Drunk Stuntmen
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Drunk Stuntmen


Band Rock Americana


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"Drunk Stuntmen don't ever look down"

Friday, May 04, 2007

Providence Journal article
Category: Music

Music Scene by Rick Massimo: Stuntmen don't ever look down

01:00 AM EDT on Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Drunk Stuntmen are taking it easier these days: They're only playing between 100 and 150 gigs a year, says lead singer Steve Sanderson, whereas in 2002 they hit the stage 200 times.

More muscular Southern-rock than a jam band and more country-rock than The Allman Brothers, the Massachusetts-based Stuntmen seem like they inhabit a natural intersection of forms — "All those genres just need a band to tie them together," Sanderson says — but don't fall into an easy niche. As such, they have almost as little use for the record-label hustle as it has for them. They've been together for 15 years and put out four albums on their own, and Sanderson says that for that track record to change, something in the dynamic would have to change. And it won't be them.

"Not since right around 2000 had I really bothered with them, because the music industry is in such upheaval that who knows where it's going to land? Not to mention that no one I knew was getting a good deal . . . unless they had put in 10 years and had three or four decent albums of a back catalog already. So I figured we'd just wait, and keep putting out good records and keep touring."

The latest Stuntmen record, Trailer Life, mixes the elements of Southern rock, jam-band music and Americana with such rockers as the crunching "Clear Channel" and the loping "Get to the Wine," as well as sweet ballads such as "Made of Wood" and "Bus Back to Birmingham."

The live show is the centerpiece of the Stuntmen's grand plan, and as such they go where the work is, mainly in the Southeast, although there are pockets of fandom in western and eastern Massachusetts, the San Francisco area and Holland.

"We eliminated gigs that weren't really cutting it," Sanderson says. "We got a lot better gigs, we decided to make the show a little more special per gig, and decided to stick to a few different regions that we were really strong in and just work those hard."

If you're going where the work is, why not live where the work is?

There are "some negotiations going on about our next record," Sanderson says, and that might lead to the band relocating to North Carolina, at least for the winter months. But he's got no illusions.

"If it doesn't fit into a package, [they say] 'I don't want to mess with that; that's too much work. I don't know how to promote it; I don't know how to market it.' But if you do all the work for them, then the negotiations will possibly become easier, after putting 10 or 15 years into it," he says with a laugh.

". . . We're going to demo [the new record] in two weeks. There are a couple of people waiting for it — I'm going to give them a couple of weeks, and then I'm going to make the record myself."

So the Stuntmen soldier on, building a live audience and a record-buying market one show at a time and filling in the touring gaps with side jobs — "nothing serious, nothing we can't leave. . . .

"You go out there and you just start with a $50 gig if you're lucky. And you connect with . . . people who still like original music and will still take a chance on a band they don't know. And you just grow from there. And they start talking, they tell their friends."

It's an old-fashioned way of doing it, as the nightclub business takes more and more hits all the time. "It can still work," Sanderson says, "but it seems to get harder every year. . . . What are we going to do? I guess we'll busk if all the clubs go away."

Theirs is not the easiest way to make a living. Original Stuntmen Sanderson, bassist Scott Brandon and guitarist Alex Johnson are still in the group, and drummer Dave Durst and keyboardist Scott Hall have been in for a few years, but original member Terry Flood left recently, Sanderson says.

"I'm worn out myself," he admits. "Every time we make a little money, we have to invest it back into comforts these days. I used to be able to just sleep on a floor or a porch or in somebody's backyard. And now I need a hotel room. I just can't do it."

At 37, Sanderson says, "I'm not so dumb that I'm not going to say there won't be an end to it, but they'll probably have to take the pick out of my cold, dead hands. . . .

"You've got to be stubborn. You've got to be a little dumb, you've got to be really tough."

The Drunk Stuntmen play at the Narrows Center for the Arts, 16 Anawan St., Fall River, tomorrow night. Admission is $12 in advance, $14 the day of the show. Call (508) 324-1926.


