by Annette Warner
Editor's Note: GG - Let's start off with getting a description of how The Locals began – time frame, motivation, and a bit about the members, and what they each bring to the party as a unique talent.
Occasionally, if you are as lucky as I am, you get to get up and use the bathroom thrice to keep from wetting your pants while interviewing talented and hilarious folks like the band members of the Chicago based rock band, The Locals. This I did. Aside from being incredibly easy to listen to musicians with strong hook tunes, awesome vocals, loaded melody’s and radio ready talent, they are likely one of the most creatively driven promoters of themselves I’ve ever appreciated. And I gotta say…musicians struggle harder than ever in a much easier to be heard industry to be recognized these days, – and most of us, knowing we’ll barely, if ever, break even, rely on plastic to eat, and make it from gig to gig. But there’s a certain danger, boy let me tell ya, , when we start sharing our plastic with fans..,and sleep with our plastic in cheap hotels, start buying our plastic drinks instead of the other way around, and, when you get to the point you never know where your plastic is going to turn up next…you are a member of The Locals…
I hope you enjoy reading this interview with three of the most amusing, engaging and authentically crafty musicians I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know, and their side-sorta-kickette, Danger Boy – (Who, not much of a team player, chose to be separate from the group for his own interview.) –
Hey! Enjoy! – Annette Warner – Editor
The Locals were formed in 1997 by me and Christy (the bass player). I was performing solo/acoustic at the time and was just about to release my first full length disc "Bliss". I recorded with several local Chicago musicians as a backing band and loved having the full band so much, we formed The Locals. The band started as a 4 piece acoustic/rock thing and here we are 11 years later (wow has it been that long???) totally transformed into an alt-pop indie rock band. And we're having a freaking' blast! So far as the unique talent each one of us brings to the party:
Christy writes these juicy bass riffs that really drive the songs. Bass players don't get "noticed" a lot of the time, you know? They tend to be a sit in the pocket and quietly kick ass kind of group, but Christy is different, people always notice and a lot of times the thing they end up walking away humming it the bass line. Her stage presence is pretty insane to…she's got this head swinging thing.Kirk:
The Locals began in 1865, just as the Civil War was coming to an end. Yvonne Doll and Christy Nunes ran a halfway house for Union soldiers in Mount Melarry, Delaware. On April 23, Kirk Snedeker wandered into the parlor with severe lacerations to his shirt. Yvonne and Christy took him in and provided him with room and board for they anticipated would be a long convalescence. During their nights by the fireside, the three would sing together to help pass the time. Soon after, they decided to fill out their sound by taking up instruments. Oddly, all of them wanted to play the jugs,but they settled on guitar, string bass and drum. Years later, they still all want to play jugs.Yvonne:
Leave it to Kirk to somehow work in jugs.GG – Any body parts you guys want to brag about?Yvonne:
Kirk has seriously long toes. We call them "tingers" as they are almost as long as fingers. I'm not sure how they factor into his playing style but I'm positive they do. We've played with a couple of great drummers, none of them had tingers. Kirk, aside from his circus-like digits, is also a seriously amazing drummer. He puts a lot of thought into every fill, every placement. He's also adds some pretty sweet backing vocals. These in-particular are due, in large part to his tingers.(GG is rolling – seriously – "Tingers?" )
Kirk really does have freakishly long toes. It's unique, but I'm not sure he's fully harnessed it into a talent. Kirk, you should really work on that.GG - Danger Boy seems to be the most popular member among The Locals, and if you don't mind my saying so - rather cocky for being a caped runt. I mean, I see more of him, than you guys in the headlines. Any inside trouble, jealousy or hanky panky going on with any band members you want to tell us about? Describe his birth, life and current ideal woman …or …man?Kirk:
Caped runt? Wow. I heard something totally different. Truth is, DB knows no bounds, and I'm getting tired of hearing "it's not molded plastic for nothing."Christy:
Now that you mention it, that little bastard is a bit cocky. He's always telling us what to do and when to do it. I think I'm getting tired of his attitude. We do all the work and people line up to have their picture taken with him. Who is he? He comes to practice and drinks all the beer, he comes to the shows and steals all the hot ladies, he wont let me wear the cape or mask anymore. I'm questioning his loyalty. I've seen him flirting with Kirk's girlfriend on more than one occasion, I'm just saying...Yvonne:
There is always trouble when someone like Danger Boy is around. He gets a thimble full of Jack Daniels in him and starts saying stuff like "Kirk, l miss your musk, let's get an apartment together". So far as his ideal mate, he's pretty closed mouth about that stuff. Although there are some pretty serious rumors flying around about him and Madalyn Sklar, but then again we was just seen last week involved in some PDA with Ryan Seacrest backstage at American Idol soooo, it's hard to say.GG - What would you say as a collective of awesome musicians is the ultimate message you want your fans to get? And individually – what are your goals in music?
