Badass Band 70 describes their sound via the following statement- “Sounds like- If Bob Dylan and Sam Shepard got into a fist fight while drinking in a desert cantina.” Picture that and then listen to their tunes, its dead on. Badass Band 70 is blues backboned with a heavy hand of punk, a dab of country, and a bit of everything in between. Meet the rhythm and distortion heavy duo known as The Echo and The Sound.
The Echo and The Sound popped up on my radar a couple of months back. When I first scoped them out, being that they are a guitar/percussion duo, I assumed they would be quite similar to The Black Keys. In one way they are, being that Brian Rich is on guitar/vocals, and Douglas Jewell takes charge behind the drum kit. However, these guys create a more rugged, punk ridden, garage band sound that kept me listening throughout their EP, aptly titled ‘EP’. Noteworthy songs that really capture the range of these guys would be, ’15 Shades of Hell’ which alternates between a classic blues sound during the verses and straight punk rock with its booming, fast paced drum rhythms and heavier distorted guitar during the chorus. Brian’s vocals throughout much of the track are almost growled in a way that evokes emotion in you almost immediately. ‘Damn Jezebel’ is a mellow track, with whispery, seductive vocals spouting lyrics about truth, lying, and disguises. It’s a tune that could easily be angrier and louder, but works so well in the way these guys have executed it. The tip-tap of the drums combined with a guitar melody that mirrors this tap, makes for a near ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ soundtrack sound. One last track I’ll mention is ‘Grave Act’ which showcases a jangly, rich guitar sound. This becomes the focus via the echo-ey sound of the drums and raspy lyrics about acting in ways that aren’t characteristic of your usual self. This tune builds up to an epic climax that is much like a guitar and drum battle.
Watching this band live you feel the energy coming off of these guys submerge you in an experience of raw emotion and talent. The beats shake your soul and the guitar and vocals knock it completely out of whack in the most satisfying of ways. Each time I have seen them, the experience has only gotten better. Badass Bands Blog is lucky enough to have them playing this month’s showcase at Silverlake Lounge on April 30th, be there!
Brian and Doug took some time to answer some questions for BBB, so read on to find out how they met, the story behind the name, and what exactly ‘Doin’ the Du’ is for one of them…
When and why did you start playing music?
Brian- It’s actually kind of silly, the reason I started playing music. I studied all my life to be an actor but I remember seeing or reading something about Adam Sandler and why he picked up a guitar. I was a really big Adam Sandler fan back in the 90’s and I thought it would be a good thing to have as another talent. So I picked up the guitar and as I progressed in acting, I realized music was more creative. You don’t have to wait on people, you have more creative control and you don’t have to listen to directors. No one was telling you what to do or not to do.
Doug- I started studying drums when I was about seven. It was all private lessons, drum lines, and jazz bands. I loved it. Then when I graduated from High School I went to New York to study theatre. I started modeling so I spent about five years travelling around the world doing that, I wasn’t playing the whole time I was modeling. I was really drunk one night and saw a Craigslist ad for a drummer and was like ‘Yessss! I play those!’. I was tumbleweeding and I knew I wanted to travel for the rest of my life. I knew I couldn’t model forever, so drumming was the next best way to do that.
How did you two meet?
Brian- I was travelling a lot too for a job I had. I finally planted myself here, quit my job and started to pursue acting. I did it for about six months, which isn’t a lot of time to just quit but I met somebody and we just started talking and it re-invigorated my want to be a musician. I kind of started The Echo and The Sound then. We needed a drummer because we started booking shows.
Doug- So I was drunk and I came home thinking, ‘Oh let’s see what’s going on online.’ It was like three in the morning. I listened to a whole bunch of ads. Most I was like ‘Eh.’ but his were really cool. I thought, ‘Even if they don’t audition me, I am still going to check them out because this sounds cool.’ They got back to me later that morning. So they asked if I could learn the demo music, I said yeah. Then they asked if I could learn all five songs and audition later in that day because they had a show in seven days and needed someone who had them learned. It ended up being six days to learn it all for the first show.
So you weren’t always a duo then?
Brian- No. We started off as a three piece more or less. We had a lot of issues with that, like relying on other people coming through and being as committed as we were. The beautiful thing about Doug and I is that we didn’t know each other, we found each other online very stupidly. Finding him was the best thing because we were always on the same page. We never have to worry about each other. We played almost a year for a three piece. We thought about bringing in another person again, but I didn’t want all that pressure. This just made sense, I couldn’t imagine anyone else in the band right now
So what musicians do you admire?
Doug- As far as drummers go, John Bonham, Keith Moon, Gene Krupa, Art Blakey. Rock drummers like Dave Grohl. You can learn a little bit from a lot of drummers, even ones you think you might be more talented than. You can always pick up something. I admire Brian Rich, Jack White, Jimi Hendrix.
