Interview by M&M
Photo courtesy of Rebecca Chiappelli
What’s the skinny? Who are the Wreckids on- and off-stage?
Sarah and I got married while we were living in NYC, both of us bar tending and waiting tables. I was writing and performing by myself at the time. Sarah added harmonies, viola, percussion, harmonica, and good looks, so we started playing together. My draw went from 10 people to about 100 when we joined forces! We moved to Pittsburgh in 2007 to “settle down” a little. We have a 4.5 year old boy and both just started new careers.
How long have you been married vs in a band together? How did you meet?
I had to make sure Sarah had the right chops, so we started singing together first! We got married in the fall of 06. I proposed on stage, actually, at Sidewalk Café in NYC, just as our set was ending. I used a 9 karat cubic zirconia ring I got for $25. She’s a special lady, so I splurged. We met at the wedding of a mutual friend in Davenport, Iowa. She was with somebody, so I got her email address, as if I just wanted to be friends, then flirted with her for about 5 years and finally wore her down.
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you before? Do you have musical influences?
I would describe our sound as “indie folk” which is pretty vague, but also that we have playful banter between songs, like Sonny and Cher. I don’t like to say “folk comedy duo” because then they expect us to be funny. It’s like saying, “Hey Scott. Tell that hilarious joke to my friend.” You’ve already ruined it, ya know? We are definitely influenced by Flight of The Conchords and Tenacious D, though.
We’ve seen you a number of times at Club Café. Where else can folks hear you play? Where else have you played?
Club Café is probably our favorite place to play in Pittsburgh, but we’ve been around the block a few times. Thunderbird, Brillobox, The Rex, Mr. Smalls, Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, and a few other places have hosted us in the past.
Tell us about your favorite show.
We opened for my friend Jaymay a year or two ago. She drew so many people, Club Café was packed. Everybody was so excited to see her, they were just really responsive to what we were doing, laughed at all my stupid jokes, clapped loudly for us, and the sound was just amazing that night. The feeling we get on a night like that can’t be described. It’s just magical.
Are you typically fans of the bands you open for prior to performing with them?
Our favorite bands to open for are our friends from town. Meeting of Important People, Donora, Nik and Central Plains, Lohio, Boca Chica, Harlan Twins, and Broken Fences, just to name a few. We are big fans of all of them.
What EPs and LPs have you recorded? Where and when did you record them?
We’ve recorded all our records at Play On Recording in Gibsonia. Jake Hanner, the drummer of Donora, is the guy who engineers and produces them. He plays drums on the records and Jake Churton, Donora’s bassist, plays bass on them. So it’s like an old fashioned recording studio with a built-in band. Our first one was “Singing You to Sleep But Giving You Nightmares,” which is pretty, but has a bunch of disturbing social commentary in the songs. Then, a year later, we did “Sycamore,” which is a little more uplifting and fun. Last year, we finished “But They Can’t Take Our Dignity,” which features the song Zombies. It’s kind of all over the place like a mixed tape, but we do all the songs! Lot’s of different styles, I mean. I guess.
What spurred your interest in making “But They Can’t Take Our Dignity” a full-length LP?
We started out just doing an EP. We had five songs done, which were from my solo record. People kept asking, “Are those songs you always play on The Wreckids albums? Is Sarah on them?” And I’d have to say, “No, those are from my solo record and she’s not!” Everybody Loves Me was the main one people asked about.
But after recording those songs, I just realized that it was inefficient to just do five, so we just kept going with all this new material I had written. Plus, I just had to get Zombies recorded. Josh Verbanets, from MOIP, and Josh and Gab produced that one, played guitar, and sang on it. That was one of the coolest musical experiences of my life, working with both those guys at the same time.
Do you have a favorite track? Does that track differ from your favorite to perform?
My favorite track is Zombies and it’s also my favorite to perform. Crowds get really into it and get to sing with us at the end.
How do you typically write songs? What is your process?
I usually write songs late at night, after the rest of my family has gone to bed. The trick, though, is to wait for the inspiration. Sometimes, it’s when I’m out running in the woods, or if I’m watching a movie and something catches my eye. My songs are all based on really dumb ideas, so once I have the funny thought, I brainstorm as soon as possible, writing down possible lines, rhymes, and story lines. Then, when I have time (usually late at night), I pour myself a Jameson’s over ice, grab my guitar, and start trying to find a melody, meter, rhyme structure, etc. Sometimes I get really geeked and stay up till four in the morning when it’s done. Sometimes, after twenty minutes, I realize how bad the idea was, and just let it go.
How often do you rehearse with your bandmate?
Because it’s just Sarah and I, and we’ve been together for so long, we almost never rehearse. She’s such a pro. She remembers all the ones we’ve done before and just has to go over any new ones a few times. This is especially true if we’ve been playing frequently.
What are your day jobs?
We make so much money with music, we were able to quit our day jobs. Just kidding. We almost never make money doing music, so that’s a long way off. Sarah does education outreach for The Saturday Light Brigade, which is an amazing organization, and I’m a property manager for a local rental real estate firm.
What’s next for the Wreckids? Do you ever see yourselves performing in a different capacity?
I think we’ll just keep recording music, play occasionally, and let the universe decide. I’d love to get an upright bass player and a really good drummer to play with us all the time. But, I don’t see us doing that anytime soon. Maybe our son will play the drums for us, Sarah will pick up the bass, and we can be a power folk trio.
How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website, Facebook page, Twitter account, etc?
We have digital distribution through CD Baby, iTunes, rhapsody, etc. Our facebook page is https://facebook.com/wreckids . I’m not sure I’m ready for twitter. That’s a big commitment.
When is your next show?
Our next show is the Beatles tribute show at Mr. Smalls on November 16th. We’re just doing a few tunes though. It will be a great night and we’re really looking forward to it. Acoustic Café puts that on every year. The next real Wreckids show is at Garfield Artworks on Dec. 6th, with “Eric + Erica” and Morgan from Broken Fences. We’re headlining that one and it’s during a “First Fridays” gallery crawl, so it’s be well populated.