m not a musician, but there are times where I feel like being in a big city stunts me creatively in some way, which is ironic. You hear about bands that go to New York or L.A. to flourish creatively, but I think there are certain types of creative projects or people that work better in a small town.
Dan: There's more space.
Andrew Scheer: Joel plays at the winery once or twice a year and one day we had a rain out day, so we were having a conversation. Kyle's got a side project that he does and I was able to tag them onto the bill; Kyle invited them on. I was asking them, "How do you guys feel about playing here?" He explained that when you play a show somewhere like Nashville or a big city and people are watching, they’re there to watch you play the music, but not necessarily to enjoy you playing the music. He said that when he and the band were in Fort Wayne, everybody was enjoying it and it didn’t feel like he was up there trying to prove something.
<a href="http://jamesandthedrifters.bandcamp.com/album/get-the-spirit">Get The Spirit by James and the Drifters</a>
Kristen: It’s not like they're sizing you up in the same way they would other places.
Andrew Scheer: Right. It's such a different sort of vibe. He was playing here at this little brewery called Trubble for 40 or 50 people. He said it was such a cathartic experience as opposed to playing in Nashville, where you've got people saying "Oh, I could do that better." Fort Wayne's been great to us in that sense, too. We know that when we play a show there, people just want to come out and enjoy themselves. They're not coming out to pull apart what's going on.
Dan: Not at all. There's so much support in the local scene. For a town of its size, it has a very vibrant and thriving music scene. There's a lot of talent.
Andrew Freehauf: And a lot of talent in the fine arts in general.
Dan: And a lot of musicians with talent, hiding in jazz clubs.
Andrew Freehauf: Yeah, a lot of it is because of Sweetwater, which is the nation's largest distributor of musical instruments. They've recruited people from literally all over the world to come work there.
Kristen: I didn't know that. That’s super interesting. Who are you guys listening to currently?
Andrew Freehauf: I've been listening to a lot of Justin Timberlake lately because his new song “Can’t Stop the Feeling” just dropped. I was like, “Man, I want to go back and listen to ‘20/20.’ So then I went back and listened to ‘20/20’ ... Oh my Hiatus Kaiyote is another group I've been listening to some lately.
Kyle: Nathaniel Rateliff…
Group: [throwing out names]: Leon Bridges, Rayland Baxter…
Andrew Freehauf: I also drove to Chicago to see Leon Bridges and Dr. Dog in the same weekend. They put on amazing shows.
Kristen: Yes, to everything that you just named.
Andrew Freehauf: My favorite record that's come out this year so far is from Emmy the Great. She put out this beautifully produced, beautifully written record. She's a vocalist and a songwriter and it's the best thing that I think I've discovered this year. From start to finish, I just couldn't get enough of it. The first track has this huge, spacey bass drum sound that reverberates inside of you and draws you all the way in. Everything's very sparse and nuanced and her voice just shines through it. There's nothing flashy or showy about it. It's just good – start to finish. You can relax to it. You can hone in and draw something out of it that makes you want to create. It kind of serves all functions in that way.
Kristen:I'll have to check it out. If you guys had to agree on one movie to watch together, what would it be?
Andrew Scheer: Kyle would pick a movie to watch and we'd all sit back and let him quote it for the next two hours.
Perry: “Blazing Saddles.”
Kristen: I hate people like you, Kyle.
Kyle: Oh no.
Kristen: It's fine if you're whispering it to yourself, but…
Andrew Freehauf: One of the guys that's not in the band anymore and Kyle, the two of them, they would get on a roll and for the next 45 minutes nobody else would get a word in edgewise. It was always "Blazing Saddles" or "MacGruber." Those were always the two movies.
Kristen: So I’m guessing those two movies wouldn't be your picks.
Perry: Actually, something that most of us recently watched when we went to Muscle Shoals, Ala., was the documentary on the place. We didn't watch it together but most of us all watched it.
Andrew Scheer: How are we going to watch a documentary with any of you guys?
Kristen: I haven’t seen it so I’ll need to add it to my list. I’m also really intrigued by the place itself.
