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The Immortal Lee County Killers II

Posted by July 26th, 2003 No Comments »

Q & A With Chet “EL Cheetah” Weise
By Matt Ashworth, Nada Mucho Chancellor, Editor in Chief, and Harem Leader

NM: Who exactly are we speaking with here, (ILCK Frontman) Cheetah (Weise) or the whole lot of you?
Cheetah Weise: At 23 minutes past the witching hour on May 6, 2003, Cheetah has finally sat down to try and answer intelligently.

Immortal Lee County Killers II
Q & A With Chet “EL Cheetah” Weise

By Matt Ashworth, Nada Mucho Chancellor, Editor in Chief, and Harem Leader

NM: Who exactly are we speaking with here, (ILCK Frontman) Cheetah (Weise) or the whole lot of you?
Cheetah Weise: At 23 minutes past the witching hour on May 6, 2003, Cheetah has finally sat down to try and answer intelligently.

NM: Okay, good luck with that. Please start by giving us a short history of The Immortal Lee County Killers II.
CW: The Token One and I played together in a band called the Quadrajets, which came during the first wave of “punk n’ roll bands” (Hellacopters, Nashville Pussy, et al). We had drums, bass, three guitars, and three screamers. Pure Chaos. Pure Energy. But only one or two dimensions. I left the band after exploring those dimensions and contributing to the fullest of my abilities. I have several bodily scars that any doubters can see or touch. ILCK started during the Q-jets with myself and Doug “the Boss” Sherrard. I wanted to try travelling to a new dimension and really concentrate on my first love in music – blues.

NM: So, like, are you guys gonna be the next White Stripes or what?
CW: No. We’re much, much different (than the White Stripes). Just as B.B. King and John Lee Hooker both have records in the blues section but really don’t have much in common.

NM: Seems that many young adults have a stigma against blues, like it isn’t very popular with people in their teens and twenties. Why do you think that is?
CW: Blues, like what is happening to punk today, was packaged and formulated around the early seventies. I think the stereotypes stem from B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Blues Brothers. I love all three of those artists, but there’s a difference between originators and imitators. Consider this comparison: A large black man playing bent notes on guitar with a horn section or a half bald white man with a ponytail “shredding” his guitar.

Even your most square or inexperienced music fan can tell a lie after they’ve been exposed enough. So many years of blues imitators has watered down the music and made it a staple of tourist bars rather than something vibrant. Music has to be vibrant for young fans.

Also, the music industry quit promoting blues to young people because they had already created a safe niche for blues – lame bars and over thirtysomething listeners who want to listen to lame music but feel good about themselves for doing it. Your average lawyer still feels better listening to some blues hack named Smoking Blue Larry rather than Barry Manilow.

NM: Who are the imposters and who’s the real deal?
CW: It’s about honesty. There are good liars out there, so sometimes it takes several listens to discover which bands are liars. Right now I believe most of the punk blues bands are real, they’ve just gotten discovered and become “in” all of a sudden. Many, like us, have been around for years. Hell, when we started I didn’t think anyone would like us because we were a duo. Took a while for me to realize how many more musicians were on to the same idea.

Blues has made a comeback yet once again. Since most true “punks” are first and foremost music lovers, of course punk rock will embrace this type of music and it will evolve. That’s what punk rock is for….not for MTV.

NM: Couldn’t ILCK and the Black Keys do for blues what the Hives and White Stripes did for garage rock? Will we ever see blues-punk have a commercial explosion like that?
CW: Tough question to answer. ILCK does not follow the verse/chorus/verse/chorus/middle 8/chorus arrangement as faithfully as other bands. The White Stripes do some interesting stuff, but they still write pop songs. Pop songs translate into success. Even Nirvana wrote pop songs – with a twist – as did Cheap Trick before them and The Rolling Stones before them. Granted, I love the Stones and good pop music. And we do try to incorporate some pop sensibility in our music, and will try to even more in the future, but I have to find a way to do it and still have it be fucked-up blues. Why? Because that’s all my fingers know how to play. A guitar in my hands will never sound like Big Star or The Jam.

NM: Speaking of guitars, tell us about the Mark II. Is it a thing to behold?
CW: The MK II is the closest to the ideal of perfection I have experienced. I love my guitar.

NM: When you started playing, did you expect to tour across the country and perform for so many people?
CW: I never thought ILCK would venture out of Auburn. Our first show was a hot dog BBQ at Doug’s house. Three years later and we’ve played all over the USA, probably too much actually, and made it to Europe. The Boss never expected to sell his soul to rock n’ roll so he left after Essential Fucked Up Blues. The Token One took over on drums almost two years ago, hence the name change to ILCK2 for Love is a Charm of Powerful Trouble.

NM: Speaking of which, how’d you pick the name Immortal Lee County Killers?
CW: I could not think of a simple, short, memorable name, so I decided to use a long, fucked-up one instead. At least an impression would definitely be left on a listener if not the name specifically. We live in Lee County, Alabama. Jerry Lee Lewis (aka The Killer) is my favorite Sun studio era rock ‘n roller. And every good blues musician eventually has “Immortal” stuck in front of their name by someone. We decided to add the adjective ourselves.

