BY BRiAN LUSH
The amped up electric guitar sound of the Chicago-based trio
THE LOCALS was harder to come by than can be imagined. Ten years ago,
got its start as an acoustic duo featuring singer/guitarist YVONNE DOLL
bassist CHRISTY NUNES. In the year 2006, DOLL and NUNES chose to move
their coffeehouse acoustic approach and hired drummer KIRK SNEDEKER to
a harder, rock-edged sound in the tradition of THE PIXIES or THE WHIGS.
For the bands latest release – the EP ‘SALT’
– THE LOCALS have cranked up the amps and have added a few synth
style changes have earned the band new fans at every turn in their
on thing has remained constant – singer/songwriter YVONNE DOLL’s
penning songs that are clever both lyrically and musically. With NUNES
SNEDEKER giving DOLL’s songs the perfect launch pad from which to take
and production from STEVEN GILLIS (drummer for FILTER), The EP ‘SALT’
listeners craving more than four exceptionally crafted songs.
spoke with YVONNE DOLL, CHRISTY NUNES and KIRK
SNEDEKER of THE LOCALS over the phone. Here is how it went.
do you feel about
the CD now that it’s out there for people to hear?
actually not yet out there for people to hear just yet. It’s coming out
April 30th but we are going to be releasing
advance copies. I feel
good about it. We feel great about it. It’s definitely a little bit of
departure for us. We’ve used different instrumentation that we don’t
What do you think is
different this time around?
YVONNE: We used a
lot of synthesizers for this project and we don’t normally do that. I
that the arrangements are a little more lush. We’re a three piece band
we play we’re really direct and Spartan. In recording this album, we
add a little more flavor to it.
Describe how music
began for you?
YVONNE: My mom
was a music teacher so I grew up with that. I had music around the
the time that I was a little kid. I would have to say that my love for
came from her. I started on piano and in high school I picked up
was always singing.
In forging some sort
of musical identity, what artists spoke to you?
YVONNE: I used to
be into more acoustic stuff. I used to really dig THE INDIGO GIRLS and
tastes moved into some more of the eighties stuff like XTC, DEPECHE
AND ROCKETS and ELVIS COSTELLO. In recent years, I’ve really taken to
alternative music like NINE INCH NAILS and PJ HARVEY. The more modern
that I’m really liking right now are things like THE KAISER CHIEFS and
WHIGS – real straightforward guitar-type bands. I really love THE YEAH
YEAHS and THE KILLERS.
Talk about the
genesis of this band. How did it begin?
YVONNE: I was
solo for a couple of years then I was putting out my first CD and got a
of players together to play with me on it. CHRISTY – the bass player –
of those people. I liked it so much that I wanted to get something
permanently, so it started off that way. CHRISTY and I have been
band for like the last ten years. That was how it started. We were
acoustic for the first few years and when people left the band to do
things, we decided that we wanted to do something a little harder so we
over again about three or four years ago.
reacted to the shift in the band’s sound?
interesting. The real, hardcore local fans have really stayed with us
enjoyed the change. I think for some people, it might not have been
were used to and maybe didn’t care for that type of music but we really
lose any fans as much as we had gained a new audience. There are still
that I think have a lot of affection for the earlier music but all of
hardcore fans really stayed with us.
Explain the creative
process. How does that work in this band?
YVONNE: It varies
from song to song. I have a little recorder that I carry with me
that I go and I’ll sing into it and play some guitar to it and I’ll
song after that or sometimes it’ll start with a bass riff. I tend to
to the band and they help me to flesh it out.
Talk about your band mates
and what you think each of them brings to the table musically and
personality-wise that makes it work?
suck! They’re so bad!
mean and hateful – just kidding! CHRISTY NUNES is the bass player and
SNEDEKER is the drummer. CHRISTY’s style is very melodic and I think
nice compliment to my guitar style. Personality-wise she’s very smart
down-to-earth and super-funny which is cool because I can be a little
She’s really good with the business end of things as well. She’s always
collecting the money at the clubs because I would just be ‘Well, y’know…’.
You’d be collecting
She’s very good with the business. KIRK brings all of the man parts,
got to have. He’s just a really diverse drummer and can pretty much
anything which makes it really, really easy for us. We have a similar
sensibility because we all have an affection for eighties new wave.
also very funny. We all get along very well. It’s hard to get through
rehearsals because we go off on silly things. We laugh a lot.
I guess the same
question goes to you CHRISTY. What do you think each of your band mates
to the project?
CHRISTY: I will
agree with a lot of the things that YVONNE said about KIRK. He’s the
with the man parts. In being a bass player, it is a pleasure to play
drummer of his caliber and style. I think one of the cool things about
that he can really play the drums but he’s not the kind of guy that
just to show that he can play the drums. When he chooses a fill or a
always done in the best interest of the song and the style and what
calling for as opposed to over playing. YVONNE is ultimately creative.
brings in these sketches of songs and lets us run with it. She’s really
creative and brings great music and is open to surrendering it to us
letting us run with it and develop it into whatever it needs to be
something that most songwriters don’t do. That is why I think it works
three of us.
