ATH Interviews: The Dutchess & The Duke

Austin Town Hall chatted it up with Jesse and Kimberly of The Dutchess & The Duke before their acoustic set at Mohawk on Wednesday evening.  Read the entire interview with the band after the jump.

ATH: My friend Corey (newest ATH member) wanted to know, You mis-pelled Dutchess. Where did you get that spelling from?
Kimberly: From the Fergie album
Jesse: Don’t say that… We used to have this band called The Flying Dutchman and it was “Dutch” so she was the “Dutch-ess”.
Kimberly: We just changed it.
Jesse: It is cause that’s the way we spell it.

ATH: Are you fond of the squiggly red line in your word documents?
Jesse: It does that when we do our email things.

ATH: It doesn’t bother you?
Jesse: There are lots worse things in life. I think that question bothers me more than the squiggly line and you prefaced it by saying my friend Corey…. so you maybe didn’t even want to ask it.
Kimberly: We were supposed to have buttons that said “Dutchess is spelled with a T” but we haven’t gotten around to it yet.
ATH: Well I’ll tell Corey that question pissed you off.
Jesse: I just chopped the table in half with my bare hand

ATH: Why do you think the current folk rock scene seems to be filled with such whiners or “freaky” dudes trying to be Marc Boland?
K: Do we look whiny or freaky to you? We don’t know anything about any kind of folk rock scene.
J: Really the Fleet Foxes were our first introduction to any sort of scene.

ATH: If you were going to make a cookie recipe with your influences, what would that be made of? Like 2 parts your choice of this and that.
J: Obviously we listen to Stones, Dylan, Beatles, Kinks and all that. Just mix that in a bowl, have a shitty life, have a breakdown and start writing songs from that. When you have a total breakdown like that, I mean all the songs come from there. I’m influenced by everything I hear. It’s like you draw a picture and every picture you look at influences you. Almost subconsciously.
K: Subconscious. I like that.

ATH: You mentioned you’ve both been part of several previous efforts (Flying Dutchmen and The Sultanas). What is it about this group that has made it become successful or lasting?
J: As far as lasting, we’ve only been around for about 8 months or so.
K: We did put that 7 inch out about a year ago. We thought we were just going to make a 7 inch, that’s what we did with The Sultanas, but the label wanted us to make a record.

ATH: Did Sub Pop give you a lot of help being on Hardly Art being sort of a subsidiary?
K: We have distribution through them…
J: They’re all really psyched on our record and pulling for us. That probably has the most to do with anything because if it had just been a 7 inch that we put out ourselves, we would have just sold 600 of them and that’s it. When we were done recording it and mixing it and everything, we were so glad that it was coming out on a real record label or it would have just languished. It would have sat in my basement for two months. Actually we wouldn’t have even done that album. They signed us to do an album before we had even played a show or had anymore songs. They asked: “Do you have more songs?” and I said: “Yeah!”

ATH: Did you have more songs?
J: Like two more songs. Most of the album was written as we recorded it.
ATH: We talked to Grand Archives about the state of music in Seatle. What is like being a band in the northwest and how has it helped to get you where you are?
K: I wouldn’t know because I haven’t lived anywhere else. I wouldn’t have anything to compare it to really.
J: We both… live there… so that makes it easier. We’re not really involved in any sort of scene up there. We have friends who are in bands but were not friends with all the folk singers and weird bands like that. We just kind of came out of nowhere.

ATH: So what’s the day job?
K: Nanny
J: Student. What about you guys?
ATH: We both actually teach. (Yes your faithful writers Nathan & RayRay also teach the youth of America. Spanish and Language Arts.)
K: Oh cool
J: That’s awesome man. I always thought teaching would be a really fun and problem solving job.

