Friday, March 23, 2012

Interview with Andrew Winter from Andrew Winter and the Reckless Dodgers

In Blitzkid he was called Jesco Devilanse - a combination of what many call "the last of the mountain dancers" documentary film star (Jesco White) and the patriarchal mean spirited father of the Hatfield clan (Devilanse Hatfield). But now he is Andrew Winter again. And he has a new band: Andrew Winter and the Reckless Dodgers (AWRD).  We’ve talked to him about his thoughts on Blitzkid, his time in Gorgeous Frankenstein and why he left both bands – and ofcourse about AWRD. Read some nice stories about his experiences on tour and how Jackal from The Crimson Ghosts once saved his life…

Graveyard Greaser Gang: Andrew, most people know you from being the drummer of Blitzkid. What have you done before that?
Andrew Winter: Before Blitzkid, I was in a Southern-Metal band called Southern Flame that opened for Blitzkid a few times before they asked me to join. Southern Flame didn't have many originals back then, so we played a lot of covers. We actually had a Metallica and Black Sabbath medley - both were 30 minutes each! I would also try my hand at the Led Zeppelin song, “Moby Dick.” Drum solos are fun!

GGG: How did it happen that you joined Blitzkid and what were your first thoughts about this (horror-punk)-scene you entered back then?
AW: At the time, Reah-M was behind the kit for Blitzkid. He called me the day of a show asking if I would like to fill in for him that night. Ecstatically, I agreed. Blitzkid was my favorite band, so this was a dream come true. Pulling up to the venue, I saw Gools and TB at the [now-infamous/retired] white van. As I started to unload the drums from my car, Goolsby excitedly asked who I was playing with that night. "Umm.... You."  Which in turn was then responded to with a surprised, "What?!" It turns out that they weren't actually aware of the drummer switch-up for the evening. But, the show went off without a single hitch or even a rehearsal!! That whole experience has ended up becoming one of my favorite memories from back then! As a whole, the scene was all very new to me. Blitzkid and Misfits were really the only horror-punk bands that I knew about. It was all very theatrical with some of the most loyal fans I’ve ever met.

GGG: After that you played with Gorgeous Frankenstein. How did it happen and how was it to play with Doyle, the Misfits legend?
AW: Goolsby is the sole reason I had the opportunity to really "show my stuff" and join Gorgeous Frankenstein. We were on tour in Europe with Blitzkid when Doyle called and asked if Gools could fly out to Hollywood to shoot a music video with GF. Knowing that they were still without a drummer, Gools suggested me to fill in. It all happened so fast. We got home from tour and the very next day we were flying to LA to shoot a music video (directed by Glenn Danzig) with Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein. Haha. It was all so surreal. We were on a soundstage at SIR Hollywood blasting the song "Gorgeous Frankenstein" though the gigantic PA system when Doyle stomps through the door in full make-up and stage gear. After the shoot, Glenn asked if I wanted to join the band on his “3 Weeks of Halloween Tour. It was truly an honor to share the stage with Doyle and Danzig every night. We even played a couple Misfit songs, too. It was almost hard to look up and see them in action without fucking up what I was doing!! 

