It’s been an abundant amount of hard work and perseverance that has lead to the LA-based quartet Stampead’s four albums, from their self-titled release to the new record, “Oh Boy.” The latter was a self-financed effort, and it’s worth your attention – a bold series of realizations of stories that reflect a band that has found its niche – a group that has found its identity.
You see, no Stampead album sounds that similar to another. These guys work hard to keep their fans surprised and guessing; coming back for more. Lead singer Judd David says “I think each release has its own vibe, and we are constantly changing the way we do things in the studio and on stage. What makes it exciting for me is to know that we have the ability to do more than one thing and do it well.” You’ll probably notice a re-focused purpose behind the lyrics of “Oh Boy.” They don’t dwindle in one specific subject matter for too long, and they certainly don’t ask for your permission either.
I guess that’s what defines Stampead today – the fact they know what they can do now – and they’re going to do what they want. It’s pretty clear during the live show. Judd describes their new live attitude; “You know, when you first start out everything has to be so perfect. Now we just have a few drinks and have a good time and I know it sounds better… The only way to connect with the crowd is to have fun up there and not be afraid to fuck up.” When you’re looking up the band’s schedule for their tour this spring, check out their video for “The Dog Song.” Hilarious. Get into the XXQ’s for a whole lot more.
PensEyeView.com (PEV): Tell us how Stampead first came together. Was it an instant connection the first day you practiced together?
JUDD DAVID: I don’t know if that ever happens… When I first moved out to LA., I moved in with my brother Eric, and the writing came easy. But getting a band together that really felt good was pretty fucking tiring. Maybe because we knew exactly what we were looking for, it took longer.
PEV: Now calling Los Angeles, California home now, what kind of music were you listening to growing up? Do all the members tend to like the same kind of music?
JD:I listened to a lot of old folk music like Leonard Cohen, Dylan, Paul Simon—mostly just going through my Dad’s old records and realizing that everything I’d find was better than the CDs I had at the time.
I think everyone in the band has different tastes—you can hear it in our parts and tones— and it’s helped us create our own sound.
PEV: What was it like for the band when you were first breaking into the music business? Before you were getting press, and regular gigs?
JD: It was fucking hell. It still is sometimes, but it’s worth it.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Stampead show?
JD: We have four albums now so our shows get more and more eclectic. We’re doing acoustic sets to promote this album so you’ll hear a lot of harmonies, mandolins, harmonica, and acoustic guitars. But sometimes we play all the same songs electric or with someone on the organ or cello. I guess you can expect us to play our songs a little different every time.
PEV: How have your shows evolved from when you first started out?
JD: You know, when you first start out everything has to be so perfect. The sound, the tones, tempos— everything was so fucking important. Now we just have a few drinks and have a good time and I know it sounds better. We’ve played these songs thousands of times, we know how it goes. The only way to connect with the crowd is to have fun up there and not be afraid to fuck up. Sometimes I rip at the guitar and I almost want to break a string.
PEV: If you could collaborate with one artist out today, who would it be and why?
JD: On our new record we had Jon Graboff from The Cardinals jam on a few of the tracks and Leslie Stevens sang on “You Can Use Me.” I don’t think there’s anyone else I would have rather had on this album. But I would love to get in the studio with T-bone Burnett; I’m really loving all the new stuff he’s putting out.
PEV: As well, is there an up and coming artist right now that you think we should all be looking out for?
JD: Jason Webley. He puts on an amazing live show and it’s different then anything else I’ve ever heard.
PEV: Currently on tour in support of your self-financed, and fourth album “Oh Boy” tell us, what can fans expect from this release?
JD:I hope we’ve surprised them again. I think each release has its own vibe, and we are constantly changing the way we do things in the studio and on stage. What makes it exciting for me is to know that we have the ability to do more than one thing and do it well. Yes, I hope our fans come along with us, but it’s not going to change what we do now or what we do next.
The first thing some people said to me when they heard this album was that it sounds a little country on a few songs. I said no it’s not, you don’t know what you’re talking about. But when I think about it, maybe it does, and who the fuck cares? I think it’s the best thing we’ve done yet.
Look out for a few new videos in the next month and one is out already for “The Dog Song.” It’s definitely our funniest video yet—you should get a few laughs out of it.
PEV: How is “Oh Boy” different from other music out today?
JD:I think the lyrics are different. I work hard on that, I can’t stand to say things I’ve heard over and over again. This album has songs about dating a widow who lost her lover in the war, a humorous mission for animal rights, and RFK’s funeral train. The songs about love aren’t always that lovely… and the song that truly gives you an idea of myself is called “A Clown Too Fat to Walk Across a Wire.”
PEV: When you sit down to write an album what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in?
JD: It’s really just an ongoing process—the writing never stops. If we’re on tour we write in hotel rooms or the van, if we’re in LA we’re in the rehearsal studio all the time working on new songs. We have enough material to record another album tomorrow, but this one was just released so I have to wait.
PEV: If it wasn’t for music, what would each of the Stampead members be doing for career?
JD:I don’t want to think about it… it hurts. I’ve spent too many years rolling burritos already.
PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success? What is it like to go home and play in front of your hometown?
JD: It’s really amazing the support our friends and family have given us over the years. Playing in cities where they’re around is always a good time.
PEV: If we were to walk into your practice studio right now, what’s one thing we’d most likely find?
JD: Cockroaches – it’s LA.
PEV: How is life on the road for you? Good parts? Bad parts?… the hilarious parts!?!
JD:I can’t wait to be on the road again, I’ve been restless these past few months. I’d say for all of us to be crammed in a van sleeping on top of each other for that long, we get on alright. Shit happens— we’ve had our gear stolen and been screwed over and everything else—but really I only remember the good parts.
PEV: In your opinion, is there a certain city (US or International) that you find to be the best city for music?
JD: I’ve always liked playing Chicago— we’ve have some of our best shows there. Also Athens is a great city for live music.
PEV: As well, where’s one place you haven’t played, you would like to? Why?
JD: I saw Bright Eyes a year ago at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic. Having the whole orchestra behind us at the Bowl would be cooler than Woodstock. Also touring Europe is something we will be doing very soon. Haven’t been there yet.
PEV: Where do you feel Stampead will be ten years from now?
JD: I hope to be releasing our 12th album. And also to have a full circus behind us on stage. Elephants and everything else.
PEV: So, what’s next for Stampead?
JD: We’re getting ready to tour this spring, we also have plans to record an EP real soon and do a soundtrack. There’s plenty to keep us busy.
For more information, check out: www.myspace.com/stampead