Congratulations to New Baboons, our first Artist of the Month for the new year! Take the sounds of foundational rock bands and add in a few groovy washes of ‘60s psychedelia and you have New Baboons, an up-and-coming contender in KC’s rock ‘n roll scene. Read our Q&A with a few of the members, and check out their music.
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music.
Elliott Seymour: We play rock and roll with melodies, hooks, and choruses.
Adam Scheffler: New Baboons are a supple pillow of influence dragging over 60 years of crumpled rock ‘n roll bedding.
Tom Livesay: I guess I would describe our band as sounding more like rock from the late ‘60s to the early ‘90s than it does to anything since then.
The Deli: Give me some background info on New Baboons. How did the band come to be? Also, you used to be called Vidal Baboon. Why the name change?
Elliott: We all work together. One day Adam and I got together to run through some old songs we had each written. We just asked Tom and Josh if they were interested and we spent a few days just playing for hours. It fit really nicely together, so we just kept trying songs that Tom, Adam, and I had written over the years. Shockingly, very few people seemed to get the Vidal Baboon reference, so Josh suggested New Baboons as an easy switch. It has a rather evolutionary sound to it, I think. I was outvoted on my choice: The Pelican's Briefs...
Adam: We’ve been together for about 2 years, ever since we all talked about playing music together at Half Price Books where we all work. We changed our name because Vidal Baboon is a bad name for a band.
The Deli: What inspires your music and songwriting? What is your songwriting process? Does one person write everything or is it collaborative?
Elliott: Tom, Adam, and I write our songs individually. We then present them to the band and we all just bang them out. I am usually inspired by whatever music I happen to be obsessing over at the moment. I'll just hear a progression or part of a melody or just catch a mood. I'll just play something over and over until it starts to take shape. I'll work with it until it finally sounds like a complete song. I usually come up with the lyrics as I'm going. I kind of dread writing lyrics.
Adam: Either Elliott, Tom, or myself write a song on our own, then we kind of come together and flesh out the parts. Then we play it to josh (ze drummer) who comes at it from a structural point of view, and then we flesh out tempos, mood changes, and vocal parts.
The Deli: What have been your greatest accomplishments as a band?
Elliott: I think recording an album in my basement on a little 8-track was pretty cool. It certainly isn't perfect, but it has a sound that lends itself well to the type of songs we chose to record. They are all pretty melodic and classically structured, so I think the songs speak for themselves. I'm pretty happy that we were able to play recordBar a few times before it closed. That place was the coolest and I think we're all pretty sad to see it go.
Adam: Winning this here Deli KC thing and being able to play this long with everybody working at the same place.
The Deli:Tell us about your debut LP. What can listeners expect? What future plans do you have for getting your music out there?
Elliott: Our first album, New Baboons, is pretty representative of our collective influences—mainly rock and roll from the ‘50s and ‘60s, with a little ‘90s sensibility thrown in there. People tend to hear Velvet Underground and ‘60s psych or garage. I hear some Elephant 6 sounds, especially in Tom's songs. We are going to record about 11 new songs at Temple Sounds recording studio sometime in the next month, so I think our next album will have a much different sound. The songs will still be the strength of what we do, but our production value should go up a few notches.
Adam: The first album is a collection of songs everyone had lying around, and then once we connected, we added new songs to the mix. Also, Paige Newcomer played keys on all that and she added a lot to the sound of that album. Expect well-formed rock n roll songs that people call “quite good.”
Tom: I think our first album has lots of variety, partly due to the 3 songwriters. I hear VU, Television, and Rolling Stones influences, plus some garage band psychedelia, disco, and Motown. Sometimes there's some newer-sounding stuff mixed in there too.
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
Elliott: It's about a sense of friendship and community to me. We share venues and audiences and often hang out in the same places, you know, it's really cool. I use Bandcamp and Soundcloud to keep up with local bands, as well as patronizing local record stores and going to shows. Being part of something like that is really cool. I think only the most hipster of hipsters could be cynical about it.
Adam: Going to shows, buying things made locally, connected with other musicians through social media or one's physical form.
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now? Non-local?
Elliott: Locally speaking, I love Thunderclaps. Those guys are friends and we've played a lot of shows together. I love rock and roll bands that are saturated in their influences. It just sounds so classic and pure. I'm also impressed with what I've heard from The Conquerors. They make songs with the ‘60s sensibility of singles, when singles still meant something. We've really enjoyed playing with SquidsKC—they are pros, and Dan Jones is a great songwriter. As far as non-local, I'm lately into rockabilly like Johnny Burnette, Eddie Cochran and Stray Cats. Also digging Dion and Buddy Holly.
Adam: I enjoy Phantom Head quite a bit and Thunderclaps has been one of our bad-boi backbones. Non-local I'd say U.S. Girls’ new album Half Free had tickled me lately.
Tom: My favorite bands are The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Kinks, but I've been inspired by Pavement, Cheap Trick, and The Pixies on certain songs. I don't get out enough to know what local bands I like other than SquidsKC.
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?
Elliott: I'd love to play with The Velvet Underground and The Kinks. Brian Wilson would play piano instrumentals between sets and David Bowie would do some miming.
Adam: Uh... I guess opening up for 10cc and Frank Ocean with Scott Walker closing it all up. Shit ya.
Tom: My fantasy bill would be opening for The Kinks and McCartney/Starr.
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?
Elliott: Lennon/Macca (one hybrid face), Lou Reed, Brian Wilson and David Bowie. The Beatles are my favorite band and their influence is incalculable. Paul's bass lines and the way they used the studio and Ringo's fills and George's melodies and John being John, It's all so brilliant.
Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground for the massive grooves that they were capable of—Sister Ray is still untouched in that regard. Brian for giving us such beautiful sounds and David Bowie for being the one-of-a-kind musical icon that he was and will always be. All of his characters and mythologies are so much of what got me interested in rock and roll to begin with. He is endlessly fascinating.
Adam: Lou Reed, ‘nuff said. Damo Suzuki from CAN. 1960s-era P.P. Arnold because I could listen to her voice all day. I guess last it would be Charles Mingus because I wanted to round this out nicely with some of my faves.
Tom: I would probably have Lennon, McCartney, Ray Davies, Jagger, and Richards. I know that's one too many.
The Deli: What other goals do you have for 2016 and beyond?
Elliott: My goals are to have more band practices (always!) and play some different venues than we have. I want to get our second album out and listen to more music than I did in 2015. I think a split 7" with the Thunderclaps would be great.
Adam: Goals and rock n roll have nothing to do with each other. Just make music.
Tom: My hope is to get more shows, record a second album that's better than the first, and just keep getting better.
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
Elliott: Buy a lot of David Bowie records and listen to them.
Adam: Please learn from the world's wealth of point of views and catch yourself when you’re selfish, treat others better than you'd treat yourself, listen to New Baboons, listen to Frumpy Congo Love that's me, and stop being cool or trying cuz you're fucking everything up.
New Baboons are:
Elliott Seymour - guitar, vocals
Adam Scheffler - guitar, vocals
Tom Livesay - bass, vocals
Josh Klipsch - drums
Your next chance to see New Baboons live will be at Josey Records on February 26 with Braggers and The Red-Headed League. Check them out!