Gorgeous Frankenstein in 2007: Andrew Winter, Goolsby, Doyle von Frankenstein, Gorgeous George
GGG: What’s your best memory touring with these bands? Maybe you can tell us a short story…?
AW: Oh, wow. There are some really crazy tour stories. So many, it's actually hard to remember just ONE! A time that is very hard to forget, however, is when I passed out mid-set!! Blitzkid was on tour in Germany with The Crimson Ghosts. I believe we were in Illingen, although I could be wrong... When we loaded the equipment into the venue, there were large windows propped wide open and a nice breeze had started to circulate around the room. After load in, it was then time for dinner. Upon our return, fans had already started filing into the place. Peeking my head in to see how many people had arrived so far, I noticed that those nice, large windows were now not only closed, but barricaded with mattresses!! This was a small place, and I knew that there had to be at least one hundred fans coming that night. It was gonna be another barn burner. The Crimson Ghosts went on and killed it, as they always do, and then it was our go. Just walking into the room, I was almost knocked over by the intense sweat and heat that was lingering about. It was even hard to breathe, and I hadn't even started to play yet!! Needless to say, it was definitely a hard set to get through. Near the end, however, I started to lose my breath. During “Long Dark Hallaway” the hair on the back of my neck began to stand on end, and then I lost all breath and everything went black. When I actually “came to,” so-to-speak, we were already well into the next song. Luckily, Jackal of The Crimson Ghosts saw my struggling and sprung to the rescue by bringing me water and keeping a fan constantly aimed in my direction as we finished the set. He very well might have saved my life that night. However, it also could have been the OVER-SIZED pizzas that were waiting for us backstage after we finished our set... haha. I LOVE GERMANY!!

GGG: What’s the biggest difference between playing in the states and in a European country?
AW: The biggest difference, at least to me, is that European fans seem to respect the music much more than American audiences. European fans stand, dance, drink, and sing along with every word of their favorite bands; all the while being thrown around mosh pits and getting beer spilled all over them yet never losing the smile that they walked through the door with. Not to say that American audiences are less-dedicated music fans, but they certainly tend to be more jaded.

GGG: Why don't you play in Blitzkid or GF anymore?
AW: The main thing fans should understand is that being in a band means being closer than family. You see the absolute best and worst of your bandmates. One day you can be having the best time in the world and the next, just be at each others throats. It just happens when you spend months upon months on the road all cramped together in a van. The decision to leave these bands did not come easy. At the time, it just felt like I needed to take a break and do my own thing. Whether or not it was the right decision, I guess we'll never know, but I can definitely say I owe a lot to Gools, TB, and Doyle. I would not be where I am today without them. It was a complete honor to be able to re-join Blitzkid on the road last year and tour with Face to Face and Strung Out. Every night on that tour, Gools and I would geek out watching those bands play from side stage and ask ourselves how we got to be so lucky. I have nothing but the utmost love and respect for Blitzkid and Gorgeous Frankenstein. Ghouls Night Out X is coming up and it's going to be Blitzkid's last US show. It'll be a strange feeling to know that when Blitzkid walks off the stage that night, they won't be walking back on another one the next night, like they've always done in the past. 

Blitzkid-members on the European tour 2011: Jackal, T.B., Andrew Winter, Goolsby
GGG: Your thoughts on the announcement that Blitzkid quits?
AW: I was saddened to hear the news, but by no means was I surprised. There's really only so long that one person can solely drag a project along. I feel very strongly that without Argyle Goolsby, we would never have gotten to know who and what Blitzkid truly is. He has consistently (and continues to currently) put every ounce of himself into the band: his blood, sweat, tears, and creativity. All of it. Without him, Blitzkid would have probably never even left Virginia. Don't get me wrong, though: TB is a great songwriter, guitarist, AND singer. He’s a crucial component to Blitzkid’s sound, but it's really Gools that kept the hurdling train on track. Thank you, Gools. Because of you, fans all over the world live and die by the name BLITZKID! RIP and LONG LIVE THE HORROR!

GGG: You’ve played drums in Blitzkid and Gorgeous Frankenstein, bass for a Mister Monster-show and now you do guitar/vocals in AWRD. What do you like the most?
AW: I don't think that I can choose a “favorite” way to play music. I love it all. I've grown up playing both drums and guitar. When I was playing drums for BK and GF, I loved the responsibility of keeping everyone on the same page; keeping the bands tight. On the other hand, there is just something about singing songs that I've written and connecting with the audience on that level. It's really fun fronting a band. I get to make all the bad jokes I want!!! Haha.

