Friday, March 31, 2017

Review: Planetary Overdrive Self-Titled LP

Today, March 31st, Louisville band Planetary Overdrive released their eponymous first album. Planetary Overdrive has been playing the Louisville area for about a year and consists of husband and wife Dan & Nat Sturdevant and drummer Cam Thomas.

The album plays as if Randy Bachman (from Bachman turner Overdrive) recorded an album with Billy Gibbons (of ZZ Top) backed by The Donnas. Which is to say, it is a straight up party record. The first track, Party Weekend, is a testament to Planetary Overdrive's skill at rocking the party.

Lead vocalist and expert axe shredder Dan Sturdevant said of the track "I had always wanted to write an anathematic song about the frame of mind and lifestyle that is Party Weekend. Going out with your friends and just having a good ole time no matter what kind of week you had." This Party Weekend theory was also the basis for Dan's brother Nate Sturdevant's legendary hot sauce (of the same name) used by New Wave Burritos.

The 8 song party continues with Burn Out, followed by Just Drive, a full on 80s dirty rock anthem aimed at taking that party on the road. There's no rhythm guitar here, and it's not missed, just two and half minutes of hair metal solos with gang style vocals by the Sturdevants.

The album takes a solemn turn with ballads Along The Road and Over The Years (complete with Sax solo by Travis Stanton) reminiscent of the more pensive Murder City Devil tracks, before returning to dirty party time with Tennessee SunriseGot It Made and Better In Red.
The 8 track self titled album was produced by the band and features Dan Sturdevant's shredding skills on every track backed by Cam on drums and Nat on bass while supplying backing vocals that are curiously soaked in reverb and dropped low in the mix. Personally I like my party upfront and would have preferred to have the entire band turned up to eleven, but as that is my only reservation with this album, I'd say Planetary Overdrive presented a fine first attempt at bringing the hot sauce to the party.

Planetary Overdrive self tittled album Release show with Adventure & Jet Black Orchid is tonight, March 31st, at Haymarket Whiskey Bar. 9pm. $5.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Interview: Tony Esposito of White Reaper

Tony Esposito is the front man of White Reaper, a Louisville based rock band that has a new album, The World's Best American Band, coming out on April 7th. They have 2 previous albums, 2014's Self titled, and 2015's White Reaper Does It Again 
Tony Esposito (center). Still shot from the White Reaper video COOL

37)   The new album, The World's Best American Band, has been touted as a markedly different sound than 2015’s garage punk hitter White Reaper Does It Again; Stereogum even describing it as a "power-pop radio-blaster.” Do you recognize a sonic difference in the new album as compared to your last effort, or 2014’s self-titled, and was this on purpose?

TE) The biggest difference is probably the intricacies in the melodies of each individual instrument, like, there's a lot more going on this time around. Where as, on the last record, guitar and bass were kinda married for the most part, this time they kinda dance around each other. 

37)   Personally I do not hear a wildly different sound as compared to your first 2 albums. The power pop angle is there but there are still the heavy slap-back vocals and catchy guitar licks that we have come to expect and love from the world’s best American band. 
The first single, Judy French, could practically be Sheila’s sister in terms of love drenched pop-punk gold. I think the difference might be something like the difference between Rocket From the Tombs and The Dead Boys. How do you feel about the forensic cataloging of your sound by the media and what were your influences while writing the new album?

TE) For whatever reason people love to use words like "garage" or "punk". I feel like people keep stacking those kinds of words on top of each other to try to describe a certain band or even a song, and it's just too much most of the time. We've always seen ourselves as a rock band, some might say we're a "garage rock" or "power pop" band, but we don't think too hard about it. 

As far as what we were listening to when we made the record, it was all stuff we were listening to on tour. A lot of classic rock radio kind of stuff, we listened to a ton of ozzy osbourne, Boston, Joe Walsh, things like that. Some of us didn't have any way to stream music back then, so a lot of times we would just try to find the best radio station wherever we were at the time. 

37)   There are definitely  ‘power-pop’ inspired tracks including Tell Me, and Crystal Pistol, that are reminiscent of Cheap Trick’s classic 1977 In Color. Some would say In Color is a natural progression of the punk scene evolving into power pop and pop rock, much like your earlier efforts being more garage punk slowly moving into a power punk sound.  Where do you see White Reaper going from here musically and what is on the horizon?

TE) Well, it's hard to say where we'll be or how we'll feel or what we'll like when we make the next record. Now that we've added another guitar to the band there's a lot of things we can try that we haven't thought about yet. 

