If you like classic rock n roll with a twist, you’re going to love Badass Band 85. Powerful, rockin’ and smooth as hell all at the same time, Ivory Deville tunes vibrate into the ear holes real nice like.
I heard about Ivory Deville long before I saw them, and hell, I don’t know what took me so long to jump on the bandwagon. I finally made it a point to catch them at Echo Park Rising this past summer and they won me over in less than a song.
In a nutshell, ID is classic rock n roll with earth shattering harmonies; think Chuck Berry meets The Supremes. What you see on stage is a lot of groovin’, bouncin’ and shakin’ and its hard to figure out where you want to focus, because this band is having such a blast, you don’t want to miss a second of it. The bristly vocals and raging guitar from Johnny combined with the smooth, powerful vocals of Laura and Akasha and deep bass lines from Wolf just make for musical magic.
ID has a four song EP available online, titled ‘Joshua Tree Recordings’, which features “White Lights”, “Drainpipe”, “Velvet Man”, and “Midnight Queen”. All four songs are great, and each is different from the last, while still keeping to the classic sound that ID does so well. My personal picks? First, “Drainpipe”, a song with bullet train momentum and rhythms that you can’t help but clap along to. It builds to a climax devoid of anything but a crisp drum line, some clapping the singing of the lyrics, “I’m stickin’ out my neck because I’ve got good genes, I like the way they play down in New Orleans, Time you put your money where your mouth is, I’ve never lost a bet because I never shake, I never kept a promise that I did not make…”. Somehow the simplicity of the climax it makes it that much more powerful. My second pick would be “Midnight Queen”. This is a slower number that I feel is a song that kind of blooms as you listen to it. Different elements are consistently incorporated throughout the 3:39 track. The basic beat patterns remain the same and are the forefront until about 40 seconds in when a new harmony, vocal solo, a guitar riff you wouldn’t expect, or a variance in the pace is added as the song progresses and it all just works. What I really love about this too, is that you don’t exactly know when to expect the chorus of, “If you say everything is okay, I’m gonna to ask you anyway, so don’t stand here for someone else you’ve seen, because I’m the last trip for a Midnight Queen.” You know that when it slows down, its coming, but what I mean is that its not a perfectly calculated number of lines or time until the next rendition of it, as it can be with a lot of songs. All in all, Ivory Deville is everything you want in a rock n roll band and more.
A couple of months back I had the pleasure of spending a few hours having beers, laughing, and chatting with the radical folks of Ivory Deville, and you can read on to find out why they are a “kick in the dick”, who was inspired by Marty McFly, and what’s in the works for them this Spring!
When and why did you start playing music?
Akasha- I was in the womb, my mom and dad were on tour when I was conceived, so from the get go there was music all around me. I couldn’t escape it. I tried. I tried really, really hard. I’ve given up fighting it, so now I’m doing it.
Johnny- I can’t really remember a time when music wasn’t a part of my life. It was just always there, no shaking it. It wasn’t like an “Ah Ha!” moment or anything. Actually, I take that back, that scene in ‘Back to the Future’ where Marty McFly is playing ‘Johnny B. Goode’, that’s when I knew I wanted to be a guitar player.
Laura- We all sing in my family, so my dad famously was like pitch matching with me when I was an infant because everyone in my family thought I was singing. If they thought I was flat they would be doing that face, you know? The face that says I’m flat. You know like a smiley face with the eyebrows up. So yeah, I’ve always been singing.
Wolf- I remember listening to my tapes, and thinking I want to be able to put something on tapes that people will remember. Nah, not really. I always loved music, I started playing in middle school. I played in band, like wind ensemble, playing the baritone. I started there and progressed.
What did you listen to growing up and how does that maybe differ now?
Johnny- My grandpa played guitar and sang, so he played a lot of Bob Wills, Texas Playboys, Benny Goodman and stuff like that. Obviously, everyone gets into the rock n roll thing, we are kind of still in the rock n roll thing I guess, can’t really escape that either. Actually, since I’ve been in LA I’ve gotten a lot more into modern bands. I was kind of a hold out, a purist. Wolf’s the guy to go to for me for the new stuff. He does all the homework and I copy off of him.
Wolf- That’s rare because I used to copy all the time.
Akasha- I listened to whatever my parents were listening to or working on. So my mom is a singer and she would work on stuff all over the place. She worked with Bette Midler, she worked with Don Henley, Japanese artists, etc. I have the most random taste because whatever she was doing, I was in love with it. This reflects my taste even today, I have no type, no direction, all my radio stations programmed are all over the place.
