Why Cowbell Should Be Your New Favourite Band: Exclusive Interview

Beat Stampede

Jack Sandham and Wednesday Lyle of Cowbell

Isn’t it great when you hear a new song that reminds you what rock n roll is all about?

It happened to me the other day when I heard the two minutes and forty six seconds of garage rock bliss that is Tallulah by the improbably named band Cowbell.

Regular readers will know it is not every day that I write about a new band. I think this will be the second new band in nine months. Rather lax of me really, but there you go. So when I point your way to someone new and tell you how great they are you know I am genuinely excited about them.

Cowbell are a two piece band featuring Jack Sandham on guitar and Wednesday Lyle on drums. The duo first played together in 2009 and released their first single in July 2010. Since then they have released a couple more singles and have now just finished recording their first album which will be called Beat Stampede. Tallulah – the first single off the album – has just been released and in my humble opinion it is a belter. There’s some wicked slide guitar with a fuzzy guitar tone that Billy Gibbons would be proud of and it just rocks, rocks…and rocks some more. There’s none of your fancy Alt-J stuff here, and in the nicest possible way it is all the better for it. No intricate arpeggios or complicated arrangements. Sometimes you just want a band to play a great catchy tune and rock out. Cowbell is that band.

Or, if you want a more muso-type description: Think delta-blues tinged garage rock with a sixties vibe.

Debut album Beat Stampede will be released on the 8th October and to celebrate the launch, Cowbell are playing the Lexington, London on the 10th October. Tickets are just £6 and are available here. See you at the front. If nothing else, this is going to be the best band ever to ask for an encore: More Cowbell! More Cowbell!

In the meantime, I wanted to find out a bit more about Jack and Wednesday. They got in touch and were very charming as you can tell from the resulting conversation. (Spoiler: if you’re a Mumford & Sons fan you might want to look away now….)

Q. What was the first song you played together?

Jack: Come on Baby Let’s Go Downtown by Neil Young and Crazy Horse

Q. One for Wednesday – What prompted you to start playing the drums?

Wednesday: I started playing one night with Jack and some friends, just messing around really but I loved it, so I decided to teach myself by hiring out a studio and playing along to my ipod. I think I played a lot of Creedence.

Q. One for Jack – When did you first pick up a guitar?

Jack: When I was a teen but I sold it at a car boot sale.

Q. Was there a moment when you realised you had something as a duo?

Wednesday: Playing together felt great right from the start. We had lots of musical references in common and had been friends a long time so could communicate really well. When we got a positive response from our live gigs and recordings we got more confident that  something good was happening.

Q. How easy has it really been to get to this point (where you have an album released)?

Jack: Musically it has been very natural, we came to a point where we had a collection of songs that would work as an LP. Finding the right label was not so easy. We were really glad when Damaged Goods came into the picture. It seems like a good match-up.

Q. What do you think of the album & how would you describe it?

Jack;  I’m really pleased with it. We recorded with Ed Deegan in Gizzard Studios. He specialises in analogue recording and puts an emphasis on playing live. A lot of the songs were 1st or 2nd takes so the energy is there. We recorded on tape in short sessions over a long period and got more experimental as we went on. There’s plenty of soulful garage blues but there’s lots of other stuff happening too. We made the album to be listened to on vinyl so we made the order work for a side a and b.

Q. What touring plans do you have?

Wednesday: We are playing some European dates in November. We’re hoping to play lots abroad and judging on how the album is received here, perhaps do a tour in the UK, it would certainly be nice to do some festivals in the summer of 2013.

Q. What is your plan? World domination?

Jack: The plan is to keep writing and playing, hope that enough people enjoy it to be able to see new places and do more recording (and eventually dominion over both this planet and the rest of the solar system).

Q, Another one for Wednesday – who is your favourite drummer?

Wednesday: Probably just some of my friends that are drummers – Sam of Monkey Island and Dom of The Loveburns. But I guess Levon Helm and also Papa Jo Jones coz he has the best drumming face.

Q. And Jack: Favourite guitarist?

Jack:  Mick Ronson at the moment.

Q. Which artists inspire you?   

Jack: 60s girl groups, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Nick Cave, Ray Davies, Steve Marriott

Wednesday: Patsy Cline, Fred McDowell, Etta James, Memphis Minnie…

Q. What were the first records you bought?

Jack: Probably a Simon and Garfunkel LP.

Wednesday: A 7″, some song called Whats The Colour Of Money. LP was probably Bad by Michael Jackson.

Q. What are your most embarrassing records?

Jack: I’ve got some dodgy 90s house stuff. I lost the plot a bit there!

Wednesday:  I have some 70’s stuff some people might think is embarrassing – The Doobie Brothers, Supertramp, Dire Straits.

Q. Did you tape songs off the radio when you were younger?

Jack:  Yes, the chart countdown was a favourite.

Wednesday: Yes all the time – everyone did, didn’t they?

Q. What do you think of the charts? Are they still relevant?

Jack: Not to us!  Maybe kids like it in the same way we did. I just find the singles chart a headache these days – no rock and roll at all. Everything is really compressed. Not sure who cares about the album chart either.

Q. Wilco Johnson said his band was inspired by a disastrous MC5 gig: Have you played any disastrous gigs?

Jack: We’ve had our fair share. There was a horrible one in Camden where the sound man was on an acid come-down. He covered our vocals and instruments in delay and echo so we felt like we were trapped in poor Syd Barretts head circa  ’67.

Q. Who do you think is the worst dressed rock star?

Jack: They are NOT rock stars but it would be a shame to get through an interview without slagging off Mumford and his Sons and their waistcoats. I think their Wardrobe speaks for itself. Can’t say I’m keen on the top button done-up baggy shirt look either. A lot of ‘rock stars’ walking around with this Nelson Mandela inspired get- up.

Wednesday: I don’t know but the best quote of someone dissing a look is definitely when Liam Gallagher said about Jack White (when he was going through his thin tash and fedora phase) he looked like Zoro on doughnuts.

Q. What is the worst job you have had?

Jack: Selling gym memberships to Secretaries on Industrial Estates in Slough…

Wednesday: Selling a board game in Hamleys one Christmas. It was like mental torture listening to the Xmas tunes 8 hours a day.

Record #95: Cowbell – Tallulah

Tallulah was released on Damaged Goods Records on 10th September. You can buy it – and pre-order the forthcoming album Beat Stampede on mail order or download here 

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Categories: Indie

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4 replies

  1. Sorry about the 90’s house music…! We weren’t sober much of the time Jack.

    Like

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  1. Cowbell – Live at the Lexington, N1 « Every record tells a story

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