There are widespread kaleidoscopic ideas, diversified basic instrumentation, and rich compositional settings cushioning All Y’All’s whole.
My brother and I grew up listening to our dad’s British Invasion records. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, my grandfather was a Columbus, Georgia, disc jockey. He died before my parents married, but he championed black music before the Civil Rights Movement. He was a show promoter, putting on events by Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, James Brown and early rock and rollers. They influenced British Invasion bands. So we come from that.
How is the current Atlanta rock scene doing?
There’s different bands doing their own thing getting recognition but they’re more punk or garage-like and we’re not really a part of that. There’s Black Lips, Deerhunter, and Snowden. Punk-metal band Mastodon has a huge national audience. Some of our favorite local bands we were in a similar vein as have recently broken up. Atlanta’s pretty diverse, a large collective of different sounding bands doing shows together.
On wankering guitar-laden numbers such as “Eve Of Your Expression” and “Transmission,” songs credited to the entire foursome, I ascertain an Alabama-bound Drive By Truckers influence.
Those songs were penned by Pete De Lorenzo. His songs get knocked into Americana or Southern roots-y styling (by critics and fans). He gets compared to early REM a lot – not so much Drive By Truckers. I only know three or four of DBT’s songs.
Conversely, “Come On Now” and “March Of The Gringo” have a contemporaneous indie rock sound not far removed from the Strokes or Libertines.
Those are both co-written by my brother and I. We don’t listen to a lot of contemporary music. We listen to ‘50s Rhythm & Blues by Sam Cooke and Arthur Alexander. Maybe those bands come from a similar spot. I’ve seen them play before. “Come On Now” does maybe have a Strokes-y chorus. “March,” though, has a jazzier Squirrel Nut Zippers groove. It’s hard to tell where our influences truly derive. We’re more absorbed with writing songs, making our music, and practicing. We just got back from the United Kingdom and I had my IPOD going with the Falcons.
The Falcons and Arthur Alexander were premier early rockers whose sound resonated through popular ‘60s acts such as the Beatles and the Stones.
Yeah. The Beatles did Arthur Alexander’s “Anna” and the Rolling Stones copied “You Better Move On.” His story is a strange one. He ended up a school bus driver in the ‘70s before charting a comeback album and then dying. A friend of ours got us into him three years back. He’s amazing. John Lennon pretty much ripped off his melodies and drumbeats covering “Soldier Of Love.” He’s a bad ass.
The only cover version on All Y’All is “Rebel Kind,” a Lee Hazelwood composition. Why revisit this twanging ‘60s-derived Southwestern-styled troubadour?
I’ve never heard Lee’s original version. Matt McCalvin, our latest member, who replaced a few former people who couldn’t handle touring or had drug addictions, brought us “Rebel Kind,” and we learned it. In ’04, Matt solidified the lineup and didn’t contribute songs ‘til the last year. He came up with that cover and wrote “Up And Down.”
Has Gringo Star been working in any new songs for the upcoming live dates?
We’re working many angles. The new songs will be as diversified. Usually, I’ll write a song one way and it’ll turn out differently. One’s a harder rocking number with two guitars, bass and drums. My brother wrote a piano-driven song that’s evolved outwardly, but isn’t totally different. We’ll continue to use a mishmash of styles.
This and John Fortunato’s many articles on music can be found at beermelodies.com. Photo Credit: Joeff Davis