The Dutchess and the Duke

posted by / Sounds / May 26, 2009


Course, scratchy and beautiful. “I would call it heavy folk or loner folk,” explains lead vocalist Jesse Zortz of their sound. “It’s kind of campfire music, I guess.” Coed lyrics intertwine with finger-plucked guitars and songs so poignant you’ll wonder if they snatched them from your own deep thoughts. Recorded on an 8-track, it’s the type of album that will have you skipping out on obligations just to keep driving north. File this one next to your Dylan and Velvet Underground records. It’s that good. —Travis Ferré

SURFING MAGAZINE: CAN YOU GIVE US A QUICK HISTORY LESSON ABOUT HOW YOU GUYS GOT TOGETHER? JESSE LORTZ: Kimberly and I grew up together and then starting in high school, off and on, we were in punk bands together. She has a really good voice. More recently, we did this project that was like a ’60s girl group called The Sultans. After that we’d talked about working on something down the line.

SO THIS BAND CAME TOGETHER ORGANICALLY AFTER THAT? Yeah, we did a single for a label [Hardly Art] and then they said they wanted to do an entire album. At that point we didn’t even have any other songs. I pretty much wrote the record while we were recording it.

DID YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR SOUND IN MIND AS YOU WERE WRITING? Yeah, I kind of saw how I wanted it to go. I was going through some dark memories, and I did most of the instruments myself so it was easier to record in a bare-bones kind of way.

THE ALBUM HAS A REALLY GRITTY SOUND TO IT. TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU RECORDED IT. Our friend Brian has a studio in his basement and basically he was still learning how to use all of his stuff, so we just kind of experimented. It was basically just, “Stick the microphone in front of the amp and play.” I hadn’t really played acoustic guitars or anything like that because we’d always played in punk bands. So it was pretty experimental, but that made it cool.

WHO WERE YOUR MAIN INFLUENCES FOR THIS PROJECT? A lot of it was memories and shit that I’d pushed down for a long time, and they just came bubbling up. I’ve always listened to the Stones and Beatles and shit like that and to me they always had more of a heartfelt approach to song writing. I think the influence was just that it was time to do something a little different for me.

WHAT’S YOUR LIVE SHOW LIKE? Well, on one tour our percussionist couldn’t come, so I just thought, “F–k it, we’ll just throw a couple of acoustic guitars in the car and go for it.” We thought we’d just be able to mic them up, but having never played acoustic, we didn’t realize that you can’t really mic up acoustic guitars; you have to have pickups and all that shit. So we did a monthlong tour just playing on the floor with acoustic guitars — no amps, microphones or anything…and it was f–king awesome. I think we would prefer to just play on the floor. I actually have an idea about recording an album, with layers and arrangements and then taking the same songs camping with our friends and teach them the songs and sit around the campfire and put it out as a double disc. I want to include the tablature with the CD so people can learn the songs and even bring their guitar to the show and play along. It’s kind of hippy-dippy, but I figure it would be so much cooler than just going to see a show.

Make sure to check out The Dutchess and the Dukes MYSPACE for the latest music and show info.

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