ATH: This is your second time in Austin in several months, do you guys have any favorite places you like to hit up when you come to town?
K: I like to go to my friend Dave’s house and Casino.
J: I like that place we went today, Corriente.
K: I like that pizza truck that’s out there during SXSW.
ATH: They actually opened up a store down by Headhunters
J: That’s the rough thing about touring too. You don’t really get to explore the city. You just kind of drive to the club and stay and eat and play. At least this club is in an area where there is stuff. So many times you go and it’s in the middle of nowhere and you’re just sitting there waiting.
K: No pinball

ATH: Here’s the Fleet Foxes question. What has playing with them done for you guys? Did you enjoy the tour?
K: It was a fun tour. It was just really weird because we’d never played to crowds like that before. Every show was sold out and people would be texting Friend Center while we played.
J: It was hard because whether you like it or not when you’re on tour, the band’s are in a bit of competition. Gentlemanly, you know, like a nice competition but you have to get people to watch you too and sell stuff at the end of the night.
K: It was a competition we lost miserably.
J: We’re playing and people are there to see Fleet Foxes. A few people were really into us and they were cool and bought stuff and enjoyed our set. For the most part, people went there with the intention of seeing Fleet Foxes and anything else was…
K: Wanted us to get the hell off the stage.
J: It was a double edged sword
K: I don’t even think they had any idea how crazy it was gonna be. They could have been playing much bigger venues and all the clubs were selling out. A lot of the clubs were overselling because they knew they could and it was just like sardines in a can.

ATH: Where are you going from here, new album, touring, etc. Are you going to take some time off or what?
K: We can’t tour till next summer because Jesse will be in school.
J: This tour ends on the 12th of September I think. It will be a long time after that before we tour again.
K: We were on tour with Fleet Foxes for a month and we were home for two weeks. It was a good time to go on this tour because we won’t be able to tour again for a while.
J: We will probably start working on the next record maybe in November or something like that. We recorded it in our friends basement studio. So we can just go during the week and record stuff at night.

ATH: What’s some new artists/bands you guys are into?
J: I like Blank Dogs. I thought about this in another interview but now I’m drawing a blank but yeah Blank Dogs are good.
ATH: So just Fergie for you? (Kimberly)
K: Actually, I think that’s a horrible record but I like some of her songs. I think they’re catchy. Timbaland makes hella hooks dude. Timbaland is awesome. I really listen to good music too not just that radio stuff. I really like the last Go record. Of course we listen to Love, The Beach Boys and The Zombies. The Zombies are amazing. The fact that Collin Blunstone still has a voice like that is just great.

ATH: If you put the initials of this band together you get D&D. Is that a direct reference to Dungeons and Dragons?
J: Is this another Corey question?
ATH: It is not…..
K: We always sign our bulletins D&D but our percussionist is named Donnie so we started signing them DDD. He’s not on tour with us so we’re back to DD. We just did a tour so we thought we’d do an acoustic tour.

ATH: What has to be on The D&D rider?
J&K: It doesn’t matter. We don’t get it.
J: No club that we have played at yet has honored there rider.
K: We got a bottle of wine the first night at least.
J: Yeah but we had to wrestle the promoter the first night and our booking agent was there. So she was able to muscle them.
K: A bottle of wine or two. A 12 pack of beer.
J: Bananas, fruit and stuff like that.

ATH: And nobody is pulling it off?
J: We get drink tickets but not that many. For the most part we’re able to charm the bartenders after we finish playing. They feel sad for us and get us drunk. Sucks.
K: It’s not that bad. Jesse just wants his bananas.
J: I want free bananas
ATH: You should’ve told us. We would’ve brought you some bananas.
J: Well I would think that The Mohawk would have some bananas.

ATH: Favorite song from the set list?
K: I like “Out of Time” and “Scorpio”
J: I think “Scorpio” is my favorite too. They’re two new songs that aren’t on the album.
K: I like that other one too but you always screw up the whistle solo.
J: My problem is, I forget how it goes. We have this song that had double track guitars and stuff like that but it needed two rhythm guitar tracks. So instead of just one of us playing a solo and the other one dropping out, we just whistled the solo. Every night I get the rhythm, I just can’t remember how it goes. I can’t hear here whistling.
K: I’ll whistle louder.

ATH: In your opinion, what’s the best way to promote music right now?
K: Well our label hooks us up with interviews and stuff like that which is not something we’ve ever done before. That’s really big for us. Although we did end up as a myspace featured band so we got like 70 pages of friend requests.
J: I mean obviously that doesn’t help because nobody is coming to our shows. Well not nobody but you know.
ATH: My friend Corey, who you hate, told me about you guys in late May
J: I think the most important promotion device is Corey.
ATH: I’ll let him know

So there you have it. You better find The Dutchess & The Duke on tour soon or you’ll have to wait patiently till next time. Oh and don’t forget to bring bananas to the show.

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