- Providence Journal


Underground vets of more than 15 years, this Massachusetts sextet play country rock the same way NRBQ play the blues, with a keen professionalism and effusive spirit that take it beyond genre confines: It's rock 'n' roll, after all. While residing in the same general neighborhood as the Truckers and around the corner from Grand Champeen, the Stuntmen's organ use infuses a soulful, R&B flavor. Frontman Steve Sanderson's got a radio-ready tenor and a knack for vocal melodies, another factor in their escape from the Americana ghetto. Songs like Iron Hip's "No No Girls" stops just shy of Cheap Trick wonder. —CP - Independent Weekly

"State Fair review"

Though hardly revivalist, this album abounds with unpretentiousness, and generous servings of ringing choruses, and exquisite guitar splashes with endearingly ragged harmonies.

(Drunk Stuntmen remain) true to what made them interesting in the first place- good songwriting, solid musicianship, an independent voice, and a wicked sense of humor.

- Phil Rainone, Jerseybeat.com

- Phil Rainone, Jersey Beat.com

"Village Voice"

"The grizzled vets in Drunk Stuntmen string together Skynyrd,
rockabilly and random country rock into a loose-fitting jam-heavy patchwork."
-Village Voice - Village Voice

"No Depression #1"

" From the straight-shooting opener “Downtown” to the dramatic ebb
and flow of “Low”to the instantly catchy pop of “Out of Bed” to
the powerful balladry of “Stars” Iron Hip represents a significant
step forward in songwritingfrom the bands first two records. It may be
a lost cause, however, for the Drunk Stuntmen ever to capture in the
studio the sheer energy and charisma that radiates throughout the room
when they’re on stage."
-Peter Blackstock, No Deppression - No Depression

"No Depression #2"

"It’s slightly disorienting to hear traces of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Gram
Parsons, and the Allman Brothers all in the course of the same song, but
that’s the sonicly dizzying effect that occurs on the latest album
from the Drunk Stuntmen. Sanderson has a great ear for that line between
emotive and over-emotive. Johnson ,for his part, just plain wails."
-Scott Brodeur, No Deppression - No Depression

"Drunk Stuntmen in Wired magazine."

The Drunk Stuntmen went so far as to mimic the major labels by releasing an enhanced CD. When a fan plays the Stuntmen's new album on their computer, software on the disk contacts a central database and calls up the latest tour information, news, and special fan club promotions.

Since the Stuntmen make their money playing live music -- as most bands do -- they can keep their following updated on their latest gigs simply by adding news and new shows to their own central database no matter what part of the country they happen to be playing in.
- Wired

"Iron Hip review"

Drunk Stuntmen
Iron Hip (Natural Disaster Records)
By: Mark. A Lawrence the IV

The sound of the Drunk Stuntmen is sometimes catchy with tunes like "Downtown" and heavier at others as on their "Low." There is a feel good vibe to Iron Hip mixed with great musical backing including some wonderful guitar work. The bright sound of the vocal harmonic on their latest release remind me of Ben Fold's voice styling, which leans more toward the southern rock of the Outlaws versus groups like .38 Special. Reaching to broaden the range of this album, The Stuntmen included songs like "Heidi," and "First Class Clown" which carries a prominent country feel. While "Bullet" a speedier Buckcherry-like number, sans the coke diet, brings a puncher number to the mix.
Rating: B

- In Music We Trust

"Trailer Life Reviews"

July 01, 2006
For Blaring Purposes
Posted by Amanda Rose at July 1, 2006 10:01 AM

Drunk Stuntmen
Trailer Life

At first I thought: this is not an Americana album, unless Americana these days includes clever, melodic guitar rock. It might, I've lost track. Further on in the album however, the versatility of the band is on display and countrified swing and acoustica poke through.

I like it and if you don't mind some newfangled electric busyness I hazard to suggest, so will you.

Exhibit A, I reproduce this from their website:

Drunk Stuntmen encourage taping of their live shows for personal and noncommercial sharing and blaring purposes. Some venues may put restrictions or prohibit taping. Please don't go to see us at those venues, anymore.
We love you.

