Artist on Trial: Introducing Charlie
Introducing Charlie is one of Kansas City’s newest bands. With its debut single “Far Gone” released last month, the four-piece group stands out in the local music landscape. The single introduces a punctuated, progressive rock band with a sweeping orchestral vibe. We talk with three of the band’s four members about the project.
The Deli: Down and dirty: one sentence to describe your music.
Joel Shields: According to some, we're the love child of The Smiths and Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow.
Josh Wallingford: We do the musical things that get us off, together, and as hard as necessary.
Roshelle Pekarek: Violin players wanna rock out too.
The Deli: Give me some background on Introducing Charlie. How did the band come to be?
Joel: Josh, Eric (Carlson), and I had played together in the mid- to late aughts in a band called Ste. Simone. We stayed friends after the split, and we got together last summer to jam for fun. It clicked really well, despite our not having played together for 5 years, and it felt like we had something that wasn't there before. And the timing seemed to work with our other demands, so we decided to give it a go. A couple of months later, I enticed Roshelle to join by telling her that my dogs were talented musicians and would be playing in the band. She stayed despite this lie.
Roshelle: I was misinformed, but then I discovered Josh keeps a keg in the practice space...shrug. Seriously though, this band has been the outlet that has kept me ticking in the midst of a lot of wrong turns. I'm kind of amazed one cute Facebook photo by an acquaintance connected me with a stellar group of guys.
The Deli: Did your time together in Ste. Simone influence your writing at all for this band?
Joel: There are probably subtle similarities because of the people involved, but the two bands have very different vocalists (I played guitar and rarely sang in Ste. Simone). Ste. Simone was definitely darker and heavier than Introducing Charlie. And Roshelle's viola and violin definitely add a unique element to the latter's sound.
Josh: Beyond the members and occasional discussions of what songs we kinda remember, it’s all new. This is a slowly moving amalgamation of our loved and escaped influences.
The Deli: What inspires your music and songwriting?
Joel: Tacos and beer, mostly. We're all avid fans of many kinds of music, so we absorb things from all over the place, which I'm sure comes through in our material. Nerd in, nerd out.
Josh: Tacos and beer and each other. We play well off one another and freely swap and discuss melody and rhythm to make the songs right.
Roshelle: I come from a classical background, so a rock band is a beautiful new animal. The guys set up the feel of the song, and I love the challenge of finding the right fit.
The Deli: You recently released your debut single. Are you working on recording anything else?
Joel: We've recorded a handful of live-tracked songs that are in various states of completion. "Far Gone," the single, is a relatively straightforward rock song for us, so the next couple will probably be a bit more eclectic. One that's nearly done is kind of a lounge lizardy, jazzy jam. Another is a pretty, swaying, 6/8 deal.
The Deli: Where’d the name come from?
Joel: Eric came up with that one. He had been playing this trivia game called You Don't Know Jack and told us that "introducing Charlie" was a Victorian-era euphemism for sex. And since sexual euphemisms are kind of a time-honored tradition in rock music, we instantly knew it had to be our name.
Josh: Crashing the Custard Truck was too long.
Roshelle: I've been glad my mom hasn't asked what it means, knock on wood.
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?
Joel: Pretty basic stuff. Buy the records and attend the shows. Give to Midwest Music Foundation. Throw some bones toward a Kickstarter here or there. KC has been doing much better the last few years at these things, I think.
Josh: People should come see us, buy us a drink and a song or two… Never mind, what Joel said.
The Deli: Who are your favorite local and non-local musicians right now?
Joel: I couldn't possibly come up with a comprehensive list—there are too many—but lately I've been obsessed with the new Mikal Shapiro record (The Musical) and Beauty Pill's new one (Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are). Beauty Pill is a great DC band made up of Dischord veterans, most of whom are accomplished multi-instrumentalists and sound manipulators. It's total headphone bliss.
Josh: Zero 7 and their many collaborators (Sia, Jose) are permanently lodged in my earholes. Elbow and Radiohead haven’t stopped amazing me yet either. Local folks: Steve Tulipana, Dave Gaumé, Billy Smith’s gang, Mr. Marco’s V7 crowd (Kent Burnham, Johnny Hamil, Marco Pascolini, etc). But there are a lot of impressive musical minds in the KC mix right now (Bacon, Gavin Mac, Anna Cole, Mama Bear).
The Deli: What goals does Introducing Charlie have for 2015, and beyond?
Joel: Probably the same as anyone: play shows, put out some music, eat and drink too much. We're all about the simple pleasures.
Josh: Yep. Have fun making music together, both temporal and permanent.
Roshelle: I bought a vocal effects pedalboard that Josh spotted online. It has so many bells and whistles that it makes my acoustic-thinking mind spin. I need to figure out how to make and replicate cool sounds.
The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?
Joel: I was standing on a sidewalk at a rest stop on I-70 when an elderly gentleman walked by and told me, “When you're my age, you never pass a rest stop, waste an erection, or trust a fart.” So I have that creepy bit of wisdom. And now you do too.
Josh: My spirit animal is Ron Swanson. Wherever you go, there you are.
Introducing Charlie is:
Eric Carlson – drums
Roshelle Pekarek – violin, viola
Joel Shields – vocals, guitar
Josh Wallingford – bass
Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays in bands.