Artist of the day: Electric Landlady
Electric Landlady is a septet resplendent with ska overtones and an arsenal of instruments. Six of its seven of the members are still in high school, but don’t let that dissuade you. Musically wise beyond their years, they explore far beyond the constraints of their supposed genre.
Electric Landlady are: Jonah Hollander, guitar and vocals; Mike Martin, guitar and vocals; Colin Mulligan, bass and vocals; Mike Moody, drums; Julia Scheiber, saxophone; Bob Stuelke, saxophone; and Josh Johnson, trombone.
The group will perform at the Ska Homecoming 2013 alongside Victims of Circumstance, Four Minute Warning, Can’t Do It and more at Epic Problem, 4215 E Columbus Drive, Tampa. The show is 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10.
Scheiber, Martin, Mulligan, and Moody spoke with us in their converted garage/practice space.
How long have the Electric Landlady been together?
Moody: Probably coming up on, what, three years?
Martin: They have for about three years, but in its current incarnation probably about a year and a half, as we’ve been playing with the arrangements and set that we have now.
What is the origin of the group?
Martin: I worked at a place called Rock 'n’ Blues Academy, that’s now the St. Pete Music Factory, which is a music school. Mike, Colin and Jonah, were all students. We put together a student band. For years I’ve been putting them together and directing them: I taught theory and arrangements, how to take songs apart and put them back together. I taught them for about close to a year. So they started playing shows, and got booked for a full night at Three Birds Tavern, and they had played three and a half hours. They got into a spat with their rhythm guitarist. I was the only one that knew any of the songs, so I had to fill in and it stuck. That’s where it started as its current incarnation. That was May of 2012. We picked Julia up last October, and we added a baritone sax player.
Who does most of the arranging and orchestration?
Muligan: It’s probably Mike (Martin). We come in with a rough idea, and Jonah will come in with a music structure and certain riffs or a chord progression that he likes. We obviously write our own parts, but then for some of the bigger ideas, Mike (Martin) will throw in more interesting parts or tweak something slightly to give it more finesse.
I was really impressed by the harmonic strength of your sax arrangements.
Martin: All of them know about music theory. Mike’s (Moody) a drummer and he’s advanced in music theory as most pianists or woodwind players in concert bands. We all have a pretty acute knowledge of the structure of chords and how to put together harmonies ’cause we spend a lot of time with it. So we’re nerds, as far as that goes.
Your music has ska overtones without being strictly genre-specific. What is your musical approach that makes you unique?
Moody: One of the reasons our band isn’t strictly ska is we don’t listen to the same things, we all come from different backgrounds.
Martin: One of the things that’s really important to us is that we like the way the entire arrangement sounds. We listen to a lot of jazz, so what we wanna do is make the sound as dense, interesting and as lush as possible.
What is the biggest challenge being in a seven-piece band?
Scheiber: I write most of the horn parts, so teaching them to the other horn players…
Martin: She’s pretty much the horn master.
Scheiber: I’m the horn master, I guess. (laughs)
Is it daunting to perform at bars when a majority of the band is underage?
Martin: When we were on tour, there were instances where we were on stage and some one would bring us a big plate of cocktails, and I’d be looking down like “Oh! Thanks. Thanks again. Thanks again. These are all mine.”
Moody: Once, one woman was talking to my mom and bought us a plate of — I don’t know what they were, ’cause I didn’t get to drink ’em…
Martin: They were long island iced teas!
Moody: Oh, I’m sorry that I don’t know. The woman was convinced I was at least 23 years old, and my mom was like, “Oh, no, they’re only 17 or younger.” Damn it, mom.
Scheiber: They hug us and they love us.
-- Aaron Lepley, tbt*