Nada Mucho

Live Review & Dragstrip Syndicate

Posted by August 20th, 2003 No Comments »

Dragstrip Syndicate
The Lobo Saloon
Saturday May 4, 2003
By Sybil Rohlf, the editor’s bitch

As a new music writer and self-proclaimed “journalist to the cutest of the garage rock bands,” I was thrilled to hear Dragstrip Syndicate had requested that I come to their show last spring and do an interview. (Aw shucks, am I blushing?) How could I pass that up?

Always aiming to please rock stars who adore nerdy music writers, Matt and I obliged. We headed on down to the Lobo Saloon, which resides in a long forgotten Seattle neighborhood along Eastlake Ave . Dragstrip went on shortly after our arrival, which always suits us just fine.

Dragstrip Syndicate
The Lobo Saloon
Saturday May 4, 2003
By Sybil Rohlf, the editor’s bitch

As a new music writer and self-proclaimed “journalist to the cutest of the garage rock bands,” I was thrilled to hear Dragstrip Syndicate had requested that I come to their show last spring and do an interview. (Aw shucks, am I blushing?) How could I pass that up?

Always aiming to please rock stars who adore nerdy music writers, Matt and I obliged. We headed on down to the Lobo Saloon, which resides in a long forgotten Seattle neighborhood along Eastlake Ave . Dragstrip went on shortly after our arrival, which always suits us just fine.

As those who’ve been to the Lobo before already know, it’s small, dark and a more than a little creepy. Oddly, a pool table took up most of the middle of what could have been a nice dance space, but no bother, we all gathered round.

The band, which includes Jon Brown on vocals and guitar, Erik Sugg and Kevin Inge on lead guitar, John Flude on bass and Matthew Forrest on drums, fit nicely in the snug space between the door and the pinball machine. I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think they really noticed they weren’t on a nicely lit stage in a large rock club, or that most of the audience consisted of big muscle-y guys in tight shirts.

It was immediately obvious that Dragstrip did not belong in the Lobo. Their music, which has drawn comparisons to the likes of Skynyrd, Zepplin and the Stones, is loud, guitar-driven (they have three guitar players for cryin’ out loud), southern-fried rock-n-roll. Yummy.

NM: So, you said you know the Mistreaters. They say anything about me? Give you a note to pass on?
DSS: Actually, I stumbled onto Nada Mucho through the Estrus site. I haven’t spoken to the Mistreaters personally since last summer’s Sleazefest, which is an annual three-day rock festival in Chapel Hill. It’s sorta like a Southeastern version of Garage Shock. It was our first time meeting the Mistreaters. We really dug each other’s music. At one point during our set, I was playing and leaning back really far and Dusty dumped a beer down my throat. It nearly choked me to death, but I appreciated it all the same.

NM: The songs on your website don’t do your live sound justice. What do you hope to do differently when you record the second record?
DSS: I’m all about recording our music live in a studio setting. The studio drives me batty, man. I’m definitely not a headphones and overdubs kinda guy. We have a really talented engineer named Bob Rupe, (ex-Cracker, ex-Silos, yup the big 80’s and early 90’s groups). Bob is amazing. He knows how to get a live sound in a studio. He recorded the “Action Ep” for us and an upcoming 7″ called “Bad Situation Amplifier” which will be released on Demonbeach Records, based out of Raleigh, NC.

NM: What labels are you looking at to put your next record out?
DSS: We had an awful, awful experience with a Chicago label. They released a full length called “Volume”, went under about a month after its release, seized all copies, and didn’t communicate with us for over a year. It was an insane struggle to retain the rights to the music, (which we now have). It was a naïve decision on our part. If we look at other labels we’re going to be smarter about it and make sure they’re the kind of people who look out for their bands. It’d be cool be on a label that’s conducive to our sound, but a lot of the labels that are into high energy rock and roll don’t really know about us-yet…

NM: There are three guitars in the band, any competition to upstage each other?
DSS: Nah, I think the three of us do a pretty good job not stepping on one another’s toes.

NM: What’s the scene like in Richmond? Is there alot of support for Dragstrip’s music?
DSS: Richmond is a fun town, but it’s not necessarily known for Rock and Roll. It’s more of town for emo and hardcore. Considering that’s the general flavor, I feel like we do pretty well there. We have a devout audience and people who see us for the first time usually come back again. A lot of folks there think that we’re cocky. It’s funny because I think we’re all pretty humble guys. I always to try to support everything that goes on in Richmond, even if it’s something I don’t particularly like, but there are definitely some folks there who do not like Dragstrip. It’s all good though. We get just as much of a kick out of negative feedback as we do the positive, but overall, we do well in Richmond. I live in Raleigh, NC. and our bassist, John Flude lives in Chapel Hill, (this area is about a two hour distance from Richmond). I actually kind of prefer the NC scene. Great bands and good people.

