Monday, May 27, 2013

Crazy Pills: Cats, Gear, Gigs, and Alternate Reality Country Music Super-stardom

Hey there dear readers... The Northside Festival is just around the corner, and here at HBR we are so excited about our showcase that we can't even sleep or eat, or really do anything other that drink beer and count down the days. Last year, one of my bands, The Planes, shared a bill with Crazy Pills, at The Whatever Blog showcase (and it was incredible), and we're lucky to have them on the Hearts Bleed Radio Showcase this year. Crazy Pills (Amanda on Guitar/Vox, Eddie on Bass, and Jim on drums) are a high energy three-piece, and kinda sounds like that point where rockabilly, garage rock, punk, and pop, all intersect. I sat down with Amanda and discussed her two main passions; music and cats.

Hearts Bleed Radio: I have to start with the most important question first. How are your cats getting along?

Amanda: They are not! Ha. Apparently, they're trying to ascertain which is "alpha". I think they'll settle down. Apparently the small sassy female is going for the win. You know how that's gonna go. I'm pretty proud of Binky - he's being very tentative and careful around Snuggles. She's being alternately too cute for words and hissy... KITTENS.

HBR: I heard that it can take a while for them to kinda smell the same, and that's when they finally accept each other. Snuggles? I thought it was Miyu.

Clockwise from top left: Amanda's cats, Miyu /"Snuggles", Binky, my cat Baron, and my roommates cat, Storm
NOW YOU KNOW
Amanda: IT IS SNUGGLES. Eddie was like, "She's a little girl, she needs a pretty dignified name" or some nonsense like that. Since Binky's full name is Bibingka, which is this purple yam based, Filipino sweet, he thought it should be a girl's name in Japanese or whatever. So I went with Miyu, which is a girls' name in Japan which means "pretty [something, I forget]". But she is Snuggles to me... I LOVE CATS. Please, let it be known. 

HBR: Yeah, Baron is either "Bear," "Bearcat," or "Bearmuffin" to me. He's only called "Baron" when he's in trouble. So aside from cats... You also play guitar and sing in Crazy Pills. I would describe your sound as "garage rock 2.0". A lot of influence from 60's garage, but like, you obviously lived through the last couple of decades and take inspiration from that. Where are you coming from musically? What are you main influences?
 
Amanda: Hmm - good question! I guess that as with our tunes being thematically disparate from song to song - one song is inspired by cults, one is inspired by moving out of NYC, one is a good ol' "he done me wrong, mama" - so are our influences! Obviously, each player brings his respective influence to the table so...I can only speak for myself. I love the Stones. I draw a lot of that rock and roll swagger from my childhood dream of being the next, I dunno, Elvis? Who knows. I love the rockabilly from the 50s and 60s (and country, of course - I grew up in an Indiana town with...wait that's a Tom Petty song - I grew up in a blue collar town with tons of country music radio stations, I can sing along to any Trisha Yearwood or Dwight Yoakam song, dude), obviously, the garage and pop from the 60s through the 70s, post-punk or whatever you call it from the 80s... man... 
  Of course there's 90s college rock that I think gave me the guts to go electric - thank god for The Breeders, BELLY, all those rad female fronted bands for having freaky amazing songwriters fronting rock bands. I could go on and on... Also - my guitar playing is influenced by separate factors beyond the songwriters and bands I'm influenced by so it's... not quite a conflict but it does take the tunes different directions than they start out heading.

HBR: In an alternate universe, perhaps you are a country star?

Amanda: DEFINITELY! I wish I had the vocals to be the next Patsy Cline...some folks have backhandedly insulted Wanda Jackson by comparing me to her, but hell I'll take it!

HBR: Are there any Asian-American country singers?

Amanda: Hmm. NOPE. I can't imagine my peoples being accepted by that community for a good long while. I imagine it'll take a Disney half-Filipino to cross over, mainly because they seem to be the most prominent Asian demographic that has an "in" with mainstream Western culture, amirite? PS, THAT WAS MY STRATEGIC MOVE IN BRINGING EDDIE INTO THE BAND. Mu haha.

HBR: I would bet that the vast majority of country music listeners in 2013 would be accepting, but I don't know if the corporations who control what the people hear would want to take the "risk" of having an Asian led band.

Amanda: Yep, agreed. There's a...glass ceiling? I guess? I mean, you have Yoko Ono who sort of at least defied that "servile" Asian woman stereotype... though I guess she moved into the "dragon lady" one. Whatever. Definitely, I notice a more prominent presence of both female-fronted guitar based bands that RULE and also happen to have Asian women leading them - esp in "indie" circles but since Crazy Pills aren't indie, we got a diff thing to deal with. I had to hear the "YOU GUYS REMIND ME OF SHONEN KNIFE OR THE 5'6'7'8'S" thing despite the fact that the tunes are not very similar, but that's not happening these days. BUT whatever, 'sall good. I think when we hit the stage, the sound supersedes the image...at least to the people who like music for what it is.

You don't want to know what Jim had to do for those beads...
HBR: Yeah, honestly, I don't know who you guys remind me of. Haha, I think that's cause I don't listen to much rockabilly, though.

Amanda: LOL, "What ARE you?" I don't think we're really all that rockabilly. I just want to PLAY as wicked as those cats do. I studied Bill Haley like a madwoman, obviously not even close, but it's always good to aspire. Unless you're evil...

HBR: Right, honestly some parts of CPs songs could be considered punk if you, like, had a spiky leather jacket and played them 2 bpm faster.

