Hey guys!! It has been toooooooo long since a new post went up! Hope everyone’s getting along well in preparations for UCM’s finals next week!! There are some great shows coming up soon, and later today we will post a list of this and next weeks shows both on here and our facebook for you to check out! Speaking of Check….. Be sure to come by 406 Anderson St. tomorrow night! Boo Radley Project is opening for Luherman, Shaffer, and Check, and you know how much we all love hearing these guys jam!!
Driving Wheel is a blues-y rock group from CoMo. They are pretty much fantastic, and I am really looking forward to their show at 400 club next friday, May 6th. Be sure to check out their reverbnation page as well as facebook! You can get a chance to hear how much these guys will rock your face off! Tender Bone will also be playing with them that night, so it will be a great night to get your blues on!
I got a chance to talk to Jeremy Hunsaker, a UCM (well, CMSU 😉 ) alum! I dig his answers, and you really get a chance to see inside Driving Wheel. And its pretty fantastic to hear from someone who went to Holden and gives props to two men we really love, Dr. Dave Aaberg and Dr. Gary Moege. Favorite quote? “We’re just some dudes from Missouri. And we play some songs we wrote.” You are gonna love these guys!
ACCENT BURG: How did Driving Wheel meet?
JEREMY HUNSAKER: We met at an open jam night. Ryan was in high school, braces, but he had a couple really cool licks on the guitar, and it seemed like no one was paying attention, but I was. I wanted to work with him for a project I was doing with Ian (Gallagher, Driving Wheel’s manager) at the time. We exchanged numbers but didn’t really hook up until we saw each other at another open jam, and Ian had left for Colorado. I really didn’t have anything to work on, and just called Ryan up and said, “hey, ya wanna play a few shows?” It was really that simple. The original idea was that we would both play guitar and find a
rhythm section…but we couldn’t get ANYONE to play with us, hahahaha!! We had a show booked, and no
bass player or drummer. So we drafted Quinten (Rice, bassist for Filament) to play drums, and Ryan and
I actually traded off bass and guitar for the show. We got stiffed on our money and actually had some
gear stolen afterwards. A little bit later, we just kinda quit looking for a guitar player, and I’m still sitting
in on bass four years later.
AB: Did you guys have any former names?
JH:Ha, Yeah. We played shows under all kinds of names : “Skinny, Almost, and Not” was one of the first.
“D.B. Cooper”, until we found out there was another band already called that. A personal favorite
was “The Scott Peterson Fishing Hour”. It was right after the trial, so the outrage from some people in
attendance that night was palpable – I’d walk up to the mic between songs and say “WOMEN…can’t live
with ‘em; can’t kill ‘em – well, unless you’re on the Scott Peterson Fishing Hour!!!” And the indignation
was real – but no one was paying attention during the music, so I was just trying to shake things up,
wake everybody up. No one got my social commentary in Jefferson City that night, and for some reason,
the name didn’t stick. “Lucky Parodice” was another; the shtick was that “everything is cheaper than it
looks”. It was very Neil Young-ish then, the Tonight’s the Night vibe – EVERYONE was going to Miaimi
Beach, baby, hahaha. Eventually, Ryan and I were in my crappy one-bedroom apartment I had off
Dunklin in Jefferson City before I got married, listening to a Black Crowes show while the song “Young
Man, Old Man” came on, and it has the line “wash the blood if ya want, the truth you can’t conceal/
gonna roll on, my driving wheel” and that was when we said “Driving Wheel.” Gonna roll on, my Driving
Wheel. Of course, I knew about the Tom Rush cut that Gram Parsons had covered with the Byrds (which
is more than likely the inspiration behind the line in the Crowes cut), and Junior Parker’s cut, but the
way the name came about is actually from the Crowes song. Not as “historically hip”, probably, but that’s what happened.
AB: When you are writing, what comes first, the music or the lyrics?