Laura- To say that I grew up with The Beatles is an understatement. When I was home recently, my dad built new speakers and he has two different reel to reels and bought the original masters of the White album and Abbey Road and was blasting them at full volume. So The Beatles pretty hard core and then some Barbara Streisand, and Judy Garland, and old Ella.
How did you all meet?
Johnny- Wolf and I played in a band together for several years, he was one of the first musicians I met out here. So we did that for a while and that kind of ran its course. After, we wanted to keep playing together, there was no other choice there for me. Then these two gals, I’d known for several years before we started Ivory Deville. So we were playing, instrumentally we are a three piece, and had this new batch of songs. One day we thought, “Man, we need some singers.” Immediately I thought of these two. We all met up, we played them some demos and they started singing along right off the bat, they didn’t even know the songs. So we said, “Good. You guys are in.”
Laura- Its true, I remember the first night we started singing at the same time a third apart and it was like music lovemakin’.
Why the name Ivory Deville?
Johnny- I really don’t know. Sometimes the universe tells you this is a good name, but doesn’t tell you why until later. Well, we’re still in that process.
How does your creative process typically work? You had songs completed before the ladies joined, is there a more group related process with newer songs now?
Johnny- Yeah, when we started we already had that batch of songs. I had a couple other ideas in mind. Really, I’ll come in with some idea that I stole off some other song and nobody knows it except for me. So, we jam on it, then everybody makes it sound a lot better. The girls just come up something on the spot that sounds awesome.
Laura- We watch each other and figure out when to come in. *acts this process out*
What is coming up for you guys? You were recently involved in the Converse/Guitar Center Get Out of the Garage contest right?
Johnny-Yeah, I think we are still in the garage.
Wolf- Nah, we’re out of the garage. We are in your mother’s room, we’re moving along fast.
Johnny- We have a lot of songs that need to be recorded, most have been written, but a lot of them haven’t been written yet. So that’s going to be our focus. We will probably work on a full-length album, and will hit up SXSW this spring.
How would you describe your band to someone who has never seen you before?
Wolf- A kick in the dick.
Johnny- People should expect to see a lot of bouncing.
Laura- My friends seem to think we have a lot of fun on stage. I think that’s true.
Wolf- When we perform, since we’re having a good time on stage, everyone else is having a good time. They see us enjoying ourselves. We all love each other, we like playing music together as a band and we know what we’re doing so people feed off of that.
Akasha- Yeah, we get people dancing, and this is LA.
One song you never get tired of?
Wolf- “Smooth Operator”- Sade
Johnny- “Eastbound and Down”- Jerry Reed
Laura- “Because”- The Beatles
Akasha- “Radar”- Britney Spears
Best live show you’ve ever been to?
Johnny- All my favorite experiences are not at a big arena, but at a local dive. But I did see Devendra Banhart at Orpheum in 2008. He just put out an album and I have never felt so much that the person on stage was on my side. He invited everyone to get up on stage for a song. The audience thought it was a great idea, the security did not. So, everyone got up there and the crowd was going crazy. Security was shoving people around, people weren’t getting off the stage. Finally, they cleared it off and right when they hit the first show to the next show, the rest of the show was just on. It was like going at 60 MPH and it was amazing.
Wolf- I saw Tallest Man on Earth at The Troubadour, It was awesome because it was so intimate. Like Johnny said, you felt like you knew what he was going through. He was nice and polite to the audience. That, and Sigur Ros at the Greek. That was awesome, there were like three encores!
Laura- I saw Lady GaGa on her Monster Ball tour on her birthday at Staples Center. I went in thinking “Let’s get fucked up!” But I ended up weeping openly a few times. I had never seen anyone act so authentically on stage. Plus she was singing and dancing her ass off, playing stuff no one had ever heard and her dance her bought her real Wizard of Oz ruby slippers.
Akasha- I have been to so many shows, family stuff and all that. I was trying to think of a time when I’ve been super captivated and outside of myself. I went to see the The Polyphonic Spree at El Rey and it was just mesmerizing. Not that the music is so amazing that it changed my life, but the energy of the show, the girls on stage, the person playing the cello spinning it, the harp player and it was just really theatrical. I just had a huge smile on my face the whole time.
Favorite things to do NOT music related?
Wolf- Drugs and fuckin’….I think we are all in consensus. Next question.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
Johnny- Buford T. Justice, from Smokey and the Bandit
Wolf- Marty McFly
Akasha- Beauty from Beauty and the Beast
Laura- Dolly from Hello Dolly!
If you ran BBB, what are some bands you would feature?
Laura- 28 North
Wolf- Great White Buffalo
Johnny- John Fullbright
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