I have been looking forward to really introducing this band to the Somewherecold audience. On Tues, September 19th, I met three of the members of Motorcade at the Here Lounge in Dallas, TX. We chatted for a bit but it was far too loud for an interview. So, after some drinks, we left and headed to Jeff Ryan’s place to ask and answer questions. Andrew, the lead singer, was not available that evening so it was just me, Jeff Ryan, James Henderson, and John Dufilho… oh, and Penny Lane the dog… who recused ourselves to what is called The Shed, a practice room in Jeff’s backyard. Based in Dallas, this veritable super-group of veteran players has come together to form a post-punk/80’s underground pop band that, while wearing their influences on their sleeves, never sounds derivative and crafts incredibly addictive tunes. I’ve heard the album and you will want to look out for it. It will be released on January 19th via Idol Records. The band answered questions about the band’s origins, their love of music in general, their other projects, the upcoming Motorcade album, and much more.
I guess I would like to begin by having all of you introduce yourselves and let us all know what you do in Motorcade?
James Henderson: Guitar Player
Jeff Ryan: Drums
Penny Lane: Nothing (this is Jeff’s dog who was visiting with us during the interview)
John Dufilho: Bass
I want to proceed by asking broader questions about each of you and then head into more specifics later on. So, how did you all got started in music personally? What drives you to keep making music?
James: Well, as a child, both my parents were music teachers and we were always around music. I don’t know if that actually has anything to do with it. My first recollection of loving anything was Kiss back in 1976 with their make-up and costumes and loud rock-n-roll. It was like rock-n-roll super heroes and I thought it was the most kick-ass thing ever. And then, well, it’s such a long story, but Yellow Submarine really turned me on to The Beatles and when I discovered them when I was around 6, that was the end of it. I just wanted to hear great music and cool recordings for the rest of my life and I wanted to do that.
So, the Kiss period was before 6?
James: I was in the [Kiss] army at 5. When we came home from the wars, Zeppelin fans used to throw shit at us.
Jeff: So what’s funny is, James and I have been friends for a long time, and my first memory was also Kiss. I had a dog collar and I dressed up as Gene Simmons when I was 6 years old for Halloween. I think The Beatles hit me as well when I was 9 or 10.
James: The Beatles hit me via cartoon.
Jeff: It must have been Abby Road and we were playing it in my brother’s room. I had no idea what it was at the time but I knew I wanted to do it. I had a drum set when I was 6 and was playing along with “Who Are You” by The Who, or at least trying. I’ve never known anything else besides music. I mean, I’ve done many things but I haven’t done anything else well besides music.
John: For the record, I hate Kiss. I’ve always hated Kiss. So, AC/DC on the other hand scared the piss out of me and I heard “Dirty Deeds” and that was the first song I ever heard from them. In the 4th or 5th grade, The Ramones and The Clash really turned my head. I started on drums and it was all about drums for almost 20 years. I didn’t pick up a guitar till much later.
You all tour with other bands, correct? Which bands are you currently working with? Do you all have other projects that are your own?
James: I just had a show with Baboon but we rarely ever play and this was our one show for the year.
Jeff: I think I’ll be playing with Baptist Generals sometime in the next…. (dog barks and I can’t hear the rest).
John: I have a band called Cliffs, which I love, and we are recording a second record. I have a band called Corner Sons. I have a band called Cantina. I have a band called The Deathray Davies. I’m a band called JDJR [with Jeff]. I’m in a band called The Apples in Stereo. I love all of these bands and will continue to play with all of them as much as I can and hopefully not impede on any Motorcade destruction of the planet.
James: I have an act called Sunday Actors. It’s studio only. It’s on Spotify. It sounds kinda like this [we were listening to the Motorcade album].
How did Motorcade form?
James: That’s a good question. I really think it was at a baby shower in 2011.
Jeff: It was. James and I were in the Whiskey phase. We were tasting all the different Whiskeys. We were into the six main scotches. So there was a baby shower and James and I had had many, well, at least a couple with Andrew. We decided to make a new band and we named it Motorcade that day.
James: I had been hanging onto the name Motorcade for years. And then five years later we started the band.
Jeff: Yeah, it took us five years after that to do something.
You have this amazing sound that blends post-punk and 80’s underground pop but without the trappings of sounding like a rip off. Can you talk about how you approach the writing process?