Andrew Scheer: You should go. We recorded our last EP in Muscle Shoals at FAME studios. The guy we recorded with sort of apprenticed with Rick Hall – the founder of FAME Studios. He had this great line from Rick. Apparently here was a guy in there doing some tracking and messing with the snare sound. Rick Hall said, "A sixteen-year-old girl with a $20 bill in her pocket doesn't care about what your snare sounds like." When we were recording, we’d be sitting there saying, "Oh, we'll tweak that; we can make it sound better." Our engineer was like, "Here's what Rick would say." It was a good point. We want to sell records.
Kristen:Was that your most recent 2015 EP? Tell me about that process. It’s pretty cool that you recorded it in such an iconic setting.
Perry: Yeah, we recorded it live, too. It was two guitars and drums in one room, and again in that same room but in booths were bass and vocal, so we were able to do 90% of everything in one take.
Kristen: Yeah, why did you guys decide to go the live-recorded route?
Andrew Freehauf: There's a certain kind of energy that comes from playing live. We felt confident in the current lineup that we had and have at the time. We were playing shows and constantly tweaking songs that we had recorded to play in a live setting, which is normal. So we asked ourselves, "Why don't we just record this live? Then we walk away with a product that sounds a lot more like what we do live and we can relate to it a lot more.” It was a combination of the confidence – the comfort with our sound – and working in a space that actually allowed us to do that.
Kristen: That's half the battle, right?
Andrew Freehauf: Yeah. We were in a space where we could all set up and go, not have too much bleed and not have it sound sloppy. At FAME they're set up to do that. That's how they've always done it.
Kristen: How did you get connected with the studio?
Andrew Freehauf: Brent [Chamberlin], who was in the band, would have these Don Draper moments where he would send off these emails, and we wouldn’t necessarily expect him to hear back. He emailed Ben Tanner, who plays keyboards with the Alabama Shakes.
Perry: He recorded St. Paul and the Broken Bones’ album, too.
Andrew Freehauf: Yeah, recorded and produced it. So when Brent was looking at our record, he thought "Ben Tanner." He shot off a record telling him we were looking to record. Ben received it and actually responded back. He said, "Well, before we hit tour again, I've got this chunk of day. I can listen to your stuff. I'd be interested in maybe doing this project." After listening he said, "I'm happy to come up and see you guys. We can do it somewhere up there. Otherwise, we can get into FAME."
Kristen: You're like, "Yeah, we'll do that."
Kyle: But have you heard my garage?
Andrew Freehauf: It was one of those situations that just lined up, so we ended up going to FAME for two days. Then we went to Sundrop Sounds, which is operated by Single Lock Records.
Kristen: Yeah, I know Single Lock.
Andrew Freehauf: Yeah, it was founded by John Paul White, Ben Tanner and Will Trapp. John Paul White has this studio adjacent to his house. We did our last day there and did some final polishing. It was one of those decisions where the opportunity was there and we decided to jump on it.
Kristen: How many days was it?
Andrew Scheer: It was pretty much a weekend. We spent two days at FAME and one at Sundrop. A very long day at Sundrop.
Kristen: Did you have all the songs written before going in?
Kyle: Sort of.
Andrew Freehauf: Yeah, sort of. We went in with four songs, and then we had a song we wanted to try and see how it went, and if we didn’t like it, we didn’t have to keep it.
Andrew Scheer: “Bay City” was the song.
Andrew Freehauf: We had played it a little bit in rehearsals and we listened and said, "Yeah, this is a no brainer. This one's going on.” It might now be one of our favorites. It was kind of a tag on at the end of the day to make use of the time ... But a lot of the songs were written beforehand.
Perry: They weren't polished though.
Andrew Scheer: We did a songwriter's retreat two or three weeks before recording. We found a lake house, we set all our stuff up and the five or six of us who were there sat down, brought some ideas and developed a skeleton. We had some pretty good ideas of where we were going with the songs. We got down to Muscle Shoals and were like, "Well, let's just see how they go after we play them."
Perry: I think the important thing there is that you need to let the environment feed you. In "Muscle Shoals," if you ever get a chance to watch the documentary, there really is an energy about the place. It's just something about it. You've got to allow those influences to feed into your music. It wouldn't have mattered how nailed out the songs were. If we were going to be open to our environment, it was going to change how things sounded.
Kristen: For sure. When it comes to the actual song writing process, do you find that you have to kind of put yourselves in a closed off space with a retreat?
