Our usual round of Christmas songs are on hold today. Plenty more to come (daily!) over the next week But, hey, while you're here, we would strongly urge y'all to check out our interview below (with songs!). It's all about the best live band in the good ol' U. S. of A.!
As regular readers have already guessed, it's Deep Blues Friday! And no band personifies the aesthetic better than the band we're interviewing today.
But first, we'd like to remind y'all that the Deep Blues Film Fest is coming up in late January. Some kick-ass films will be shown, along with musical performances by some of the best musicians out there, including Mountain faves Possessed By Paul James and Reverend Deadeye. And if you can't make the Fest, please consider becoming a member of the Deep Blues Festival. It's cheaper than a sweater, and you'll be supporting an essential Festival that's helping to keep an American tradition alive, well, and free from corporate homogenization. Just sayin'.
In keeping with the spirit of giving, and providing you with only the finest in audio sugarplums, we give our Christmas gift to you, a Black Diamond Heavies interview.
The Black Diamond Heavies are, depending on who you ask,"Reverend" James Leg on Fender Rhodes piano/vocal howling, and Van Campbell on junker jalopy drums. The sonic maelstrom they produce is an orgy of groove-sleaze, blooze rawk trash.
The Black Diamond Heavies have a new live record out,"Alive As Fuck" , and it's a culmination of all the band have been working towards, an album of pure sex and rhythm, loud and swerve-inducing funky.
We've written about The Black Diamond Heavies before (several times). Here's what we said:
The Black Diamond Heavies hail from, ahem, "the Southern States of America" (Nashville?), and make an unholy mess of rumbling sweat-drenched gut-bucket blues noise. A duo (yes, one of those...), vocalist/pianist James Leg sounds like the bastard son of Howlin' Wolf and rips off shreds of filthy Fender Rhodes scunge. The whole affair goes swingslut soul. Drummer Van Campbell keeps it slime-oozed tribal and rumbles yr ass like god on vacation in hell. They're, like, heavy, maaaannnnnn. A fucked up excursion into the dark heart of the crossroads, swinging like a sharecropper's reaper through the brush and twisted weeds of the devil's favorite swampland. Tasty like a green-fuzzed peach.
The Black Diamond Heavies are our Band Of The Year.
James Leg, the "pianist" and vocalist of the band was kind enough to answer a few questions from us. Enjoy.
A BRCM Interview With The Black Diamond Heavies
(In Which We Learn About Beds and Nightmares)
Big Rock Candy Mountain: Generic first question: Who are you, what do you do, and why should we care?
James Leg: I'm John Wesley Myers..(aka James Leg); I play the bones(keys) and sing/shout in the Black Diamond Heavies.....
hehe..and I (respectfully)don't care if anyone cares or not...hehe
BRCM: Tell us about your...ahem..."organ" . Any metaphors are welcome.
JL: My organ has been described as "mighty", "carnal", "frightening", and "electrifying", but in fact its not an organ at all... (And its not a fucking keyboard)...its a fender rhodes piano... I have a stable of these beauties.
Guess that makes me a pianist..the Black Diamond Heavies have a 72 inch pianist.
BRCM: We've had the privilege of seeing you perform live a few times, both at the Deep Blues Festival and in a smaller club. As an unabashed fan, we think you're one of the best live bands in the country. Make you case for the uninitiated as to why seeing the Black Diamond Heavies in a live setting is a religious experience. No pressure...
JL: Thanks! I'd like to think the appeal of our music and show is its sincerity. Its very honest, visceral music..we feel it, we aint fakers..it comes straight from our soul. In turn its easy for an audience to feel.. I think anyway. Honest music has become a rare commodity these days. Shit is so contrived and styled. When I see a band I wanna believe it...and I wanna believe that band believes it.
The Black Diamond Heavies are believers.
BRCM: God or Satan?
JL: Well I reckon you cain't have one without the other. Hell I suspect they're prolly the same dude. Prolly a damn gemini.
BRCM: How did you come to be involved with the Deep Blues Festival? What are some of your best experiences at the Festival?
