I have to say that at first I didn’t know what to expect from the Dance Hall Pimps… but have no fear, they are in fact a fantastic band, with sounds ranging from blues to rockabilly, from groovy sinister rock to New Orleans-style stomps they will make you ask for an encore…
I will let you discover first their sound with a video followed by an interview of the band… They will be performing at the Viper Room 8852 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA, on the 14th of May. So if it happens that you are in the area, go and enjoy!!!
1/ Dance Hall Pimps, could you tell us more about yourself?
We’re a show band of Los Angeles-based musicians who have played all different kinds of music and we formed organically in 2009 to have some fun and laughs, but pretty quickly realized we were onto something with our eclectic mix of original songs ranging from blistering blues to gothabilly, from sinister rock to New Orleans-style stomps & rags and a genre we like to call Gothspel. RJ See (lead vocals, banjo, guitar) describes us as “post-apocalyptic roots rock, black & blues, and noire jazz.” Steve Carr (saxophone, clarinet, flute) calls it “New Orleans Vampire Rock.” Jeff Jourard (lead guitar) likes describing our stuff as “Swamp Rock.”
We were once introduced at Bar Sinister in Hollywood as “A pimpological phenomena of musical mayhem.” We love to write about dark twisted stuff (sometimes playfully, sometimes disturbingly) but set those themes in upbeat exuberant tunes and arrangements so your body starts getting into it before your brain discerns that it’s a song about going insane, monster movie love stories, or being abandoned by a drug addict mom and absent dad, or pursuing a dead lover well-past the point that anyone would consider socially acceptable.
Our first public performance was in January of 2010. We quickly cut a 5-song EP Demo; and we offered record deals from Mystery Street Records and Lakeshore Records(the music label of Lakeshore Entertainment) later that year after only handful of performances. Yeah, surprised us too. We signed with Lakeshore because of their obvious penetration into the film soundtrack licensing and publishing markets, but we’re still good friends with Mystery Street which is making some great records coming of New Orleans.
Here’s our line-up:
- RJ See – vocals/banjo/guitar: RJ is a classically trained singer gone terribly wrong and is a huge disappointment to the world of musical theater he abandoned as a teenager to chase Robert Johnson’s ghost. RJ’s our bandleader and wrote or co-wrote most of our songs. RJ is rumored to be the gene-spliced progeny of DNA from Lux Interior, Elvis Presley, and David Bowie.
- Jeff Jourard – lead guitar: Formerly of The Motels and a pre-MTV era iteration of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, Jeff is at home in the blues and rock, and is a complete gearhead who builds amps and pedals. His pedalboard looks like the dashboard in the Space Shuttle
- Eddie Fish – bass/vocals: There’s just not enough Os in Cooooool to describe goth rocker Eddie Fish, who also has jazz and funk chops when the vampires are asleep in their coffins.
- Bruce Mann – keyboards/trumpet: Our British invasion, classically trained, mild-mannered hornblower and key-tickler. He looks vanilla, but Bruce wrote some of our weirdest darkest sickest songs—it’s always the quiet ones, eh?.
- Vic Baron – drums: The mighty Vic Baron has played ghost drums on so many hit records he has an invisible Grammy. He likes to stand up and run around his floor tom while keeping the beating the bejeebers out of his kit.
- Steve Carr – saxophone, clarinet, flute: That Steve went from being featured on Buddy Collette’s 2001 Grammy-nominated “Big Band Concert” album to the Dance Hall Pimps remains one of the great contemporary mysteries of Jazz legend. We think he just wanted to have adoring female fans throw him their underwear a few times before he retired (something jazz cats don’t experience much), and now he’s hooked.
2/ Your sound is definitely taking its roots in pure Blues/Rock with a hint of Jazz added to a great Horn section, what are your main influences?
With our mix of musicians coming from many genres (RJ from blues, big band, and musical theater; Jeff from rock and blues; Steve from jazz; Bruce from classical & Neo Mersey Beat (he’s British); Vic from Classic Rock; and Eddie from alternative and goth rock), our influences are like a really great impromptu Bouillabaisse with clams and chorizo and whatever else satisfies and gets a sweat going.
