The End Times Spasm Band brings early jazz into modern era
By Kyle Melton
In the early 20th century, the cultural and musical shift brought on by the advent of jazz defined the era. While the form’s rampant evolution quickly moved past its humble origins, its earliest strains continued to reveal themselves as a vibrant songwriting style. For the End Times Spasm Band, the DIY aspect of the genre’s earliest days resonated and has provided them with ample creative spark. We spoke with the group’s vocalist Lyndsy Rae about the band’s origins, their love of traditional American music, and the unique musical climate of their hometown of Ft. Wayne, Ind.
How did the End Time Spasm Band come together? When was that?
In 2008 is when I met [bassist] Zach Wright and [guitarist] Bart Helms. We were at a party and they had their instruments out and were just playing for fun, therefore I sat down and started singing with them just for fun. As the night got later, and the party and music got louder, little underage me heard the “POLICE!” were on their way to bust up the fun. We were too loud, they said. So I tossed the stand up bass player my phone number and said, “Call me if you want to play sometime but I got to run.” Eric Stuckey, our drummer, was an addition to the band about a year into us being End Times Spasm Band. Three people were supposed to audition, he was the first and when he auditioned we knew he was the one we wanted. Zach and Bart were previously in country bands together way before End Times Spasm Band. [Lyndsy Rae]
How did the band come together to arrange this type of music?
Most of us come from musically odd backgrounds: old weird America, hokey country and vintage novelty music like Spike Jones and His City Slickers. At some point we each heard some Django [Reinhardt] or a little Billie [Holliday] and something clicked. [L.R.]
What previous musical experiences did you have that led you to play “hot” music? What is the general response to playing this type of music?
Well I guess we all loved this sound and admired our roots so that is where we planted the seed. We of course always find it so challenging to define to people what kind of music we do play. This is due to the fact that jazz means so many different things. Jazz in the ‘20s, ‘30s, ‘40s … ‘80s are all so very different. So we attempt to stay away from jazz if we can and we feel safe describing our sound by using the term “hot.” Personally, I usually prefer a moment of someone’s time, for them to, if they don’t mind, have a seat and let the music and experience create a reputation for itself. I always promise to use every drop of my energy to try and blast knickers off. To sum it up, I guess we’d say we really aim for the reputation of turning the humblest gig into a special event. [L.R.]
How did the new album, High Wire Lover, come together?
We actually recorded it before I left for France so it is fun to listen to it because we have evolved so much since the recording. Honestly, High Wire Lover is the result of me asking the boys for a circus and this is what they gave me. [L.R.]
How long did the whole recording process take?
I would say it took around three weeks going in and out adding touches, percussion etc., but since I was in France they took their time with it. There was no rush. We released the album upon my arrival in August 2011 so that fans instantly had proof that we were back and honestly hardly ever gone, just in the lab planning our next creature. [L.R.]
What is it like being a band based in Ft. Wayne? Do you have a lot of opportunities to play and meet bands from other cities? What is the music scene like there?
Ft. Wayne is magic. From local bands to touring/out of town bands might I just say that the music scene here is mind blowing and truly lends so many opportunities for us. We are all really pleased with the venues and love of local music here. There is no type of music that you can’t find in this small town. We’ve got it all covered here in “The Fort” and most people fall into Ft. Wayne’s trap because it is in the middle of so much (Chicago to Cleveland and Nashville to Detroit). People think it is just a place to play a show on their way to another; to their next gig. Bands I’ve spoken with often find themselves falling in love with this place and the energy of the crowds. [L.R.]
The End Times Spasm Band will perform on Friday, September 16 with opener Todd the Fox at South Park Tavern, 1301 Wayne Ave. Doors at 9 p.m. Admission is $5 for all ages. For more information, visit EndTimesSpasmBand.com.
Reach DCP Music Editor Kyle Melton at MusicEditor@DaytonCityPaper.com and read his blog at thebuddhaden.net.