JL: We met Chris Johnson, the founder of DBF, several years ago via some online groups dedicated to "real" blues music..we are, at our core, just music fans...and Chris is a real wealth of knowledge when it comes to the real blues and is prolly the nicest, most genuine cat I've ever had the pleasure of knowing...can't say enough good things about him man. He and his family are very special to us. We did a neighborhood picnic a few years back that Chris put on for his friends and neighbors, the next year it became the Deep Blues Festival and we been back ever since.
Our best moments at DBF are spent with all the friends and family that we see in different cities when touring... havin everyone all in one place at the same time...its like the old "Homecoming" Service my Dad's church used to have every few years. Good food for the soul.
I gots some stories sure, but I' don't know if I should tell'm..hehe. Its best to just come up and dig it all as it plays out.
BRCM: You perform a mix of revelatory covers and originals. How do you decide what songs fit well within the Black Diamond Heavies aesthetic and how do your own songs reflect your influences, while maintaining your own identity? For example: Ike and Tina's "Nutbush City Limits", an obvious fan favorite, becomes a whole different beast when done by y'all. But it's hardly the be-all-end-all of what you do.
JL: We've had second thoughts often about whether or not to even do cover songs, but at the end of the day we do this mostly for our own enjoyment and goddam there's some great songs that are just fun as hell to rock. The main, and maybe only, criteria in the selection is that we're into it...that's why you may hear a Nina Simone song or a Van Halen song or a Stooges song at our shows...but we always give our take on'm... there's somethin funny and fucked up about seein a 2 piece band with no guitar do an AC/DC song.
BRCM: We, and our readers, tend to be big Tom Waits fans. Your vocal delivery seems to draw inspiration from Mr. Waits, along with Howlin' Wolf, Captain Beefheart, and Louis Armstrong. Are any of these accurate inspirations, or are we hearing things that aren't there? Tell us more about your vocal style and lyrical approach.
JL: You know, all these cats you mention have amazing control of their pipes..so many cool-ass sounds comin out of'm..and I'm flattered to even be mentioned alongside these monsters, but honestly I just do what I do the way I know how to do it. If anybody, I'm a disciple of Howlin Wolf...he's the one for me, but I can't do Howlin Wolf and it'd be bullshit if I tried...so I just do my thing.
Once Van (drummer Van Conner) gets to hittin the shit out of them drums and our train starts movin...croonin aint even possible...the intensity of the music demands a growl.
BRCM: AM or FM?
FM's got Two-fer Tuesdays, Threefer Thursdays, and Four-play Fridays..
..and AM's got Art Bell and Coast To Coast with George Nory(sp?).
I'll have both please.
BRCM: Vinyl or Digital?
JL: You cain't roll a joint on a download.
That shit ALWAYS sounds better.
BRCM: Home or the "Open Road"?
JL: Home? There is no home. We're fucking highway pirates. Beds give us nightmares.
BRCM: What's the optimal way to hear The Black Diamond Heavies?
JL: Wif yo ears.
BRCM: What 's next for the band? New album? Tour schedule? World Domination? Etc.
JL: Yeah we gotta Euro touro from now till Christmas. We go into the studio right after new years for to make a new full length. Then a world tour I reckon..do what we do.
BRCM: Now if that aint enough to convert ya' (and it should be), here's some fuckin' heavy rock'n'roll to shake yr ass and move your spirit. From their new record "Alive As Fuck", and previous records "Every Damn Time" and "A Touch Of Someone Else's Class". Shake your moneymakers, kids. This is the best thing you'll hear all year.
Black Diamond Heavies: Bidin' My Time (mp3)
Black Diamond Heavies: Solid Gold (mp3)
Black Diamond Heavies: Oh, Sinnerman (mp3)
Black Diamond Heavies: Stiched In Sin (mp3)
Hah! No Christmas songs today. I know, I suck. I'm a dirty, stinkin' bastard. But we figger the Black Diamond Heavies are gift enough for today. We'll load you up with plenty of Holiday goodness over the next week, so you've got that. But, really, take the time to "discover" The 'Heavies. It's the best Christmas gift we could give. See you tomorrow with more Holiday goodness.