Band Interview: Overhaul

Overhaul Band Photo

So first of how did you all meet?
Andy: Well…. Overhaul started in the winter of 1997. Overhaul had up and running as a four piece for about year or two before I met Kenny. We became very good friends (heck he was the Best Man at my wedding) and he’d come round to me on Friday nights and we’d have beers, pizza, watch some TV, listen to some music and have a jam.

Kenny: Andy and I were living in the same village, and he was working in a music shop in Glasgow. We ended up hanging out, and I somehow ended up in the band – I don’t remember exactly how that happened, but here I am, still.

Andy: Yeah, at that time I was still trying to get Overhaul’s sound worked out and wasn’t too happy with the band as a four piece so when Kenny came onboard we started a fresh as a three piece and never looked back.

John: I met Andy after a great storm hit the Island. My heart broke for him. So I got In contact with him to see if he needed a drummer to help deal with the loss. That was about 5 years ago.

Andy: Can’t can’t imagine Overhaul without John now.

Where are you all from?
Andy: I’m originally from Los Angeles. But I know live in Millport on the Isle Of Cumbrae.

Kenny: I’m from Paisley.

John: I live in West kilbride, but I’m from stunning Airdrie.

How long have you been playing your respective instruments?
Andy: I learned my first chords on the guitar when I was ten.  

Kenny: I started playing bass about 20 years ago. A couple of friends had basses, and I got on better with them than I did with guitar. To this day, I’m not a great guitar player.

John: I’ve been playing drums for about 20 years. There was a period of about five years when I didn’t have a drum kit, and had to use anything and everything to try and keep on the ball. I’ve been chucked out a few music shops for playing kits too long during that period.

What genre of music do you consider your work to be?
Andy: Alternative Rock, grunge, post grunge, independent rock, I don’t know what you’d call us. I just love the fact we can move from loud, noisy, raw, verse chorus, verse, chorus rock songs to mellow,soft, singer songwriter songs in the same set, if we so choose.

What are your influences?
Andy: As a band we’ve always been influenced by bands such as Hüsker Dü, Dinosaur Jr, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Violent Femmes, Sebadoh and Nirvana.

John: My Influences, as a drummer, are Steve gadd, Dave Grohl, and there’s some Buddy Rich in there too.

Do you do covers and if so what’s your go to?
Andy: We’ve been known to do one or two. In the early days we used to cover a few Stooges songs and I remember we used to cover In A Rut by The Ruts.

Kenny: Blister in the Sun by the Violent Femmes tends to go down well, and I’ve been known to take vocal duties on a couple of those Stooges numbers – I Wanna Be Your Dog and TV Eye.

John: I’ve been subtly dropping hints that I’d like to cover some pink Floyd songs, as i’m a massive fan… Maybe I’m being too subtle…

What if anything does your name mean/why are you called that?
Andy: My wife came up with the name Overhaul when I first started the band. Overhaul has always been Overhaul.

Do you have a process for writing your songs? Which of you writes the songs?
Kenny: Andy comes up with the basis of most of the songs, and the lyrics, then John and I will figure out what bass and drum parts best fit. Sometimes things go back and forwards a few times before we settle on the structure and content of the song.

Andy: Although I’m the main songwriter in the band, I’ve always encouraged the guys to write as well. Songwriting fascinates me. I’ve chatted with so many songwriters about their process of writing and each one of us have a different approach. My way of writing comes from picking up an instrument, usually a guitar, playing around with it whilst watching TV or chatting with someone and if something cool pops out and I’ll grab my iPhone and quickly demo it so I don’t forget it. Then when I’m alone I’ll work on it and when it comes to writing lyrics I usually go with the first emotion that comes to me when I’m playing the new idea and I almost always write my lyrics around personal experiences or my thoughts about stuff.

What are your rehearsals generally like?
Kenny: Usually pretty relaxed and fun. We’ll either convene in Millport to go over things at low volume, or we’ve got access to a great rehearsal room near Largs where we can make lots of noise.

