Archie and the Bunkers are a brother based duo from Cleveland. The duo pound out intense waves of “vintage” sound along with the spirit of punk with Emmett on drums and Cullen on keys and both sharing vocal duties. Their sound has been described as Hi-Fi Organ Punk.
Emmett and Cullen were kind enough to do an interview for Blown Speakers before they head off for their first European Tour next month.
BLOWN SPEAKERS: Please start from the beginning and tell us how the idea for the band came about. How did the sound of the band come together? How did you decide on to use vintage equipment for the main instruments?
EMMETT: Cullen and I have always been playing music together. Ever since we were little, we were either learning other people’s songs or trying to write our own. The sound wasn’t planned or anything like that. We first started looking for a guitarist (Cullen was playing bass guitar at the time). Nothing was working out, so he switched to keys. The “vintage” sound is just something we like. Things of the past, whether it be music, art, film, etc, has always been a huge influence on us.
BLOWN SPEAKERS: Did you start doing shows first before the band got signed? How did you hear about Dirty Water Records? Were you surprised that a label overseas wanted to sign the band?
CULLEN: We started doing shows long before we were signed to Dirty Water Records. We found out about Dirty Water Records when we were searching for a label. They seemed to be the best rock ‘n’ roll label across the pond so we sent them a demo.
EMMETT: We sent them three songs we recorded in our basement. Very low tech.
BLOWN SPEAKERS:How does the band balance time on music and school work?
EMMETT: Being home schooled gives us a lot more time and flexibility.
CULLEN: If we’ve got a gig during the week, we can always sleep in the next day and make up the school work later.
BLOWN SPEAKERS: Besides music what other things inspires your music?
EMMETT: Even though music of many different genres is the main drive, I get much inspiration from old films from the ’30s-’50s, artwork, and from my own thoughts, feelings and experiences.
CULLEN: Mostly girls, vintage movies, and television. That’s the kinda stuff that songs are made of.
BLOWN SPEAKERS: Do you guys enjoy playing live? Is there ever a time where you two just get nervous before or during the set? Does the band enjoy recording as well? What was it like recording your first record?
EMMETT: Performing is the best part! I’m never nervous before or during a show. Recording is also a fun process. It’s hard work, but the outcome is worth it!
CULLEN: Playing live is definitely the most exciting part of being in Archie and the Bunkers. I have never felt nervous before or during a set, I guess it just isn’t in my nature. Recording the first record with Jim Diamond was a real treat. It was a phenomenal experience that I will never forget.
BLOWN SPEAKERS: Are you guys surprised that your fan base is of all ages? Do your fans that are around your age understand your music influences or do some of them think that your band has created a whole new sound?
EMMETT: It’s really cool that a lot of different age groups enjoy our sound. Some people our age come out, which is great! I don’t think many kids even really care about music anymore in general. It’s all about youtube and video games.
BLOWN SPEAKERS: Besides playing drums and organ do either of you play any other instruments? How do you decide on who does the vocals for each songs?
EMMETT: Nope. I’m just a drummer. As far as the vocals, whoever does the arrangements to the melody first I guess. No real method to the madness.
CULLEN: I play the bass and the guitar, but not in as serious of a manner as the organ. The organ is the only instrument that is really important to me.
BLOWN SPEAKERS: Were your parents always supportive of your music? Did they introduce you to different music or other creative forms of art that have inspired your band growing up? Have both of you introduced your parents to new music that they’ve never heard before?
CULLEN: Yes, our parents have always been supportive of us in whatever we pursue.
EMMETT: They’ve been there when we really needed them the most. Mom was a ballerina/ballet instructor, and Dad used to be a drummer but is now focusing more on his art career. We’ve shown them music they haven’t heard; but without them sharing good music with us, we wouldn’t have the same foundation as we do now.
BLOWN SPEAKERS: How did the band’s image come about with the suits/skinny ties/sunglasses/hats?
EMMETT: I wouldn’t necessarily say that those clothes define our image. We wore that on our record and have for several shows, but we like to mix the apparel up every now and again.
CULLEN: The suit and tie were more like props for our album cover and the “I’m Not Really Sure What I’m Gonna Do” music video than a precise image. Not to say I haven’t worn them live, but I usually don’t. The sunglasses and beret are sort of my tribute to the legendary musician Captain Sensible. I wear sunglasses at nearly every show.
BLOWN SPEAKERS: Do you think the band will explore doing soundtracks or making films out of your own music in the near future?
EMMETT: We haven’t had an opportunity to have our music in the movies yet, but I sure can’t see a downside! We have a licensing agreement with Wipeout Music, so if anyone’s interested, we’d love to be in your movie!
CULLEN: I think the realm of soundtracks or making films could be very interesting, but I don’t know if I see that in our near future.
BLOWN SPEAKERS: The organ keyboards in the band’s music kind of give it a ’50s/’60s sound. Can you tell me about little bit about them? What about the drums? Are they modern or a vintage set? What other vintage equipment does the band use?
EMMETT: I play out with a cheap 1960s four-piece Japanese kit right now. It sounds pretty good, and it can take a beating.
CULLEN: Interestingly enough, I don’t really use vintage organs. I find them very undependable. The newer organs have equally amazing sounds which rival the older ones, and are extremely reliable.
BLOWN SPEAKERS: Your band will be touring Europe this summer. Where will you be playing? Will any of your live shows be recorded? Does your band get a lot of press overseas as well? If all goes well this summer do you think the band will like to travel to other countries to play as well? What other countries would the band be interested in playing?
EMMETT: We are playing two festivals. The first one is in Bourges, France (Cosmic Trip), and the other one is in Bordon Hampshire UK (Hipsville a Go Go). A&TB has been very lucky to receive some good Euro press in some bigger publications. There’s a really good chance of us heading back to Europe this year. I’d love to visit Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Austria, but anywhere they’ll have us is where we want to be!
CULLEN: We are playing a total of fifteen dates on our tour, two of which are festivals. Our band receives a decent amount of press overseas, partially because of our label Dirty Water Records, who are based in London. If everything goes well this summer, we are planning to go back to Europe. I think it would be very interesting to play in Japan, it seems to have a great music scene.
Blown Speakers: Has the band begun working on any new songs? Will there be any special guest musicians on future material? Any added new instruments on any future material?
EMMETT: We are always working on new material. No special guests yet. As far as added instruments, A&TB will always be drums and organ, but I’d love to throw in a saxophone or theremin on a track or two.
CULLEN: At the moment, songwriting has slowed down due to sickness and tour preparations, but we never completely stop. As far as extras are concerned, you never really know till you have a song in mind or are in the studio.