37)   Some might see the title of the new album, The World's Best American Band, as an audacious claim, but others might completely agree while sighting a lack of straight-up American rock on the record shelves these days. The revamp of Torch, soul, and R&B genres causing Rock N’ roll to take a back seat at the moment. Do you worry that the climate might not be right for a rock album, or do you feel Rock N’ Roll is alive and well in the U.S.A?

TE) We're not worried. The people that need to hear this record will hear it. We're gonna continue to make rock n roll records no matter the weather, rain or shine. 

37)   What bands do you feel are keeping Rock N’ Roll alive, and where do you see American music going?

TE) Our buddies in Twin Peaks, NE-HI, Together Pangea, No Parents, bands like that who go and tour and play music everywhere they can. There's a lot of young kids too, in Louisville and in Nashville and all kinds of other places who are gonna start great bands and tour all over the place. Now that everybody can make any kind of music they want to, the massive amount of American music will continue to grow in a diverse and unpredictable way. 

Louisville's White Reaper will celebrate the release of their new album The World's Best American Band (out 4/7 on Polyvinyl Records)  on April 8th at Zanzabar.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Interview: Dan Sturdevant of Planetary Overdrive

Dan Sturdevant is 1/3 of the Power rock trio Planetary Overdrive with his wife, Nat Sturdevant, and drummer Cam Thomas. Their first album will be released this friday, March 31st. 

Party Time: (L) Dan (C) Nat (R) Cam

37) Planetary Overdrive consists of you, Cam Thomas, and your wife Nat Sturdevant. How long have you guys been together and how is the dynamic as a three piece and being married to one member? 

DS) We have been together for right at a year. It's great being able to work on songs with Nat here at our home studio and bounce ideas off each other just in daily life. We have been playing together for over a decade so we are certainly on the same wavelength. 

The three piece dynamic really keeps things tight. Cam is one of the best drummers I've had the pleasure playing with and we really clicked off the bat.  I personally have always been drawn to the power trio model, it allows everyone in the band to really weave their part in. 

37) Your brother, Nate Sturdevant, is the co-owner of New Wave Burritos, home of the Party Weekend Hot Sauce. Is there a connection with that and the first track 'Party Weekend' on the new self-titled album?

DS) Yeah! We love New Wave Burritos. Nate would yell Party Weekend at shows back when Nat, Nate and I were in the band Supertruck with our buddy Jordan. I had always wanted to write an anathematic song about the frame of mind and lifestyle that is Party Weekend. Going out with your friends and just having a good ole time no matter what kind of week you had.

New Wave's Party Weekend sauce and crispy chicharrones

37) Your older brothers Nate and Andy have been mainstays in the Louisville music scene for years, playing together in the early oughts. Is rock n' roll in the genes and what's it like coming up in the music scene on the heels of rock legend brothers? 

DS) No doubt about it. I have been playing guitar since '98 and some of my first jam sessions were with Nate. I remember going to a Glasspack and Red Sun show with Andy around that time. Andy, Nate and Nat and I did a one off band named One Term Senator in 2010 when Andy was in town for a week. Some of my first shows were Andy and Nate's band, The Blow Up in Japanese. After seeing them I got together with my high school buddies and we started our punk band, Hung Jury. 

37) Speaking of the Louisville music scene, what local bands inspired you growing up and are you listening to any contemporary local bands in particular?

DS) I was definitely inspired by The Blow Up in Japanese. I actually tagged along with Nate and one of the guitarists in the band, Dave Wolkensperg. I pulled some old junky guitar off the wall and started messing around with it upside down (I'm a lefty) and Dave walks over and asks if I'm interested in it. I said yeah I was and he put it on layaway for me right there. I mowed a few lawns and got back up there as soon as I could to take it home. 

When I was growing up I remember seeing Your Black Star and really being impressed with some of sounds coming out of Jeremy's amp. I also had the False Cathedrals cassette and really enjoyed Elliott. The Glasspack put on an awesome show and I was blown away by their energy. I saw Ayin more than a few times at the BRYCC house. 

Supertruck played many times with Adventure in the past and I am really stoked on playing with them again at our album release at Haymarket. Jordan Frost of Adventure mastered our album and really helped it come together. I just saw Powell for the first time this last Saturday at Galaxie, they had a great three piece feel, they're all brothers and they were tight. Kingslayer is an awesome power metal band with a ton of energy. I love Stagecoach Inferno's sound and their new album is fantastic. 

37) Where do you see Planetary Overdrive going into the future?

I'm really pumped on this first album. It's self produced and recorded and we plan on making many more. We had been working on it over the last few months and have many more songs to share with the world. Looking forward to playing many more rock and roll shows in the future and spreading the party! 

