When you listen to the Greyhounds, the cool thing about their sound is the variety of music they draw from when they write. Anthony Farrell’s keyboards bring the funky, R&B, and classic soul flavor, while Andrew Trube has a Texas guitar sound that reminds me of greats like the Vaughan brothers or Doug Sahm. No matter what influences you you hear in their music, you always get the straight forward truth and their distinct style from this amazing duo.
After their show in August at CSPS Hall in the Newbo district of Cedar Rapids,IA, I briefly talked with Anthony, Andrew, and drummer Ed Miles about the album and music. I followed that up a few weeks later with a phone call to the man on guitar, harmonica, vocals, and on occasion, a Melodica, Andrew Trube. He’s laid back, congenial, and like talking to an old friend.
I was curious how Andrew and Anthony meet. I saw the guys playing with JJ Grey, and was curious if that was when they got together?
“We meet in 1999 and I put an add out in LA weekly for a keyboard and he called me and played over the phone. I was his first call, a buddy of his told him you should try and play in a band. You know, he had been playing on the boardwalk, on the beach, and he wanted to join a group and I was the first add he saw and called me. We rehearsed and have been playing ever since.
“So then we meet JJ and Mofro and them years ago on tour and JJ called me and needed guys and called me and asked if we could jump on and that’s how we got in to that. We’d crash on his floor when we’d be in Florida and we’d play a bunch of shows, to nobody for a long time. Back before anyone knew who JJ grey and Mofro were, back when they were just Mofro.” he says as he laughs. “He hired us as a package because we always work together, generally, if somethings going to take us out of town for a little while.”
Andrew and Anthony have a real cool vibe together and I asked what kind of stuff were they playing in the early days before establishing the sound of The Greyhounds.
“A lot of it was, when we first started jamming you know, we were getting into The Meters, we were getting into a bunch of New Orleans stuff, a lot of soul groups. It’s all the same stuff were into now but we were doing primarily instrumental stuff. I sang on a couple of tunes and Farrell started singing one tune and I was like, man you need to sing more. You got a great voice. So we just started writing. You know doing instrumental stuff, we were really focusing more on songs and writing little cool melodies but starting out a lot of it was instrumental. Then we were like, ok we need to start singing.”
Did you guys record with JJ or just back him up on the live gigs?
“Oh no we did like 3 or 4 records with him and there’s a live DVD album that we did also. (Brighter Days Live DVD/CD)
During the Cedar Rapids show I took note that Andrew plays a number of old, unique instruments. 3 different Silvertones sat on stage but in the previously discussed DVD album, Brighter Day, he used a Les Paul and I was curious of his weapon of choice.
“That Silvertone is one I got in high school and it’s been my main guitar for years, that and another one that wasn’t on tour with us on that date. The Les Paul is what I used for Mofro because I needed a little more muscle and those Les Paul’s have more muscle and have a different sound and blended well with the group. And they are a lot easier to travel with than the hollow body.”
Since he mentioned the ease of travel I asked if those Silvertones are tough to maintain and keep going out on the road.
“Oh man, well the one I had (In Cedar Rapids) I gotta take it in after every 3-4 tours to get re situated, intonation goes out. All kinds of stuff happens, little tuning knobs fall off, whatever, just road wear. I got Pete here in town, he’s killer, that does all my repairs.”
I also noticed that he plays slide a bit differently that he takes an overhand approach versus putting a slide on his finger. I was curious if he just learned that way or if there was a practical reason.
“No you know, I’ve played slide slide like you put on your finger to do the deal and I had this slide, and I loved it, that ended up breaking, it was glass and I never found a replacement. So one day I was playing harmonica and realized I could use that like a slide bar, like a lap steel, overhanded and i kind of got into that. I play lap steel too, and it just worked out. So now I just use that and I don’t use a pick, just because i don’t like holding…you know, it’s the least among of stuff I can worry about having and dealing with the better. I need the harmonica so I just put double duty on it.”
In researching the album, Cheyenne Valley Drive, for the review that I wrote over at ink19.com, and from talking to Ed Miles, touring and recording drummer, I discovered that they knocked out the album in 3-5 days.
“Yeah basically my buddy and engineer, Matt Ross-Sprang, hollered at me, he’d been bugging us for a while to come in and do stuff, and we set up a time and Farrell and I went through the catalog of stuff we’d hadn’t recorded that we’d written and thought would be apropos like or be would flow well with the aesthetic of the studio and the recording process of doing it all on tape, and doing it live.
“So, we took 13 or 14 tunes and whittled it down to 10 and did all the tracking on the first day. Then over dubed and got friends to set in like Art Edmaiston on sax, Will Sexton, Amy LaVere, and got all of our friends that were in Memphis that were around to come get in on the record. You know in some form or fashion weather stomping or clapping or playing an acoustic guitar part or whatever. And then we pulled those out and we meet up with Ed before we went to Memphis and rehearsed them with him and went in and knocked it out.”
I mentioned their cool sound and wanted to know how they got that unique mix of sounds.
“Yeah you talking about the writing process? Yeah basically we just build some drum beats or weird loops… and find a good grove and just start writing off that. Or, I’ll bring a tune in and have Farrell just kind of like, I’ll be like, I got this idea and we’ll just kind of hash it out.
“Now the sound comes from the fact that I grew up in East Texas and he grew up in LA and were both into soul were both into blues and into the same things so its just our interpretation of all those influences all coming together. That’s just what it is. But we don’t ever try to sound like anything we just try to be ourselves. People are smart and they eventually figure out if its bullshit and we try and not waste their time and be straight up with out music.”
The Greyhounds are definitely not wasting anyone’s time and after reading this article, I encourage you to get out and see these guys live or pick up any of their albums. They re out on tour now and I’m hoping to catch a show at in Dubuque, IA the second full week of February.