Photo Credit: Greg E Andrews
Last week found S-E-R-V-I-C-E in Indianapolis and this week they’ll bring their ferocious sound to Chicago and beyond for a handful of dates that round out their October and take them straight into November. They’ll be making audiences pulsate beyond compare with music from their latest, Drag Me. We talked about how the record would fit into the John Waters’ universe, their reputable demeanor, and more!
Kendra: When you two came together and eventually decided to form the band, was it not only because of the connection you shared but also because you felt it was time to start a new chapter away from your previous bands?
Jilly: Playing music together wasn’t so much a decision we made as much as it was a force – something that happened to us. We knew we wanted to work together as soon as we met. And the very first time that we hung out, we wrote a song. Then we walked around New York and took some photos, and they looked like a Leonard Cohen album cover or something. It was like we had already been in a band for a long time. That same night, we thought of the name S-E-R-V-I-C-E and it stuck.
Russell: Yeah, our bands were touring together and the more I saw her perform and sing every night the more I knew we needed to work and write songs together. I’ve done records, writing and performing outside of the Blues Explosion, and I was convinced we could come up with something cooler and better than anything I’d ever done.
Kendra: When listening to your music it’s as if Janis Joplin met Sid Vicious in the pit at Ozzfest in a way. With such a heavy sound, is there anything any of you listen to that would surprise fans? A Taylor Swift album in the mix perhaps?
Jilly: Ha, or Nick Cave met Captain Beefheart standing in line by the supermarket magazines! We listen to just about everything. We’ll jump from Swans to Nina Simone to Bill Monroe to Chelsea Wolfe. And we stay on top of what new artists are doing, including mainstream pop.
I’m a fan of all of the divas; Aretha to Mariah to Bey to Lizzo. I’m not sure anything should be surprising. Hmm…I went through a pretty intense Oasis week recently, albums and Liam interviews. There was a month I could only listen to Sky Ferreira. We’re constantly crate digging as well as searching online for old treasures and new artists. There’s inspiration everywhere.
Russell: I listen to everything and different things every week…that’s good that is, Ha! Right now it’s Michael Nesmith’s solo stuff, Don Covay’s Mercy LP, Brian Eno, Flamin’ Groovies, Bakersfield country (Wynn Stewart, Merle with the inimitable country guitar picking of Roy Nichols), The Kills, Butthole Surfers, Cecil Taylor, The Groundhogs, and ALWAYS Miles, The Stones, Ike and Tina, Dylan, and some straight-up punk like The Germs or proto-punk like Stooges, VU, Television, etc! I’m all over the map all the time.
Kendra: Being fans and appreciators of John Waters, if your own Drag Me got to be the soundtrack to any Waters’ classic which would you choose and why do you feel it’d be a perfect fit?
Jilly: I would let Mr. Waters pick.
Russell: Yep, I agree…but it’s Female Trouble, Desperate Living, and Polyester that are most inspiring to me and that I most humbly imagine our songs could possibly be a part of the soundtrack.
Kendra: Your latest video for “Hey” showcases what people can expect when they head out and see you live. When formulating your live shows, were there any artists you saw back in the day that taught you what and what not to do onstage that you take heavily into consideration now as a performer?
Russell: I’ve simply always been inspired by a live performance where there’s a ton of personality, unique style, unmitigated blistering talent, shamelessness (just don’t give a fuck), and a lot of crazy in effect. IE: seeing Al Green on TV when I was 14, Iggy Pop, James Brown, Jesus Lizard (JSBX actually cut our teeth touring with them nonstop for the first few years we were together as a band), Townes Van Zandt (that I’ve unfortunately only seen on video), Elvis and Jerry Lee obviously, The Dolls, Johnny Thunders, Sex Pistols, and the list goes on and on.
Jilly: Eric, the singer for the New Bomb Turks, would do this thing where he shook his hand and kind of baptized the kids in the audience who were singing along. He did that to me on the Destroy Oh Boy tour and it made a huge impression. I wanted to do THAT!
I took up the good word that rock and roll lives and I pass that on to people with that same move. And someone will take it up from me. My other main influences are Spencer Moody of the Murder City Devils who I got to see live a dozen times and Mark E. Smith of the Fall who I never did. Dang. Both are such sincere poets sharing open wounds. What else is there for a singer? For generally badassery, tone, and vocal prowess, I’m into Alison Mosshart of The Kills, Nick Cave, and PJ Harvey.
Kendra: Speaking of seeing you live, you will be out for a fall run soon. In a few words, what can people expect when heading out to these shows?
Russell: A reputable great live show that rocks!
Jilly: Yeah. Reputable is a good descriptor. We’re a super sincere band. We don’t have a schtick or a “look” or anything. We play songs that we wrote to say something, and we play ’em like we mean ’em because we do. There’s a bit of Stooges danger and a bit of poetry.
Kendra: Once those shows wrap up, what’s the plan as we head into the tail end of 2019 and into 2020?
Jilly: Bigger, better, faster, louder, sadder songs. A lot more touring, and our first single release, followed by a full-length called Drag Me that’s in the can. Can’t wait to get on the road.
October 10 – Empty Bottle, Chicago
October 11 – Turkey Fest, Madison
October 12 – Cactus Club, Milwaukee
October 19 – Lang Lab, South Bend
November 9 – The Spot, Lafayette