NM: How do you feel about folks citing Lynyrd Skynyrd when they mention your sonic reference points?
DSS: Even though there are a lot of differences in musical opinion in Dragstrip, I can safely say that we all dig Skynyrd and don’t mind the comparisons at all. We’re actually talking about learning “Saturday Night Special.” It might be kind of an obvious, boneheaded move. Three guitars and doing a Skynyrd tune? Duuhhh… But in all seriousness I think we’d do the tune justice. It’s just a good, fun song. Sometimes I wish the band would do more covers, but like I said, the differences in musical taste keep that from happening. We’ve talked about doing everything from Alice Cooper, to Sonic’s Rendezvous, to the Stones, to Lord Sutch, etc… but no one can ever agree. We once did an MC5 set for a Halloween show. It was fucking great. Jon Brown, our singer, wore a Rob Tyner wig and everything. Good stuff.

NM: How did you like Seattle? You go see that needle thing everyone always talks about?
DSS: I’ve been to Seattle on my own before. I love the city very much. It seems like a lot of my Portland pals don’t particularly like it, but Seattle has always had this amazingly healing affect on me. When I was here before I went to the Space Needle forgetting that I don’t do well with heights. I had a vertigo attack and felt like an idiot for going up there. It’s funny to think about now.

NM: Do you get to play at alot of small seedy bars to muscle-bound guys in tight shirts like you did in Seattle? What kind of crowd do you typically attract?
DSS: Even though our music is basically testosterone charged, it seems like a lot of girls get more into our music, (Jesus, I hope that didn’t just make us sound like Poison, or Trixter). Guys like us too though. We usually get a lot of, “Dude!! You kick ass!!!!” We certainly don’t mind hearing that.

NM: What songs do you like to cover in your live show?
DSS: As I said before, we generally don’t do covers, but in our tune “Italian Leather in Mexico” there’s a soul breakdown where we either play “Papa was a Rolling Stone” by the Temptations or “I Thank You” by Sam and Dave. We dig the soul music very much. It’s definitely a big influence.

NM: Next time you come through our neck of the woods would you consider Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold?” Cause that’s Matt’s favorite song and he thinks you guys would finally do justice to the original.
DSS: As much as I hate to dis Matt, I’d have to say no. Jon Brown kind of has a loathing for the Nuge and more than likely would never sing one of his tunes. I like the Nuge myself, especially that song, but I don’t see it happening. Matt, sorry brother…

NM: While it’s easy to spot some influences, we can’t think of anyone out there who sounds exactly like you guys. Are we just uneducated, or are you and The Drive by Truckers the only two southern rock bands who understand the punk mentality and aesthetic?
DSS: Ever hear the Cherry Valence, from Raleigh? They’re good friends who do a similar thing to us. I think they’re probably the best rock band out there today. Last week in Chicago we played with Bad Wizard, who I thought was phenomenal. Basically our influences are mid 60’s soul, late 60’s Detroit, early 70’s trash, and early 80’s punk, (there’s probably the least amount of influence from the latter, but we’re all schooled in punk).

NM: Simply based on appearances, the members of your band have a real mix of personal style. How is that working out?
DSS: Our weird-ass concotion of personality and style definitely makes us more entertaining, (or at least I’d like to think). Sometimes I step back and look at us and just laugh. We’re a pretty goofy band.

NM: Where did you get the name Dragstrip Syndicate?
DSS: Our old bassist, Mick, came up with it. I guess he was going for the whole fast car/rock and roll thing. I never really liked the name all that much, but the band was already established by the name when I joined. Plus, I could never really think of anything better to call us.

NM: How hard is it to meet others in the music industry who are honest, hardworking and willing to help folks working toward similar goals these days?
DSS: I do the bands booking and have been coming across a lot of fine folks, such as yourself. On the west coast people seem genuinely more concerned with helping bands. Back east I encounter some shithead booking agent almost daily. They like to give you the whole “why the fuck should I book you, I never heard of you” thing. It’s ridiculous.

NM: What bands can you turn us on to that we haven’t heard of yet?
DSS: North Carolina is home of some the best bands around today. Definitely check out the Cherry Valence, the Dynamite Brothers, the Wheather, the Loners, the Greatest Hits, Buzzsawyer, and from Chicago, the Last Vegas.

NM: OK, and last but not least – Girls with tattoos: cooler than girls without?
DSS: My girlfriend, Robin, has a tattoo of a star on her arm that I think is kinda cute, (she regrets getting it though). I personally am not into tattoos on myself, but always enjoy seeing them on other people. With the exception of our drummer, Matthew, and myself, the other guys in the Syndicate are tattooed and probably dig tattooed girls though I seriously doubt they would judge a woman’s coolness on whether or not she’s tattooed.


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