Replacing a departed core member, expanding the official lineup to a quartet, writing and rehearsing for seven months: It was anything but business as usual for The Von Ehrics prior to the recording of Two Foot Stomp, the band’s fourth album and first for Lucky Buck Records.
The Texas-based country-punk band made the recently released Two Foot Stomp at the Denton-area studio The Echo Lab with Dave Willingham, whose credits include albums by the Lone Star State’s own Polyphonic Spree.
Prior to The Von Ehrics hitting the road for what will likely become a lengthy tour, singer/songwriter/guitarist Robert Jason Vandygriff talked about his new band mates and the making of the 12-song Two Foot Stomp.
Medleyville.us: What prompted the changes in the band’s lineup, and how did you find new members Paul “Santi” Vaden and Clayton Mills?
Robert Jason Vandygriff: “We parted ways with longtime bass player Jeffery Wayne Mosley. [Drummer] Gabe [Aguilar] and I have known Paul for years from him playing in Ghoultown. We always liked his style, so it was an easy fit.
“Clay is an old friend who has sat in with the band here and there over the years. He took a break after leaving Dixie Witch, and when we went through our changes, he offered a lot of advice and ended up signing on full-time as our lead guitarist.”
How is the band dynamic different or the same with the current lineup?
Vandygriff: “We are much more collaborative now. I still write the meat of the songs, but I now have people I trust in the writing process that I know will make the songs better. They write their own parts instead of me telling them what to play.”
Talk about the recording of Two Foot Stomp and how the experience was different from when the band recorded Loaded.
Vandygriff: “It was the most pleasant recording experience I ever had. We recorded in the fall in Texas instead of between gigs while on tour during the winter in Wisconsin. That is a huge difference between this record and our last record. Dave Willingham is a very good engineer and very professional. And we are in a better place as a band. We were more functional as a group during the recording of Two Foot Stomp than during the recording of Loaded.”
Is there a good story or two behind the writing and/or the recording of any songs on the new album?
Vandygriff: “We brought in a gospel choir for ‘Lord, I Pray,’ which was interesting. The group is called the Friendly Five, from Denton, Texas. We recorded with five black guys ranging in age from their 30s to their 60s, [and they were] singing gospel callbacks to a punk rock song. It was pretty cool. They got it right away and made that song great.
“We had planned well for this record, so we had a definite idea of the direction we wanted to go. [Willingham] made everything we wanted possible — without letting us screw it up!”
— Introduction and interview Chris M. Junior
The Von Ehrics on tour (schedule subject to change):
* April 28: Replay Lounge — Lawrence, Kan.
* April 29: Quenchers — Chicago
* April 30: High Noon Saloon — Madison, Wis.
* May 1: Downtown Lounge — Tulsa, Okla.
* May 6: Bathtub Gin — Mooresville, N.C.
* May 7: Wonderland — Richmond, Va.
* May 8: The Taphouse — Norfolk, Va.
* May 12: 8×10 — Baltimore
* May 13: Roxy and Dukes — Dunellen, N.J.
* May 14: Arlene’s Grocery — New York
* June 8: Three Kings — Denver
* June 9: The Deathstart — Provo, Utah
* June 10: Red Room — Boise, Idaho
* June 11: Slim’s Last Chance — Seattle
* June 12: Tiger Bar — Portland, Ore.
* June 17: Bordello — Los Angeles
* June 18: Shakedown Bar — San Diego