JH: Well, really…it’s different every time. A cool lick can inspire a jam, a groove, and once you have a
groove, you might look for a melody. Then, with the melody might come some words. Or, I might say
something to Ryan that he likes, and we write it down, and come up with some words and then either
we’ll do some music for it or…there just isn’t a set way at all. There are songs that I wrote the lyrics for
by myself and give him the lyrics, and he comes up with the music by himself : riffs, changes, structure,
melody, bassline, meter, everything. Or vice versa, or whatever. “Another Lonely Day” is all Ryan. I may
have tinkered with the words a little, I don’t remember, but he brought that one in and it was really
already done. We have songs that friends and family help on – or totally write and we rearrange, as the
case may be. “Don’t Get Mad”, I was just messing around with triads on a piano, because I don’t really
play keys, I just tinker with simple stuff, and I came across part of what sounded like a cool chord
structure. So I figured out what I was doing, hahaha, and got it down on the guitar and brought it to
Ryan, and he tore it apart and changed it up, we really worked side by side on that one, and wrote the
words together, except the bridge. Joe Gathje (pronounced : Get-Key) wrote the bridge part. Ryan and
I were stumped, and I sent the demo to Gathje, who sent me the verse on the bridge and a couple other
slight adjustments to the lyrics that seemed to make them flow better. Same thing with “Puppet String”,
that was a team effort, too – Ryan had the riff, and I had different words, but instead of making those
words fit with that melody, Gathje had this other thing pretty much already written out that just fit so
perfectly with that riff, that it basically wrote itself in about as long as it takes to play the song. “Poor
Man’s Rain” is one of Ryan’s dad’s songs that we totally raped. The lyrics are the same as the original,
mostly, but that’s about the only resemblance to the original. We just kinda took his song, which was
more “jazzy” in a blues/rock way, like, say Steely Dan crossed with J.J. Cale or something, and we really
just made your basic meat-and-potatoes, 4 chord slab of rock and roll out it. So I guess we look for a
combination of “easy” and “sounds cool”, hahaha. Nothing too complex, because there’s only 3 of us,
and we have to play it and sing it, too, so it keeps us honest as songwriters, I guess. We look for
impact, and if a part doesn’t make an impact, then it’s really not needed. “Less is more”, it really is true.
People always want to use that phrase in the context of playing, but I think it really does apply to
songwriting, as well. We really don’t write things that are intended to show instrumental prowess or
anything. We write the songs we wanna hear, basically. We like hooks, we like riffs, we like cool stories.
Those 3 things are fairly essential.
AB: Who got you started in music?
JH: John Lennon. The Beatles. Neil Young. Fleetwood Mac. My dad. Bob Seger. My parents always
played music around the house, and my dad and uncles all played guitar, and from an extremely early
age, I showed some aptitude for it. My Dad was into John Lennon/Beatles, Neil Young, Cat Stevens,
Sabbath, Mountain, Zeppelin, Hendrix, Yes, ELP, etc. My mom was into the usual suspects of the time,
like Seger, Frampton, Fleetwood Mac, Linda Rondstadt, Pat Benetar, Heart, etc. I had a guitar, a piano,
and a cornet when I was real young, then joined the 5th grade band and played percussion throughout
High School, where I studied at a performing arts high school in KC, but I was already gravitating back
towards guitar, my first love, simply because you didn’t have to have a band to play songs with an
acoustic guitar – so, I started strumming chords and singing along. Still trying to, too. Learned a lot in
the Collegiate Jazz Ensemble at CMSU; I was no good at reading sheet music or notation on sight, but I
really kind of applied myself a bit and it paid off, because I wound up with a pretty decent knowledge of
chord structure and a real good education in playing with an ENSEMBLE, like matching sounds, not being
too bass-y on the bottom end of the guitar because you’re getting into the bass and trombone’s sonic
territory and it will make it sound like mush, but you can’t be bright on the top or mids, either because
then you’re stepping on the wind instruments and the trumpet, and there can be some weird frequencies
there that clash. So it was all about learning how to NOT stand out, which went against my rock and roll
ethos, hahaha. But I have to credit Dr. Aaberg and Dr. Moege for working with me, because I was pretty
raw – all of my orchestral and jazz training had been in percussion, and when I marched (at Holden High
for a time) I played quad toms, so reading charts for jazz standards on guitar was a different world, for
sure. So I had bought a white Telecaster and I just started playing guitar in bands around Warrensburg
and KC when I was around 19 or 20, and everyone had known me as a drummer for years, so people
kept wanting me to play drums, and I had to tell them that I wanted to concentrate on playing guitar.
