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Soulbelly, the Alt-talk
By Ben Ohmart
(more articles from this author)
2001-02-22
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Amy Cole

Squirming upon the coupon cutting edge of alternative rock, prods Soulbelly, into the new music arena. Hailing from the west coast, Amy of said Group explains that music has no shoreline.

Imitating Life (RA)
www.soulbelly.com

[Ben Ohmart] Thanks for e-talkin'. Your belly rumbles in LA. What's it like in that city of sin and dreams? Much competition, or are they all screenwriters there?

[Amy Cole] L.A. is a crazy city. We don't have a whole lot to compare it to since we've pretty much only lived here, while pursuing music seriously. I would definitely say it is extremely competitive. There are tons of bands around town who want to play which gives clubs a major upper hand. It is rare to make any money playing at clubs because with all the competition, most up and coming bands are willing to play for free. With L.A. being so spread out it is also difficult to develop a huge following. There is never a loss for a new band to go hear on any given night all over town so people going out have so much to choose from. On the other hand, it is certainly the city to be in, so they say. So much in the industry takes place right here, so it feels like the place to be.

[Ben] What the hell is that little girl looking at on your cd cover?

[Amy] She is watching surgery. We used the photograph out of a photography book from the 50's.

[Ben] How do you define your music? Or is that like listening to silent movies on the radio: stupid?

[Amy] On a broad scale I would say we are your definitive "alternative/pop/rock band," more specifically: pretty bitchin'!

[Ben] The very first line of the very first song on simple.chaotic is 'i am older and i'm just a little wiser than my predecessor's been.' Are you a band that's been around so long you feel all gnarled and decrepit? What's the history of the band?

Shane Mills

[Shane Mills] Actually, in that particular line, "my predecessor" is just a slightly younger me. I think that's a pretty universally applicable line. I think most of us gain some wisdom as we age. Even a jump from 15 to 16 or 19 to 20, but especially as you go through your 20's, it seems. As for us, we've been around in one form or another for quite a few years now. We've certainly been through a lot and witnessed tons of growth in each other.

[Ben] You make a lot of sound for 3 people. Does it feel good being a trio? Why don't you need a 4th?

[Amy] We were only a trio for a short time. We currently have a brand new drummer, Giovanni, who has proven to be an excellent addition thus far. Although Phil, our guitar player, is tall and has long arms, he has a hard time playing guitar and drumming at the same time!

[Ben] What does soulbelly do when the muse of music isn't shouting them on?

[Amy] We all have regular jobs to pay the bills. Like I said earlier, clubs don't pay much, if anything, so we have to seek income from other sources. So we all must punch the time clock at our regular jobs to allow for time and $$$ to do what we really love!

[Ben] Who/what would you say is your typical listener?

[Amy] I think one of the many great aspects of our band is that we really do have a broad range of fans. Anywhere from young kids to Mom and Dad types (not just our own). We've played at Universal City Walk a lot which is a great place to get a feel for your audience because it's all ages and people vacationing from all over the world. I would definitely say on a whole, we appeal more to the younger crowd -- teens and 20-somethings. Sometimes we feel very mainstream stylistically when we are playing a lot of clubs in the seedier side of Hollywood. But, then I hear Britney Spears and am quickly reminded that we are NOT mainstream.

Phil Monfort
[Ben] Has the internet helped you much in terms of being heard, sold, worshipped? Or is it just another hard road filled with rocks and pots?

[Amy] We have tons of room to grow in this department. We are just beginning to scratch the surface of this new world of opportunities. Our new member is extremely seasoned in the whole world wide web and computer thing so we are excited to saturate the internet with Soulbelly paraphernalia.

[Ben] What's the most daring thing you've covered in a live set?

[Shane] We love to include little classic rock/metal interludes in our sets, either for nostalgic reasons, comedic relief, or both. The top two would have to be Brickhouse (don't ask) and Black Sabbath's Ironman (afore-mentioned classic metal).

[Ben] Any juicy backstage stories for those of us with no lives?

[Amy] As far as pre-show partying goes, we are actually pretty serious and focused on excellence. While having fun is certainly a major priority, we do take our music very seriously and we want to come across as professional by being excellent -- every time. In all honesty, we are pretty low-key kids. We are basically introverts with these other eccentric alter-egos on stage. Truly, we all love each other and get along amazingly.

[Ben] What's the gig tour look like of late?

[Amy] We are finishing up a four-song demo as we speak, and will be back playing clubs next month with our brand new drummer about which we are very excited. We are really hoping this spring to do some long weekend jaunts to San Francisco and Las Vegas, since we are dying to get on the road a bit. So, if you know any booking agents please pass along the info!

[Ben] Any future plans for music and life?

[Amy] Future plans are to keep doing what we love and that is playing music. We have tons of stuff in the works in regards to new material. We want to stay true to our original passions and that is to write and play music that fulfills us. We take one day a time (SHANE: ...with an eye looking toward the future...) in this crazy business. As long as we are enjoying ourselves along the way then we have arrived, right?

Related MusicDish e-Journal Articles:
» Soulbelly - simple.chaotic - Yellowhouse Recordings (2000-08-20)


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