Amanda: Image really does impact how you're categorized. I think we should dress like hippies and see how that goes over. Hahahahahahaha.

HBR: Haha. MAKE JIM DRESS LIKE A HIPPY!

Amanda: LOL Jim in a wig, Eddie in hiphugger bellbottoms. I'm so gonna make 'em try that. LOL!!!! Jim could get little John Lennon sunglasses. He had the beard for a while...

HBR: You have a great guitar tone for the style of music you play. Jazzmaster through a Fender amp... What pedals do you use?

Amanda: Oh thanks! The Jazzmaster was built to my specs by Totally Wired guitars (EDDIE) and I play it through a Fender Deluxe Reverb reissue. The pedals are a Tubescreamer for that nice shrill overdriven sound, and occasionally I use one of the EHX pedals in my magickal blue bag - last night was the Holy Stain but I have a vintage Ram's head Big Muff that I may be replacing that !@$#U! Way Huge Pork Loin (that is trying to kill me on stage) to ramp up my solos. I used to play a Fender Deville Hot Rod but it was too heavy to carry around and honestly, too hot at times for many of the rooms we played. I do like its tone, but it's just too big and heavy and I don't need that loud of an amp right now.

HBR: I like Hot Rods too, but I also kinda feel like sound kinda spills out of them in all directions, like, they are too washy. Maybe good for shoegaze, but the Deluxe Reverb seems to have a sharper sound, and you play a lot of staccato riffs. Do you guys have any plans to record?

Amanda: WHY YES WE DO STEVE, THANKS FOR ASKING! We are recording at the end of this month...as in this coming week! with Mister Jeff Berner at Galuminum Foil studios. It'll be our debut full length and we're calling it "Restless". We have a kickstarter launching so we can put this baby onto vinyl. It'll literally a dream come true to see a labor of love pressed and in a neato sleeve. SHOULD BE GOOD TYMEZ! Took us long enough. It'll be released digitally in July with tapes or something, and then hopefully the vinyl as soon as that is able to be pressed.

HBR: I know it feels like its taken awhile, but you must be pretty confident going into the studio with the songs being so well rehearsed, right?

Amanda: Haha, absolutely. Silver lining in the 3-year old cloud. I have Jim and Eddie who are very, VERY locked in and have made the parts much better than I ever envisioned which, as you as a frontperson know, really makes me step up my game and further develop my own parts.

Amanda tears it up at The Rock Shop
HBR: We're really excited to have you guys on the Northside bill, I think it's going to be an incredible night. Your other band, pow wow! is also playing. Describe the differences between fronting a band and only playing guitar.

Amanda: Thanks so much for having us, Steve!!!! We are psyched to return to Northside, too. I totally can manage being in two bands because the roles are so different. I play lead and sometimes rhythm and backing vox for pow wow! which has forced me to focus more on the playing rather than the whole shebang - Eddie whipped me into shape on some stuff, guitar-wise, because he has a very specific style that is different to mine, so I enjoy that challenge and taking his direction to serve the song. For CPs, it's like I'm the host of the party and, ya know, lead - so that's a whole different ball game. I enjoy both roles but I do consider Crazy Pills to be my main project. I'm very proud of pow wow! and do what I can to support that band.

HBR: Yeah, I know exactly how that is. It's always a great experience to see a band from another angle; to play a different role in the process. Playing the drums has given me a new perspective. When are you going to play drums in a band, you have some natural talent, correct?

Amanda: HAHAHAHHAHAHA! If you say so! I'd LOVE to play drums in a band. If only there were an additional 24 hours in the day! I think most folks who have been in a few bands have to pick up at least a tiny basic level of proficiency on each instrument - or at least an understanding of it - to get the new songs going, dontcha think? So here's that on the drums for me. But a drummer I am not (YET). I hear you're killing it in Big Quiet - it just seems so FUN (and exhausting!). Man...so much I want to do. Not enough time or money. Someone, buy me a winning lottery ticket!

HBR: Yeah, I need to play bass in a band, but like, it's hard to rally people around something that I might have 5 hours a month for. So, we'll see Crazy Pills on 6/14, are there any other shows coming up? And what other local bands should we be checking out?

Amanda: We have a show on the 29th at Big Snow with Haybaby (speaking of Asian female-fronted rock bands...well played, Steve. Well played.), Dead Stars, and the Suicide Dolls, and we're in the midst of booking our record release show. Bands to check out! AH! I LOVE Sharkmuffin, that girl is one hell of a shredder. Obviously, all our friends' bands rule - from The Meaning of Life to Let's be Loveless to Dead Stars to Quiet Loudly (hey homeyz!) to Twin Guns (rad, RAD psychedelic dark band) to...man, too many to name!!! Your bands, of course, The Planes, Big Quiet... Hard to name 'em all on the spot... Aye Nako. 

HBR: Aww, you're too kind. Any parting words you want to leave us with?

Amanda: Parting words...COME OUT TO THE JULY RELEASE PAR-TAY!
Be kind.
Love cats. 
Shower regularly.
Conserve energy and produce less waste.
Ta-DA!

And that's Amanda!  For more info on Crazy Pills click  ---> here.

UPDATE: Help Crazy Pills on Kickstarter ---> here.

RSVP to the Hearts Bleed Radio Northside Show  ---> here.

"Like" Hearts Bleed Radio on Facebook  ---> here.

See you at the next show!

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