NM: How’d you get hooked up with Dave and the Estrus crew way out here in Bellingham? You guys are from Georgia right?
CW: Alabama is next to Georgia. No big deal. Just names of States. People and their local culture define regions to me. Quadrajets released records on Estrus. Three years ago, ILCK went to Texas to play a few shows with some of our friends. Dave held an Estrus picnic in Austin during SXSW the same weekend and invited us to visit and play. We were only paid a hamburger, but our show convinced Dave we could record good music. He usually wants to see bands live before he decides to do records. I did not expect to ever record music again for public release after Q-jets. So it tickled me to death.

NM: What do you do down there in the south? Is it just like we see on the TV, or is it more like the Drive by Truckers album?
CW: Nothing is like TV. The Drive by Truckers do act as good ambassadors of the South as well. To me the south means pre-sweetened Tea, humid summers, Robert Johnson, Elvis Presley, Martin Luther King, Stax and Sun records, and the KKK. The South is a place of extremes. Many perceive the South as laid back and slow, but there is an intensity and energy down here that cannot be experienced in other parts of the country. Reading William Faulkner or Edgar Allen Poe, watching MLK speak, or listening to Elvis should make the energy, extremes, and truths of the South obvious, but somehow many still think it’s a place where Bo and Luke Duke act like imbeciles and Cousin Festus spends his entire life dipping chewing tobacco and whittling. Makes me laugh…the irony.

NM: Wouldn’t Bo and Luke have to end up being the ones with the energy, extremes and truth people fail to associate with the south for it to be considered irony? Anyhow, your slogan is “Mean-ass country punk.” Are you guys really that mean? Do you beat people up?
CW: I only beat people up in my Jeet Kune Do, Wing Chun, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu martial arts classes. In true martial arts, to hold back is disrespectful. Usually I get beat up. Outside of martial arts I am a pussy cat. Our music is mean, which is to say it’s passionate, base, and simple but not easy. Full of energy, and ready to say “Fuck you” if absolutely needed. We’re not killers either.

NM: Ever fought with a fan or booker or club owner or anything?
CW: Not physically. Violence is for pussies.

NM: Nevertheless, you’ve got a healthy dose of “evil” in your musical stew. From whence did it come, and how can we make sure you don’t run out?
CW: As much as some may ignore, attack, or ridicule “love” and “evil,” neither will ever abandon our world. Music is therapy for me. Therefore I lance many of my evil sores on stage. Lately because of dorks like George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden, I have been trying to project more love into our music. The scales need to be tipped toward love. The War Pigs have slammed evil into overdrive. Earth is in trouble. Yin and Yang are unbalanced.

NM: Sounds like you’re much, much different than the stereotypic punk rock male. Would you say it’s a good analogy clarify your description of how people perceive the south compared to what it’s really like?
CW: The South is better described by William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Martin Luther King, and Flannery O’connor than The Dukes Of Hazzard or The Nashville Network. For some reasons, folks outside the South believe Hazzard County truly exists and the KKK lurks on every corner. That’s bullshit.

NM: Is playing and/or recording music therapeutic for you guys? Would you be in a mental institute or terrorizing the good people of Georgia if you weren’t in the band?
CW: I’d be a fucking mess.

NM: A few of our writers claim they love ILCKII until it hits some track about 3/4 of the way through that sounds “like the Doors, only shittier.” Have you gotten that comparison before? And do you think the Doors were a shitty band?
CW: I love the Doors. I love Jim Morrison. Take your staff for example. As soon as the subject of the Doors or Morrison enters into a room of music heads, people are polarized and instantly take sides. Rock n’ roll and art is about confrontation/resolution. No other artist has started a riot by allegedly flashing his cock. No other band has been able to do “the Doors” thing. There’s a million Bob Dylans, Rolling Stones, and Ramones bands running around out there. No one can touch the doors. Too jazzy for most. Too artsy. The Doors, especially Morrison, took chances. Morrison set himself up to be ridiculed. Good Art takes real chances. I’m so glad everyone does not like Morrison like they do Jagger or Dylan. No one loathes Dylan. He’s become a pop icon rather than a source of debate. What saddens me is that after Morrison died, Manzarek and company destroyed everything that band was about. Look at the album covers. All those bare-chested, Jim-as-sex-symbol/shaman shit didn’t start until after he died. People should listen to Doors albums (especially the live records) without any pretensions. Don’t believe the hype.

Here’s a hard fact, if there had been no Doors/Morrison, there would be no Stooges/Iggy. People are still afraid of art. The word “pretension” is thrown around by indie/punk rockers like a dirty rag. I thirst for artiness these days. Even if a “pretentious” artist does five cheesy things to one truly original artistic statement. Fuck being Cool. Let’s throw some rose petals on stage and recite some poetry.

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