West Berry Breakdown
Longtime scenester Joe Rose spearheads a super-group that for him is mostly fun and hardly a chore.
Sat at The Aardvark, 2905 W Berry St, FW. $10.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A country-punk band in the heart of indie-rockdom?
Holy Moly, indeed.
By CAROLINE COLLIER
Childhood friends Joe Rose and Danny Weaver have tried a couple of projects before, notably Trampolean and The Action. Now with drummer Billy Walters (Collin Herring, John Price) and bassist Byron Gordon (Calhoun, Coma Rally, Jhon Kahsen), Rose and Weaver have started a new band. And unlike its predecessors, Holy Moly — a barreling-down-the-highway, bourbon-soaked, one-headlight getaway — looks like it’s going to stick.
The most likely explanation is that the music is specific to co-songwriters Rose and Weaver. They’re both lifelong fans of classic country but don’t live in the past; Rose, for one, is into punk. Weaver said, “I’ve had more fun doing this than anything.”
Rose also appreciates the evolution: “This is more ‘me’ than anything I’ve done before.”
Despite The Action’s success, the band just didn’t “feel right,” Rose said. In the eight months between The Action and Holy Moly, Rose and Weaver spent a lot of time with their acoustic guitars. Without having to worry about getting gigs or recording c.d.’s, the two players were free to have fun. Then one day, Rose recalled, “We wrote something we really liked.”
Walters and Gordon, “the talent in the band,” Rose said, were brought on board within weeks.
For the first few rehearsals, Holy Moly worked from loose arrangements that Rose had conceptualized. “In The Action, the band wrote the rhythm, and I wrote the words as [the band] played,” he said. “It was hard.”
Now with the process down to a science, the frontman leaves the arrangements to the band. Walters, in particular, has been indispensable. The drummer, Rose said, is “a genius as far as orchestration.”
Most of the songs come on strong and just don’t let up, with a rhythm that pounds like a speeding locomotive and guitars that churn metal and burn rubber; Rose’s cranky voice doesn’t have any twang, but something about it just sounds prototypically “country.”
As for the lyrics, most revolve around the banality, insanity, and absurdity of everyday life. “I’m not trying to write a song to change the world,” he said. “We’re just having fun. We don’t write bridges. It’s chorus, chorus, chorus, verse, chorus, chorus, chorus, verse, goodnight.”
Weaver added: “We don’t take ourselves seriously.” As owner of the dependable Aardvark, he’s seen more than his share of prima donnas.
“We aren’t going to write a song that’s going to be on the radio,” he said. “We want people to come drink and party. We want people to come and forget about their nine-to-five jobs.”
Weaver has more than a decade’s worth of insider knowledge. His business acumen plays a role in the band’s development, yes, but a small one. “When we play a show [at a different club], Danny is aware of what happens,” Rose said. “He knows what we should be getting paid, but we usually offer not to get paid so we can get another show there.”
Being intricately involved with the local music scene also helps cultivate connections. Holy Moly’s first public appearance was at the Double Door in Chicago, opening for Aardvark favorites Flickerstick. Rose and Weaver’s band has also opened some big Aardvark shows, including Bob Schneider, Calhoun, and The February Chorus.
Rose, Weaver, Walters, and Gordon don’t claim to be deadly serious about their career aspirations, but the foursome does care about the music. The band’s freshly pressed, eponymous disc will be available this Saturday at the West Berry Street club, where they’ll open for Austin’s Micky & the Motorcars.
Asked to describe Holy Moly in a few words, Rose said, “When you go to a show, the best part is drinking, hearing the little fuck-ups, funny things. If someone plays a c.d. word for word, tune for tune, you might as well stay home and listen to it.”
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