St. Louis Punks Form Factory, a Springsteen Tribute Band: Tonight at the Heavy Anchor
The folks at the Heavy Anchor have been consistently booking solid shows -- both local and national -- since it opened earlier this year, and their lineup tonight is no exception. While a solo set by Tom May of Pennsylvania's punk-rock purists the Menzingers (Epitaph Records) would be perfectly intriguing in its own right, St. Louis punkers and Bruce Springsteen aficionados should take special note of the band tucked on the bottom of this bill: Factory, an all-Springsteen cover band. The project features Joe Jordan (singer and guitarist for RFT's "Best Punk Band" of 2011, Black for a Second), Dan Johanning (guitarist for the Disappeared) and Travis Scheaffer (drummer for Better Days). RFT Music recently caught up with Jordan and Johanning via e-mail to discuss this ambitious endeavor.
Michael Dauphin: How did this idea for the two of you to collaborate on a Springsteen project come about?
Joe Jordan: I was going to play a solo show, but I despise singing and playing at the same time. So I planned to ask Dan to join me. Since he is a fellow Springsteen nut, I figured we'd do a cover or two. Then I thought it'd be a hell of a lot more fun to do an all Bruce set instead of the turds I'd written.
It's obviously a semi-ballsy move to try to recreate some of the most sacred rock & roll around. Did you two discuss the risk involved here?
Dan Johanning: Yeah, at the first rehearsal we agreed that if it wasn't sounding like we were doing it some kind of justice, we weren't going to do it. It's extremely risky, but fuck it. Standing on a stage in any capacity is risky. You make yourself vulnerable to peoples' opinion, and I'm sure the opinions will vary, but I don't care. I'm gonna play as hard and honest as I always do.
JJ: It does make you nervous playing such beloved music, but it isn't more sacred to anybody else than it is to us. I already know that all my self-consciousness will come from there being a few hard-core fans there, regardless of how many folks show up.
What were some of the thoughts and considerations with regard to picking a setlist?
JJ: Honestly, we love all of his tunes, so the set is basically the stuff that we already knew or could learn easily. Springsteen's is like a lot of great pop music where it sounds simple, but when you deconstruct it there are a lot of quirky, unexpected movements.
DJ: We wanted to do a true Springsteen fan setlist: a few classics and a few the casual listeners might not know. But in Boss tradition, this is a set for a true Bruce fan.
How does Springsteen influence how you two write for your other bands?
JJ: Dan's music is so passionate, and he's very meticulous, and I see a lot Bruce in that. There's a drive and a work ethic in him that is very uncommon. As for me, I really struggled writing lyrics until I got into Springsteen and Tom Petty. I had to learn that if you really care about the subject of the song, you don't want to be overly cryptic or verbose.
DJ: I'm not sure he personally influences the way I write, but I can say that both Joe and I give everything we have when playing a show. It's all out on the table, head first into the hurricane, just as Bruce does.
Both of your full-time bands focus (mostly) on punk rock. Where do you think Springsteen fits into the punk-rock spectrum?
JJ: I'd say the Boss fits into the punk spectrum in a polarizing way. There are a lot people that focus on his "fifteen minutes" in the mid-eighties and don't even realize how dissenting the lyrics to "Born in the U.S.A." really are. I certainly don't blame them though -- why spend time trying to understand something if you know you don't like it?
DJ: Listen to the song "No Surrender." It's a goddamn punk song if I've ever heard one. Fearless, relentless, never giving in, never giving up...
What kind of lineup will you guys have for this set?
DJ: The lineup is Joe and I on guitars, and Travis from Better Days on drums. Stripped down, but all the heart.
Is this a one-off thing, or do you have intentions of pursuing this project?
JJ: There's been some talk about trying to find others to do a full band in the future though. My cell is 314-974-4653!
DJ: I'd love to do AUCW with a full E Street type of band. Maybe do "Darkness" in its entirety? We'll see how this goes, though.