New Groove: Quick & Easy Boys
Our current New Groove act is the Quick & Easy Boys. The Oregon-based trio consists of Jimmy Russell (guitar, vocals), Sean Badders (bass, vocals) and Michael Goetz (drums, vocals). The trio formed in 2005 just released its second album Red Light Rabbit. The band describes its sounds to “an amalgamation of funk, psychedelic rock, and garage-soul with a slight pinch of honky-tonk. Imagine the Minutemen, Funkadelic and Willie Nelson rolled into one.” A recent review on Relix.com testifies to the energy of the group’s live show. In this interview the band provides a look at how it all came together and what looks to follow.
Can you talk about the development of the group? How did the three of you meet?
We all met while attending the University of Oregon, in Eugene. We were all in different bands around the scene and got to be friends. Then we all expressed interest in playing together and as our other bands broke up, we found it was the perfect time to start the band. After a year in Eugene as The Quick & Easy Boys, we all moved up to Portland, which is where we currently reside. Jimmy and Sean are from Portland, while Mike is from Des Moines, Iowa.
In terms of your musical backgrounds and interests, what does each of you bring to bear?
Backgrounds and interests: Jimmy and Sean both have been musically active since a young age, while Mike didn’t pick up drums until the end of high school. Jimmy picked up the guitar and Sean learned piano while in elementary school, then both played bass in their high school jazz bands. Sean also played trombone in marching and concert band. They also both had their own rock bands (Jimmy) and punk band (Sean) while in high school. Jimmy also studied music and jazz guitar in college. Mike had a band with some buddies his senior year of high school, but didn’t start playing professionally until he made it to college. Mike’s background as a high energy and charismatic personality translates into the serious walloping of his drums that really helps lead the way in our high energy performances.
As for influences, we all love all types of music. Jimmy’s playing is rooted in the blues, with a number of chops picked up from all the jazz studying he has done, along with a wild Band of Gypsies, Hendrix, Funkadelic shredding influence. Sean grew up more on punk rock before getting into the Grateful Dead in college, so he brings energy and power along with love for jamming, Mike listened to all sorts of rock bands growing up, before also studying some jazz drumming in college. We listen to everything from rock to pop to funk to soul to psychedelic to hip-hop to jazz to whatever. Everything is fair game. We have an extremely high energy sound and draw from a number of upbeat influences
Who writes the band’s music? How it is typically presented to the group and how does it then come together?
Songs are written and sung by both Jimmy and Sean. There are usually three ways it happens: either Sean or Jimmy presents a song that is fully written by one of them, or they work together on a song, or all three of us collectively jam and come up with the basis, then Jimmy or Sean will write vocals and arrange it. Many of the the tunes are worked out while jamming in practice and seeing where it goes. We record it so that we remember and then we keep working at it until the vocals emerge.
How do you approach original songs in the live setting?
We’ve made it a point to make sure that the songs we write in practice can be played live as is. On our first album we did lots of layering with keys and sax and guest vocals, but on the newest album and future songs they are all based on the power-trio. We also jam a lot more live than we do on the albums, and basically just try to rip it up and get the dance party started.
What about covers, can you talk about what songs you toss in from time to time? Who selects them?
We definitely do more originals when we play, but it’s always fun to throw in covers to keep the audience guessing and they love hearing songs they know done in different fashions. Some we like to play are: “Moonage Daydream” by Bowie, “Willie the Pimp” by Zappa, “Heroes and Villains” by the Beach Boys, “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins, “If I Should Fall From Grace with God” by the Pogues, “Fearless” by Pink Floyd, and “Voodoo Child” by Hendrix. All of us are free to bring up anything they think would sound great, but we try to at least make sure that the songs could be done well as a power-trio, and that Sean or Jimmy wants to sing it.
How often do you rehearse? What do you focus on when you get together for rehearsal?
We get together about 3 – 4 times a week to practice, for about 2 – 3 hours per day, then we gig about 2 – 3 days a week when we are around the NW, so we are always working on stuff and jamming. some practices can just be us jamming for hours, while some are spent going over old tunes or learning new ones. it all just depends how we are feeling and what we have coming up.
How would you describe the vitality and support of your local music scene?
The Portland scene has been good to us. We never fit in well with any of the hip shit that has been going on in Portland, so we built our fanbase from the ground up including a wide variance of different types of fun loving folks. We started out playing on a Wednesday night to about 15 of our friends, and now on our last cd release show we had 600 people. We have developed an extremely loyal fan base whom we love and appreciate more than we can express. We did it all grassroots style, with other like-minded bands who don’t easily fit the mold of hipster Portland scene. We have been to an extent, outsiders in the scene, but after working very hard for a long time we are making our way onto more people’s and different scene’s radars in a big way.
Can you talk about some of your performance highlights thus far. Is there a gig (or gigs) that stand out? Why?
Our CD release for our newest album Red Light Rabbit was huge for us, because we really got to see how we draw in Portland. Also, we’ve gotten to be really good friends with The Bridge, and they let us open for them at a big theater show in Baltimore, which was huge for us because that was on our first east coast tour so it was great having that exposure. in fact, all the tours we have done with the Bridge have been great.
You’ve released two studio discs. Can you talk about the experience and also the challenges of bringing your live energy into the studio?
On this latest one we definitely had the mindset of trying to make it sound as we do live, but still retaining a pop format. We jam for sure, but the songs are more concise than they are live. On our first album we did more layering of instruments, but this new album is very power-trio formatted. Stylistically we are all over the place live, as well as in the studio. You have no idea what we will play next, but it all fits under the expansive category of rock and roll.
Any final thoughts to folks across the country who may be hearing about you for the first time from this piece?
If you’ve never heard of us, come see us live when we stop through your town. We are heading out on another national tour in the fall, so there will be plenty of chances for people to hear us. Also, check out our new album! We throw down harder than most bands, and there are only three of us doing it. A comment we get all the time is that people are blown away that there are only three of us on stage and that it sounds like five or six people. With all of us contributing on vocals and all of us being able to jam and solo on our instruments, we def fill out the sound. Whether you see us live or buy the albums, you wont be disappointed.