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ROCKWiRED iNTERViEWS: THE LOCALS

SALT OF THE EARTH

THE LOCALS TALK TO ROCKWiRED
ABOUT THEiR LATEST EP SALT
COMiNG TOGETHER AS BANDMATES AND FRiENDS
AND THE EVOLUTiON OF THEiR SOUND
http://www.rockwired.com/thelocals.JPGAPRiL 5, 2010
iNTERViEWED 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, the band got its start as an acoustic duo featuring singer/guitarist YVONNE DOLL and bassist CHRISTY NUNES. In the year 2006, DOLL and NUNES chose to move away from their coffeehouse acoustic approach and hired drummer KIRK SNEDEKER to help forge 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 touches. While style changes have earned the band new fans at every turn in their development, on thing has remained constant – singer/songwriter YVONNE DOLL’s penchant for penning songs that are clever both lyrically and musically. With NUNES and SNEDEKER giving DOLL’s songs the perfect launch pad from which to take off from and production from STEVEN GILLIS (drummer for FILTER), The EP ‘SALT’ will have listeners craving more than four exceptionally crafted songs.

ROCKWIRED spoke with YVONNE DOLL, CHRISTY NUNES and KIRK SNEDEKER of THE LOCALS over the phone. Here is how it went.

How do you feel about the CD now that it’s out there for people to hear?
YVONNE:
It’s actually not yet out there for people to hear just yet. It’s coming out on 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 a departure for us. We’ve used different instrumentation that we don’t normally use.

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 think that the arrangements are a little more lush. We’re a three piece band so when we play we’re really direct and Spartan. In recording this album, we decided to 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 house from the time that I was a little kid. I would have to say that my love for music came from her. I started on piano and in high school I picked up saxophone and 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 then my tastes moved into some more of the eighties stuff like XTC, DEPECHE MODE, LOVE AND ROCKETS and ELVIS COSTELLO. In recent years, I’ve really taken to harder, alternative music like NINE INCH NAILS and PJ HARVEY. The more modern stuff that I’m really liking right now are things like THE KAISER CHIEFS and THE WHIGS – real straightforward guitar-type bands. I really love THE YEAH 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 couple of players together to play with me on it. CHRISTY – the bass player – was one of those people. I liked it so much that I wanted to get something together permanently, so it started off that way. CHRISTY and I have been leading this band for like the last ten years. That was how it started. We were really acoustic for the first few years and when people left the band to do other things, we decided that we wanted to do something a little harder so we started over again about three or four years ago.

How have people reacted to the shift in the band’s sound?
YVONNE:
It’s interesting. The real, hardcore local fans have really stayed with us and enjoyed the change. I think for some people, it might not have been what they were used to and maybe didn’t care for that type of music but we really didn’t lose any fans as much as we had gained a new audience. There are still people that I think have a lot of affection for the earlier music but all of the 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 everywhere that I go and I’ll sing into it and play some guitar to it and I’ll form the song after that or sometimes it’ll start with a bass riff. I tend to bring stuff 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?
YVONNE:
They suck! They’re so bad!

That’s horrible!
YVONNE:
They’re mean and hateful – just kidding! CHRISTY NUNES is the bass player and KIRK SNEDEKER is the drummer. CHRISTY’s style is very melodic and I think it’s a nice compliment to my guitar style. Personality-wise she’s very smart and down-to-earth and super-funny which is cool because I can be a little distractible. She’s really good with the business end of things as well. She’s always the one collecting the money at the clubs because I would just be ‘Well, y’know…’.

You’d be collecting IOU’s.
YVONNE:
Yes. She’s very good with the business. KIRK brings all of the man parts, which you’ve got to have. He’s just a really diverse drummer and can pretty much play anything which makes it really, really easy for us. We have a similar sensibility because we all have an affection for eighties new wave. KIRK is 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 brings to the project?
CHRISTY:
I will agree with a lot of the things that YVONNE said about KIRK. He’s the silly one with the man parts. In being a bass player, it is a pleasure to play with a drummer of his caliber and style. I think one of the cool things about KIRK is that he can really play the drums but he’s not the kind of guy that overplays just to show that he can play the drums. When he chooses a fill or a beat it’s always done in the best interest of the song and the style and what it’s calling for as opposed to over playing. YVONNE is ultimately creative. She 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 and letting us run with it and develop it into whatever it needs to be which is something that most songwriters don’t do. That is why I think it works with the three of us.