Dan: It helps to remove your normal routines, your normal distractions and comforts. It allows you to put yourself in more of a free space so you have the bandwidth and the capacity to let those ideas begin to take shape. I think that goes for anything in life that you really want to focus on. If you take some time to set yourself apart and focus, the results are way better.
Kristen: I think that's common misconception about creativity – that if you’re creative, you can just sit down and in five minutes write a song or a story. Some people are like that…
Dan: And sometimes that happens.
Kristen: I imagine with a group of people, getting away would be the only way to do it. Personally, that's the only way I'd be able to do it.
Kyle: That's the way it used to be. We used to write independently and then bring it to the table and the band would mold it into its own thing. I feel like what was special about the last album was that we all came together and wrote it together. Maybe that ownership created a little more energy with it, because when we play those songs, there's a sense of pride.
Andrew Freehauf: I wasn't looking at the guy that wrote it and being like, "Well, what do you want me to do? What do you want out of this part?"
Kristen: “How do you want me to add in or change it?”
Andrew Freehauf: Yeah, exactly. It was like, "All right, I know what you're doing there. Here, let me do this…”
Dan: Or, “Oh, I heard that…”
Perry: It's faith in your brother that he knows his instrument.
Kristen: Kyle’s like, "Uh, maybe."
Kyle: Sometimes I'm just hammering on stuff and I think, "I need another beer before I actually come up with something.” You know what I mean?
Andrew Scheer: You have faith in your beer.
Kyle: There were some songs we were writing them and I thought, "I'm just going to have to rely on my dance moves."
Kristen: Sometimes that’s all you can do. Let’s switch gears here a bit. You guys have played prisons up in Michigan multiple times. How did that come about?
Andrew Freehauf: There’s a professor at the university in the town that we live in. He teaches Shakespeare in prisons.
Perry: There's a documentary called "Shakespeare Behind Bars" and that's what he does. He got us connected.
Andrew Scheer: I don't think I was around for that one. It was way up in Michigan somewhere. The prisoners were so appreciative.
Perry: So much so that we went to more gigs.
Andrew Freehauf: It was like for a brief moment in time, we were all sort of experiencing this freedom together and it was really neat to see. After we were done, every single one of them came up and shook all of our hands. It was really emotional.
Kristen: That actually makes me tear up.
Andrew Freehauf: We've done it three times now.
Perry: We've technically done four: three up there and then one in Chesterfield. It rips your heart out.
Andrew Freehauf: Afterwards, so many of the guys say, "Thanks so much for coming to play." Generally, they get a couple of people from a local church that come and play hymns. They just line them up in the gym. When we come, the guys are excited to have us playing with loud guitars and drums. Except one time Dan forgot his drum sticks for one of the shows or the bag got left behind…
Dan: Let's start at the beginning. This is good. I promise I'll land the plane. We had to spend about an hour getting checked into the prison, so you had to undergo this extensive process.
Kristen: Especially if you've got gear, right?
Dan: Everything had to be unloaded and checked, like every single thing.
Kyle: Counting cables….
Dan: Then we had to drive through several different series of gates…I realized when we got there that I forgot them. I didn't have my drumsticks. I'm like, "Man, how am I going to play drums without drumsticks?"
Kristen: Yeah, that's kind of hard.
Dan: So, there was this gym and they had locker rooms and offices and stuff like that off to one side. Above, there was storage, and in that storage area, they had these crazy red and white Eddie Van Halen guitar-looking molded plastic drumsticks.
Kristen: What, why?
Perry: Nobody knew. They were just there.
Andrew Freehauf: The best thing happened that day though. We were getting set up and we hadn't quite started yet. Some guy from the audience was like, "Hey, play ‘Simple Man.’"
Dan: People started making requests.
Andrew Freehauf: People do that all the time. They're like, "Hey, play ‘Free Bird.’" Usually, you’re like, “Whatever, yeah cool.” Kyle just says, "Okay" and starts playing ‘Simple Man.’ We had never heard him play it before. He started playing and the whole gym went silent.
Kristen: Everyone was dialed in.
Andrew Freehauf: Strangely, nobody has requested it since. There was another cool thing, too. When we announced on-stage that we were from Fort Wayne, 15 or 20 people out in the gym started chanting "260, 260" – which is the area code. And as I'm walking out of there by myself going through the last gate to get to the truck, some guy opens up his window and says: "Hey, Fort Wayne. Find my parents, they work at such-and-such place. Tell them I said hi."