Planetary Overdrive self tittled album Release show with Adventure & Jet Black Orchid is this Friday March 31st at Haymarket Whiskey Bar. 9pm. $5.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

5/19-21 Moonshiner's Ball in Irvine KY

The 2017 Moonshiner's Ball will take place in the Red Lick Valley in Irvine, Kentucky on May 19 - 21 and will feature Quiet Hollers, Con Brio, Lydia Loveless, The Marcus King Band, Margaret Glaspy, Vandaveer, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Lil' Smokies, Jon Stickley Trio, That 1 Guy, Tyler Childers, Golden Dawn Arkestra, Dawg Yawp and The Blackfoot Gypsies, and others. Full line-up and ticket info at

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Interview: Craig Bell (Grandmaster of Punk)

Craig Bell has been playing in punk bands since the early 1970s in Cleveland including the seminal groups Rocket From The Tombs, X_____X, and Mirrors. 
In 2003 Rocket From The Tombs reformed and have released 3 albums which has spawned a renewed interest in Bell's other work and prompting reissues of albums by X_____X,  Saucers, and others. Bell also releases music under his own name and is currently on a US tour. 

37- After nearly 45 years in the Cleveland music scene, what do you account for the renewed interest in your early punk/rock bands, Mirrors (1973-1975), Rocket From The Tombs (1974-1975), and  X_____X (1978)?

CB-I think we should give a lot of credit to that to the younger kids who have come along since the advent of the internet music explosion. They have dug deep into the early days of the Punk scene, and earlier, to find bands like us and they are very enthusiastic in their appreciation. We also must give a nod to the older generation that we came up with who kept our bands music alive by trading tapes and writing about our efforts back in the early 1970s.

37-  What was the climate like in Cleveland in the early 1970s that made it possible for so many seminal punk to be born there?

CB- Cleveland was an important stop on any up and coming bands itinerary in the 60s and early 70s and because of some great AM stations in the city and the region we were exposed to quite a bit of music other parts of the country didn't get informed about until a lot later, if at all. The Velvet Underground played in Cleveland multiple times between 1966 and 68. Their influence was tremendous in the local underground scene of the early 70s as a result. These factors certainly contributed to a lot of like-minded musicians looking for somewhere to take all that.

37- After the break up of Rocket From The Tombs, several of the musicians left Cleveland to start other bands, Cheetah Chrome moved to New York to perform as The Dead Boys and you started Saucers in New Haven CT. what do you believe was the necessity to move away from Ohio to keep the momentum alive?

CB- After the break up of RFTT, I decided that I should try and get something of my own together. I was offered the opportunity of joining both Pere Ubu and The Dead Boys (they were calling themselves Frankenstein at the time) but I declined both because I thought it was time to see what I could do with the ideas I had. I was offered a job in New Haven so I moved there in 1976 and after getting acclimated to the area, started looking around for other players into what I was doing. It didn't take too long until I met Mark Mulcahy, and Malcolm Marsden and a seventeen year old keyboardist, who to this day on this tour, claims he is a synthesizer player! That would be Malcolm Doak.

37- During the lifespan of Saucers, only one song was released, Muckraker, on the   compilation “It Happened But Nobody Noticed” in 1982. Which happens to be a fitting title, as since then much of your early work has been re-released, or released for the first time, including recordings by Rocket From The Tombs, The Saucers, and X_____X. What do you think took so long for the general public to notice and appreciate these early purveyors of experimental punk? 

CB- we also released two singles in the lifetime of Saucers, What We Do/I Didn't Get It/Muckraker (1979) and A Certain Kind of Shy/She's Alright (1980) besides that cut on the compilation LP. I think the other part of this question reverts back to the first question.  A lot of young fans are discovering us as they search deeper to find the roots of this style of music.

37- Now that the world has caught up with your impressive catalog of work over a near half century, what can we expect next from you and your band?

CB- In the past 7 years I have released music with my previous band The Down-fi, the CD America Now (2009) and Beehunter (2012) as well as a couple of 45s. I have played on the recent EP by The Gizmos, 2015s 21st Century Gizmos Fans on Gulcher Records as well as the X_____X release  Albert Ayler's Ghosts - Live From The Yellow Ghetto (2014).  Rocket From The Tombs has released three albums since our retrospective album came out in 2002, Redux (2003) Barfly (2011) and Black Record (2015). X_____X is currently recording tracks for a new album and RFTT have plans to do the same this year.  I have been talking with a few people about a new album of my songs and I plan to start recording this summer.

Craig Bell will be playing in the Dead Forest Room at Zanzabar on Wednesday, April 26th.  Columbus, OH's DANA and Louisville's Jaxson Lee Swain will open. Ticket Information here