Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack.
Every once in a while you’ll hear a song and immediately think – who is this band and where have they been all my life???
This was the case for me the first time I heard Bourbon House’s latest single, “Too High to Care.”
The Wisconsin-based band – which consists of bassist Johnny Pries, singer Lacey Crowe, guitarist Jason Clark, and drummer Ryan Sargent (photo L to R) – describes their music as blues-infused psychedelic groove rock, and “Too High to Care” is the first of six singles they plan on rolling out this year.
I caught up with frontwoman Lacey Crow and guitarist Jason Clark via Zoom to open up some packs of MusiCards, and the artists we found sparked conversations about early inspirations, the unique impact Chris Cornell’s music had on the band, and what they feel can keep a band together for the long haul.
Lacey: All of us are very, I guess kind of obsessed with Led Zeppelin.
Jason: When I started playing guitar the first song I wanted to learn was “Whole Lotta Love.”
Those songs, those riffs, were really what inspired me to learn guitar. I just wanted to learn how to play those songs, and I thought it would be cool if I could do that. I didn’t really think about writing songs, or being in a band, at the time.
I know our drummer, as well, if you asked him who’s his biggest inspiration …
Lacey: (He’d say) Bonham right away.
Led Zeppelin is really easy to be inspired by because they’ve done everything. They don’t really stick to genre, they’re just like, “Let’s just write an amazing song.” That’s kind of the only goal.
Were they an influence that you picked up on your own, or was it from someone else’s record collection you were going through? How did their music first come into your life?
Lacey: Oh God, I don’t even know.
Jason: I can’t really think of anybody that turned me on to Zeppelin. I grew up hearing their music since I was born, and that’s probably true for the rest of the band, as well. There’s something about those songs that resonates, and makes you want to be a rock star.
I’m a person with no musical ability whatsoever, and even I remember the first time I put on a Zeppelin album. I was like, “Holy sh*t! This is something else entirely!”
Lacey: Yeah. Every musician in the band was amazing at what they did, so I think that was part of it, for sure.
Jason, since you’re wearing a Hendrix shirt I know this is going to go somewhere interesting.
Jason: Hendrix was another one like Led Zeppelin. Obviously he did everything that he did before I was even born, and I just grew up hearing about him, and knowing about him. I had some friends who were guitar players way before I was a guitar player and they would go on and on about how great Hendrix was, and how they were trying to play like him. So when I started learning guitar I paid more attention to what he did.
Of course he started using the wah-wah (pedal), and slide guitar, and all the techniques that he sort of revolutionized, and I became really aware of how he turned the guitar into really the main instrument of rock n roll, whereas before it was just one of the rhythm instruments.
Lacey: Yeah, and he made it melodic.
Jason: Yeah, rock n roll became really all about the guitar, and it’s largely because of what Jimi did.
I noticed the first two cards were classic rock, and a few more are going to be. I feel like we’re in the first generations that could grow up on classic rock, because for the generations before us it wasn’t classic yet. Was there anything about the rock music, or even the pop music, when you were growing up that maybe drew you to classic rock instead?
Lacey: I don’t know if I’m necessarily drawn, specifically, to classic rock. I grew up listening to literally everything, every kind of music, it’s just the sound that resonates with us might sound like an old school ‘70s kind of classic rock thing.
Lacey: Chris Cornell is like my biggest vocal inspiration. He was my biggest idol. I loved everything he did.
When he passed, how much did that affect you on a personal level?
Lacey: It was really hard.
It definitely affected me a lot. We did write a song for him on our last album, Wild Abandon. We didn’t heavily promote it, it felt (like it would be) kinda icky to do that, but we wanted to do something. If you want to listen to it, it’s “Take Us Away.” That’s about Chris Cornell.
Was that the first time an artist’s passing really affected you?
Lacey: Me, personally, yeah, that was the first time that I actually really felt it. How about you (Jason)?
Jason: That was definitely a tough one.
There have been a lot of shocking ones – Prince, and Michael Jackson, people die suddenly, and Tom Petty, and it’s like whoa, they weren’t old, what happened?
We’re young enough where these artists are older than us, and it seems like they’ve always been around. When you’re a musician, and you’re inspired by music, and you’re listening to music every single day, a lot of times these people come across as a parent, or a role model.
Lacey: Like a mentor.
Jason: I want to study what they did, I want to be like them, and then suddenly they’re gone. It feels weird.
That was definitely a tough one. We had just seen him, actually, less than a year earlier. We saw him when he was in Madison.
Lacey: Kind of a fun story for that, that same concert our drummer was there, as well, but we hadn’t met him yet. That was pretty cool.
So the band is connected through this concert!
How long after that show did you meet
Jason: It was about a year later that we actually met.
Jason: The Who, another bombastic, English band, very much like Led Zeppelin. The album Who’s Next, when I was growing up I listened to every song on that a million times.
They’re one of those bands where you always think if you’re gonna be in a band you want it to be a band like that, where everybody is really an attention-getting person, every individual is famous in their own right, and really really good at what they do. It definitely made me think about if I was ever in a band I want to have the best singer I can find, I want to find the best drummer I can find. Guys like Keith Moon, and John Bonham, they’re not just everyday persons, they’re not just someone who’s keeping a beat, they’re a famous person who’s real attention-getting, and they keep everybody else performing at their best, as well.
When you have the best possible person at every position, how does ego not become a problem? A lot of times when someone’s the best, they want to be front and center.
Lacey: I don’t know. It just hasn’t been a problem with us. I think we’re not very egotistical people, in general. None of us are really like that. We’re all very supportive of each other, and we all just want everybody to be showcased as much as possible.
Jason: That’s definitely been the downfall of a lot of bands.
With The Who, and Led Zeppelin, it just so happens that everybody in the band was real easygoing, and the egos didn’t clash, and everybody felt like “Well, I get enough attention. You’re getting a lot of attention, but I’m cool with that.” That was kind of their attitude, and part of the reason those bands lasted so long.
Lacey: If you’re gonna be part of this band you gotta be a part of this family. We have to get along.
Jason: You gotta be chill. You don’t necessarily need to smoke a lot of weed, but if you don’t, you should act like you do.
Jason: I think a lot of bands back in the ’60 and ‘70s did.
Lacey: Just so nice and chill.
Jason: All kind of a little bit baked all the time, and just really cool with each other and everyone else. It’s kind of the atmosphere we want.
Lacey: We’re both very influenced by old school, awesome blues-ness. That’s where you hear the blues in our songs.
Jason: Yeah, and when I really got into Led Zeppelin I started to explore the blues greats – Albert King, B.B. King, Robert Johnson – because they were such big influences on Jimmy Page, and he’s very open about all that. So I explored all his influences, and I had records from a lot of those blues greats from the ‘50s and ‘60s. I really loved it.
I added Madonna to this because I wanted to make sure women were represented being that, obviously, you’re a female fronted band. Do you find it in any way strange that so many of your influences from classic rock don’t have women involved?
Lacey: I don’t think it’s strange. It’s been kind of a slow climb in rock music for like ever for women.
There does seem to be an odd “only one at a time,” or “only so many at a time,” type of deal when it comes to women in rock.
Lacey: It’s like – this is the woman rock singer right now. There’s no more allowed for right now.
Is there any way to get more women in at the same time?