GGG: When and how did everything start with your new band AWRD?
AW: I have been writing songs for years. So when it came to be that I wasn't in a band playing drums any longer, I decided to take some of the songs that I have been working on and make a band out of it. It's been somewhat of a slow start, but I began working on AWRD in the summer of 2009. Last year, we recorded a demo called, “The Good Truth EP,” featuring Michael McDermott of The Bouncing Souls on drums. Another dream come true for me! Right now, we're finishing up our first full-length record in the studio. At the moment, the band only consists of myself and Eric Kohlhofer, the drummer of an old horror-punk band called The Ghouls. Kohlhofer is an incredible musician. We're currently auditioning bassists, lead guitarists, and pianists to join the band on a consistent basis, but for now, we’ve been fortunate enough to have a whole slew of incredibly talented musicians step in for whatever the situation might call for; be it in the studio or on stage. Be on the look out for the album, 'Relentless', this summer!!

AWRD-demo "The Good Truth" (2011)
GGG: How did the band meet and how did the band name came up?
AW: I met the guys while they were recording with their other band, En Fuego. I was assisting in the studio, and they were just simply awesome. I mentioned that I had a few songs written and would love to see what they thought. A few months later, we hit the studio to start recording some demos with Terry Foley on lead guitars and Will Wright on bass. At the time of the recording, there were some scheduling conflicts with Eric Kohlhofer, so Michael McDermott stepped in to man the drums. The band name was my idea and started out as just, “The Reckless Dodgers.” Initially, I was intending on this being a punk rock band, but it turned out that the songs I was writing weren’t really “punk,” so-to-speak, but instead had more of an early rock and roll and country vibe. It was Eric’s suggestion to add my full given name to the title and from then on it became AWRD.

GGG: AWRD doesn’t play horror-music. How would you describe the music of it?
AW: I try to describe this music as Dave Grohl and Billie Joe Armstrong re-recording Buddy Holly songs. That's what I would LIKE it to be, anyway. Haha. Though, to keep a hold of my “horror roots,” I recorded the Mister Monster song, ‘This Night I Call Bad Luck.’ The funny thing is that I decided to do this cover long before I joined the band.

GGG: What are the main influences when it comes to the songwriting for AWRD?
AW: I draw mainly upon my own personal experiences when writing lyrics. In general, I tend to write mostly about my childhood as well as my experiences on and off the road. It wasn’t the most positive upbringing, but whose was? I do write, however, about being optimistic and working hard for what you want. The music has roots in everything from pop-punk to jazz and country.

GGG: Is it hard to get attention playing in a new band that’s not from the same genre as the bands you played in before?
AW: It’s harder than I thought it would be, but then again, I wasn’t the focal point in any of the bands that I was in previous to this one. Most people won’t look at the guy playing guitar and singing and ask themselves, ‘Is that the drummer from Blitzkid?!’ Haha. It’s a challenge that I will have a lot of fun overcoming.

GGG: When will you release an album of AWRD?
AW: The plan so far is to have a summer release! It's the hardest thing in the world for me to stay patient! I can't wait for everyone to hear this record! 

AWRD live
GGG: The two songs on the facebook-site of AWRD have a little pub-flair. What can people expect from your upcoming album?
AW: Honesty. There is nothing disingenuous about this music. I don't write songs about things that I don't know. I feel every bit of what I sing about. I hope that comes through on the record. Also, this album is very stripped down. Not lots of production. Just drums, guitars, vocals, and some piano. That's it, my heart on a platter, if you'll have it.

GGG: Are there any tour-plans with AWRD?
AW: For sure. As soon as this record is done we will be playing all over! We can't wait to get out and see all of our old friends and make tons of new ones!!

GGG: Is there anything else you wanna tell your fans?
AW: Thank you. Without our fans, we would be nothing; we wouldn't have a reason to continue traveling the world singing songs and meeting new friends. Keep live music ALIVE! Go to shows, even if you only know one of the bands. Help support your favorite bands as well as fellow concert-goers!  

Andrew Winter and the Reckless Dodgers on the internet: 

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this - cool insightful read. Thanks for sharing :)