How did music begin
actually started playing guitar when I was five years old. It was
that my dad taught me. We would sit there and play little songs
together on our
guitars and it was a lot of fun. As I got older, I started playing in
mom always says that if I didn’t get in trouble so much I never
to play anything because I spent so much time in my room on restriction
actually learned how to play guitar and eventually bass. I would sit in
at all hours and blare music and try to pick out the notes. I
switched over to bass and loved it. I started playing bass because the
that I was in couldn’t find a decent bass player so I bought a bass and
to practice and after a while I liked it better than the guitar.
Is it fair to say
that YVONNE is the primary songwriter and whatever idea she comes up
guys simply fill in the blanks.
What do you think is
different this time around compared to previous releases?
CHRISTY: This is
the second time that we’ve worked with STEVEN GILLIS as a producer. He
be the drummer for the band FILTER. As a producer, he’s got a different
going about it than anyone else that we’ve worked with. He’s very
listen to the song and then come up with ideas. The first time we
together we didn’t know each other al that well. It was difficult to
to the process but now this is our second recording with him. We go in
present these songs to him and we sit back and look at the arrangements
group. We spend a lot of time looking at the structure of the song and
really good at being that objective fourth member of the band who just
back and says ‘This is the real hook
here! This part is really catchy! We can make more of this!’
I think the
process helped influence and change the direction of this album and
objective person that can stand back and look at it and point things
you don’t see when you are too close to it made a big difference. The
he is such an accomplished musician in his own right has made it easy
for us to
trust his guidance. Like YVONNE said, we’ve done a lot more keyboard,
synthesizers on this album than in the past. It’s just been a growth
working with YVONNE and CHRISTY.
KIRK: They are
sincerely two of the most wonderful people that I’ve ever met. I really
out. I came to Chicago
a few years ago and before
that I played drums in a wedding band in Connecticut
for a very long time. When I moved here, I decided that I would find a
that I really enjoyed playing with. Not only did I find that. I also
great friends as well. They’re wonderful to be with and to play with.
How long did it take
to record this EP?
KIRK: It took a
couple of months to record it and then we spent another month going
mixes and adding other additional parts as needed. It was a very smooth
process. STEVE did a great job.
Describe working with
seems to think that drummers don’t have great ears but he’s got a great
ears. He recognizes the melodies and the hooks of songs and he’s not
come out and say it but at the same time he’s very respectful of the
ideas. When he actually has an idea for the band he’ll come over and be
respectful and say ‘Hey! I love this but
can we try it this way?’ He was very easy to work with.
How did music begin
KIRK: I was eight
years old and I saw KISS ALIVE – the record – at the store and I bought
my allowance. The drummer was PETER CRISS. On the cover he was painted as a cat and I
happened to love cats
back then. I wanted to emulate him and found that it was something that
wanted to do. And I’m still playing.
How have audiences
responded to the band live?
KIRK: Live shows
have been going great I think. We’ve been playing at better and better
with better sound. Sometimes we’ll play at places where we don’t know a
people and the reception is always great.
On the album, you
guys are utilizing synthesizers and keyboards. How are you able to add
component onto a stage seeing as how it’s just the three of you?
actually going to experiment with running all of the additional tracks
it or not – off of our iphones. We haven’t done that yet. We’re going
experiment and see how it goes.
What would you like a
person to come away with after they’ve heard this latest album?
KIRK: I think I’d
like for them to come away with a new heavy rotation on their ipod. I
these songs are extremely well crafted and well produced and it’s
departure from what the band has done before but not so much that it’s
unfamiliar. I think people are really going to enjoy this. I’m proud of
I’m proud of the girls.
With that being said,
what songs off of the EP resonate for you the most and why?
KIRK: Out of the
four, ‘EVERYTHING MUST GO’ is probably my favorite. I like all of them
but ‘EVERYTHING MUST GO’ resonates with me the most. Musically, the
very interesting, but I really wanted to shake out the willies after
maybe I’d have to add ‘SOUND IT OUT’.
funny because I had a feeling that you were going to ask me that
question and I
was trying to choose one. Each of the four songs represents something
for me and I like them for different reasons. If I had to choose just
would have to be ‘EVERYTHING MUST GO’. For me, it is the most
on the album. Musically it’s got a bunch of different moods to it and
it. For me, it’s a departure from a lot of the stuff that we had done
past. We’re constantly evolving and developing our sound and that is
to me. I think that is what we’ve done with the four songs on this
What would you like a
person to come away with after they’ve heard this album?
CHRISTY: I want
someone to listen to this CD and have it resonate for them. I want it
to them but in a way that is different from other things that people
heard. I like to think that our sound is a little different from what
starting the band, what has been the biggest surprise for you?
biggest surprise! That’s a really good question! There has been a
surprise. It’s been more like little surprises that I get from what
about our music. I ran across some links coming into our site and there
this blog where this person wrote about one of the songs on our last
what it meant to her. Things like that are a really nice surprise when
those little insights into how people feel about your music. I love to
live and I love to write music but that connection that people have
with it is
always a really great surprise.