James: There was a conscious effort on my part to tip my hat to all the people I love and that’s what I love the most: post-punk, late 70’s/early 80’s as well as late 60’s psychedelia music. I wanted to blend the two and I don’t think I succeeded at that but something good did come out of it. I listen to all of it so must [his influences] that I think cramming it all together makes it sounds like something new because I wasn’t going for “how do I not sound like this”. I wasn’t. I was just attempting to write a good song and a good song to me is a mixture of all those bands I love so much. That’s about as well as I can explain it. I’m relieved it didn’t come out sounding derivative. You know, identifiable, but not derivative. That’s what I really wanted.
So talk a little bit about process. Do you write on an acoustic guitar? On a piano?
James: On this record, some of the songs were written on synth. I had just bought the Elektron Analog Keys and I was just playing with it. I would hit a sound and be like “wow that sounds good” and that would inspire me to play and it would become a song. I know there are others like “Recover” where I know I was playing acoustic guitar when that song happened. But, for me, songs hit me when I’m not looking for them. I’ll be doing anything but music and the song will come and I want to get that down quick. So, on my phone, there are all these recordings of me humming. Almost everything on this record came at me in those moments.
So, this new album that is forthcoming. When is the public going to get to hear some of this exceptional album, what’s it called, and when will the release come and from where?
James: It’s called Motorcade on Idol Records on January 19th. The iTunes download will be available in a few days.
So I’ve heard three tracks: “Walk with Me”, “When the Hit Comes”, and “Deliver”. I hate to say this, but I’m kind of obsessed with these tracks. Are these three an overall indication of what’s to come and when are we going to get to hear more? (yes, I’m going to harp on the “give me more” question a bit because obsessed).
James: I would say that there are no wild departures or anything.
You don’t have like a 15 minute jam session or something?
James: No, no. I don’t think anything this band does on any album will be over 40 minutes [meaning the entirety of the album]. I’ve always thought about albums in terms of vinyl. When the 90’s came, bands were like “Oh we have 80 minutes! Let’s fill it!” So they ruined their great record. I’m never going to do a record of that length.
So, the format for the album is vinyl, correct?
Band in unison: yes!
Will you tour on the album? If not, when do you expect to play some live shows locally?
Jeff: I think we will do some shows. I don’t think that Motorcade wants to play to no one. I don’t think we want to hop in a van and just play dives. I think because we are all veterans, we can play what we want to locally. So I think that’s how it’s going to be for us.
John: Given the right opportunity, we’ll tour.
James: Given the right opportunity, we’ll go out on tour.
For the gear heads that read my blog, what sorts of gear do you all use? What is your favorite piece of gear and why? What’s your set up for Motorcade?
John: So, we have a friend named Dave Wilson who runs sound for us. He made a bass distortion pedal for me that I love. You would have to ask him what it’s called because it doesn’t have a name. It’s a clone of the Fuzz War.
James: I built a sonic blue Jazzmaster prior to recording the record. It’s what I used on while recording it. That’s my favorite piece of gear.
Jeff: I play a custom-built C&C kit with maple gum shells and a mahogany wrap. I also use a Cymatic LP16.
James, what do you play live? Is it the same blue Jazzmaster? What amp?
James: Yeah, I play it live and a silver Jag I also built. I also play a Musicman 2×12 from the 70’s that is louder than any Marshal stack you want to put it up against. It’s clean volume and just beautiful. It weighs 80 pounds but it’s worth it.
Do you have any favorite pedals?
James: Strymon Timeline is just a motherfucker. The sound of this record is the Particle by Red Panda. Every guitar is going through that on this entire record. It’s not chorus but it fucks up the tuning in a beautiful and unpredictable way. It sort of sounds like double tracking but not quite. I don’t know any other pedal that is quite like it. Also the Earthquaker Levitation is also all over the record. It’s even on vocals.
John: I have a tiny square box that’s an Ampeg. That’s it. That’s all I got….. I’m literally a novice when it comes to bass. I’m not a gear guy, especially on bass.
So he plays your bass? [looks at James]
James: Yeah, it’s a Fender Jazz.
Jeff: And Andrew uses his voice.
After the last question, that band and I just hung out, listening to music, chatting about likes and dislikes in music, and generally sharing ideas about music and some about personal family life. It was a nice evening in The Shed and I look forward to seeing the band live. Listen to their one streaming track below and stay tuned for the premiere of a track on the next Somewherecold Radio Hour on DKFM Shoegaze Radio on October 11th at 9pm PST/Midnight EST at https://decayfm.com/ or on the DKFM Apple or Android app!