Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Interview with Luke Strahota of The Satin Chaps

Sometimes you just want to step back and listen to some real good time music that will get you out your seat and dance until your feet get swollen. Well This is your chance to Check out The Satin Chaps hailing from Portland Oregon.
How did you guys come up with your name?

The name was a term I came up with when I was a kid. I thought "satin chaps" would be the opposite of "leather chaps." Of course, it could also be an upstanding gentleman. The double entendre was perfect for the group; it mixes a bit of class, kitsch, and kink.

How did you guys all meet? Why did you choose the style of music you are currently playing?

I became inspired to form the band when I started listening to the soundtrack to the movie Vampyros Lesbos. The song from the soundtrack that struck me most was Drodge CX 9. The funky bass line, the piano, the quirky horns parts. They way everything worked together. I realized this was all composed, someone wrote this and it wasn’t jazz or funk, it was just groovy as hell. I was captivated and immediately started researching similar music, which led me to discovering the German collection, “The In-Kraut: Hip Shaking Grooves Made in Germany 1967 – 1974.” From there I discovered The Gert Wilden Orchestra and his soundtrack to The Schulm√§dchen Report, a 1970s German soft-core series. I started getting little melodies in my head; particularly one that I couldn’t shake that eventually became “Pigtail Park.” I knew I wanted to put together a big band and I knew I wanted to cal it “The Satin Chaps.” Around this time, The High Violets were beginning to go into hibernation so I started looking for people to put the band together with.

I first approached Peter Dean who I knew through The Chap’s original guitarist, Colin Sheridan. Colin played bass in The High Violets and also is in Federale. I knew Peter was a really funny guy and I enjoyed his general vibe, so I knew I wanted to play music with him. I had never spoken to Eric. I had loved The Dandy Warhol’s and we had a bunch of the same friends but I was just really intimidated by him, he’s a great drummer and brings a lot of knowledge and experience to the table. I knew he loved soul music and I knew he had good time, so I sent him a Fabebook message out of the blue and we soon got together with what was the original lineup of The Satin Chaps.

Eric and Pete bring a solid soul foundation, I kind of bring a bit of the ‘60s production catalogue / soundtrack sort of vibe, so the two elements just merged together to create The Satin Chaps sound. We wrote the album together with the other original members of the group, the players featured on the album.

Since your album is primarily instrumental, Did you plan it that way ? Did you ever consider getting a vocalist? Would you ever consider it or have guest singers?

I intentionally put the chaps together to be an instrumental group. It just felt like a nice change from all the other bands I had played in, one less thing to worry about. That said, we learned at our early show that people like to have a song or two thrown at them with vocals, I think it helps connect with the audience just a bit, so we play a few songs from The Nuggets compilations where Eric or I sing. Eric is a natural singer, I am more of an entertaining singer, very good at karaoke. We both love singing, but I would never want either of us to be "lead singers." I like things to be somewhat compartmentalized, so I would want just one singer who does nothing but sing, be an actual front person, but they would really have to bring it. My ideal front person would be a cross between Tina Turner, Tom Jones, and Wayne Cochran. If I could find that person, I would consider a lead singer. I would totally be into having guest singers, it would be great to set up shows like variety shows where we are sort of the house band and have cool singers join us on stage - King Khan, Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley.

We have also thought of having three female vocalists, not to sing lyrics, but more melody lines. There is a great band in Portland called The Suicide Notes, sort of a cross between The Ramones and The Ronetts. They’re going to join us on stage at our album release show when we play Baby Hold On by The Mohawks.

Your album has a very classic sound to it. What steps in recording did you take to achieve this?

The most important thing for us was that our players be on the same page as far as style and influences. At first we where pretty adamant about our sound being 60’s go-go/ German soft-core porn soundtracks But we as we wrote more, we had fun interjecting related genres such as garage rock, surf, French pop, and spaghetti western influences.

As far as recording, Eric has a great studio with old ribbon mics and vintage gear. We weren’t trying to be purist snobs and we definitely took advantage of modern technology, but we tried to approach the process the way it would have been done in the late 60’s. Minimal micing, playing live together as a band, and minimal overdubs. We prioritized it as; first the right players, then the vintage instruments, then the appropriate recording process.

If you could set up your dream show. What artists (Alive or dead) would you choose to play with and why?

'60s / '70s era Tom Jones or Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders, because feel every bit of what they're doing and they command attention with the sheer passion they put into their performances. They're a bit campy and a little silly and I like that, I think it's humbling, but you can't deny their energy. I would have loved to have played with Georgie Fame because his early stuff was super swingin’. I would have loved to have played with early Sha Na Na. The footage of them performing at Woodstock is always my favorite part of the movie, a bunch of greasers totally freaking out in gold lam√© jackets. The footage of the crowd’s response is what I love, people just smiling and clapping their hands, totally getting into it. I love to see people smiling when we perform, it means we’re doing something right.

What do you hope people will get from listening to your album?

I hope people will get happy and get to our shows and get dancing and get sweaty.

Tell us Something quirky about yourselves?

We are very prompt, and that gets us in trouble playing in a “rock n roll” world. Venues and bands tell us to show up at a certain time assuming that we are going to be an hour late, but there we all are, on time and ready to go.

The Calendar moves very quickly what is going on yours that you would like people to know about over the next few months!?

Our album doesn’t officially release until late May, early June, so right now we are breaking in a new guitarists and preparing to perform at The Soul’d Out Music Festival here in Portland on Sunday, April 15. June will see us playing around the region, promoting the album, and August will hopefully see us getting on the road, trying to so a small West Coast Tour down to L.A.

Website: The Satin Chaps

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