El Paso Music Scene

Archer Avenue Interview

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by Charles Hurley


EPMS: What city are y'all based out of?

Dave Volk: We don't really have a home any more.

Jack: Well, we all live in different cities. I spend most of my time in Houston, Mark lives in El Paso, Dave lives in Phoenix, basically, Steve lives in San Antonio. That's where we all met. Different jobs took us to different places. We try to think of ourselves as a Texas band.

EPMS: How do you make it work?

Jack: One key thing to this band is mutual admiration. Before we played music together, we were fans of each other's bands, going back two or three years. I saw Face Down about once a month. Mark and Dave would see my band. Everybody loves what the others bring in. We would be fans of each other anyhow.

Jack: I know I'm not going to find a better guitar player.

Dave Volk: We keep in touch by phone, e-mail. We only get together when we're touring.

EPMS: It sounds like Spinal Tap. Does everybody take separate limos to the gigs?

Dave Volk: It's not like that...

Marc Sauceda: We take the take same limo...

Jack: LOL. Steve comes in a stretched El Camino.

Dave Volk: In all seriousness, we recorded the music first, what's now on our EP, Left of the Dial. That kick-started us into a band.

Jack: It tends to happen that way. Lots of bands would rehearse, and nail the tunes first. We sort of layed them down, then figured out the live aspect. It was ass-backwards.

EPMS: How many months do you tour a year?

Jack: It's complicated. Most of the year, weekends here and there. Dave is studying law, I teach high school, we bounce back and forth btween our home towns. Holidays and summers, it's pretty vigorous. We do it in three-week spurts. During the school year, it seems like we're touring, but we're not on the road twelve months a year.

Dave Volk: It gives us time to promote the show more effectively. The shows have more people.

Jack: We don't have (only) six hours to promote a show. Having lead-in time for promotion works well.

Dave Volk: We function as an entity on the business side; we're looking forward to not having to do our own accounting and payroll.

Jack: We joined bands as teens to avoid responsibility, but at a higher level, it's more responsibility. It will be nice to focus on music. I'm tired of calling record stores.

EPMS: How did you come up with the name of the band?

Marc Sauceda: We were Radio One, then we couldn't keep that name, but we unexpectedly had to come up with a name. We e-mailed lists of names back and forth. I saw (the movie) The Royal Tenenbaums, the address was 111 Archer Avenue. It didn't stick out for me, but it made it to the top of everybody's list.

Jack: You see Archer Avenue, it keeps us from being pigeon-holed. If we had a genre-specific band name, I don't know if we'd get away with what we do.

EPMS: Do you play different kinds of music?

Jack: It's basically rock 'n' roll. Our definition of rock 'n' roll might be broader than a lot of people's. It's close to indie. The styles of The Kinks and The Beatles.... It's more to keep ourselves interested. We've all played live for several years.

Marc Sauceda: It's nice to play an hour set, and cover country, hard rock...

EPMS: What country music do you play?

Jack: Well, in our live show, it came cross as a rock band attempting to play country. It is a big part of who we are, but only in the last few months has it clicked. We play country songs as country songs, old skool; there's not anything wrong with Nashville. I like Johnny Cash, Buck Owens...

Marc Sauceda: The Bakersfield sound.

Jack: A 60s, California country sound.

EPMS: You have the Dwight Yoakum connection with your producer...

Jack: Pete Anderson played with Dwight Yoakum for twenty-five years. Pete is now with Moot Davis. Mark was fortunate to be a fan of Pete for years, and he formed a relationship with him. For us, we just hoped to get a show with him. We opened for them at Moontime Pizza. We talked, and just fell into this opportunity. It didn't seem like an opportunity we'd get again.

EPMS: How many CDs have you done?

Jack: We have one self-released EP; forthcoming, the debut of our full-length. We're in complete control. We're going to take our time to put it together... We've done the tracking, we're not just going to fire this off.

Dave Volk: We had three really great producers. Of course, Pete Anderson as executive producer. Also, Tony Rambo as producer/engineer, who has worked on about two hundred and fifty major releases. He's worked with The Donnas and The Toadies.

Tony produced us, all the way from finding the right tambourine.

Jack: He knew what we were capable of. He was very good about pushing us to the limit of our ability.

Dave Volk: Also an editor named Sally Browder.

Jack: Basically, any record in the 90s, on the Epitaph label, she worked on. Bad Religion....

