Interview with frontman of Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band
Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band is a 3-piece roots/blues band from Brown County, Indiana that is enjoying increasing popularity and cross-genre appeal. St Louis Music Press interviewer Angie Knost talked with Reverend Peyton himself about blues, backing tracks and butter.
Angie : What’s new with Reverend Payton and his Big Damn Band?
Reverend Payton: We’ve got a new record that’s out. The record’s called The Wages. It debuted at # 2 on the Billboard’s Blues Charts. And we’re on the Warped Tour; that’s pretty wild. I wonder if there’s a band out here [on the Van's Warped Tour] that ever had a record that high on the blues charts before.
Angie: You don’t normally think of Warped Tour and blues together, but it works for you.
Reverend Peyton: Especially, we play country blues which is an old, rural style of blues. When you see the show, I think it makes some sense. When people see it they say, “Okay, I see why they’re here now”.
Angie: I guess you know St Louis traditionally is a “cradle of the blues”. Do you find that in certain areas in the US, young people are more into blues, or more open to it ?
Reverend Peyton: I don’t think you usually have to be into blues to be into what we do. We sort of snuck in the back door every place we’ve been. We’ll play country fests; we’ll play punk rock fests. We’ll play rock fests. We’ll play folk fests. We stick out like a sore thumb at every one of those places. It’s been good, sort of the secret to our success in a way, that we have.
It’s always easy to say, “I’m in a scene.” Like if you’re a rockabilly kid, you got the rockabilly hair slicked back, driving the rockabilly car. You got that sort of uniform. It’s real easy to say “Okay, I know what that is…I like that or I don’t.” For us, we don’t really fit into any scene. It’s two fold: on the one hand, it’s a lot harder for people to say, “I don’t know if I like this or not.” It’s a knee jerk reaction. But also, anyone can like any kind of music. Because we don’t fall into any particular genre easily, it’s real easy for people into what ever’s out here on the Warped Tour, or what ever’s at a blues fest anywhere, to be like, “Well, I like this too”. Because you don’t have to be part of a scene. There’s no uniform for a Big Damn Band show.
Angie: Who are some artists that have influenced you ?
Reverend Peyton: Charlie Patton and Furry Lewis are probably the two biggest…since I was a kid. [They] really influenced my guitar style. John Burr, Son House, I love all those guys. But I also like good song writers. ..John Prine…Willie Dixon was a great song writer. He wrote songs for Muddy Waters. Most of the Muddy Water songs that people still cover today were Willie Dixon songs. I love CCR [Creedence Clearwater Revival], absolutely kicked ass. I love the Stones and stuff like that. I love how The Who put on a show.
I feel like when people come out to see a show, they should see a show. Otherwise, spin the record and stay home. You want to see something when you come out. To be honest with you on that subject, I think fans should demand it. If the band comes out and stands there, they don’t even tap their foot, or they stare at their feet…. I think that’s unacceptable. Someone’s paying money to see you play; you ought to play.
You ought to put on a show, and you ought to be really playing. There’s a thing that’s happening now that, I’m not going to name names, but I don’t want people to get mad at me if I tell you this. There’s some really big bands out there that ought to be actually playing…maybe their guitar is plugged in, but they’re playing over a track.
It’s happening. The more we play out, the more we see it. It’s really heart breaking. People I looked up to have started doing it, and I’ve asked a couple. [They say] ” Well, everyone’s doing it now. So we want to keep up.” I just think it’s unacceptable. I think it’s embarrassing in a way. I think it’s embarrassing to the people that are coming. And I think it’s embarrassing to the musician, when I look up there and someone’s fingers aren’t matching up.
The other day we were at the House Of Blues or something, on tour, and they had videos on TV, but the sound was turned off because there was a band playing live, so we just saw what was happening [on the TV screen]. I was telling people what song it was by just looking; they were playing a bunch of CCR videos. It was live, no subtitles on to tell you what song it was. But I could tell what chords they were doing to tell what song it was. I was like, “I know what song that is by what notes he’s playing.” When you do that, and you watch someone up on stage, and watch when they flub something and their hand doesn’t play with what should come out, but it still comes out right, there’s something wrong. Something ain’t right!
I think that shows a lack of respect for the intelligence of the audience. I think it’s insulting. You’ll never get that from us. I always say, “This world’s becoming increasingly margarine. We’re butter.” We want to be butter, nothing else.
Angie: What advice would you have for hopeful musicians who are trying to break into the business?
Reverend Peyton: Practice! Stay true to what ever it is you believe in musically.
And whenever you can, tour. Get out there on the road and do it. The way the industry is going…a band that can tour and bring people in live, they can’t steal that on the internet. If someone takes something from Lady Gaga or Christine Aguilera, it’s hard to feel sorry for them, because they have lines of clothes. The get paid just to show up at parties. Reverend Payton don’t have that. All he’s got is his music. That’s it. All I got. I ain’t got a line of clothes. I ain’t got a line of perfume. I’m not hawking Pepsi on TV. All I got is my songs.
I do 250 shows a year, all lower 48 states, over a dozen countries in Europe. As we travel around, I think there’s a sickness; people have a sickness of their souls, and they don’t know what it is. They’re looking around blaming people. I think it’s almost a dangerous time, because when people do have a sickness to their souls that’s when real darkness can take over. What I think that sickness is, is that the world has became increasingly plastic. There’s nothing real. There’s no community like there use to be. I don’t know if it’s one person’s fault. It’s a lot of things that have happened. For me, I want my music to stand for that if nothing else, just real people making real music. Letting people know it’s still possible. Our record was done all live to analog tape. No click track.
A buddy of mine did a review about overdubbing of the guitars. He thought there were two guitars [in my music]. There’s no overdubs of the guitars. It’s all me. I play it like that. Someone on tour was asking me about it. One day at lunch I was on my high horse again. I’m going, “Playing to these backing tracks and all this stuff, I think it’s lame.” Someone came up to me and said, “I heard this backing bass track when you were playing”. I said, “Dude, it’s all me. It’s my thumb. I play the bass with my thumb on the low strings and I pick up the lead with my fingers at the same time”. It’s an old way of picking. When they hear it, the don’t realize what’s going on or understand it. It’s harder. But sometimes the right road is the hard road. It takes a little more time to get there. One fan at a time.
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