Perry: These are the genuine interactions we had. In that moment they're human again. They aren't 81793. They're humans, and when you treat them like a human, the energy and the love and appreciation...There's nothing more genuine than these people that legitimately speaking, you haven't made their hour or their day, you've made their week, you've made their month or their year.
Kyle: It was cool because afterwards, they came up to shake our hands said, "Man, when we get out of here, we're going to come see you at a show." I was like, "Let me know, I'll put you on the guest list." These guys are, they're thinking about life after – about being free.
Perry: The second year that we went back up to Michigan, there were actually people in the audience calling out our songs because they remembered us from last year and they continued to listen to our music.
Andrew Scheer: It's more than cool man.
Perry: I think it's more than that. It's power.
Andrew Scheer: Perry is “driving truck” right now.
Perry: Which is a whole other story…
Kristen: “Driving truck.” I’m intrigued.
Andrew Scheer: Perry, our esteemed soundman, has worked a variety of jobs in his life. One of them was that he had a CDL [commercial driver’s license] and would transport firearms. Apparently, the term when you're driving trucks is not “driving trucks.” It's, “I drove truck."
Perry: Or "I drive truck." That's just me though.
Andrew Scheer: It might be.
Kristen: I drove truck.
Perry: I would be like, "One time when I was driving truck" ... If I had been in a car, I would have been like, "One time when I was driving my car…”
Andrew Scheer: Now if you ever go on a long trip ... We do these “weekend warrior” things where you have to be in the car with Perry for like six hours and…
Perry: We're driving back tonight.
Andrew Scheer: If you ride with Perry, he is very…
Andrew Scheer: That wasn't the word I was going for. Inquisitive is not the word…
Perry: Thirsty for knowledge?
Andrew Scheer: He's thirsty for knowledge and he's very interested in holding a conversation the whole way. He has a breadth of knowledge about anything you can think of. If you're like, "I want to talk to Perry about this; I'm going to stump him on it, " he'll be like, "Well, actually dude…” That's his standard line.
Kristen: Driving truck.
Andrew Scheer: When we were in Alabama recording, a band came over to the Airbnb house that we rented. We'd all been drinking a little bit, and Perry is sort of driving truck on Ben Tanner.
Perry: An hour or hour and half went by. In my mind it was an hour, hour and a half.
Andrew Scheer: Seriously just rattling off questions about Alabama Shakes, about Ben's childhood, about the high school that he went to…
Andrew Freehauf: And it's always interjected with a random piece of knowledge: "Oh, such and such a high school? I heard that they did this back in the '90s. Did you know something about that?"
Andrew Scheer: Any time you get caught up in Perry's conversation it's called "drive truck.” We’re trying to get him to do a podcast, “Driving truck with Perry Childs.”
Kyle: We could just bring Perry in the next time Alabama Shakes play Chicago. He can drive truck with them and then you write "A Beer in the Truck."
Kristen: It will be called "The Driving Truck Series.”
Perry: Driving drunk truck.
Kristen: Is there ever a conversation you've heard in the crowd and you think, "I cannot believe I'm hearing this right now”?
Dan: Well, not really a specific conversation, but there’s a girl I know who has a heart of gold but, God bless her, she has the loudest voice you’ve ever heard. It's just perpetuated exponentially when she drinks. The volume just increases so you can hear her over the entire place, and this is in a full bar in Fort Wayne.
Perry: They sell more PBR at that bar than any other bar in Indiana so that tells you kind of the mindset people are in.
Andrew Scheer: It's one of those cool, high-energy places where people really focus in to the music for the most part. I'm trying to think of any conversations I've heard…It wasn’t really a conversation, but Kyle and I were playing and there was this girl who had her drink sitting on the stage, and any time a song would start to calm down or we were in between songs she’d be yelling at Kyle, “Drink my drink. Drink my drink." It was like, "We’ve got our own drinks. I don't need your drink." Every song, the whole time.
Kristen: She was just trying to make her mark, you know.
Andrew Freehauf: Here's the thing. I think Dan and Perry give off all the vibes. I think women can tell, so they look right past the guitarist, right past the singer. Nobody cares about the bassist anyway, and they look right to drums and the sound guy.
