That's all Stagger Lee want to be -- the savior that leads you into the land of "shit, yeah, I'm wasted," shake-yer-ass rock and roll. Over beers at Linda's, Excellent discussed the finer points of buttrock with Stagger Lee's A. J. DeLange, Mason Lowe, and John Zicari.
What's more important, the lyrics or the music?
A. J.: The music, straight up.
John: When we play, we want people to have a good time and get drunk and move, so the music is definitely more important.
A. J.: The lyrics are just about having a good time.
What's the dumbest thing you've ever done while drunk?
Mason: I dumped a can of paint on a Miata.
John: That's not dumb; it's a statement.
What's the worst album you've ever loved?
John: Purple Rain. I love that album.
Mason: 100 Percent Ginuwine.
A. J.: Tattoo You. That's pretty bad.
What's the difference between a good musician and a great musician, and are great musicians born or made?
A. J.: I think when you're great the beat opens up and you have more space to work in, like you're not hurrying to get your notes out, or you're more comfortable in your space. I think they're born.
John: Made or born is kind of a weird argument, because great artists are opened up to influences of other musicians, and they had to be born with a certain sensitivity or disposition to appreciate their predecessors or whatever. You could argue it either way, because these musicians who are born great are also made by their ability to be influenced by other great musicians.
What's the best thing that could happen to your band in the next year, the next month, the next week?
A. J.: To get my van running killer. Yeah, definitely to get the van all cherried up so we can go on tour. I've got my priorities, ya know, and I'm in no hurry for anything else as long as we get that van up and rolling.
Have you recorded anything?
John: We have a single coming out on Brown Paper Bag Series. It should be out in April or May at the latest.
You've only been a band for less than a year?
A. J.: Yeah, we all had similar tastes in music and we started the band because we wanted to play, you know, rock and roll, which hasn't really been played lately in the Seattle scene. At first I was trying to do something new with the guitar, but it's all been done. I mean, it's always been about the basics; we're not making up any new chords.
So you are not particularly worried that people won't think Stagger Lee's the most original band in the world?
John: No. It's not original at all.
A. J.: We're not worried about that because nobody is original. We don't even care, and we just want to play. There's nothing good on the radio; there's nothing good on the TV; you know what I mean? We live in an indie-rock world, and there's nothing good about electronica, and we're the only ones banging when there are, like, 10 people at our shows. Electronica -- whatever, man. It's like punk rock, right? Why did punk rock start? It's because all there was to listen to was Pink Floyd and the Allman Brothers, so they started doing something else, which was punk rock, and now that's used in all kinds of commercials. And now what we're doing is punk rock -- our ethic is, anyway, because we're playing music that's out of line for Seattle. That's where the '80s buttrocker bands went wrong -- they didn't think they could get away with it here. How many bands burnt out way too early because they sold out to a corporate system, and the corporation didn't know how to push them on an audience? There's no grassroots buildup or nothin'. Take Metallica: In the beginning they didn't have even one video or get played on a lot of radio stations, yet every kid in high school had a Metallica T-shirt. That's grassroots.
So it sounds like you want to play music that makes people have a good time.
A. J.: It's like this: What do you put on when you go home? Do you put on your fucking new indie rockers or do you put on fucking Zeppelin and get stoned? We just want to play what we like to hear on the record player. Straight up, that's all I want to do; I'm not trying to change anyone's fucking mind. Leave that to the Internet.
So do you have any aspirations of stardom?