I had the privilege of seeing Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band live a few times last year - in both stadium and small club settings. Their unique old-timey brand of southern-fried blues is intoxicating and I’d recommend that next time they play your area, you go on out and see ‘em. I caught up with the Reverend himself at Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz on the last leg of their 2010 West Coast tour...
Interview by Itay K.
I hear you had some issues getting here...
Had some van trouble, but we made it work. Our tour manager had to get under and basically hotwire the van with a pocketknife. We drove from Petaluma to here in Santa Cruz in second gear going 35-40 mph the whole way.
How have the rest of the dates on this tour been?
They’ve been great. You know, it’s tour, man. Some days are better than others but the beauty of it is that you’re on tour. You’re playing music for people. It’s kind of like a bad day fishing; even a bad day fishing is good.
How different is it coming off of Warped Tour and playing smaller venues?
It’s definitely different, especially when we go back to 21 and up venues.
What was the response like on Warped Tour?
There’s crazy kids moshing and crowd surfing and going nuts. It was awesome. I loved it. We made such good friends and we got to see some of our old pals like Kevin Lyman, the guy who puts on Warped Tour. I really like him.
Any bands you where digging out there?
Yeah, one of my favorites to see live was Pennywise. They invited me to play with them a whole bunch too, so I got to sit in with ‘em. Reel Big Fish and Andrew W K; The Casualties... You know what band I really liked that I didn’t think I would was The Pretty Reckless; Taylor Momsen’s band. She’s on that TV show Gossip Girl. We liked hanging out with them and I really liked her band. They kind of remind me of Joan Jett or something. Pretty cool.
So you’re into a lot of different styles of music…
I like good songs, and that’s the main thing. It has to start there. If you ain’t got good songs then go back to the woodshed and practice ‘til you do. There’s a lot of good pickers out there and singers, but the hardest thing to do is to write a good song.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I think that the best songs are from the heart, true songs. So I write songs about my family and friends, things that happen to me, things I like, and things that piss me off.
Your new album The Wages has been out for a little while. Do you find time to write songs on the road?
A little bit. You know, I come up with lots of melodies on the road but I don’t really finish songs until I’m at home. It takes time to really focus on it. Lately, I’ve been saying that I love being on the road and I love being at home, so I’m never satisfied.
You have quite a collection of guitars there on stage. How long has it taken you to compile this collection? Is it a passion for you?
My whole life. I’ve never been a collector of instruments in the way that some guys collect them and like looking at them. I’m a collector of things I like to play. For me, it’s all about finding an instrument that feels right, that smells right, that looks right and sounds right. I’ve got a pretty good collection that allows me to make the music that I want to make.
I hear you’ve started picking at a banjo on the road...
I’ve had a five string banjo for a long time, but I’ve been writing a lot more on it. Maybe I’ll break it out one of these days. Maybe the next record we’ll have some five string banjo pickin’ on there. We’ll see...
Who inspired you to pick up a guitar?
Lots of people. My dad got me started playing. What really changed my life was hearing Charlie Patton for the first time. When I heard him, I just felt like a new standard had to be reached. Not enough people know who he was. He was the first professional Blues musician. He recorded his first album in 1929, 10 years before Robert Johnson started recording. It’s old stuff and the recordings are harsh and they’re hard to listen to.
Do you see a change in the direction of music nowadays?
There is something happening right now which I think is pretty sad. You know, there’s recorded music and there’s live music and these are two different things, especially nowadays, and that’s fine. I don’t want to pretend like we live in a world where there’s no computers and stuff; That’s the world we live in now. But, when you go see a band play live, I think they outta be playing live. There’s this thing happening now where people are up there pretending to play, pretending to sing and most of the music is coming out of a laptop or an iPod. Like this one band we played with recently; They had background vocals coming out of their computer, they had rhythm guitar, drum and bass tracks...extra stuff. On top of them playing. And they’re like “Well, we can’t do all that stuff on stage.” Well then, hire people! Hire musicians... or just don’t do it. You have your recorded song and your live song. I think when people pay good money to see you play live, you outta be playing live. Otherwise, you’re cheatin’. It’s no different than an athlete using steroids. It’s no different than a politician lying.