Squeezing Out Larks

B-Sides chats with the immortal soul-punk Graham Parker, and boogies down with the NYC power-trio Earl Greyhound.

B-Sides: Can you give us a hint of what the new record will sound like?

Matt Whyte: We're leaning towards the sound of the gallant tracks on Soft Targets, as far as the rock & roll stuff goes, but we've started to incorporate some piano into what we do — both Kamara and I play — so we kind of switch around. Maybe a little more Motown, a little more soul in the new songs. We're gonna do one of [Kamara's] compositions on this next record; she tends to write more in the country tradition, actually. But I'm sure we'll find a way to make it all work.

The band has been together since 2002, but you just launched your first tour last fall. What were you doing before that?

We hadn't really done shit. We were staying in New York, getting the record together and sorting it all out. That's the problem of being in New York — in order to live in New York you've got to afford to live in New York, so you've got to work to live in New York. It's not as if you can keep an apartment and a practice space and a van and go carefree, taking weekend drives to Pennsylvania to play a show. Although if you wanna make something happen, you can do it. That's the way we found Ricc. After our drummer that played on Soft Targets had quit, we were like, "Let's play as much as we can." We managed to book shows for every single week for six months. Ricc started coming to our shows and saw that we were playing with different drummers all the time, and he said, "Oh, do you guys need a drummer?" So we started playing together, and it was such a relief to find the right guy.

At your shows, are you playing to die-hard fans, or do you find yourself converting new fans at every show?

I'd say it's about a 30/70 mix, weighted more heavily on the people we have to win over, only because it's not like we have any major airplay behind us. We have to count on the strength of our performance to earn fans. For the people that have discovered us through what airplay we have gotten or by word of mouth, those fans really make a difference and it's really quite gratifying. Going to Knoxville, we played to ten people, but there were three guys who had driven five hours, so that's pretty good.

— Christian Schaeffer 9 p.m. Saturday, June 9. Lemmons, 5800 Gravois Avenue. $8. 314-481-4812.

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