Words and pictures by Duane Clawson
If you were to look in the dictionary under the word persistence, you might find a picture of Roundheels' drummer, Eric Moore. Over the past few years that I have covered this band, the changes have been many. But Eric Moore has been persistent in his search to put together the perfect band, and with this current version of Roundheels, he may have finally succeeded. Like Timothy Leary conducting experiments, Moore has done a ton of experimentation with different musicians and musical styles. For the completion of this latest Roundheels roster, Moore recruited the services of guitarist Justin Fremont and bass player Patrick Mulvaney. I would venture to Plush to catch Roundheels' last local show before embarking on a 19-city mini tour. When I last covered the band, their sound was leaning toward an 80’s punk rock/new wave sound. After hearing the first chords from Justin’s guitar during the band’s setup, I could tell with great certainty: this was gonna be something different. The power that came from those opening chords immediately brought visions of MC5 to mind.
As the band gets their set in gear, I find Fremont’s vocal talents to be an interesting splash on his brilliant fretwork. Moore on drums, as always, provides a consistent, brutal pounding of the skins. Mulvaney’s bass playing is a solid example of how to fill in the remaining sonic gaps. The band brings it hard and heavy with songs like “Quiver” and “Scatter Gun”, but finds time to have fun with songs like “Maybe It’s You (Taylor)”, a tongue-in-cheek jab at pop star Taylor Swift. Through the various incarnations of Roundheels, one theme has remained consistent, charismatic front men. Fremont fits the bill to the fullest. Be it leaping from Plush’s rather elevated stage or the Pete Townshendesque movements while on stage, all eyes are on Fremont when he’s performing. After seeing this trio there is one ingredient that is hard to ignore, these guys just wanna play music. And that they do.
I thought this story would end with me seeing the band live and writing my review. But Mr. Moore convinced me through a Facebook message that there was more to the story. So as the band was traveling somewhere in the middle of Florida, I discussed with Moore via the magic of cell phone, the band’s future, past, present, and the joys of three musicians and a photographer traveling the countryside in a van.
I started off my series of questions by asking Moore how he found Fremont and Mulvaney?
Moore: “Basically, I put up Craigslist ads all over the place. All throughout the Midwest, in small and big cities. There were a lot of tryouts. Finally Justin answered the ad. He had a band in Columbia, Missouri called Just Free and he was not getting what he wanted out of that band.”
Moore further explained that the band’s former bass player did not enjoy touring, so another Craigslist ad was placed and Mulvaney answered the call.
MTC: At the first meeting of the current members, what were your first thoughts?
Moore: “I think the first time we all met was at the Crow’s Nest. We just went to the Crow’s Nest to hang out for the night and have some beers to see if we could stand being in the same room in the first place. After that we got together about a week later.”
MTC: Do you feel this is the best Roundheels version to date?
Moore tells the band that I asked if he was going to be breaking up the band after this tour.
“The only thing that might break up the band at this point is too much gas in the van, from the constant farting on each other.”
Moore also fills me in on the hundreds and hundreds of hours that are spent by each band member creating their own sound that is produced by custom made gear.
MTC: My next question is about the song “Maybe It’s You (Taylor)". Do you feel that is your little dig at the TMZ Culture, as I like to call it?
Moore: “That song itself has been lingering around the camp for like fours years probably. I brought it out of the woodwork on my laptop one time. I said what about this, I like this song.”
Moore asks Fremont how he came with the idea for lyrics.
“He said he had been thinking about all of that for a year and a half, that she (Swift) may be the problem and not all the guys she writes about.”
MTC: Do you feel you’re being promoted through that song even though it has been somewhat negatively received through the responses on Twitter?
Moore: “Right now it’s about 50/50. Most of the people that we play to give it two thumbs up. The people that think the Grammy’s mean something and think mainstream music is cool are the ones that are like down with Roundheels. Now that I’m older I’m like fuck it, any press is good press.”
MTC: Do you guys hang together when you’re not playing?
Moore: “Pretty much 24/7. A couple of the guys might turn in early and I will hang out with Bryan Sutter (photographer). You know he’s on tour with us.”
MTC: I did. I saw a video of him snoring in the van the other day.
MTC: What is your favorite food on the road? Have you came across anything you liked that you haven’t tried before?
Moore: “Justin is the hush puppy king. Like he’s sitting there looking for different hush puppies at different seafood places. We actually ate K-Paul’s, in New Orleans, which was really, really good! I guess the most interesting thing was we all sucked the head out of a crawdad in Monroe, Louisiana. That’s something we’re obviously not doing that in St. Louis.”
Moore tells me of some of the equipment failures that have occurred while on the road and the strategic shipping practices that have been utilized to get replacement gear from point A to point B. Moore says a lucky night at the casino helped to offset some of their tour expenses.
MTC: What has been your worst road experience? I know a little bit about the Roller Derby incident.
The band played an impromptu show in Jackson, Mississippi for a local Roller Derby Squad’s fundraiser. All of which turned ugly when the locals took offense to some members of Roundheels were conversing with the Roller Derby girls.
Moore: “Jackson pretty much sums it up. That place is a real dirthole and we will not be back there. That’s pretty much what it boils down to. Overzealous 19-year old security guards with plastic badges and two bands that didn’t want anybody pissing on their territory.”
MTC: What projects do you have coming up?
Moore: “After we get back we’re going to polish off the Taylor Swift song and put it on 7-inch vinyl. 500 copies hand signed and numbered. We’re going to do a remixing of the Phonocology EP. Give it a more raw, less polished sound.”
MTC: How do you think you’ve been received so far on this tour?
Moore: “It has been great to outstanding! New Orleans was outstanding, we unloaded 40 CDs in 40 minutes.”
My final question to the band is, “What do you want people to know about Roundheels?”
Moore: “That’s a tough question. I think primarily is for them to get out and see our live show. Once they see the live show they’re hooked. To see the energy Justin has and to see how we all interact.”
MTC: Alright we’re gonna call this one done.
Moore: “I have nothing but time, I was just about to bust open a Four Loco.”
A big thanks to Roundheels for making all of this happen and allowing MTC to be a part of this adventure filled musical journey. Pictures of their Plush performance are below:
Contributed by Duane Clawson
Roundheels @ Plush, St. Louis, MO + Interview Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on 3:00:00 PM Rating: