Published Jul 26, 2010Straight up, J. Roddy Walston and the Business is a name we'll all be hearing very soon. Judging by the quality of their self-titled blues rock record on Vagrant/Fairfax Records, the Baltimore, MD band (by way of Tennessee) could very well be the next indie rock buzz band.
Led by the band's namesake (a 29-year-old, piano-playing, heavily bearded gentleman), the quartet played a knockout set at SXSW in March (see footage below) and will see the release of their album on Tuesday (July 27). As for what happens after that, well, Walston tells Exclaim! anything is better than slogging away on the road in relative obscurity like he's done for the past few years.
"You go through moments where it's like, 'What if this blew up, what would it be like?'" says Waltson. "I mean, now, when we go on tour, we have no money; we're flat broke. So, the first thought is we won't have to go into a given town and wander around the streets with no money. Actually, a big part of our fantasy is just going to a good restaurant in town, or just going to see an attraction or something."
As for the album, Walston didn't think much of it when the band were writing and recording it, but he knew the ten songs were something special and worth following through on. With the help of producer Kevin Augunas (Cold War Kids, the Hush Sound) and the backing of Vagrant, the band were able to get through the album's recording relatively unscathed.
"There were a lot of ups and downs during the process. We hadn't dealt with a label or producer before, so there was so much business attached to it," he says, "but the one thing that kept us going was the idea that we all really felt that we couldn't walk away from this batch of songs. We had to make this record."
J. Roddy Walston and the Business have spent ample time on the road, touring with the likes of Murder by Death and the Hold Steady, both fellow Vagrant bands that initially recommended them to the label. Walston says what they really struggled with was making the album live up to their live show.
"I'm hoping people really connect to it on all the different levels that we were operating on. The biggest struggle for us was taking what we've been doing live, which is high energy, and putting it on an album and trying to connect with people who don't know who we are."
Something that could get them hype is a comparison to another Southern rock band: the Black Crowes. Walston, who howls like the Crowes' Chris Robinson and also pounds a mean piano, says although he appreciates the comparison, Robinson and company weren't a big influence on his songwriting.
"I grew up about an hour-and-a-half from Atlanta, where those guys are from, so I could definitely see why people would draw comparisons to them, but it's more likely that we have common influences, rather than us being influenced directly by them."
And although Walston was raised in small town Tennessee, the band aren't trying to sell the Southern rock angle on their self-titled record.
"We didn't want to make a caricature of that kind of lifestyle and then write music about it," he explains. "I was talking to my friends about the whole Southern rock thing, and we joked and called it 'whiskey rock,' because you have to talk about whiskey in the lyrics. But I'm just trying to write songs. I'm not trying to hide anything, but I'm also not trying to exploit anything. If you have a sales pitch when you're writing songs, your songs generally suffer from that."
So far no Canadian live dates have been planned, but the band do have a handful of shows planned for the U.S. Tour dates can be found on their MySpace page.