Let’s talk about Low Cut Connie. They come out of Philadelphia, but draw inspiration from everywhere they go and everywhere they have been. They have made fans (and friends!) out of Barack Obama and Sir Elton John. They have had concerts with 20 people in the crowd and they have had concerts with thousands of people in the crowd. Not to mention that they play over 100 shows annually. Honestly, who can compete with all of that? The classic rock meets soul meets blues band has more fire in them than any other band out there at the moment. Their new single, “Beverly,” is on its way to being a smash hit; for it is rambunctious and timeless, the furthest thing from clean cut (in the best way possible), and is more than ready to be the face of their new album.
With an ever-growing catalog of songs and a passion for music so strong that it would make everyone from Ray Charles to Michael Jackson jealous (respectively), Low Cut Connie should already be on your radar. If they’re not, they will be. They seem to never grow tired of getting down and dirty, connecting with their fans, and putting on one of the best shows around. Seriously, just ask Adam Weiner, the founder and ridiculously talented frontman of the group. He adores just about every aspect of his job and I had the pleasure of speaking with him a couple of weeks ago, so I can tell you that that statement is the utmost truth.
Hey Adam! I have a couple of questions for you, but I think we should start off by talking a bit about your upcoming album, Dirty Pictures (Part 2). Can you describe Dirty Pictures (Part 2) in just two words?
Oh my god, I only have two words?
Yeah! It’s “Part 2” so you get two words.
Oh my god! You’re killing me, Debra. [Laughs.] Two words: Rock. Roll… That might have just been the dumbest answer that I have ever come up with.
[Laughs] What about Dirty Pictures (Part 1) in just one word?
I like that. I feel like that works really well. Now, let’s talk about going into the studio to create this new album. What was the writing and recording process like for Dirty Pictures (Part 2)?
Well, the writing… I don’t know. I don’t have a process, it just happens. I don’t have a very interesting answer for that. We are not a big, major label, big money band, so we can’t rent out an airplane hangar and sit for six months writing songs. We don’t have that kind of thing going on, but we did record at Ardent Studios in Memphis, which is a very magical place.
Memphis is a city that has been very dear to my heart. I lived there for a year when I was in college because I did a term there. I fell in love with it and the music there. Oh, and there was a piano player there named Mose Vinson, who was very influential on me, and it was amazing to go back to Memphis to record with Low Cut Connie. Ardent just let us have free rein over the place, so it was a great experience.
That sounds really fun. You guys also have a reputation when it comes to live shows, as they are known to be some of the most fun concerts that a person can go to. What do you love most about that?
Well, I get as much from the crowd as they get from us. We have a small but passionate fanbase that is growing every day, and they follow us all around the country and know all of the words to our songs. They mean a lot to us and I think that our music means a lot to them, so it is just like a beautiful hour that we get to spend together.
You know, life throws you a lot of curveballs and people walk around with a lot of stress and bullshit in their life, but you can get that hour together where they can just let it all go, open up all the channels. The thing that I have been so happy about over the last year or so is that our fanbase has become very diverse. More diverse, I should say. We’ve got people from all walks of life coming to our shows. In fact, recently we have seen a lot of older folks that bring their kids, then we see people in their twenties who bring their parents, and everyone just gets along, which I think is a rare thing.
Speaking about live music, I actually wrote an article a few months back about bands that people must go see during this year’s festival season, and, naturally, I had to include you guys. What are your thoughts about music festivals, being that you have played shows at venues of all shapes and sizes?
You know, the show changes every night, but we approach the show in the same way whether it is for 12 people or 1,200 people or 12,000 people. We are at this interesting level of the band that we might play any of those three sizes of room, depending on the city and the night and the event. We are doing festivals that are tens of thousands of people — like Bonnaroo, Bottlerock, Pickathon, Newport Folk — and yet last night we played in St. Louis to 67 people on a Tuesday. Or in Lincoln, Neb. to 20 people. Or Des Moines, Iowa to 12 people. We just do our thing every night no matter who is there. We have to do that, you know, it’s our job.
Right, and I feel like the crowd, regardless, are going to respond to the music that you make.
We try to make that true. Well, there is usually about a 5 percent shed rate. There are usually those few people that within those first 30 seconds are like, “You know what, this shit ain’t for me. I’m gonna go right now.” So after that five percent shed happens, everybody else we completely win over.
But in New Jersey there is no shed rate! New Jersey, Philadelphia, New York… the people are just maniacs to begin with. It’s explosive. It’s an amazing relationship that we get to have with people and New Jersey, because I grew up in New Jersey and half the band grew up in New Jersey, we have a strong connection and special feeling for it. It gets in your bones. It is a way of thinking about life — like an underdog mentality and there is a shared experience in that. It’s in our songs. Like, we have a song called “Big Thighs, NJ” that I wrote on our first album. I feel like growing up in New Jersey really has a lot to do with our music and our writing.
