PBR-sponsored Shoot the Chutes (named after the infamous water ride at the historic and long gone Riverview Amusement Park), is taking over the Vaudeville Mews and the PBR Bar August 24th. That means you only have 9 days to get to know all of the 13 bands who are playing. Get on it! Among those bands are a few Band Bombshell favorites: Har-di-Har (3:45pm/indoor stage), MAIDS (2pm/indoor stage), and Annalibera (5:15pm/indoor stage). And now we’re adding Sleepy Kitty to that list (7pm/indoor stage). Read on. (And check out the entire line-up/buy tickets here.)
Q: If you had to describe your sound in three words that begin with a K, what would they be?
A: Knockabout, knowledgeable, knoisy
Q: What sticks out most when you think about playing your first shows?
A: First shows ever: When I was 13. I’d say total excitement and elation. First shows in Sleepy Kitty: The thing that sticks out most to me is that we were trying to pull off waaaay too much. Both Evan and I were coming out of 5- and 7-piece bands. This was our first time in a 2-piece. It was also my first time ever playing keys on stage, or using live loops. I felt like I was crashing a spaceship.
Q: Who have you been compared to that you’re really proud of? If you can’t think of any, who would you love to be compared to?
A: People have told me that they get a Debbie Harry/Blondie vibe, which is a huge compliment. People have also compared some of my guitar and vocal delivery to Stephen Malkmus from Pavement, and that really makes my day. We LOVE Pavement.
On BandCamp, it says that a mark-e-phone is used in your song “Don’t You Start.” What the heck is that?
A: Great question! The Mark-E-Phone is named after Mark E. Smith from one of our very favorite bands The Fall. He has this way of making distorted vocals and abrasive sounds sound awesome. The Mark-E-Phone is this specific combination of a half broken crappy (in a perfect way) guitar amp and a string of pedals that lets my voice blow out and distort so I can do guitar leads on my voice. It was one of the first sounds Sleepy Kitty recorded, and a crucial tool for me writing guitar and also vocal parts. Glad you asked about it!
Q: What advice do you have for local musicians trying to break into the industry?
A: I’d say, if you feel like something’s not working in your band change it. And sooner rather than later. You want to feel like the thing you’re presenting to an audience is what you want it to be. Also, go to a lot of shows of bands you like and learn from them.
Q: What are you most looking forward to in Des Moines?
A: In my experiences, the drive in Iowa is always really pretty. I love touring in the summer. So honestly, I really enjoy looking at a city when we roll into town. We’re both vegetarian too, so when we get to a new town I like to try to find a rad local vegan restaurant if there’s one that people recommend. Also, if there are any art/music must-sees we want to see them. Like cool record stores, art museums and what not.
Q: What’s been your proudest moment as a musician?
A: Just recently, I had my amp in the shop before our last run of shows and I finally got myself a road case for it. I got a great deal on it too, but if I had got it any earlier in my career it would have been too soon. The fact that I needed this thing because we were touring so much just made me take a moment to appreciate that I’ve been doing this long enough and often enough to merit a road case. Little personal things like that make me proud. Another thing was we opened for Chuck Berry, which was pretty amazing. Also, speaking of St. Louis legends, there’s a photographer/musician/writer/radio show host in town named Bob Reuter who’s photographs span decades of the St. Louis music scene and the girls and boys that play it. They’re really unique and beautiful photos–lots of stuff from the venues, candid portraits too and all on black and white film–just like the pictures of Iggy Pop and Richard Hell and the Ramones and Blondie and all the stuff that makes ya excited about the legends of rock and roll in the first place! The first time I saw Bob Reuter at a Sleepy Kitty show I was so proud to see him shooting right in the front. It was such an honor! We’d moved to town from Chicago and had been around for a little while, but at that moment I felt like we were finally a St. Louis band–like we’d made the cut for the official history.
Q: If you had to give fans one thing to look forward to at your Des Moines show, what would it be?
A: Lots of harmonies, loud guitars, and drums. (Also some musical theater references.) And be ready to dance! Rock and roll should make a body sway!
Give Sleepy Kitty a listen. Thoughts? Share them in the comments!