Once they become full-fledged rock gods, drummer Raphael Katchinoff, bassist Matthew Volkes and lead singer and guitarist Tim Beavers might have to revamp their back story. That the People's Blues of Richmond met at a local open-mic night does not a legend make. But it did make for some heavy rock 'n' roll rooted in Piedmont blues. The trio understands what it means to come of age in Richmond, so they make no apologies being a dirty band for a dirty city. Their first album, “Hard-On Blues,” contains more sexual innuendo than Led Zeppelin and more alcohol references than George Thorogood, tempered by the same songwriting strength that made those acts classic.
Style Weekly: Tell us about that one song...
Tim Beavers: "Well Well" is an angsty blues and rock and roll song. It's really moody. I wrote the words after I got messy with drugs and girls. It's about how other people react to you (in that state) and how that makes you feel. There's a part [in the song] where I go, "You call me crazy, you call me crazy." Then, it has this big breakdown and it gets really trippy and I say, "Well, maybe I'm not so crazy," but by the end of the trippy part I'm like, "Well, maybe I am."
Matthew Volkes: It's an emotional rollercoaster. It's a good example of our show, because it's got a slow part, but it's also fast and really heavy. This song is cool because it has Justin [Paciocco], the keyboard player from Farm Vegas, and all of us, and Lance [Koehler] from Minimum Wage [Studios], who engineered it. We all got in the booth together for the breakdown part and we all sang the backup vocals.
Raphael Katchinoff: It was insane packing the five of us into this small, non-ventilated booth.
Volkes: Singing in the studio is humbling, too because you can actually hear yourself. It takes an couple of extra tries, but when you do it live, you're just doing it that one time whether it's right or not. [Working with Lance] is like working in an art gallery.
Beavers: Halfway through recording, it really seemed like he understood what we were going for. He was picking out his ideas according to what our ideas might be and what we might like. Stuff we didn't know about in the studio, he helped us connect the dots.
Volkes: It's a very welcoming place, which is the greatest part about it, because we spent three eight-hour days in this one building. We did ten songs, but the album only has nine on it. One song is a cover. We did "For Your Love" by the Yardbirds that's available on our websites. We wanted to make sure the record was all originals.
Have you had any problems with the noise ordinance?
Volkes: Any noise ordinance! We've played out of town plenty of times, but when we play outside, guaranteed by the end of the first set the cops will show up. We played in Knoxville, Tennessee and we were playing in this giant parking lot of an apartment complex for my buddy's twenty-first birthday. This cop comes up behind Tim, puts his chest against Tim's back and actually grabs his guitar and yells, "No! What were you thinking?!"
Beavers: We've gotten noise complaints at bars in Richmond, inside.
Volkes: The cops come in with flashlights, "What's going on, what's going on?"
Beavers: They have decibel counters now that they go around with. If they come anywhere near us, we're definitely way over regulation.
Volkes: My dad's a drummer in Rattlesnake Shake and plays around town. There's one bar that he plays and the guy walks around (with a decibel counter) while they're playing. He'll threaten to kick them out or stop playing if it's too loud.
What would be the band's most embarrassing moment?
Katchinoff: Breaking the SG was one of those "Oh, man" moments.
Beavers: I had taken my guitar in to get it repaired and they said there was nothing wrong with it. (We were at this show in Knoxville and) I started playing and it wasn't working again halfway through the second set, so I took it off and threw it face-down. When I came back for it in the morning I realized it was in two pieces.
Katchinoff: It's always a disaster for us in Knoxville.
Beavers: One time in Blacksburg, we were playing and there were these saw-horses marking off the side of the stage we were playing. I was all drunk and turned into them and fell right on my stomach.
What is your most memorable moment as a band?
Volkes: Playing the Farm Vegas CD release at Hat Factory was a lot of fun. At the end, Farm Vegas did "With a Little Help From My Friends," the Beatles tune. They did the Joe Cocker version and brought all the bands onstage, us and the Harwell Grice Bluegrass Band, and we all sang. If you watch the Youtube video, on the very first beat, I'm off [time].
If there is one thing that would help improve the Richmond music scene, what would it be?
Katchinoff: More free shows. And, I think they should do something with Monroe Park.
Volkes: There's been a lot of local support in Richmond. In the past year it's increased a lot, at least from what I've seen. I feel it's almost unfair to make people pay five bucks to come in (and see a show). So if you only have ten bucks, you pay to see the band and get one drink.
Especially when they're my friends and I can go over to their house and see them play.
Beavers: [Venues] are really spinning their wheels when they have four bands out, so "people will get exposed to other bands." But everybody brings four people, they charge a cover, there's nobody there, it's a really shitty situation for everybody.
Volkes: There should also be more eighteen and up shows. I can understand charging a five dollar cover for under twenty-one. I'd rather have an extra guy running security for underage shows, because they're usually there to see music more than the people who are drinking.
Katchinoff: It's a good scene, it's just really tough sometimes to get people to come out.
Beavers: A lot of the places that have free shows like Cous Cous and Balliceaux, we couldn't bring a demo in there. We can't play in a dining setting.
If your band were to receive an award, what would it be for?
Beavers: Performance? We put on a really fun show.
Katchinoff: Most disheveled band in rock? There's a bunch of gnarlier bands out there.
Volkes: How about rowdiest? We have some really rowdy fans.
Beavers: There's some rowdy bands out there. We don't fuck around with the underground kids, they're pretty rowdy. We're pretty forgiving, we get whiskey and beer spilled constantly on our equipment.
Volkes: I had to send my bass away to get fixed because when we played West Virginia, some kid was pouring whiskey in my mouth as we were playing and it just went all over my bass.
Katchinoff: So, [the award for] most spilled alcohol.
Beavers: Somebody fell off a deck and poured whiskey all over my PA at Hamden-Sydney. We were getting stung by bees the whole night.
People's Blues of Richmond will play a CD release show, with openers Farm Vegas, on June 19th at The Camel. There will be live painting by artist Chapin Mathews and a professional light show from DJ Possum. Doors are at 9pm. Cover is $5 for under 21, which includes a free CD. There is no cover for 21 and up.