I think it's important to convey honesty in music. Yvonne's lyrics are very honest and open. She is very observant and considerate, and is not afraid to write about things that concern her or things that make her happy; like my extremely long toes for instance. The intensity of her voice is truly amazing and she sings with passion. Also, her hair is very honest it won’t lie to you. Christy is my favorite kind of bass player. The kind with the left boob that jiggles wildly at every show. Her bass lines aren't just supporting roles, they are true parts in and of themselves. They help bring the songs to life, and give all of us listeners something else to hum along with the melody. We all have a great time playing together and I think that is captured on the CD and in the live shows.Christy:
This sounds corny, but I think music is about feeling good. When I've had a long day or I'm suffering from road rage, music is the one thing that can make it all go away in 3 minutes. Whether its blaring from my car stereo or being slapped out of my bass, its a complete escape. I hope that people can throw on our disc and get that escape. I hope people can come to our shows and get that escape.Yvonne:
I get really stoked when people have a connection to the tunes. I have in my mind what the songs mean to me when I write them, but I think once you put them out there in "the world" what other people connect to can be totally different than your original intention-- that's pretty cool. One guy came up to me after a gig and told me that him and his wife you know have a specific mix of tunes that they, well "do it" to and one of our songs is on there. LOL! That was awesome, and of course now I think of that guy and his wife every time I sing that song. Does that make it a three-way? I feel so dirty.GG – Where is everyone from:Yvonne
- Cincinnati OH, Christy - San Diego, CA, Kirk -Fairfield CT GG - Tell us about your latest release, and tell us how it differs from previous releases. Describe your growth as a band since your first gig together. What has changed the most? Improved the most? Anything gotten worse?
this is my first recording with the girls, and I couldn't be happier. I have never been as proud and excited about something that I've helped create. As far as changes go, during the last year or so, we¹ve been concentrating on tightening up the sound playing with a click track during rehearsals. I think we've matured in a very short time.Yvonne:
Our new disc is a TOTAL departure from the previous Locals sound. We were pretty established as an acoustic-rock band and this disc, the new songs are alt-pop, indie rock. It's a totally different band. I love the electric guitar, I'm totally addicted to it, heavy distortion, loud.. yeaaaaaaaaaaah! Since we no longer (technically) have a lead instrument I think where we most improved is that Christy's bass stuff is taking more center stage. The music is more open and you can really hear what she can do. I've also stepped up a lot on guitar and really opened up my playing. I usually do most of the lead guitar on recordings, but always just did rhythm live - now I do a mix of both.
Kirk's fear of public vomiting has actually gotten worse with the new cd.Christy:
Yvonne and I have been playing music together for 11 years now. I think the thing that has made it work, is that it keeps growing, changing and evolving. When we first started playing together, I was just backing her up on her solo acoustic singer/songwriter stuff. We then evolved it into a band, where everyone contributed and created "the sound". We've been an acoustic band, a jam band, an alt-rock band and it keeps growing. We've been playing with Kirk for almost 2 years now and the 3 of us are building a sound that is much different from anything we've done in the past. It’s guitar-heavy, yet intricate. I also have to say, recording this album with Steve Gillis has pushed us all towards becoming better musicians. He's the first producer who has really challenged us and said "I know you can do that better, lets try this" and pushed us out of our comfort zone. I think the result is the best album we've ever made.GG - What's your dream gig – Describe? Anyplace you are willing to sell Danger Boy to go?
Sell DB? He cannot be sold, nor will he be bought. He transcends all currency, credit and most barters that involve gigs that would enable us to relocate to San Francisco without worrying about finances.Christy:
Hands down, I'd trade that little runt and my left breast to open for PJ Harvey anytime, anywhere. I love PJ.Yvonne:
Dream gig? Opening up for Modest Mouse. I'd love that. Would I sell Danger Boy to get it? Wow that's so... "C-Grade Lifetime Movie starring Heather Locklear" but yeah, I'd sell the little bastard. Just kidding DB, (shit now I'm never going to hear the end of that)GG - Without a doubt, you mix humor, sincerity, compassion, and philanthropic ideals as a magic potion and your great vibe even energizes your website. Care to discuss any political opinion or stage your band supports with a passion?