It’s funny, I recently started playing drums with Just Free, and now everybody’s going “I didn’t know you
could play drums!” Playing percussion is kinda like riding a bike – you may get rusty, but if you jump
back on it, you’ll figure it out.
AB: What have you learned about being “on the road” that you didn’t really expect?
JH: How totally freaking exhausted you are for 22 hours of the day, and then for two hours, suddenly you’re
not tired, not sick, not hurt, etc. And then when you’re done you go right back to being totally exhausted
and feeling like shit again. I didn’t really expect that. I figured if you slept, driving 350 miles in wouldn’t
be that bad. And I was wrong.
AB: How has your music evolved since you first began?
JH: Umm…it’s gotten more confident. That would be the thing. We play less. We used to try and pretend
we were Cream, with everyone soloing at once…and sometimes it was okay, but sometimes not. We’re
learning about restraint. About not trying to run down the mountain, but to confidently strut to the
bottom. We’re still learning, every day. I know that me, personally, I’ve got my musical antenna up and
spread – yesterday, I was listening to James Brown’s Sex Machine album from ‘68, and the stark power
of Jimmy Nolen, Bernard Odom, and Clyde Stubblefield still blows me away. They are THE pre-eminent
rhythm section. Period. I mean, those guys…I think that the closest thing to recordings of the actual
vibrations of the universe are on those James Brown records. Of course, you throw in Maceo and Fred
Wesley, and The Godfather himself, Showtime, Mr. Please Please Please, Reverend James Brown, and it
doesn’t get much more PERFECT than that. So simple, yet complex and multi-faceted. I mean, most of
those songs have, like, two chords and the only change is the bridge, and Stubblefield never plays a fill
and it’s ALL on the 1…and it’s superbad. You can’t argue with it, or deny it. It’s infectious, and it’s REAL.
I think that is what we are shooting for – we want to be forceful and infectious. We want to kick down
your door and have you like it. We want to be like James Brown.
AB: What image do you want your music to convey?
JH: Well, I think we reflect. We don’t really make stories up or anything. These songs kind of write
themselves, in a way. They dictate to us how they should go; we just try to not get in the way and
screw ‘em up, hahaha. The songs we write, they’re what we live. A song like “No End In Sight”, I guess
it’s about consumerism, now that I think about it, and people wasting and destroying and just repeating
because they think that’s all we’re here for, is to use, and they can’t see past it, it doesn’t ever end for
that person, and there’s no way out. A song like that, I didn’t sit down to write a song about that…it’s
just what came out. Because it’s where we live, and who we’re around. That’s what we write about; life
and death, the struggle between right and wrong, God and the Devil, faith, healing, being all fucked up,
missing people, making mistakes, guilt and redemption – the same things we all deal with everyday. And
I guess that’s the “image” if you will, but it’s not really an image. We’re just some dudes from Missouri.
And we play some songs we wrote. We like ‘em, and we hope other people do, too. That’s the image,
AB: What encourages you to keep making music and going out show after show?
JH: Nothing. I do it because that’s what I do. Everything in this society and culture is set up to
systematically keep us FROM going out show after show. We are geared toward being used as economic
vessels from the time we are born all through the institutional learning phase and into “adulthood.”
“Gotta hit them books so you can be smart to get a good job.” No one inherently encourages you to
nurture your soul or to work on becoming a better person – it’s all geared toward money. And Driving
Wheel on the road makes very little, if any, money. We’ve used our hometown shows as a financial
springboard to get us out and on the road…then hope that the door money at the next gig is enough to
get you to the next place, and that we sell enough T-shirts to get something to eat, sell some burned
CDs for “donations” (no fixed price) and make friends that let us crash on the couch or floor so we don’t
have to spend money on a hotel…sometimes we’ve literally passed around the bucket. It’s hard, but
we do it because we love it. We feel strongly about the songs, and we want to bring them to as many
people as we can. So I guess that’s what keeps us going out, the fact that there are people who dig
what we do and pick up on what we’re laying down.
