Backporch Lemonade with Mayor West
By Matt Ashworth
Here at Nada, we’ve developed a sharp acumen for recognizing talent in new and unsigned bands. Seems twenty years of voraciously consuming every bit of contemporary and classic rock n’ roll music we can lay our greasy little hands on has afforded us such a luxury.
Other times we just get lucky.
Such was the case with Mayor West, who approached us last month about opening our Swamp-Country Punk showcase with Riffbrokers and I Can Lick Any SOB in the House Sept. at Chop Suey. Their pitch, basically “we can bring forty heavy drinkers,” didn’t fall on deaf ears. Nor did the recommendation from Mike D, frontman for the show’s awesome headliners.
A few other possibilities fell through, time got short, and we gave them the spot based solely on those two factors. Then we listened to the three songs on the band’s website (www.mayorwest.com.)
More country and less punk than Riffbrokers, the band’s down-home, sippin’-lemonade-on-the-back-porch folk rock is more Dylan than Stones, and will set a nice contrast for the Riffbrokers more rock-heavy sound before ICLASOB ties it all together when the three bands share a NadaMucho.com Presents bill Wednesday night.
As is our custom, the music savants here at Nada sat down and chatted with the boys about life, love and whether or not they drink lemonade.
NadaMucho.com: Hey fellas, how’s it goin’?
Mayor West: Well, just found out Johnny Cash died, so kind of bummed. Chris might never be the same. Oh and hungover, 75 cent Molsons seemed like a good idea last night.
NM: Yeah we’re pretty bummed about it too. My girlfriend says its OK because he gets to be with June again, but it was still kinda sad listening to Shake the Shack last night. Rumor has it you might grace us with a Cash cover Weds night?
MW: Absolutely, the guy was a hero for everyone in the band. It’s the least we could do to honor him.
NM: Speaking of Weds. night, thanks for agreeing to play our Swamp-Country Showcase. Now tell our readers who the hell Mayor West is, exactly.
MW: Four guys who’ve been in the basement too long.
NM: Your name comes from an episode of Family Guy. True or False?
MW: False, but good research. We just kind of liked the sound of and the “Mayor” and idea of “West.” Garth even had the public library run a trademark search on the name that came up clean.
NM: Good thinking. That way you won’t have to change your name to “Mayor West UK” in a couple years.
MW: Good point. Do they even have mayors in England?
NM: Oh, you’re right. You’d have to change your name to “Vasser West.” Hey, know what? We kinda like Bob Dylan. Do you like Bob Dylan?
MW: Definitely, some of us more than others. Some would say to an unhealthy degree, but we wouldn’t say that.
NM: So long as you don’t have posters on the ceiling. OK, Rock Journalism 101 Question: what other artists do you cite as major influences?
MW: Other than the fact that we don’t sound like him at all we’ve got a lot in common with Tom Waits. Also Uncle Tupelo, Stones, Buck Owens, Pixies and of course Groening.
NM: With so much attention focused on bands like My Morning Jacket and Kings of Leon, do you think “alt-country” is headed for a second big wave of popularity? If so, what are your plans to ride this strange wave to international stardom?
MW: I guess you could say we’re banking on it. International stardom sounds good, but we’d be happy to ride the wave as far as a good venue in Portland.
NM: Your music makes me wanna sit on the porch with a few close friends and sip vodka lemonades on a hot summer’s day. Do you like lemonade? Vodka?
MW: Our singer is from Seattle, not sure he really understands the concept of porches. We like lemonade and vodka but we like bourbon a lot more.
NM: As a volunteer shop, we’re kinda poor. One way we like to thank bands for playing our little showcases is by giving them the best bottle of whiskey we can afford. Right now we’re gifting Old Crow, but we hope to soon move up to Jim Beam. Do you like Old Crow? We do.
MW: Are there any sweeter words in the English lexicon than “free” and “whiskey.” Maybe “lucrative” and “record deal” but it’s close. Old Crow is a testament to the fact that inexpensive bourbon can be quite palatable.
NM: Speaking of things we like, one is Portland’s I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House. How’d you get hooked up with Mike D and the boys?
MW: We went and saw one of ICLASOB’s shows in town and were totally blown away by the songs, attitude and energy on stage. After that we pretty much begged/harassed them for a chance to play with them.
NM: Music lovers should buy your recorded output en masse. Where would one go to do so?
MW: To the future. In a future machine.
NM: To what date, approximately, would we wanna set the DeLorean on that?
MW: We’re in the studio now and hope to self-release our debut by November. Watch mayorwest.com for details.
NM: Some of our contributors claim its against city ordinance to play your style of music unless you live in Ballard. Do you guys live in Ballard?
MW: No, but Steven is Scandinavian.
NM: What other local bands should we be shamelessly hyping with our unique brand of informed hyperbole?
MW: We’re big fans of Grownup Trouble, Hex County, the Jesus Chords, Rodeo Kill, Visqueen, the Lights, Radio Nationals and Survey Says.
NM: What should we ask you next?
MW: “Would you please stop drinking all of our whiskey.”
NM: Would you please stop drinking all of our whiskey?
MW: We’ll tell you when we’ve had enough.
(Mayor West is Chris Hess, Garth Highsmith, Danny Kelly and Steven Takeuchi. In addition to NadaMucho.com’s showcase Weds, Sept. 17 at Chop Suey, the band plays the Mars Bar on 9/19, Fremont Oktoberfest 9/21, The Central 10/2, Conor Byrne 10/10, Lock and Keel 11/15, and the Lobo Saloon 12/6.)