That is something that I don’t doubt. New Jersey has been quite influential on many different people and artists. Although, so has Philadelphia. Do you feel that Philadelphia has had an effect on your music, as well?
Yeah, 100 percent. Philly has another sort of culture that is made up of a few things. You’ve got the soul, the rock and soul from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s; which is everything from Cameo Parkway, the early hits of rock and roll like Chubby Checker, The Orlons, and all of that. And some of the people that I have become friends with — Bobby Rydell, Charlie Gracie… what’s her name who did “Mashed Potato Time”? Dee Dee Sharp. And then later, all the Philly international stuff like The Stylistics, The Delfonics, The O’Jays, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes. That stuff is very influential and I grew up listening to that.
Philly also has this boxing culture. Philly is one of the biggest boxing cities in the world and I, personally, am a big fan. It is sort of an underdog quality in the sports scene that I also think has been a big influence on the way we approach things as a band.
Speaking of the band, you work with an immensely talented group of musicians all the time, at your shows and in the studio. How important is it to you to have that solid, trustworthy group of people to work with?
I can’t say enough about these folks. James Everhart plays lead guitar, Will Donnelly plays rhythm guitar, Lucas Rinz plays bass, Larry Scotton is on the drums, Saundra Williams is vocals and tambourine. We have a great crew, too. I love the fact that we have worked together to create a sound, you know. This is not just an anonymous, plug and play backing band. Low Cut Connie has a sound and they are responsible for that sound every night.
Your sound is very specific to who you are and it is a fantastic one at that. How is it working in the music industry and maintaining a sound that is pure rock ‘n’ roll, pure talent and pure grit, that really only you seem to have?
Well, we’re lucky, because as counter intuitive as this sounds, what we do is so out of fashion that we don’t even really have a prayer to have it be a huge, commercially viable thing. So, there is less pressure to conform to the sounds on the radio. We just sort of do our own thing in our own corner of the sandbox. It is sort of freeing in a way that rock ‘n’ roll is not really in fashion commercially.
Modern day, like you said, is vastly different. Can you give any advice to anyone who is planning on starting out in the industry from the ground up like you guys did?
Well, it is a tough gig, but if you feel like there is nothing else you can do and that it is truly your passion, like you can’t see yourself being happy doing anything else, then you really have to commit to it 110 percent. Of course, you have to learn the business and be able to promote yourself and do it yourself in every way. You can’t wait for other people to come around and hand it to you. You have to go get it yourself. But most importantly, you have to practice and practice and practice and get better and better and better at what you do. The one tried and true thing is to be so great that nobody can deny you.
That is great, passionate advice! To talk a little more about your new music, on the subject of your latest single, “Beverly”. Why did you choose to be the lead for this new album?
I felt like it was an interesting change of pace for us. We have been labelled for a long time as this “party band” and “bar band.” These are terms that we get a lot. I don’t have a problem with either one of those terms, but I feel like we have a lot more going on to be just seen as a “party band.”
I wrote “Beverly” when I was inspired by a lot of women that I met. You see, we stay in a lot of these very two-star level motels all over the country and we meet these women who are on their own out here and doing whatever they have to do to get by in America. They really don’t have anybody in their corner and I am fascinated by these strong women who are out here on the road, who really just trying to find a way to get by day by day. I tried to put that in “Beverly.”
I think that shines through really clearly in that song. It’s a great message that is definitely underlying within the lyrics. As well, I think it’s a great choice for your new single. Do you feel that “Beverly” sets the scene for Dirty Pictures (Part 2) sound-wise and stylistically?
Yeah, (Part 2) is a little more emotional than (Part 1), of which I just described as “grimey.” I guess in a way I could say that (Part 1) is digging down into the dirt and (Part 2) is digging out from the dirt. It has a cathartic quality to it, I think.
I am excited to take a listen to it when it’s released. So, other than these new songs off the new album, what songs can we expect on this tour’s setlist?
We change it up every night and we have a large catalog now, but we really just do whatever feels right that night. It is nice that we have a lot of songs at our expense now, but I will tell you that we have a new song that is coming out soon. It is called “Every Time You Turn Around,” and it is the first time that we are putting out an actual ballad as a single. We have been playing it on this tour and people have really been responding to it, so I am excited to put something out like that that people would never expect from us.
Catch Low Cut Connie at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park on April 28, Union Transfer in Philadelphia on May 17, and the Bowery Ballroom in New York on May 18.