Artimus Pyledriver - Circus Artimus

Interview with: Dave Slocum
By: Joe Who?

 Behold the South... A region of our country responsible for producing some of the best known and most genuine musical legends ever. Dating as far back as the fifties, "Southern Rock" has borrowed from such diverse genres as blues, country, and folk, but at the same time continues to to give back, by influencing a lot of bands to this day. Case in point: Atlanta, Georgia's, bluesy, boogie, sludge, stomp ass rawkers... Artimus Pyledriver.

Named after Lynyrd Skynyrd's drummer Artimus Pyle, Artimus Pyle(driver) indeed have a firm grasp of being under the influence, so to speak, with the southern rock aspect coming into play yet they hold their own by combining heavy elements of metal along with it. The result is a potent 100 proof, power packed punch! Fans of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Nazareth, and Corrosion Of Conformity take note... your favorite new band has arrived!

I talked to frontman Dave Slocum for a few minutes after catching their performance in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on the "Triple Threat Tour". We discussed; the new album, inspiration, misconceptions, plans for future domination, and more...

Wormwood Chronicles: Well, first off, tell me about the band, How did you guys all meet each other and when did all this start?

Dave Slocum: Well, I guess about five years ago, Jimmy (Hall - guitars...) and I kicked around together in a couple bands and we met the rest of the guys along the way. Everybody's pretty much been on the Atlanta scene for ten or fifteen years. We've all rehearsed in the same rehearsal spaces and been friends forever. Jimmy and I wanted to put together a boogie rock band, we were like - Hey, I know this dude, I know this dude... So that's pretty much how we got it together.

WC: So did you and Jimmy play in any big name notable bands prior to forming Artimus Pyledriver?

DS: No... shit, no! Actually Jimmy played in a really cool band called Bible Belt Byproduct. They were like a sludge kind of band and were really heavy.

WC: I heard that Dez from Devildriver is credited for helping you guys sign to your current label (which is DRT). How did he become aware of you guys? Did he catch one of your shows?

DS: No, actually he's been a friend of mine for probably about ten years. We go way back simply because my wife's known him since the early nineties, when she used to live in L.A. So basically we've always hung out whenever he comes into town, you know?... and I always played in bands anyway. He would always say - Hey man, if you ever get some shit going, hollar at me. We were obviously on much different wavelengths as far as music goes but this last thing that we had, I just kicked it to him one day. I was like - Hey, check this out, this little Belgian label put it out, check it out, and he really dug it. So he helped us out.

WC: Does Dez own the label you're on? Does he manage you guys?

DS: Yeah, actually Dez is part of our management but he also owns the label Sever Records, which is the label we're signed to... we're actually on DRT, which is a subsidiary of Universal.

WC: You guys have a new album out right now that totally rocks! Were any of the songs on the album older ones that have been around for awhile?

DS: Actually, yeah. You know what, man? We recorded this album probably four years ago and just kind of sat around with it for awhile. We recorded it in two days and there wasn't a whole lot of production in it at all. We just went in and did it and sat around on it for a year and a half.Then we let this Belgian label release it and now DRT has released it. I guess they're gonna get us in the studio again in March.

WC: What inspires your songs?

DS: They're pretty much about real shit that goes on in our lives, you know... building cars, and...

WC: Like on the song "Swamp Devil"?

DS: Yeah, I built a 68 Dodge that was bad ass and wrote a song about it. That's the thing , see a lot of these bands out there, and they wanna have this sort of imagery that makes you think they're like, I don't know... car club or hot rod people, and they're not, man, they're just raping the damn image. For people like us who actually get down with that kind of shit, you just laugh, man. You're like - Dude ,you own a Honda... shut up! Not that there's anything wrong with Hondas, I've driven many Hondas and liked them, you know, but... yeah, man, we write songs about drinkin', touring, racing cars, girls, all kinds of crazy shit.

WC: How's the reaction been from the different crowds you've played to? Have you been playing with a lot of diverse bands?

DS: Oh, yeah. Well, we played with a bunch of hardcore bands when we toured with Devildriver. We toured with Hank 3, and saw a bunch of country people out there. They dug us, and thought it was cool, but yeah, for the most part everyone's been real cool. They like bands that play hard, you know?

WC: Have you guys ever toured with Clutch? I think that would be a really cool tour.

DS: No, unfortunately, we haven't, man. I would like to someday, they're one of my favorite bands.

WC: Yeah, me too, great band. In your opinion, what would you say makes a good Artimus Pyledriver show?

DS: A lot of beer! (Laughs) A lot of alcohol, man, that's what makes a good Artimus show...

