If I was going to start a blog interviewing pop culture, I would have to start with my old friends , Tracy Van Voris (aka Queen Pirate) and Richard Coker (shown in this photo), who make up 50 percent of the Atlanta-based pirate punk band, Crumsy Pirates. This Thursday, November 29, they have a show (along with such bands as Era of the Stereograph and The Young Antiques) at Sweetwater LIVE, located at 2920 Old Norcross Road in Duluth, GA. This struck me as a good time to run our interview. Fortunately for us, this email caught them on a day when they decided to be funny. After reading this interview, be sure to visit their myspace page to listen to their music.
Tim O’Shea (TOS): How did the band first form, and how much has the lineup changed over the years? And with the changes in personnel, has there been any change to the dynamics of the band?
Tracy Van Voris (Queen Pirate): Basic band stats:
Crumsy Pirates formed in 2002
- Richard Coker – guitar
- Sean Hanratty – drums
- Ayman El Dinary – bass
- Tracy Van Voris – vocals
Ayman parted ways with us – amicably! – in the fall/winter of 2006.
Jennifer Thompson joined us on bass in the spring of 2007. She had played in a former band of Richard’s and offered to help us out until we found a new bassist. At our first practice, she learned four songs and one cover. We had no more need to continue our bass search.
See www.myspace.com/crumsypirates for more band bio info.
Other Crumsy Facts:
- all songs are fast and short, under 3 minutes
- we never perform the same set twice
- since many of our songs are topical, they have a sell-by date, so this encourages us to continue to write new material
- every member of the band is a writer
TOS: Politics inspire and shape Crumsy’s work somewhat. If Al Gore had won in 2000, would there be Crumsy songs like “Greenhouse Gore” or “Al, The Sanctions Are A Stinkin'”?
Pirate Sean: Speaking of Global Warming. I learned from a documentary that the earth was once a molten ball of lead. Then a lot of asteroids with water hit it. Then it froze.
Pirate Rich: But then it got warm again. I saw the same documentary. After it got warm again, it formed land masses that all clumped together.
Pirate Sean: And then it froze again.
Pirate Rich: And then there was life when it got warm again. But then most of the life died.
Pirate Sean: Because it got cold again.
Pirate Jenn: I heard a story about the Prime Minister of Australia who walked into the ocean and was never seen again. He was missing for a few days before anyone noticed he was gone.
Pirate Rich: He was eaten by a Portuguese man-o-war.
Pirate Sean: Or a Great White.
Pirate Rich: Oh yeah…and Al Gore sucks.
Pirate Queen: So yes, sometimes we write about politics. We’ve got a conservative, a liberal, an anarchist, and a libertarian in our band. Guess which one holds the mic?
TOS: In the days when you played at 10 High, given the unique size and nature of the venue can you remember any truly odd or unique venues that come to mind?
Pirate Jenn: Well, we’ve all played in a lot of places over the years in different bands. Personally, I was so thrilled to play 688 several years ago, to have been able to play on the same stage that some of my own heroes had played on was very thrilling to me.
Pirate Rich: Most of the places in Atlanta are funny shaped or weirdly designed. They’ve always been that way. Dottie’s was like someone’s basement with drop ceilings and beat up pool tables. I think that I liked the design of the Somber Reptile best.
Pirate Sean: The 513 Club was a lot like the Somber Reptile. No frills. Big stage, four walls, ceiling, and floor. Not like the Metroplex which had poles and fences and stuff. The Masquerade is just too big.
TOS: You got to play at ISP right before it closed, do you think another venue of this kind might be available in the near term?
Pirate Rich: If only!
Pirate Jenn: That place was definitely special. Justin really cared about music more than anything else. We had lots of fun there.
Pirate Sean: The bathroom was particularly special. One of a kind. Nothing else like it anywhere.
Pirate Queen: Strap in, my rant mode ON: I think the Atlanta club scene is going through a Greedy Phase right now. It’s happened before, and it will happen again. The emphasis right now is on MONEY, not music.
Currently, we’ve got some damn fine Atlanta bands who won’t play because they know they won’t draw on a week night and they don’t want to damage their reputations AND bands who are so confident in their reputations that won’t play unless the club owner guarantees THEM money….and then there are bands that just want to freaking play and put on a good show – like the Crumsy Pirates do – who are coming off looking like Union Scabs because they are working for nothing. Yep, it’s all about the Music BUSINESS and the artists are getting screwed… as per status quo.
But, oh, wait: there’s always MetalsomeMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayWeekend!
Live band karaoke! Cover bands without lead singers! Who needs those cranky musicians who actually spend time on their art, perfecting their performance, writing original music? Let’s go see Sorority Sue and Fratboy Fred drunkenly warble through yet another rendition of “Born to Be Wild” or “I Ran”! THAT’S entertainment. NOT. Boring American Idol wannabes.
So what’s the solution? House parties, is what I am thinking. Forming artistic collectives of like-minded souls. Performing “impromptu” drive by shows in public places. I’m open to ANY and ALL suggestions.
Pirate Rich: The reason why ISP was special is because it was run by *musicians*. The chances of musicians opening up their own club in the near future are infinitesimal because most musicians are poor. Those that have money would rather inject it into their arm than do anything constructive.
TOS: When you wrote the song where Dave Matthews apologizes to the city of Chicago, did you fight the urge to send it to Dave’s management?
Pirate Rich: The reason I like waffle cones is because it makes my teeth hurt.
Pirate Queen: I’ve got no urge to deal with Major Music Corporation Management, but on a related topic….one of our earlier songs – which since has been cut from the roster because it was too topical and too long – was about that fuckwad Eric Rudolph. In spite of being a homegrown terrorist, he was able to exist in the North Carolina mountains for 5 years before being caught. I’m sure he had help. There are evangelical nitwit Christians who even consider him a folk hero today.
The Atlanta Journal/Constitution did a story about some jackass who wrote a song about how Rudolph was a great Christian man and should be an inspiration against all who would murder the unborn. I was greatly annoyed and wrote to the staff writer that the Crumsy Pirates also wrote about that bastard and that he was welcome to come to one of our shows or practices to hear it. He did write me back, saying that he was intrigued, but he never followed up with us. Oh, well.
TOS: Onstage Band Refreshment: What’s in YOUR bottle?
Pirate Rich: The tears from all of the unfulfilled dreams of children…no, wait…I think that it’s just filled with God’s Tears.
Pirate Sean: I like to recycle my own urine. Like in Waterword. It’s Environmentally Correct and there’s a drought in Georgia right now.
Pirate Queen: Intoxicating substances have included red wine, brandy, and pineapple or coconut rum…I mean, we’re PIRATES. Non-toxic substances have included green tea, ginger ale, grape Koolaid, or just plain H2O.
Pirate Jenn: B & B! But I also like to share the coconut rum with the Pirate Queen.
TOS: How did the cover version of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb come about?
Pirate Sean: We wanted to see if we could play one of the world’s longest songs in under two minutes.
Pirate Rich: In Ramones style – no solos, just chords. Classic rock is tedious and we wanted to cut out all that pretentious guitar hero junk. Plus rock music should be a little bit faster than a funeral march, so we sped it up.