And we love you. I like the attitude. I first decided I liked their songs when I heard the line: "She knew I was a Capricorn/after guessing eleven other signs." Heh! My thoughts exactly. That's in "Bolinas", a stompy rock number which still takes the time for an organ solo and horns. There are a lot of bands in the world and you can't listen to them all, but I reckon if a band cares enough to have a piano player they have passed the first test. A personal yardstick of seriousness. The Drunk Stuntmen have that and there are a fair few horn parts too. By the time you get to a swing number like "Mystery" and the pedal steel ballad "Made of Wood" it qualifies as well-crafted Americana. The titular song "Trailer Life" starts off with heavy-ish, buzzy guitars but features a piano boogie dance chorus. "Gotta Go" is pretty straight country boogie. But it is the rich bluesy-ish ballad "Bus Back to Birmingham" that is my standout song. I'm sure Birmingham is not a really interesting place in reality, but there are enough great songs about it, it has a fantasy life in my mind.

The songwriting is strong throughout, a spread of irony here and there but its not forced and other choruses are sung out in a way that invites your accompaniment. Perhaps not everyone will dig every song, but most people reading this will find something to enjoy in "Trailer Life."

Review #2
From a British Americana site, Caravan of love (Reviewer: David Cowling, 6.7.06):

You've got to love the kind of band who can pour out straight ahead rock as though it drips out their pores as easy as sweat and can also add in some R&B and the odd tender country ballad. That's what they do; the territory we are in is Ween without the sneer or the glorious and tender racket that bands like Ass Ponys do so well. So you get some Southern tinged rock, a horn driven 'Mystery' followed by the gorgeous melancholy alt-country of 'Made of Wood' then a trip across the sticky roadhouse floor with the title track, and then were on the cover 'Bus to Birmingham' and the trip is a worthwhile one. It is all done without pretension by a bunch of people clearly enamoured by music, not just what they create - it is this infectious enthusiasm that transfers itself to us listeners. This is as honest as things get without being boring; I know that if I saw them live I'd have a great couple of hours - there is something of a party about the record it is exuberant, intimate, celebratory, affectionate and fun. When 'Failure as a Friend' throws in several false endings you realise that the band are as reluctant to end the record as you are to not press play once more.
- Hickory Wind/Caravan of Love

"Have van will travel"

INDIE INK: Drunk Stuntmen Have van, will travel.


It's after sundown in Winter Haven, Florida, and most of the members of the roots-rock sextet Drunk Stuntmen are enjoying a rare night off from their busy touring schedule. But guitarist Steve Sanderson has some unfinished business to attend to. “What're you doing? You're mixing it all wrong,” Sanderson barks at pedal-steel man Freddy Freedom (né Alex Johnson), who's standing just a few feet away. Fortunately, the two resolve their technical dispute amicably within minutes. “He was trying to make the chip dip using only one container of sour cream,” shrugs Sanderson. “I mean, there're six of us here, for Pete's sake!”

Such road-related issues are commonplace for the Western Massachusetts-based Stuntmen, who at last count were doing upwards of 150 dates a year — not too shabby for an indie band, or any band, for that matter. “We're very lucky not to have wives or children,” notes Sanderson. “Otherwise, we wouldn't be out here right now.”

The potential dip-mix catastrophe isn't the only tour crisis the band's had to weather; they've also had at least one rather spectacular transportation problem. When the transmission blew on their 1989 Chevy conversion van last winter, the band forged ahead anyway — in first gear. “Which kind of stressed out the engine,” admits Sanderson, who managed to snap a few photos of the van erupting in flames for the benefit of the band's Web followers. “Everyone loved the van-fire pics,” he cracks.

Just another day in the life of the unflappable Stuntmen, who hit the ground running with 1998's Taking My Pee Pants Off and have watched their fan-base expand ever since. Formed ten years ago in the rural town of Montague, Massachusetts, the Stuntmen (Sanderson, acoustic guitar; Terry Flood, electric guitar; Freedom, guitar and pedal steel; Scott “Bau Bau” Brandon, bass; Scott Hall, keyboard; J.J. O'Connell, drums) eventually honed a style that favored hard rock and even harder country. In fact, the country influence became so pronounced that the band began attracting a large number of fans from well below the Mason-Dixon line — a phenomenon that Sanderson and crew discovered almost by accident.

“Before we began heading down that way, I don't think we even realized we were actually doing Southern rock,” laughs Sanderson, on the heels of the band's newest release, Iron Hip. “But once we began playing in places like Chapel Hill and Winter Haven, it just really picked up. It's been the Southern fans that have really kept us going.”