Dave Volk: The three of them make up the production team at Little Dog Records in Burbank, California, where we recorded, at their studio, named Dog Bone Studio. It was where the earthquakes hit; we had quakes hit while tracking the drums.

Marc Sauceda: We had to take a smoke break when the earthquake started.

EPMS: Do you have a lot of groupies?

Jack: Well, the answer is, yes and no. We attract a lot of females due to our style.

Marc Sauceda: We had a girl follow us.

Dave Volk: A stripper.

Jack: From San Antonio to El Paso. The girls are there, but we're not taking...

Dave Volk: Except me.

EPMS: Who is the best band you've played with?

Jack: I have to say Pete; he produced our record. Also, The Wilders. They're amazing. A honky-tonk band, acoustic double bass, acoustic rhythm, no amps, they all sing into one mic. Also Leo's Invention, in Phoenix.

Dave Volk: They're not around any more.

Jack: It's hard to find a good pop/rock band to play with, so we play with every type of band. For my money, The Wilders.

Dave Volk: We did a show with The Wilders at Moontime also.

Jack: They had good pizza there.

Dave Volk: We're playing in August in El Paso.

Jack: Right now, I want to go home and nap.

Marc Sauceda: We're letting a lot of people down if we screw up.

Our EP is available at All That Music, plus our site.

Dave Volk: Pete told us, it's easy to get into stores; the hard part is to get the CD out of the stores.

Marc Sauceda: You just have to cut a check.

Jack: You can get in with a distribution deal, or pay directly.

Dave Volk: You've still got to sell them.

EPMS: How long has the band been together?

Jack: Combining with the two names, two years.

Marc Sauceda: Since January of 2004.

Dave Volk: We started recording together May of '03.

EPMS: What's the best city for music?

Jack: El Paso.

Dave Volk: El Paso is where Pete discovered us.

Marc Sauceda: But we've only played here three times.

Jack: All of our luck comes here.

Dave Volk: Burbank is bad-ass.

Jack: The Sunset Strip is really cool. It's our dream place to play. The Bowery, in New York City would be, but we've never played there.

EPMS: Is there "pay-to-play" in LA?

Dave Volk: We had no time to play; we only had one night off.

Jack: We went to The Roxy. The Whisky-a-Gogo. We've encountered pay-to-play in Houston. It depends on the genre. If you're local, you have to put down a deposit; you get it back if there's enough of a crowd.

EPMS: Jack, what do you teach?

Jack: I teach sophomore English, and American Lit.

Rock 'n' roll is inherently stupid. If you try to get too smart, you lose the beauty. It's about drinking beer, trying to get the girl to go out with you. If you get too far away from that, you kill the beauty. You're walking a line...

Marc Sauceda: But you can't be too dumb, either.

EPMS: Do you play multiple shows in each city?

Jack: We try to. We did two shows in San Antonio last time. next jaunt out, we'll play San Antonio, San Marcos, New Braunfels... Five shows in the same region. Any place that'll give you the door.

EPMS: Dave, what are you going to do after you graduate law school?

Dave Volk: I'm going to graduate, and be the drummer of Archer Avenue. The opportunities we have now are too good.

Jack: It definitely benefits us to have an in-house law student in band.

Dave Volk: We recorded a cover song last week; there is a legal element to that. I know about it through school. Luckily, I learned about it. I'll be a drummer that has a law license. That's what I always wanted to be.

EPMS: Will you start full-time touring?

Jack: I sure hope so.

Dave Volk: Realistically, starting in the summer of '06.

Jack: We have another year or so to lay the groundwork. I'm going to finish out the school year. I'm not going to leave people high and dry.

EPMS: Generally, how do you prepare for a national tour over a year?

Jack: It starts off with packaging records. Second, promotion: radio, print. The first time for us, we're doing paid ads.

Dave Volk: The marketing element.

Jack: Mark has an opportunity to be a touring guitarist in the fall. Probably in the fall, I'd tour on weekends, sometimes with Dave on guitar. He's a multi-instumentalist.

Dave Volk: We have to find the right agent.

Jack: We have to secure a booking agent so we don't have to take care of packaging, promotion.

Dave Volk: Packaging, promo, get a booking agent.

Jack: We're at a place now, where we cease to look at touring as just money-making. It's less about income, more about how to get our music out to people.

EPMS: Thanks for talking to EPMS.

Dave Volk: (deadpan) I just want to say that, these are really great questions...

EPMS Note: inside joke.

Jack: It's also great that you don't take bands' BS. We really appreciate it. We view this as an opportunity for us, you're helping us out.