Beyond the Valley Q&A: Leaders in the Clubhouse
While the Lehigh Valley has plenty of stellar talent, there’s an entire indie music world out there. We’re privy to the great music out there, and we’re happy to make sure you are, too.
Today’s Q&A takes us across the country to beautiful San Diego, California. That’s where Leaders In The Clubhouse – a project from friends and collaborators Charlie Recksieck and Spud Davenport – are based. Spud took the time to answer some questions, and we can promise a read as fun and entertaining as LITC’s current album, “Won.”
First thing’s first – tell us about how Leaders in the Clubhouse came together.
Well, this was simply a songwriting partnership gone nutz! Charlie Recksieck and I have been friends and mutual musical admirers for years. We started writing together about three years ago, and this angry-but-funny retro-70’s style music came out. We honestly thought, still think, people will want to hear this stuff. Pressing a record and calling it a band just seemed a logical next step.
How about influences? What artists have inspired you to make music?
One thing that Charlie and I have in common, off the bat, is a great love for the music of the incredible Randy Newman. And Warren Zevon. And Jeff Lynne. Leaders In The Clubhouse pull from a lot of those, plus other ’70’s icons like 10cc, Joe Walsh, Queen, and ELO. OK, that’s Lynne again.
You guys emphasize yourselves as “Fun Rock & Roll.” Why is it important for you guys to keep things upbeat?
We sing about some touchy subjects, so keeping it light keeps the audience engaged, I think. If we were head-banging a song like “Law of the Jungle”, less people would probably listen long enough to say, “Hell yes! I agree with these guys!” So it’s gotta be a toe-tappin’, sing-along vibe for us. We like the visual of people singing along to “These goddamn devices don’t make life much better, in fact they make it worse…”
You come from varying musical projects out there in San Diego. How, if at all, is Leaders in the Clubhouse different from those other projects?
Not that different at all. Charlie and I have always tried to laugh at ourselves. I think we feel less guilty when laughing at others. But live, instead of me standing there with a guitar, I’m standing up playing the drums and right now, Charlie is standing up playing his keyboard, so that’s different! And we share lead vocals, so there’s more variety. We’re almost Fleetwood Mac over here!
Do you think you’ll ever deviate from the “fun” and go a more serious, downtempo route as Leaders in the Clubhouse?
Never. I’ll save that for a solo venture. Call myself Les Wages or Billy Clubb & the Baby Seals.
Your current album, “Won,” has been out since the summer. Who worked with you on the record?
Charlie and I played most of the instruments, but we hired out for the horns. Our good buddy Andy Machin helped with recording, production, mixing, and he played all the guitar solos and some bass guitar. He’s a great go-to guy.
We also had some local San Diego stars sing on a few tracks: Christopher Dale, Mary Grasso, Margaret McClure, and Sierra West. All really talented artists in their own right. You should Google them!
What was the writing process like? What was it like for you guys to come together and make original music?
The writing process varies a bit, but really, a lot of times we just finish each other’s ideas. Most people who don’t collaborate wouldn’t know this, but it’s really about “selling” your idea to the other person. It’s that simple. If Charlie can’t get behind a theme, melody, or groove I come up with, or I did a shitty job of selling it, well, we move on. We both need to be above excited to keep working on something. We’re very critical, and I think that’s a good thing.
What are your personal favorite tracks from “Won?”
Good question! Haven’t been asked that yet! I know for a fact we both still have a soft spot in our hearts for “She Gets Loud”. It’s the tune that started this whole mess!
I still like all the songs. That’s rare, but my favorite has to be “Trophies.” It was the last song we finished writing and recording, and it has such a strong message. “You don’t get a trophy” and “You don’t need a trophy.” It’s one of a few “message” songs on the album.
I have to say, I love the video for “LawnChairs.” Not only does it laugh in the face of doomsday paranoia, but it looks like it was a blast to make! Tell us about it.
Oh, I’m so glad you like it. Man, the filming of that video was, like Charlie has said, “Music Video 101” class. The two of us didn’t know what the hell was going on. We have such good friends in Los Angeles who brought this all together. We just showed up and said, “What do you want me to do?”
Mike Stutz wrote the storyboard, directed, and acted as the reporter. He’s so freaking talented. We also had Emmy winner Jay Lafayette do the shooting with his crew of supermen. There was so much luck and good fate. Or, is that the same thing?
And there were the girls doing “their thing” with a loaf of Velvetta cheese, so we were in Heaven. Oh yeah.
Moving to the live scene, what can people expect at a Leaders in the Clubhouse show?
A Leaders In The Clubhouse show is going to be an extravaganza! If all works out for us, it will be similar to early shows by the Tubes. I mean, I’m not dressing up as a White Punk on dope, but we want to have a three-ring Circus on stage. Dancers, jugglers, fire-eaters; as much as we can afford on a fixed income!
Do you have any shows coming up?
Currently, we’re rehearsing and drinking a lot of craft beer. We’re shooting for local San Diego gigs in early 2016, and hopefully a northern California, Oregonand Washington tour in spring.
Any other parting thoughts?
Thanks for your time and all the support, Gerard! You deserve a “Trophy!”