The Stuntmen deploy a variety of creative marketing ideas in an effort to keep the cash flowing. For example, rather than issue a new album then wait for the proceeds to roll in, the Stuntmen do it in reverse; they ask fans to pony up a $25 “ransom” while the work is still in progress. As incentive, down-paying customers get a gang of prerelease items, including T-shirts and CD singles bearing unreleased tracks. Each full-length Stuntmen release also comes complete with an interactive component that automatically links users to a database containing tour information, band news, and a virtual fan club.

“If you want to get out there and do this without major-label support, you have to be prepared to work your ass off,” says Sanderson, who praises “support team” members such as multimedia developer Duckmusic.com. “Go ahead and play rock star — just make sure you take care of the business end at the same time.”

Sanderson looks at the extra effort required to survive as an independent in a positive light. “I've seen so many great bands ruined by a label,” says Sanderson, who goes to work each night with an old Standell jumbo acoustic jacked through a Countryman D.I. box. “They get a contract and think, ‘Great, my prayers have been answered, now I can let someone else do everything’ — when in fact that's what often destroys them. Whereas if you're independent, you're accountable for everything. Maybe that's not such a bad thing.”

- Onstage Magazine


1993 Mountain Funk; 1995 Prospects of Linguica vinyl ep; 1996 Dinner with Hal and Judy ep; 1998 Taking my Pee Pants Off; 1999 Live at the Mercury Lounge; 2000 More Bad News; 2001 Iron Hip ep; 2002 Iron Hip; 2002 Three Song Charlie; 2003 Live from The Netherlands (fan club only); 2004 Winter in New England; 2005 Trailer Life.



This Spring will see the release of State Fair, the fifth studio album from veteran Northampton rockers Drunk Stuntmen. State Fair contains 11 new songs recorded and mixed by Mitch Easter (REM, Let's Active). The album is being issued via their own Drunk Stuntmen imprint. Members of Drunk Stuntmen's “virtual” fan club will have the chance to download the entire CD in advance of its street date and at a discounted price. Access to the fan club is acquired by activating the enhanced portion of previously released Drunk Stuntmen CDs which links to the upcoming album's music and artwork.

State Fair is a mature, reflective, and energetic follow up to 2005's rollicking Trailer Life. The new album is loaded with the kind of smart, catchy, guitar-driven rock that is the band's trademark.The Drunk Stuntmen's music occupies a common ground between Americana, good time rock ‘n’ roll, and improvisatory stretching-out. Drunk Stuntmen's collective influences include the likes of Neil Young, Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, Led Zeppelin, and Gram Parsons as well as David Bowie, The Pixies, and XTC. Over the past 15 years, Drunk Stuntmen have thoroughly cooked these ingredients up into a style uniquely their own.

Drunk Stuntmen originally formed in 1992 under the since shelved moniker “Soup.” These Massachusetts boys started off performing experimental noise-jams, more due to instrumental expertise than an active choice of genre. By 1996, they were writing cohesive country-tinged pop songs and changed their name to Drunk Stuntmen. By 1997, they had borrowed enough equipment to record a first album in their basement with indie-guru Mike Flood. Over the next ten years Drunk Stuntmen released five critically-acclaimed studio albums and a multitude of EPs.

By 2001, they’d developed into a much-demand live act playing in excess of 250 shows a year from Holland to San Francisco. They were covered in Time Magazine, had a major feature in No Depression and garnered positive press from all corners of the globe

2004 saw them joining forces with infamous octogenarian rockers the Young at Heart Chorus and delighting fans all across Europe. After the first joint tour, Stuntmen Steve Sanderson and guitarist F. Alex Johnson stayed with the Chorus as featured performers on stage and in the orchestra pit. Over the last four years this magical collaboration has performed to sell out crowds in nine countries and counting. Fox Searchlight films will be releasing a documentary titled "Young at Heart" focusing the oldsters but giving Drunk Stuntmen plenty of screen time as well.

For more information on Drunk Stuntmen and their entire CD and DVD catalogues visit: http://www.drunkstuntmen.com/