18 August 2020 (released)
18 August 2020
If you're looking for that new album to top off the summer and cruise to while in your car with the windows rolled down, look no further than the debut LP by The Sweetheartz of The Psychic Rodeo. From the melodies, guitar solos and gorgeous harmonies that remind us of The Who, The Beatles and 38 Special, this band is ready to rock! We got the opportunity to interview band members Brady Oh and Jesse Lent. Check it out below and be sure to give a listen to their record on Spotify!
Well, we need to know, where did you come up with the band name 'The Sweetheartz of The Psychic Rodeo'
JESSE LENT: A few years ago I had a residency at this legendary dive bar on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn called Hank's Saloon that I was calling The Psychic Rodeo since I wanted it to convey a freewheeling scene, not just be any kind of music we could put together onstage and comedians and performance artists but also, hopefully channeling the past in a way, harkening back to when there were more community-building stuff in the NYC music scene like residencies. Of course, just being able to stand around in a bar with your friends seems like a quaint notion these days. But it was also where Brady and I began performing together and then after we started writing songs together, where we'd debut those songs.
BRADY OH: Between original songs, we'd usually throw in some classic country covers. We'd always end up on "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" from one of Jesse and my favorite albums: "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" (1968) by The Byrds. At some point we decided to combine the album name with the residency name and dub ourselves the house band. The name seemed fitting and we've stuck to it.
Tell us more about the band! Who is in it? What instruments do you guys play? Where did you record the album? And how did you guys meet?
JESSE LENT: Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Percussion, Drums. We sing a lot of two-part harmonies and both share lead singer responsibilities. We had the drummer of my last band [Dave Volano of The Monte Vista] perform drums on two of the songs ["I Couldn't See It" and "Lose on Cocaine"] but I did the rest of the drumming on the record myself. As the producer for this album it was actually a lot easier in most cases to just be my own rhythm section instead of asking friends to add this or that. Other than the horns, everything else you hear is Brady and I. For the live show, back when live shows were a thing that happened, Brady and I alternated between a duo acoustic guitar-piano thing and the full band. No matter how big the band gets I think that duo thing will always be a part of our live act. For certain songs, you just can't beat that setup.
BRADY OH: Vocals, Piano, Rhodes, Organ, Synth and Percussion. The album was recorded in Brooklyn with that additional drum tracking done in Queens. There's also a special appearance from Tony Sax on Tenor Saxophone tucked away in there. Jesse and I met at the aforementioned, now closed, dive bar Hank's Saloon in Downtown Brooklyn. We both had other bands at the time - I was fronting the epic Funk Punk group Hunters & Runners and leading my own solo revue The Brady Oh Show - but we decided then and there to form The Sweetheartz. Retaining a focus on playing shows as a duo has allowed us to sharpen the harmonies. I think it has allowed us to really hone in on our songwriting as well.
Your sound seems to really give an amazing nod to the classic rock era. What bands and artists influenced the Sweetheartz along the way?
BRADY OH: As a song-writer I draw my main influences from Lou Reed, both solo and his work with The Velvet Underground. I celebrate the man's discography. The simplicity, the honesty, and the pride in individuality that he showed in his craft has always pushed me to be better. When it comes to classic rock and folk I look to Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Grateful Dead, The Byrds - when it comes to country I look to Gram Parsons, Merle Haggard, Waylon - when it comes to punk I look to the New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders, The Ramones, The Clash. I like to think that we are following in the tradition of what Gram called "Cosmic American Music." Something we always think about.
JESSE LENT: No band has influenced me as much as The Beatles, from the time I was a little kid. As a singer, as a musician, as a producer, their aesthetic and their philosophy is present in everything I do. Definitely all the bands above. I would specify in terms of Bob Dylan, that both The Rolling Thunder Revue era and his time with The Band continue to be guiding stars for this band. I was listening to a ton of Beach Boys as I was mixing the album. Brian is as good as it gets as a producer and arranger and then of course those songs...The Kinks are also a huge influence on me as a singer and writer. I also would like to think this band draws on some classic country influences as well like The Carter Family, Waylon Jennings and Hank Jones.
Your focus track, "I Couldn't See It" - What inspired that one?
JESSE LENT: I had just gotten back from a trip to Indonesia, my first time in Asia, and you can help but notice all the special privileges you get just as an American, especially a white one I would assume. But even outside of race, just this idea of "Prepare the room for me! Have the food sent to me! Make sure the room is ready when I arrive tonight." It's hard to say that they're not all incredible perks. But you realize very quickly how people living in that bubble get there and stay there. When Brady and I were working on that song, I threw out the lines about you know "Paint my room for when I get home." Also the line about searching your pockets and he thought they worked to set the scene. Because, at least in America, they make you feel like a criminal every time you fly the way they search you pretty much whoever you are if you don't have a private jet. So, there's that.
BRADY OH: As we were expanding on that notion of privilege, and how it affects our personal expectations, the chorus kind of fell into place. I was throwing down the line "I don't believe it / I couldn't see it" to sort of compliment Jesse's lyrical direction. It's like when it finally dawns on you that you might be part of the problem. Why not trade those expectations in for a deeper appreciation of what you already have around you.
What's the plan for The Sweetheartz moving forward?
JESSE LENT: I know, that's the question everyone's asking, right? We had to cancel the tour we had organized around the release of this record. I know so many musicians who just have no idea how to plan anything right now. Our main priority is just to keep putting out great albums and stepping up our game as songwriters. Though there's some pretty damn good stuff on deck, if I do say so myself.
BRADY OH: I'll second that. Just keep making records. Maybe we'll get in on this whole Drive-In concert trend.
How can we find you online?
Band Insta: @the_sweetheartz
Band Facebook: @TheSweetheartz
Band SoundCloud: www.soundcloud.com/the-sweetheartz
BRADY OH: Personal Insta: @brady_oh_show
JESSE LENT: Personal Insta: @jlent