Andy: Back in the day we used to rehearse a lot and very often. Nowadays we really don’t rehearse that much as we know the songs inside and out. If we have some big shows coming up or new material we are gonna record then yeah we’ll book some rehearsal time but other than that I don’t see the point in over rehearsing.

John: Rehearsals are fun. We Jam, we listen, we experiment, we drink k rum and eat excellent food made by Andy’s lovely wife Pauline (when we are in Andy’s Hidden Studio)

Do you have any interesting/funny stories about gigging or touring?
Andy: There’s a few

Kenny: A few years back, Andy did a tour playing bass for Gordon Gano and the Ryans. This was when the Violent Femmes were on hiatus. I was working in London a lot, and managed to make it along to their gig in Camden. After the gig, Andy introduced me to Mr Gano and I said something along the lines of “how are you dealing with your troublesome bass player”, meaning Andy. The mood instantly turned a bit frosty, and it slowly dawned on me that he thought I was talking about his Violent Femmes bandmate Brian Ritchie, who had sued him a couple of years before, ultimately leading to the them disbanding. It took a bit of red-faced explaining before he saw the funny side. I believe they sorted out their differences and re-formed for Coachella festival a couple of years later.

Andy: HAHAHAHAHAHA I love that story and funnily enough my story has a “Femmes” connection too.  Back in 2008 I flew out to Milwaukee (USA) to record Overhaul’s 3rd album Here and There. Sadly Kenny couldn’t be apart of that album but I did record it with founding member of Violent Femmes and drummer Victor DeLorenzo. We recorded the album in the middle of Summer and I can tell you Milwaukee got pretty damn hot that year.  We had just finished rehearsing the song Reaching For The Stars and we decided to take a half an hour break to cool down and have a cold drink, what was unique about that version of Reaching For The Stars is there are two drummers playing at the same time and we recorded it 100% live. Now when we were outside having a cold drink, Rich (the 2nd drummer) was a little nervous and got on his phone and started to call someone.  Mike, Victor and I sat on the porch and we were having a laugh and enjoying the cold drink, suddenly Rich comes up to me and hands me his mobile phone and says “there’s someone here that would like to say hi” so I took the phone and said “Hi it’s Andy here” and the person on the other end replied “Hi Andy It’s Les Paul here, how’s the recording going?” I was in total shock and giddy. I gave some sort of fumbled reply and we chit chatted back and forth a bit. Then he asked me “So……. here’s the real question what guitar are you using to record with?” I was very proud to reply “Well i’m using a modified Gibson Les Paul Deluxe” he then finished by saying “Wonderful, well enjoy the rest of your recording and take care.

What song do you remember most from your childhood?
Andy: Wow, there’s so many I couldn’t possibly choose just one. I grew up in a large family so I was surrounded by music all the time but just off the top of my head there’s songs like Doobie Brothers – Listen To The Music or Chicago 25 or 6 to 4 that always reminds me of my Uncle Albert, The Knack – My Sharona or JJ Fad – Supersonic or Neneh Cherry – Buffalo Stance always reminds me of my Uncle Chris, hearing any mariachi music always gets me thinking of my Grandfather. The Beatles, Stones, Monkees, always reminds me of my Mom and Uncle Ramiro. But even something like The Andy Williams Christmas album throws me right back to being 6 or 7 in Boyle Heights on Christmas Day surrounded by my family with lots of laughter and amazing food. But if it was to be just one it would have to be Love In An Elevator by Aerosmith. That song is what made me want to play guitar in the first place.

Kenny: Hammer to Fall by Queen was probably my introduction to heavy guitars, when I was about 10.
John: I used to ask my big brother to ‘play the song about the wind’ (Hurricane by Bob Dylan) when I was a small kid, or ‘the song with the rain’ (Set You Free by N-Trance)

What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
Kenny: These days it’s mainly just finding the time to all get together and do stuff. We all have busy lives, and there’s the added complication of Andy living on an island, so we’re beholden to the ferries. To get round the need to physically meet up, we have a group chat on Facebook going, and frequently share recordings of song ideas via Dropbox or whatever, so when we do meet up, we’ve got a good idea of what we’re doing.