AB: Whats the most “rock-star” thing you have ever done?
JH: Well…there’s a list, actually. One I’m not proud of. There are stories to be told aplenty, a few even originated in Warrensburg. About half of them are true, and if you ask around, there are plenty of people still willing to tell all the old tales, but I’m not one of them anymore. Not out of shame over anything I’ve done, more simply because I have a daughter now, and I don’t want her growing up hearing about what an ignorant fool her dad was. At least until she’s old enough to understand the context, hahaha. Well, she’ll hear about what an ignorant fool her Dad is, but she doesn’t have to ever read a first-person account of his jackassery on the internet, anyway, hahahaha!
AB: Imagine you’re watching a concert and one of the band members spontaneously combusts. You get called to the stage to replace that member. Who’s the band?
JH:Too easy- The Stones. Me and Ronnie can switch back and forth between bass and guitar.
AB: How can future fans get ahold of Driving Wheel’s music?
JH: We have an EP on the Hartke Records website that people can download for $5 : (http://hartkerecords.com/fr_home.cfm); also at our reverbnation store, you can download some tracks (http://www.reverbnation.com/drivingwheel) I think they’re pretty cheap on there, as well.
Also, we’re a taper-friendly band that encourages our fans to record and post live shows on archive.org or bt.etree.org – both of which are great resources in and of their own right. Our link on the Live Music Archive is : http://www.archive.org/details/DrivingWheel So anyone can go on there to stream and/or download live shows of us, as well as many other great artists you may or may not have heard of. All we ask is that if you download some Driving Wheel shows from LMA and you dig it, please come to a live show, buy a T-shirt, download the EP, buy Ryan a beer if you see him at the bar, etc. to help support us and allow us to keep doing what we do, which is try and keep everything as cheap, ecological and economical for everyone. We’re all in this together, so if we all help each other out a little bit and try to not be so selfish, maybe we can find some kind of harmony that allows us all to breathe a little easier. Literally.
AB: Whats your favorite spot in CoMo to hear music? what about Missouri as a whole, where do you like to play the most?
JH: My favorite spot in CoMo to hear music? The turntable in the living room, hahaha! No, seriously, either Mojo’s or the Blue Note. I dig the intimacy at Mojo’s, which is cool when someone like James McMurtry comes through and they pack the place, because 300 people at Mojo’s is way cooler than 300 at the Blue Note. But the Blue Note is cool, too – saw Gregg Allman there last year, which was spectacular. We’ve played both places several times as well, and both are great rooms to play in or hang out and catch a good show. Dylan and Jared are the soundguys we’ve worked with the most there, and they are absolutely fabulous. As far as Missouri as a whole…well, we really stick to the 3 main areas off I-70; KC, St. L, and JC/CoMo. We’ve played a couple really cool gigs down at the Lake, but it’s a different thing down there, because they want you to be a BLUES band, instead of just whatever you are, and we’re done doing 4 hour, 3-set nights with a buncha covers, because you can get locked into that, just doing the cover scene for the money. So we like playing where people are receptive to our own songs. We had a great show in the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill in St. Louis with the Steepwater Band and Lions Of Hazelwood – wouldn’t mind playing there again. Really, I dig anywhere with authenticity and sincerity. The 400 in the Burg, we like playing there, the Mission in Jeff City is a cool spot…yeah, anywhere is cool with me, as long as I get treated with respect and I know where the bathroom is. And if they have good monitors. And don’t play crap music over the PA between bands or sets – nothing pisses me off more than having absolute crap on over the PA. You hear me, House of Rock in South County??? No one wants to hear Lady Gaga at a place called House of Rock. Except the soundguy at House Of Rock, apparently.
PRETTY FANTASTIC RIGHT? See you guys next friday, the 6th, down at 400 to see Driving Wheel! Check them out on facebook and reverbnation!!
Catch ya later!