The sax-drive of X-Ray Spex (R.I.P. Poly Styrene), the raw openness of the early Kinks, the weird gothabilly of The Cramps, of course the Louis Jordan orchestra – who hipped a mix of blues and jazz so well, Albert Collins, Electric Flag, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band (or what their demonic alternative universe band would be), and some of the great singers and performers are just as eclectic: Otis Redding, Ruth Brown, David Coverdale, David Bowie, Paul Rodgers, and (unapologetically) Elvis Presley.
3/ You have just signed a record deal with Lakeshore Records to release your debut album, when will you start recording and when do you expect putting the final touch to it?
We’ve already started and we’re far more than halfway through. We’re so lucky to have Producers Rob Hill and Grammy-winner Matt Hyde taking us through the process. Because we’re still gigging and most of us still have day jobs, we’re recording the album in sets of 3 or 4 songs at a time. It’s a logistical challenge but we’re getting it done. The tracks are due to the label on July 31—and yes we’ll make that deadline (in case Brian McNelis at Lakeshore Records is reading this). We’re shooting for a November 2011 release date.
4/ A question that you must have heard a zillion times, but I will still go for it: where does the band’s name come from?
Yeah, we do get that question a lot and we love it because it means people remember the name. Back in 2009 when we were forming and doing short sets in the underground cabaret scene (did you know there was an undergound cabaret scene in LA?) we needed a name that described the band’s music and our attitude. The music may be all over the map in terms of genre but it makes you move and its raw material comes from the late 50’s and early 60’s American and British dance hall bands that played in many genres, and our attitude is admittedly fueled by rich mix of testosterone.
So I was thumbing through a book from the 1950’s called The Dictionary of Underworld Lingo and I came across the phrase “Dance Hall Pimp” who is the guy who ran taxi dancers in a dance hall. He wasn’t a mean guy, he was as much a host as a pimp. Well, that was it—we had a name. But we also like to draw attention to our tag line: “Pimp Music Not People.” We’re opposed to all human trafficking and sex slavery of children, men, and women. We want to help raise awareness about human trafficking and transform the connotation of the word Pimp into something empowering and fun—not exploitive.
5/ Any chance to see you perform outside the USA for your upcoming album’s promotion?
Wow, that’d be road trip ensemble cast comedy, eh? The last time Jeff toured Europe was with The Motels—I won’t say how many years ago. At heart, we’re a show band and would love take our Eclectic Electric Show abroad. Surprisingly we have some fans in Indonesia through RJ’s travels there and Facebook.
Nothing is planned, but in the new world of music, little pockets of popularity arise all over the world and we’ll certainly go where people want to see a Pimps show. We bet the most likely way an appearance abroad happens soon is at a music festival. Suggestions anyone?
6/ From the information I could gather around the internet, the future seams quite bright for the band, what are your wildest dreams and where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Honestly, we go through the doors that are open and see what’s on the other side for a group of guys that work hard to play well, write strong songs with solid memorable hooks, and give you a good time at our shows. We hope in 10 years that there will be a couple more Dance Hall Pimps records, a theme song to a blockbuster film would be a blast…
We’ve always thought our songs would make a great musical. How about this: “Gothspell—The Musical (featuring the songs of the Dance Hall Pimps).”
7/ How can people keep in touch with you and your music?
We love hearing from fans and still send a personal thank you to every person who joins the Dance Hall Pimps Facebook page. Fans can join our mailing list by sending an email to dancehallpimps[at]gmail.com or visiting www.dancehallpimps.com. Currently, Dance Hall Pimps at Reverbnation and Facebook is the best place to get info and here the EP demo tracks, but by mid-Summer we will launch our updated and ready-to-take-on-the-world website. Twitterphiles can follow us on Twitter—where we microblog the sublime, the ridiculous, the serious, and the seriously demented.
8/ And finally, if you could describe yourself in 1 word, what would it be?
I want to send a big thank you to The Dance Hall Pimps and Kelli Jones for this opportunity…
And as usual, please, like, follow etc…