Newport darlings join Supersuckers bill @ PVD Social Club
Newport’s The Skinny Millionaires dropped their debut CD, Sleeping Dogs Lie (75orLess Records), about a year and a half ago which was mostly fell along the lines of what you call Americana with some rocking stuff thrown (“Night of The Creeps” stands out). I’ve caught maybe a half dozen Skinny Millionaires show in the time since and always enjoyed the element of mystery in that you never know exactly what you are in for. They can go anywhere along the gamut from doing a neo-punk set opening for The Dwarves to a recent no drums folksy throw down I caught a couple of weeks ago. The Skinny Millionaires are poised to release their sophomore CD titled, Easy Tiger, on May 8th when they’ll open for The Supersuckers at the Pvd Social Club.
I got a preview of a few of the tracks and can tell you that Easy Tiger is a heavier on the rock side while retaining the Americana groove largely due to presence of violins on most of the tracks. On tracks like “Driftin’ to California,” Mike O’Donnell’s vocals jut out with the intensity of in your face punk rock despite that song is mostly acoustic sonically. The song proves that Americana can be in your in face and retain a certain wistful feel. The Skinny Millionaires re-recorded “Keep Dyin’ from Sleeping Dogs Lie in a slightly more upbeat (if it is possible for a song with this title) rocking version that works well. I’m not sure if it so much an improvement because the original was pretty good, but it works and casts a new light on the song. The rock really kicks in tunes like “Mess” which O’Donnell’s guitar solo alone is heavier than anything on Sleeping Dogs Lie. The rock continues with the title track which gives the Skinnys almost like metal Americana feel meets the blues. Often on Easy Tiger, I get the feeling I’m listening to someone like The Troggs doing an amped up set of Irish folk songs and making it work! “Poison Fruit” is another winner that is in the vein of Sleeping Dogs Lie Americana but it is just better!
I poised a few questions to Mike O’Donnell to get the lowdown on Easy Tiger and what is next Skinny Millionaires.
MC: How would you compare the album Easy Tiger to Sleeping Dogs Lie?
MO: Compared to Sleeping Dogs Lie, this album is a bit more on the rock side of things. With the Let Dogs Lie, I recorded most of the instruments myself, but you can tell on this record that there is a really tight band there. Mathew Millionaire on the drums is insane, and Meghan on the violin is still the whiz kid genius from another planet.
MC: Stylistically, were there any influences that made their way in?
MO: Stylistically, there are still a lot of the same elements of rock n’ roll, punk, and Americana. I went for some different guitar tones this time, a little more reverby Detroit type guitars on songs like ‘Easy Tiger’ or ‘The Mess you Made’, and just different stuff. ‘Easy Tiger’ is a really mean sounding song with punk and blues and rock n’ roll. I’ll never escape that stuff, and I don’t want to. I kind of hate when a punk band goes acoustic usually. It sounds like a punk band going acoustic, if that makes any sense. Bad voices can be okay hiding behind speed and noise, but not always with just a guitar. So I’ve spent a lot of time making sure I’m not that guy. Its gotta be legit. So the mixture of electric and acoustic guitars in the same song is more cohesive now than ever, I think. I love hard rock n’ roll, and I love folk, blues, Americana, stuff like that. I don’t know any band that sounds like us.
MC: One of the cool things about seeing the Skinny Millionaires is you never know what you are going to see. Do you go into a show with an idea that you’re going to feature this side of the band tonight?
MO: One cool thing about having harder songs and more acoustic songs is that it opens you up to be able to play more shows. Like, our CD release with The Supersuckers in May, it’s like, ‘ok, it’s a big rock crowd, it’ll be fun to play a rock set’. But if we can also go ‘ok lets go to this coffee shop with this acoustic set, and have it be legit.’ That is awesome to me. It seems like a lot of rock bands are scared of playing anything but the same song over and over. That’s kind of weak, if you ask me. I know guys turning 50 who are still writing the same song over and over and can’t see past it. The rock shows for me tend to be a little more fun though, as it gives me more of a chance to hang from balconies and fall off tables and light myself on fire or whatever. I love entertainers. Someone told me something like “musicians end up selling strings at Guitar Center. Entertainers…well…entertainers live and die entertaining. There’s a difference.” So, it’s not always about what to do, it’s also a lot about what not to do. I have to always step outside it and look at it objectively.
MC What’s next for you guys?
MO: This record will be out on a new label called Giant Robot Records. They’re great. They have everything needed for a music video in-house, so right now we’re working on a video. I love living in Newport. It’s not just mansions. There’s plenty of broke guys like me rocking and rolling. I like booking cool national bands here when I can, no one really expects to see someone like The Dwarves in downtown Newport, but…fuck ‘em. Now they can expect the unexpected. So we’ll be around for now, and tour later on in the summer
The Supersuckers, The Skinny Millionaires, The McGunks, and The Old Edison rock the Pvd Social Club on May 8th.
Odds & Sods:
Mike Doughty from Soul Coughing performs and reads from his book at the Met Café on May 3rd. Celebrate Cinco De Mayo with Boo City is at Local 121 on May 5th. Santigold is at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel on May 9th. Jocie Adams from The Low Anthem is at the Met Café on May 9th. Flogging Molly is at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel on May 11th. Chanteuse featuring Il Abanico, Fall and Bounce, Sara Azriel, Beberequin, Chantal Ambroise, and Jess Powers is at Fete on May 12th. The Schemers and The ‘Mericans are at the Met Café on May 12th. Spindrift (a Morricone-influenced psychedelic spaghetti western soundtrack rock), Strangers Family Band, Volcano Kings, and Famous Winters are at Firehouse 13 on May 14th. M.O.T.O., Midnight Creeps, and Atlantic Thrills are at Fete May 15th.
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