by: Clay Fuchs
Little known fact (OK, maybe well-known fact): lead vocalist Andy Brewer of Taddy Porter comes from a strong baseball family heritage. The son and grandson of baseballers, Brewer too had some baseball talent. Although he was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers organization straight out of high school, the infielder/pitcher Brewer decided to take a baseball scholarship to Lyon College.
Fast forward a few years, Brewer fronts a rock’n’roll band. Talk about living out a few American dreams. I’m not sure how great Brewer would have turned out on the diamond, but let’s just say, he made a pretty damn good decision. With their self-titled debut album, Taddy Porter don’t just knock on the door politely wanting in the party, they damn near kick it off its hinges.
The guitar driven anthems would fit almost seamlessly on any vinyl classics from ’70s rock gods Free, Bad Company, or Thin Lizzy. With songs like “Shake Me,” “Whatever Haunts You,” and “Fire in the Streets,” you almost have to think that Brewer was trying to write songs that he could have left the bullpen or approached the plate with.
It’s hard not to think that Taddy Porter should have debuted in 1969 rather than 2007. But, it’s probably a good thing they didn’t. They probably wouldn’t have been appreciated as much as they deserve to be. Guitar riffs, howling vocals, a tight rhythm section. Just go down the list and continue to check off the qualities you want to see in a great rock band and you’ll see that Taddy Porter fits the bill.
UPDATE: Due to van trouble, Taddy Porter won’t be able to play tonight, but will be making their way to Lubbock in the near future. We will keep you updated.
New Slang: You guys are from Stillwater, a town really known for the red dirt country scene. You guys are definitely not country. How did that scene affect the band? Was there a really big following or did you have to compete with these bands?
Andy Brewer: Well, I think the reason why we pushed the band so much is because we saw such a large number of these red dirt bands from Oklahoma and Stillwater. We were all listening to rock and roll and that kind of music. We are very far away from any type of country or any type of traditional country. I mean, we love the music and what not–the originals like Johnny Cash and what not–but at the time, we were listening to rock and roll records and were interested in that. So no it really wasn’t a competition because a band that was doing what we were doing in Stillwater was unique. I think the red dirt scene was getting overdone and we were kind of a, I don’t want to say a breath of fresh air, but we were just a different avenue that they could go down. We saw an increase in people each show we played in Stillwater and we built and built and built until we got ourselves a little following and it worked out well.
Ns: Your music has been played now on Monday Night Football, “Cougar Town,” the show “Chase” and HBO’s “Entourage.” What has this kind of exposure done for the band?
AB: I think what it does for us is that it pushes the name out to places that we can’t really get to all the time. Being from Oklahoma, we tour pretty extensively. When our first album came out, we tried to get to as many major cities, college towns and places like that as we toured and we weren’t able to get to all of them. But whenever you have this mass media base that just, I don’t want to say it, but creates a subliminal thing. When your music fits the scene, and you hear it and dig the tune, it allows people to get on Google and type in the episode and can find the music. This kind of causes people who enjoy those shows to attach us to the show and it makes them appreciate us a little bit more or appreciate the show a little bit more. If anything it helps just spread the name.
NS: With spreading that name there’s also been many famous musicians like Slash and Kid Rock who are big fans of yours. What’s that feel like?
AB: It’s great. You know, it’s funny. You always hear the saying, “It’s all who you know and what not.” And I hate to say it but it kind of is. We played a lot of shows in Michigan–and especially in Flint, Mich.where we played at this place called the Machine Shop. And the owner is really great friends of Kid Rock and he asked Kevin, the owner about what bands have come through that were rock and roll bands and he mentioned our name. We were then invited on the Jim Beam tour down there in South by Southwest a few years back.
Slash came about by I guess word of mouth and he was looking for an opening band, and one that rocked and was guitar oriented and what not, and that was us. We heard that he had toured with some bands that we’re into as well. There’s a band called The Virgin Marys that were rock and roll over there and I heard they opened up for him when he was over there. So you know being in the category of good rock and roll music is great. The fact that we are being recognized by these icons is great, it’s really flattering.
NS: With the high praises from these very established musicians in this genre of yours, are you feeling any pressure from it?