Brian- I like people, and records but I don’t know if I want to say I admire someone because they always seem to let you down. Music taste wise, I grew up on 60’s soul so like Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield, people like that. My father turned me onto The Beatles. Some 70’s rock like CCR and stuff like that. As for contemporary, obviously I like the White Stripes, but I don’t share my generations taste in music. I think a cool thing to do is if you like a band or musician you should find out what their influences are and that will turn you on to other things. Top 4 favorite albums are ‘Bleach’ by Nirvana, ‘Either Or’ by Elliot Smith, ‘Advisory Committee’ by Mirah, and ‘Horses’ by Patti Smith.
Why the name The Echo and The Sound?
Brian- So before Doug, it was just me and this girl. I started writing music and we figured we needed a band name obviously. We threw around a lot of names and nothing was working. She threw out a lyric from a Bjork song having to do with the echo and something. I said that doesn’t sound right let’s go with The Echo and The Sound. As the day went by we were like that kind of makes sense because I was facilitating all of the music, so I would be ‘The Sound’ and she would be ‘The Echo’. We also lived in Echo Park so it worked. It works the same with me and Doug and its kind of universal in a sense. I like the idea.
Biggest challenge so far?
Brian- Abject poverty.
Doug- That is not far off base. Things would be a lot easier if we had money.
Brian- The hardest thing is getting exposure and trying to play shows. We don’t know anybody and we work all the time. We don’t go out and socialize too much, I mean we aren’t shut ins…
Doug- I work at night, I am very outgoing.
Brian- Okay, I am very much a shut in but I like to hide that fact.
How does your creative process typically work?
Brian- It works differently for everyone. When you do something creatively its just going to happen. Its usually pours out or trickles out eventually. I don’t put too much pressure on making it happen. Usually I will have all the music in my head and I will figure it out on guitar, or vice versa. But if I sit there and I can’t finish something, I just walk away and come back to it. It could be a couple months. I don’t want to force.
Describe your show visually and musically for someone who has never been.
Doug- Musically, its baby making music. We call it Gothic Cantina. It has a punk rock overtone with blues rock undertone. On stage, I never like going to s show where people just stand there and don’t look into what they’re doing. I can stay at home and listen to a nice CD. I want something when I go to a show, I want to see energy and see them as into their music as they want me to be. Brian, not to puff him up, when I started playing with him I thought he was one of the best showmen I have ever seen. He will get the guitar and bounce around, not in a corny way. I am the same way on drums. I am enjoying the fuck out of playing those drums and I think energy is contagious that way.
What are you working on now and what can we expect from you in the coming months?
Doug- We just finished our EP. We are booking a bunch of shows. We are looking to find some sort of management.
If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?
Brian- I am scared about the technology thing. It’s getting weirder and weirder. I remember my first band in Florida we had to work our assess off peddling shows on the street and now its all online. Its cool and you’re still working hard at it, but then you have the way things are recorded and distributed. I know nothing about the business and financial side but I have read a few things stating how bands aren’t making any money off CDs anymore because no one is buying CDs. Its all about a tour now.
Doug- It’s a double-edged sword because we wouldn’t be able to promote ourselves, like we reached out to you via technology. We can get people to listen to our music who never would have been able to before. Again, it’s a double-edged sword but you can use things to your advantage then before you never would have been able to.
One song you never get tired of.
Doug- Two Gallants ‘Crow Jane’
Brian- (Sings) ‘I like to boogie, I like the nightlife’…
Best live show you have ever been to.
Brian- It was one of the first shows I ever went to. It was back in Florida and I saw Mates of States play. I was a freshman in college, that’s when I started to discover real music. I went to see them play, they are two-piece band but there was a great crowd at this small place. As they played there were all these kids singing along, and I was like ‘Holy Shit, they know their songs?! How is that possible?’ It was one of the best shows I have ever seen.
Doug- ‘Les Miserables’ on Broadway. It was one of the best things ever. I read the 1600 page book, and not the abridged version.
Favorite things to do NOT musically related.
Brian- I like to jam out to Husker Du in my apartment by myself in my boxers and tube socks and I call it ‘Doin’ the Du’.
Doug- I like to write. I have gotten to do some cool things with that mostly because I have so many crazy whacky adventures from modeling like getting arrested in Tokyo and challenging an Irish Kickboxing team to a drinking contest. That got me a couple of writing gigs. I like to learn, I read a lot.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
Brian- You stole my answer!
Doug- Animal from the muppets.
Brian- A magician, like a real one, not card tricks.
If you ran Badass Bands Blog, what bands would you feature?
Doug- Blind Owl
FIND THE ECHO AND THE SOUND HERE: