Cow-punk/rockabilly crazies the Legendary Shackshakers play the Hi-Dive in October, so we chatted with main man JD Wilkes…C
Yellow Scene: Are you happy with the way new album The Southern Surreal turned out?
JD Wilkes: I am actually. It’s a nice variety pack there for people. It’s a surrealist overview of different southern music styles, concepts and takes on the whole southern Gothic thing. I like it. I was playing a solo banjo set last night at a bar, and they were playing it over a big system. It sounded glorious in there. So yeah, I’m happy.
YS: The band is 20 years old this year – how do you think it’s grown?
JDW: We started off as a jump blues band and then, when we moved to Nashville, we started getting more country and more rockabilly. We developed this 1950s thing, but it was never really a purist anything. It was never a pure thing, but in the spirit of original rockabilly, which was kinda of experimental. From Jerry Lee Lewis to Roy Orbison to Charlie Feathers – none of them sounded exactly alike anyway. Rockabilly has been streamlined into a certain formula, and we’ve always enjoyed playing with the formula. Over 20 years, it’s gotten a little more punk, it’s gotten some psychobilly elements in it, but it’s always had that hillbilly blues. That’s what blocking a lot of rockabilly – it’s that hillbilly part. It’s all rock and no hillbilly. We’ve tinkered around with that and enjoyed pushing the boundaries in a way that I think the original guys would appreciate in a sense that they weren’t going by a formula.
YS: Do you like playing Colorado?
JDW: We love it, going out west and seeing the mountains. We try to get there a couple of times a year. It takes so long to get out there and back, but it’s always kind of a cool vacation, an adventure. Denver has a sound that’s really influenced me too. Slim Cessna, 16 Horsepower – things like that have rubbed off.
YS: when this tour’s done, what’s next?
JDW: We’re going to Europe in November. We’re coming right back and playing a string of shows in the Chicago area, then shutting her down for Christmas and starting back up in January/February to play the deep south. People are complaining, “Hey what about us? You wrote this Southern Surreal record and you’re not even coming down south.” Well, it’s a big country. It takes a while to get to everybody. We gotta go coast to coast before we go north to south.
The Legendary Shackshakers plays with Joe Fletcher and RL Cole at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 4 at the Hi-Dive; 7 S. Broadway, Denver; 303-733-0230; $12.