I firmly support myself whenever I can. The girls get uncomfortable when I don't. No politics here, though I must say that George W. has been a complete inspiration. To think that someone as inarticulate as me can lead this country as a role model was inimaginateable (sic) 8 years ago.Yvonne:
HMM, well I wouldn’t say any of us are terribly political. Although, personally I'd love to hear them announce... "Mrs. President" in 2009. (wink wink). But we're always willing to play benefit concerts for great causes. We do a Leukemia Benefit every year which is one of my favorite gigs.Christy:
I fully support Peanut Butter and Tequila. Not necessarily together, but they are two of the greatest things ever invented. I have a long answer to this question that goes into why I think we need to elect Hillary as our next president and why I think people should pay more attention to the environment, but what it all boils down to is peanut butter and tequila.GG - Top 3 "must do's" advice for independent musicians?
1. Don't do it for the money. Do it for the girls. You knew that.
2. Always thank the club, the booker and the sound person.
3. Junkscaping. Seriously, no one wants to see it like that.Yvonne:
1) Never give up
2) Never give up
3) Repeat 1 and 2Christy:
1. Practice your instrument and never stop learning. The second you think you know it all, is the second you should sell all of your equipment and get off stage.
2. You have to run your band like a business. Having great songs and being an amazing performer is only half the battle, you also have to market yourself, book yourself, promote yourself, sell yourself, etc.
3. Treat the people who come to your shows like royalty. Without them, you are just another guy/gal with a guitar, in a basement, drinking yourself into a stupor, mumbling "I am a golden god".GG - How do you feel about the state of the industry now regarding the rise of independent music?Yvonne:
You know I keep hearing that no one will ever buy an actual physical CD anymore. I find it kind of hard to believe. But I guess because I just love having the artwork (I'm a very visual person) and the lyrics and getting the "whole vibe" of the disc. That being said, this is an amazing time period for music. The playing field has really been leveled. You don't really need a label anymore. It's easier than ever to get your music out there and heard by a lot of people. It's really exciting. As always though, indie artists need to take control and get proactive with promotion and the business of running a band because it's also really easy to become a needle in a hay stack!Kirk:
We're in the midst of a huge change. What is true of independent music is true of most things that you usually have to dig a little to find the true gems. While history might remember Kelly Clarkson, it might miss say Arcade Fire. But you always had to go way out of your way to find the goodstuff. Now, it¹s a lot easier to dig. While you'll hear Hinder on the car radio, you'll hear And You Will Know Us streaming on the internet in a few clicks. Sites like last.fm
are great examples of stations that really push the indies.Christy:
If you read magazines and look at dollar figures, you would say the music industry is dying. I think it’s great because the music industry as we know it should die. The idea of 20 or 30 powerful AR reps roaming the US trying to find the most marketable performers they can sell you and convince you that you like is old and done. Technology has outdated the old system. Musicians can now develop their own websites, put up a myspace, record their own music, make their own CDs and do it all sitting in their pajamas from the privacy of their own home. You can go online right now and comb thru sites to find 10 great new bands that no one has ever heard of, download their music, find out where they are playing next, order a t-shirt and become their biggest fan. . As a music fan, you now have access to great music from every city and every country that you never would have been able to access before.GG - Name one thing each of you did right separately, to land together. A pivotal moment in musical time….Kirk:
I moved to Chicago and left two bands behind in CT. I told myself that I would wait to join a band until I found one I loved. I happened to read Yvonne's craigslist "drummer wanted ad" and my tingers started tingling. I got the gig and best friends too.Christy:
I wouldn't be here, and I wouldn't be in this band if I didn't foolishly decide to jump in my truck and move from San Diego to Chicago in 1996 with my band at that time. I say foolishly because who would trade beautiful, sunny San Diego, 75 degree days 364 days a year (there is that one day a year that is like 65 and rainy) for Chicago snow and bone chilling wind? I think getting here was half the battle. Moving cross country with less than a $1000 to your name, to play music and making it work proves to me I can do anything. Or does it prove I will do anything? I don’t know, it does prove something, I suppose?Yvonne:
Kirk moved to Chicago. That helped!! Christy moved to Chicago. That helped!! I'm willing to move anywhere they want to go next. And I think we all have been playing our asses off for years before meeting. So now we're all seasoned, good live performers who know what's up. And we're ready for whatever else is next.GG - What's been your biggest lesson in self-promotion? Something hard to experience, but at the end of the day, motivationally prosperous…Yvonne:
You really have to be tireless about it. One of the best piece of advice I got years ago was to do at least one thing every day to promote your band. That really works cause if you sit down to do that you always end up doing more than one thing. Another thing that I think is equally important is to take a genuine interest in the people around you. I've learned more (and gotten so much more great things for the band) from really taking an interest in the fans, artists, and really anyone I meet and cultivating a real relationship with them. People really respond to that collaborative effort. So you're not just all about promoting yourself. Most people don’t like to be talked "at". I like to try and leave every conversation knowing more about the person I met than what they know about me. I mean-- make sure they know what they need to know about you - (who you are, who your band is and what your web url is-- yes for sure). But take an interest in every person you meet. Find out what they are passionate about. It's really fun, interesting, and most of time people really respond to it and want to help if they can.Kirk:
I am really bad at self promotion sometimes I don¹t even tell myself when I'm playing, so I'm learning a lot from the girls.Yvonne:
Kirk, we have a big gig on June 14th, bring your tingers.Christy:
Hooking your wagon to a 6" tall, masked, plastic doll is both prosperous and a lesson in humanity. People will do some of the most private things in public with a plastic doll and let you photograph it for fun and promotion on the internet. It's really quite amazing.GG - Last but not least – On GoGirlsMusic…
Playing the GoGirls festival in Austin this year was a great experience. Madalyn's done a great job at bringing together independent musicians in a new, original format.Christy:
We love GoGirls music. Madalyn Sklar is one of the coolest people we know. She is amazingly supportive and a great advocate of independent artists. She loves music, and she has made a career of supporting and promoting indie musicians.Yvonne:
I tell a lot of people about Gogirlsmusic.com, and when I do I say this: Madalyn Sklar is one of the most genuine people I have ever met. She is pure spirit who just truly love music and musicians. She's a force really!. And only good things can come out of that. I can't say enough! This interview With Danger Boy–Sklar (?) took place in Sunny Mexico per Danger Boys demand…and though he doesn’t know it yet, his treat. He sips Margarita’s made of Melon Liquor and dark beer. ..and wants me to be hurt because Charo is waiting….but I don’t. I’ll keep the questions short…like him.GG - Is that your real hair color?
Have you seen my hair lately? Its ratty, dirty and smells like beer. I don’t have time to dye my hair, I don’t even wash it. This is all natural, baby.GG - Do you play an instrument?
I have mastered the kazoo. There our countries that I am not allowed to visit due to my overwhelming popularity as a master kazooist, for fear of rioting and anarchy. My kazoo playing has overthrown many third world governments and was single handedly responsible for the destruction of the Berlin wall. This is why I wear a mask. I now spend my time mentoring The Locals as a way of giving back to the people.GG - What do you think of The Locals?
They Rock. They are the soundtrack to my life. They are also good in bed, I know as I have slept with all 3. While I won’t say who was the best, I will say Kirk does make the best breakfast afterwards.GG - Have they done well for your career as a mascot? What's your compensation?
I'm the show, they are the mascots. I'm not sure why people have such a hard time understanding that.GG - Chick or Metro magnet?
I don’t want to limit my appeal. Everyone is attracted to me. People want to be me or be with me. I'm kind of a big deal.GG - Cover bands?
Have you seen the movie, Chasing Amy? Cover bands are tracers. I think people go to see cover bands because they want to hear music they know, music they already like, get drunk and sing along. They don’t want to experience anything new. I'm currently forming a cover band, but we are only going to play songs people hate, like "I'm too sexy" by Right Said Fred, "We built this city" by Starship and the entire recording collection of Michael Bolton.GG - Height/weight? What do you drink?
7", 1.23 lbs and EVERYTHINGGG - If you had room for a tattoo…what would it be?
I have plenty of room for a tattoo. Most people don’t know this but my underwear is tattooed on. Underneath my tattooed underwear is the original GoGirls tattoo. I was the first!GG - Do you have nightmares about hands? What is your worst experience with a Danger Boy fan? Best?
I have nightmares of being kidnapped and dragged to Indiana. For those who don’t know the story of my multiple kidnappings, you can check out the videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/LocalsRock
Crazy Locals fans kidnapped me, took me to Indiana, washed my hair, cleaned my cape and had their way with me. It was strange, yet sanitary?
Look at the pictures of me from The Locals shows and you will see why I keep coming back for more. I've been licked, kissed, eaten, felt up and the only band member lucky enough to be the "meat" in a boob sandwich.GG- On GoGirlsMusic…
Did you hear that Madalyn Sklar and I are an item? The rumors have been circulating for months and I'm here to confirm those rumors. I've legally changed my name to Danger Boy - Sklar. You heard it here first.