WC: (Laughing) There you go, I bet the shows are more relaxed that way too...

DS: Yeah, man, we're hanging out and having a good time, you know? Shows like tonight, you have to go out and you have to play hard, but the bottom line is, it dosen't matter if there's one person or a million people, you have to play as hard as possible. People appreciate that shit.

WC: Word of mouth gets around...

DS: That's right.

WC: For someone who has never seen one of your live shows before, do you guys improvise to keep it exciting and unpredictable for the fans? Or do you rehearse it to a point where you're a well oiled machine, and when you get up there everything's tight?

DS: I will say that as a band we're tight,and we know our shit on stage every night. We try to stick to a certain path or routine, but we're spontaneous as fuck and anything can happen. It all depends on what the crowd is like, man. I mean, we'll go all out, and it'll get wild and people will get hauled off to jail and shit, but if it's a night like tonight, you just work on what you got.

WC: Do you ever have times where the crowds are in the palm of your hand, and you give 'em the full on old school southern live experience? You know, the way bands like; Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet would perform?

DS: We definitely don't jam. We get up there, we have song structure, we have a certain set we like to do and while I appreciate that kind of shit, the reason those bands got to do that was because that's all they had to do for a real long time, you know?... so they got bored. If we were in the same kind of position, I would like to believe that we would be afforded the opportunity to spend two hours on stage being ridiculous and doing shit like that!

WC: What would you say is the biggest misconception about Artimus Pyledriver?

DS: I don't know... the fact that we're a bunch of damn backwoods people. Here's the irony, I live in a city with five million people... we live in the city. We don't live out in Bumblefuck, man! I live fifteen minutes from downtown Atlanta, you know? We all live right there and we always have and it's funny because... imagine a giant metropolitan area, and its local music scene. We're all guys who have been entrenched in the scene for the last ten or fifteen years. So we're not some dudes who were out in like, Athens... or not actually Athens, but out in the woods, started a band and here we are. I mean, we beat it to death, you know?... so...

WC: And like you mentioned earlier, you guys have been going strong with Artimus for five years now. You've worked your way up the ladder...

DS: Yeah, damn right, man!

WC: How would you describe your band members personalities? Are you guys all pretty crazy?

DS: Yeah, of course we're just another collective bunch. I mean, you have to be insane to do this for a living,and each of us have our own crazed idiosyncracies, you know? Yeah, each of us are definitely freaked out one way or another, but it all comes together in the end... it all meshes together, and we just get along the best we can... and we do.

WC: Is the band primarily your main job? Or do you all have jobs outside of the band also?

DS: Yeah, we still work. It's all for the greater good, trying to get to a certain point, you know?... if you can, you can, but yeah, we still work... you have to take care of yourself and your family.

WC: What's the concept with the album cover? Any meaning behind it? Are those crows on there?

DS: Yeah, those are old crows. I just thought it was a depressing southern image...

WC: Did you come up with the concept?

DS: Yeah, well... actually, a guy sent me that photo. It looks cool, man.

WC: What's you're out look on the band? Where do you see yourselves in ten years?

DS: Still playing... and, oh, yeah, a little drunk! (Laughs)

WC: Do you have any Spinal Tap moments or crazy road stories you could share from any tours you've done past or present?

DS: Yeah, there's a million of them, and they all involve things that I'm not allowed to talk about! (Laughs)

WC: Ever have something go wrong on stage or anything?

DS: Oh, my god, yeah, we fall down a lot, shit breaks, we act like idiots, shit malfunctions... it's a "Spinal Tap" damn show all the time with us!

WC: For all the closed - minded people who think that all southern rock bands sound the same and don't usually give them a chance... What would you say to those people to convince them that they should check out Artimus Pyledriver?

DS: I would say that you should just listen to the next record, and judge for yourself. The obviousness will smack you across the face! (Laughs) The obviousness of how ridiculous that statement is... you'll see, we'll roll on.

WC: What are your plans for the months ahead?

DS: We'll be out with a band called Valient Thorr and Nebula for awhile, on a west coast tour...

WC: Will there be another Midwest tour?

DS: Yeah, definitely, man. Easily.

WC:Have you guys been to Europe? Any plans to tour out there?

DS: No, we haven't, and I don't know when we are. There's talk that they want us to go over there with the Supersuckers next year but I don't know if that's gonna happen or not. It costs money to get over there, you know?

WC: Thank you so much for your time, Dave. Do you have any final words for your fans out there?

DS: Um... Fly on, Freebird! (Laughs)

DRT Entertainment's Website

Artimus Pyledriver's Official Website