Andy: For me it would probably be the songwriting side of things. I’ve written so many songs now that i’m very mindful of trying not to repeat myself lyrically and musically. But also for the longest time I used to get very frustrated when I wrote a song and when it came down to recording and mixing it would never come out like I heard it in my head. But as I like to set myself little challenges I took an online mixing course and with what I learned I managed to get our last EP pretty damn close to how we all heard it in our heads.

John: I think distance between us can cause some issues with us getting together often, and our day jobs often get in the way too, but we just roll with the punches, like you always should.

How can fans-to-be gain access to your music?
AndyI know we are pretty much on every digital download and streaming service site there is and all our albums are on YouTube too. And pretty soon you’ll be able to go to any good record store and buy our music on CD and eventually vinyl again.

Have you released anything yet/if you have how has it gone down and are you planning anything for the near future?
Andy: We’ve released a good bit. We have our 1st album Overhaul (which we are currently re-recording), Hope Shines Through, Here and There, Achukma, and our latest EP Lighter.

Where have you performed? What are your favourite and least favourite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?
Kenny: I like Nice N Sleazy and the 13th Note in Glasgow, the basements pretty much feel like home. I don’t really have any venues I strongly dislike now – one that I wasn’t keen on in the past was a particular venue in Glasgow – they didn’t have the correct licence for a pub so you could only get beer by table service, and, because they supplied a complete back-line of amps and drum-kit, all the bands tended to end up sounding the same. It closed down years ago, and has opened up again under a new name – I’ve been to some fantastic gigs in there.

Andy: We’ve played some pretty cool places over the years. I personally enjoyed playing Vicar Street in Dublin and The Cavern Club in Liverpool was pretty special, ok I know it’s not the original Cavern Club but there’s still something special standing in Matthew Street. As for least favourite, well a gig is a gig and we make the most of every show.

John: I’ve usually had a great time wherever I play, but I’m utterly unapologetic to the venue’s who provide terrible drum kits, and hardware with less standing poor than a prepubescent deer on ice… What’s she called again?

What do you think about downloading music online?
Kenny: It’s made it so much easier to access music that previously would be extremely difficult to get hold of, or even hear about. These days most of the music I listen to is stored digitally, but I’m still very fond of physical media so the fact that a lot of records come with digital downloads is a good thing.

What’s your outlook on the record industry today?
Kenny: After a years of gloomy pronouncements about the death of the industry, the major labels seem to have figured out that the internet isn’t killing music, and have figured out how to make money from it. It’s also interesting to see how things have shifted around, where gig ticket prices outstrip the price of albums. Despite all that doom and gloom, people didn’t stop making or listening to music. At the smaller end of the industry, it’s definitely become much easier to release music on a DIY basis – technology has allowed us to record and release our Lighter EP much more efficiently and economically than it would have done when we were first starting out.

Andy: Exactly!!! It’s a very Positive time for independent artists. When we were first starting out, bands weren’t taken seriously unless they had a label, booking agent and PR firm behind them. But with companies like CDBABY (who are now in their 20th year in business) and DISTROKID having the business foresight to help independent artists bridge that once elusive gap and get their music into stores both digitally and physically. With a little hard work, It makes living the dream, a very possible reality. Ok we won’t all become millionaires but it keeps us going and keeps us creating.

And let’s end with something a little different…Which famous person, alive or dead, would you have dinner with and why?
Kenny: I imagine that the late author Kurt Vonnegut would have been an interesting dinner guest – it’d be interesting to find out about the wealth of personal experiences found their way into his novels.

John: I’d want to meet and chat to Dianna Wynn Jones about everything. She was charming, clever, and could write magic better than anyone. She was also taught by Tolkien at university.

Andy: Hmmmm I think the actor/author Bruce Campbell would be an amazing person to have dinner with. He’s the greatest B-Movie actor that has also been in some major Hollywood movies. I read three of his books and the stories he tells are hilarious. He seems like he’d be a fun guy to be around.


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