Kristen: Do you feel like people often look past the bassist?
Andrew Freehauf: Yeah, look at 90% of any band's pictures. The bassist is not in the shot, ever. It's just a running joke.
Kristen: I feel like the drummer too always gets the short end of the stick if you’re taking live photos. A lot of times the drummer is just a floating…
Andrew Freehauf: …Thing in the back.
Dan: It's great, honestly.
Perry: Dan's a pocket drummer, so he's not all over.
Andrew Freehauf: That's why I always turn around and try to make some eyes with Dan during the show, just so he knows I'm not forgetting about him.
Dan: I do give really good eyes.
Andrew Freehauf: Also when I play something wrong he gives good eyes too. I've noticed that a few times. He's just kind of staring and I'm like, "Oh God."
Kristen: Dan knows.
Andrew Freehauf: He's in the pocket.
Dan: Everybody knows. Everybody knows everything about everybody when we're playing, and we all make mistakes. It's come to be just one of those tongue-in-cheek things
Andrew Freehauf: The eye contact is key because it's the same focus that he has when he's drumming but all of the sudden it’s in your face.
Perry: Yeah, and it's directed instead of just energy going out. It's all of the sudden laser-focused.
Dan: It's just me saying, "Let's get this shit together." That's what I'm saying with my eyes.
Kristen: "Let's get our shit together."
Andrew Freehauf: Usually after one, I'm a little more focused. It's good.
Kristen: It's a warning.
Andrew Freehauf: A lot of times I'll laugh off my mess ups but then I'm like, "Oh yeah, we are playing in front of people."
Kristen: The thing is, people probably don't even notice.
Perry: We know though.
Andrew Scheer: You hear Perry shouting, "What are the words, Kyle?"
Kyle: Yeah, that occasionally happens.
Perry: No, I don't shout it. I say it to myself.
Kyle: It's only when we do Beatles' covers. There was a time we did a Beatles' cover of “Come Together” and I didn't know the song. I didn’t dedicate enough time to learning it, so I had the lyrics down at my feet. All of the sudden they blew away.
Kristen: Oh no.
Kyle: The rest of the song was just “toe jam football.” "Toe jam football, he's got toe jam football." Really just ended it. Luckily it was at a little block party in Huntington. That was the low moment of my music career.
Kristen: What has been a high point for you guys?
Perry: Muscle Shoals in one sense for sure. Recording-wise, there's been nothing like it.
Kyle: I think when we played The Embassy.
Kristen: The Embassy Suites conference room?
Kyle: That's where it was. Suite B. They host this thing every year…
Perry: Now it doubles for proms and pizza parties.
Andrew Scheer: They have great continental breakfast.
Kyle: It’s called The Embassy Theatre. They host something every year called "Down the Line,” where they pick local artists. It's never the same artists, and they ask them to cover a band. We picked U2 because we felt like we could kill it. Man, it was so much fun.
Andrew Scheer: The best part of that was that they always encourage you to do your covers but then throw one of your own songs in.
Andrew Freehauf: Just general size-wise and seating, it's one of the biggest stages in Fort Wayne, so it was great. We got to throw one of our own songs in on top of these covers and people just loved it.
Andrew Scheer: Basically, for a chunk of time we stopped rehearsing our own material. We practiced these five U2 songs and hated them for weeks. Preparing for the show was tough because we don't usually play covers. Trying to do that and play somebody else's music and be as faithful to that music as possible was hard. We had some rough rehearsals where we were a little pissy with each other. There was one rehearsal…
Dan: With lots of stares.
Andrew Scheer: Yeah, lots of stares. There was a lot of stress leading up to the show. You’re going on this awesome, historic stage and playing these songs…
Andrew Freehauf: Yeah, we played some historic songs. It's hard not to play those songs and think about times you’ve heard one of those songs on the radio, and you think, in some way, I'm contributing to or echoing that history.
Kristen: Yeah. That's pretty awesome.
Andrew Scheer: Yeah, it was fun. As for other high points, I would say every time we’ve play Schubas would also be up there.
Dan: Yeah, we love Schubas.
Andrew Scheer: I’d seen so many other bands play there, and I had so many really distinct memories of being a fan. So it was really a cool place to play.