How did music begin for you?
CHRISTY:
I actually started playing guitar when I was five years old. It was something 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 bands. My mom always says that if I didn’t get in trouble so much I never would’ve learned to play anything because I spent so much time in my room on restriction that I actually learned how to play guitar and eventually bass. I would sit in my room at all hours and blare music and try to pick out the notes. I eventually switched over to bass and loved it. I started playing bass because the band that I was in couldn’t find a decent bass player so I bought a bass and started 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 with you guys simply fill in the blanks.
CHRISTY:
Definitely.

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 used to be the drummer for the band FILTER. As a producer, he’s got a different way of going about it than anyone else that we’ve worked with. He’s very fluid. He’ll listen to the song and then come up with ideas. The first time we worked together we didn’t know each other al that well. It was difficult to get used to the process but now this is our second recording with him. We go in and present these songs to him and we sit back and look at the arrangements as a group. We spend a lot of time looking at the structure of the song and he’s really good at being that objective fourth member of the band who just steps 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 having that objective person that can stand back and look at it and point things out that you don’t see when you are too close to it made a big difference. The fact that 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, piano and synthesizers on this album than in the past. It’s just been a growth album for us.

KIRK, describe working with YVONNE and CHRISTY.
KIRK:
They are sincerely two of the most wonderful people that I’ve ever met. I really lucked 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 band that I really enjoyed playing with. Not only did I find that. I also found two 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 through mixes and adding other additional parts as needed. It was a very smooth process. STEVE did a great job.

Describe working with STEVE GILLIS.
KIRK:
Everyone seems to think that drummers don’t have great ears but he’s got a great set of ears. He recognizes the melodies and the hooks of songs and he’s not afraid to come out and say it but at the same time he’s very respectful of the band’s ideas. When he actually has an idea for the band he’ll come over and be very 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 for you?
KIRK:
I was eight years old and I saw KISS ALIVE – the record – at the store and I bought it with 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 I 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 clubs with better sound. Sometimes we’ll play at places where we don’t know a lot of people and the reception is always great.

On the album, you guys are utilizing synthesizers and keyboards. How are you able to add that component onto a stage seeing as how it’s just the three of you?
KIRK:
We’re actually going to experiment with running all of the additional tracks –believe it or not – off of our iphones. We haven’t done that yet. We’re going to 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 think these songs are extremely well crafted and well produced and it’s definitely a 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 it and 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 actually but ‘EVERYTHING MUST GO’ resonates with me the most. Musically, the song is very interesting, but I really wanted to shake out the willies after work, maybe I’d have to add ‘SOUND IT OUT’.

How about you CHRISTY?
CHRISTY:
It’s 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 different for me and I like them for different reasons. If I had to choose just one, I would have to be ‘EVERYTHING MUST GO’. For me, it is the most interesting song on the album. Musically it’s got a bunch of different moods to it and angles to it. For me, it’s a departure from a lot of the stuff that we had done in the past. We’re constantly evolving and developing our sound and that is exciting to me. I think that is what we’ve done with the four songs on this album.

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 appeal to them but in a way that is different from other things that people have heard. I like to think that our sound is a little different from what is out there.

YVONNE, since starting the band, what has been the biggest surprise for you?
YVONNE:
The biggest surprise! That’s a really good question! There has been a really big surprise. It’s been more like little surprises that I get from what people say about our music. I ran across some links coming into our site and there was this blog where this person wrote about one of the songs on our last album and what it meant to her. Things like that are a really nice surprise when you get those little insights into how people feel about your music. I love to play live and I love to write music but that connection that people have with it is always a really great surprise.


http://www.rockwired.com/brian.JPGBRiAN LUSH (FOUNDER, EDiTOR-iN-CHiEF)
BRIAN LUSH holds a BA in Creative Writing from  the UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO. He established ROCKWIRED on New Years of 2004 and hasn’t looked back since. From January 2005 to March 2009, LUSH was the host of the weekly internet radio show ROCKWIRED LIVE. He produced the program for the AMERICAN RADIO NETWORK. As the editor-in-chief for ROCKWiRED MAGAZiNE, LUSH is hands-on when it comes to interviewing and building a lasting rapport with the artists that come ROCKWiRED’s way. As a youngster, BRIAN LUSH had no idea what kind of seed was being planted by reading magazines such as HIT PARADE, HIGH TIMES, SPIN, REQUEST (remember that one?) and even ROLLING STONE (but to a significantly lesser degree). “Those were the days before the internet and being a rock journalist looked like the coolest job imaginable.” says LUSH “But reading these magazines had me imagining that one day I’d be the artist giving all of the clever answers to some poor guy with a tape recorder. Well, life has a way of surprising you. Now, I’m the poor guy with the tape recorder and asking all of the questions.”

CONTACT BRiAN LUSH AT: djlush@rockwired.com

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