preacher roe
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preacher roe


Band Alternative Americana


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preacher roe @ the cantab

cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

preacher roe @ the basement at the baseball tavern

boston, Massachusetts, USA

boston, Massachusetts, USA

preacher roe @ the abbey lounge

somerville, Massachusetts, USA

somerville, Massachusetts, USA

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



Some twang, some pop, some nightmares

Life on Preacher Roe

Thursday, 22 February 2007

by Charlene Arsenault

Preacher Roe loves Wilco. Mike Orr, who writes the tunes, sings and plays guitar for the band, says — hands-down — it’s their favorite. “That’s how we bonded,” says Orr, “over our mutual interest in that type of music, particularly Wilco and Uncle Tupelo.”

That initial bond over twang rock was enough to sustain them through many jams, but Preacher Roe, which started out with different players in late 2004, took a more professional turn. It got to be more serious than banging around in the basement and some couldn’t commit to the time or travel. Nine players later, Preacher Roe got to its present lineup, with Orr the only remaining original.

The change “also gave us an excuse to get folks who are more in tune with what I was trying to do,” says Orr, who joins Chuck Melchin on lead guitar, John Prunier on bass and Paul Prunier on drums. The Pruniers, you’ll remember from Groupaction — and Melchin’s making waves as the primary songwriter in Bean Pickers Union.

"We started out at the Wormtown Wednesday thing," says Orr. “We were pretty bad back then, we’ve been slugging it out, and hopefully we’re not as bad now.” Those who have followed the band say the growth is noticeable. Plus, purposely immersing itself on the circuit (such as befriending garage rock band The Radio Knives) and jumping on show bills — whether they make sense or not — has inspired Preacher Roe. Through osmosis, it had a lot to do with Orr’s slant toward garage rock. A highlight was a show with The Wrens at Brandeis. “We’re so lucky to have been able to open for them,” says Orr. “I’m a huge fan. It was great. It was this little coffeeshop in the corner of a dorm. It was like this little punk rock commune with ratty couches with 200 kids packed in. They were hungry for some live music.”
Preacher Roe plans on releasing an EP this spring, followed by a colored vinyl split single with The Radio Knives. The band will hand out some three-song teasers this weekend at the show.

Orr’s got a clean, pronounced vocal delivery that works here in this rootsy pop setting, but you could envision it working just as well for a hard rock band (sometimes this juxtaposition makes them sound a little like ’90s phenom Soul Asylum). Preacher Roe is at once pop and classic Americana rock. For instance, “The Ballad of Jim Lonborg” opens with twangy guitars, giving way to punctuated distorted chords over a strict, heavy but lagging tempo to let the vocals step foreword, and then crashes back in with the chorus. The style is both modern pop in a way that makes the listener think of the heavy urgency of Social Distortion, but classic American rock, as well, recalling the “mature” Tom Petty (that opening and the structure is evocative of “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” or “Into the Great Wide Open”).

“For comparisons, we’ve heard Neil Young and Crazy Horse,” says Orr. “Also, Social Distortion covering The Byrds. Which, I’m happy with that. The Replacements sometimes, too. I get psyched when people say that. The Replacements are my favorite band ever.”

“Roadside Crosses” is gorgeous — a folksy piece laced with a mandolin and swinging pedal steel that trails like tire-swings, the sing-along chorus forcing the listener to swing off in much the same way. Don’t expect, though, that “Crosses” will sound exactly that way live (or any of it, really — most musicians around here know what Tremolo Lounge engineer Roger Lavallee can pull off in the studio). In fact, Michael Thibodeau from The Bee’s Knees played mandolin and sang, Scott Ricciuti from Huck strummed the acoustic and sang, and Lavallee played the pedal steel for the tune.

Preacher Roe’s sound is one that has not only grown because of time and changes in personnel, but in response to its audience. The twang stays primarily because of Melchin’s influence, but overall is affected more these days by pop punk. “We started out more twangy,” says Orr. “We still have that definite influence but we’re going for more of a pop-heavy sound. I just found that people were connecting with our poppier stuff and it was more fun to play, particularly live.”

Orr’s lyrics, he says, are a “hard thing for him.” In an effort to avoid cliches, he’s almost crippled by his fear of sounding that way. It’ll lead him in an imagery-oriented approach to words, whereas “someone like Chuck or Michael Thibodeau are good at writing really cool stories. Mine or more like nightmares or something.”

Pointing out that a lot of the big hits, if you were to write them on paper, are cliches (take John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change.” — it is hailed as his signature song, yet it comes across as a high school poem), Orr muses “see, now that’s the last thing I’d want anyone to say about my songs is that they are like a high school poem. I’d rather someone say it doesn’t make any sense.”

Last Up - charlene arsenault

Preacher Roe has a great little ditty on their myspace page entitled "Roadside Crosses". Its dark, low-fi twang really puts my imagination into an uproar. The song really stuck with me. Its simplistic perfection haunted me all day. Each note evoking images of Jack Daniel's fueled revolver-ridden road trips.

Needless to say, I dug the song.

Michael Mars, Jr.
- volcanoboy


self-titled e.p. out 5-1-07



the replacements, wilco, neil young and crazy horse