AB: The funny thing about that is, with this new album that we are coming out with, we made some changes with our sound and there’s a big back story with that. So when we first got started, we were naïve. You know what I mean? So we were a group of guys who just wanted to play music and things tended to just fall into place as we went along. We met some people who helped us out and we were very thankful for those people, but at some point in time during that process we kind of got mislead a little bit. We were kind of pushed into a category and genre that we really didn’t want to be in.
So what happened was after the first album came out, we saw what we had done and we assessed everything that we had done over the past few years, and we decided that we wanted to do something different. Unfortunately, for some of the people who were in our camp, they weren’t into that necessarily. But at the end of the day, it’s our choice on what avenue we decide to take stylistically, and while they were opposed to the style we were going for, other people saw it as something healthy and good to go to.
So we had to make some changes to our camp. We were touring with bands that were not in our genre at all. We were touring with hardcore bands and screaming bands. We’re not your pretty band writing pretty songs and ballads or anything like that, but we do have some rock to our songs. So when we decided we wanted to break away from that genre that were, I don’t want to say pushed into it, but we were given a direction, people pretty much pointed us in a certain direction, and we didn’t really know where we were going to end up until we got there. And once we got there we realized we didn’t want to be there anymore. So then we decide to kind of start writing songs that sounded like the tunes we liked to listen to. What came out of those songs and that music is what came before us. Stuff like blues music and rock and roll music, R&B, certain types of pop music like the Beatles.
This kind of music is pure and honest. It seems like today a lot of music is distorted to the point where they’re trying to take advantage of people in some instances. In certain genres, they take advantage of the angst of a teenager, or taking advantage of the naivety of youth because that’s a big market you know. Everyone knows that’s little kids want to go to a show and their parents are going to give them 30 bucks to buy a shirt and a poster or something like that. We didn’t want to be in that category where we are sacrificing our morals to try and build a fanbase. Instead, we just wanted to write the music that we were passionate about and loved to listen to and whatever happens from there happens. At least we are proud of what we do and we’re happy.
NS: One of the things I think is important to the Taddy Porter sound, is the certain attitude with which you guys seem to play. It’s a certain kind of swagger. I’d think it is a very early 1970’s rock-god attitude. You talked about listening to these older bands and I’m interested to know, what kind of sound that you hear from that music makes you tick. What do you look for and like in what you listen to?
AB: It’s funny because we are really all over the place. I can only speak for myself because we are all different stylistically in this band and kind of always pulling in opposite directions in some way, which can be a good thing and sometimes a bad thing. It’s a good thing for us stylistically when one of our musicians is listening to Led Zeppelin and another one of our musicians is listening to Iggy Pop. Another could be listening to Ray Charles and another to the Black Keys. It’s like depending on what we are listening to at the time is where the direction of our band goes. And when it comes to us watching and listening to other bands we are really trying to pay attention to what they do and how they do it, how they move and things like that.
You know I’ve been watching videos of early Rolling Stones and you see Mick Jagger dancing around like a crazy man and I’m thinking, “where did you learn to do that?” You know? Then, I went back even further and watched early videos of James Brown and I see exactly where Mick Jagger is getting his moves from because James Brown is just cutting it up and his feet never stop moving. While Mick probably doesn’t have as much rhythm as James Brown had, I see where he got it from. So it takes you back from one thing to another to another and I try to get down to the basic parts of it. Then you think about James Brown and wonder why he danced the way he did, and he said he would watch boxers and they way they would move their feet. You know watching them move back and forth like a dance so I guess that’s what they describe boxing as sometimes. So we are constantly, I don’t want to say analyzing because its taking away from the romanticism of it all, but we are just always trying to get better and paying attention.
NS: I’m going to get you out on this last question. You were talking earlier about your new album you have coming out; when are you expecting to have that out?
AB: You know that is a great question. We just got done not too long ago finishing it up. We did the majority of it in Nashville and did a little bit of it in San Diego, and now its being sent off for mastering. While that’s going on, we are thinking of the ideas of album art and what not. If I had it my way, and I’m not sure how it will go, but I hope we can have it out in the next two to three months.