Anarcho-vagrant-filthswing is a musical genre few bands besides Liquor Beats Winter can pull off, so don’t miss your chance to catch them for one of the final Wicked Moose shows on Saturday, March 4.
Liquor Beats Winter will be joined by Narco States, The Violent Shifters, Second Story, and Under the Pavilion. Between them, the five bands will combine greasy blues punk grunge garage psych rock and will be playing everything from the organ to the kazoo.
David C. Steffens, who’s described by Second Story bassist Mike Terrill as an “evil punk version of Mick Jagger,” readily admits he’s influenced by the scratchy vocals of Tom Waits, but he explains that Waits “was influenced by the same artists I listen to: Howlin’ Wolf, Blind Willie Johnson, and Captain Beefheart. Vocally, in the gritty parts of my singing, I was going for Howlin’ Wolf. With what success others will have to judge.” Steffens plays trumpet and blues harp in addition to singing.
“We are anarchistic in the sense that our writing style is fiercely democratic—no leader. A lot of the songs are about traveling. A lot of our friends are nomadic vagrants and are sometimes the subjects in my writing,” says Steffens, explaining his band’s boundary-defying genre.
“I consider the Violent Shifters family. We invite each other to play shows together and always enjoy it. They are great and deserve recognition,” says Steffens about the band that plays “garage rock for people who rock in their garages.” Chad “Cheetah” Arnold, Liquor Beats Winter’s bassist, chimes in that the Violent Shifters are “guaranteed to get you on the floor and shaking your ass.”
Terrill “can’t wait to see” Narco States and says, “They have an organ player that brings feelings of The Doors, and just the raw power of the band reminds me a lot of Iggy Pop and The Stooges.” Terrill and Cheetah both sing the praises of Under the Pavilion who play “sugar-coated garage pop”reminiscent of The Strokes.
Local favorites Second Story are going to bring it hard and fast. Terrill says, “When we were preparing our set, we looked at the raw energy from LBW and Narco States, and we decided to try our best and match it. We wrote the most intense, full throttle, break-a-string and make-your-fingers-bleed set.” Terrill promises The Second Story set will include some of their originals with even more of a revved-up punk edge.
Despite the incredible line-up, the show rings in at just a dollar for each band. You probably paid more than this for the gas station munchies you bought driving home from the last show. But don’t worry, as an added bonus, Terrill says the show will have some health benefits: “If you danced to all these bands you would lose 10 pounds by the end of the night.”
This show promises to remind us of everything good about why you might be able to take the band out of the garage, but you’ll never take the garage out of the band.
David C. Steffens (vocals, trumpet, blues harp, and kazoo) and Chad “Cheetah” Arnold (bass) give the lowdown on Liquor Beats Winter which is also comprised of Matt Broeren (guitar) and Dave Pagel (drums).
Your self-titled album came out in 2014. I’m noticing it includes tracks that begin with train noises and other tracks that include kazoo. What’s one of your favorite tracks from the album and what do you like about it?
Cheetah: I’m a big fan of Young Money and its simplicity. Derek (our original drummer) and I came up with a simple drum and bass loop and David and Matt laid down the call and response bits with guitar and trumpet. This basic arrangement really lets David’s storytelling shine on this track.
David: I think my favorite track from the album is “Shake that Jello.” It has a really sleazy sound that I find attractive and there is something really accessible, musically, about it. It is simple, sexy, and vocally schizophrenic.
What are some of the accomplishments you are most proud of?
Cheetah: I’m proud of the fact that we’ve been able to stick together and keep doing what we’re doing. Besides being split between two cities [members live both in Rochester and Minneapolis] the whole thing could have ended early on. Before the ball even got rolling for us, David took the gig playing with F*** Knights and toured the USA and Europe with them, and I took the gig playing guitar with Destroy Everything out of Chicago which took up a lot of our time. Ultimately, we both decided it was more important for us to be doing our own thing with Liquor Beats Winter in lieu of being side men in established bands. I’m glad we did.
David: Opening for the Hooten Hallers, Left Lane Cruiser, and Joe Buck (Yourself).
I love your gas mask-wearing Minnesota-stamped logo. What’s the story behind it?
David: I had the vision of the logo and the canisters were to be replaced by liquor bottles. It was actually an entrepreneurial idea to vaporize alcohol, but since I have a degree in debauchery and not chemistry the idea never came to fruition. Although such a thing exists and is outlawed in the U.S., I pitched the logo idea to drummer-Dave’s wife, Natalie, “Musette the Mistress of Mayhem” and she designed it. And damn she did a good job.
Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever played a show?
Cheetah: Once we opened for a midnight screening of The Disco Dolls in Hot Skin, a 3D adult feature film from the 70’s starring John Holmes at the Uptown Theater in Minneapolis.
Speaking of adult films, your rhythm section promises they “take your clothes off.” What’s the rhythm-induced naked-causing secret?
Cheetah: I’ve mostly played in punk rock bands and hadn’t played a bass in years, but I knew with this project that a certain swagger was gonna’ be key, and moving the people was of utmost importance. If the clothes don’t come off, Dave and I haven’t done our jobs.
David: To be perfectly honest, the rhythm section usually just takes MY clothes off.