The Walcotts are an American Rock’n’Roll band that have soul, jazz, country, and blues rooted into their music. While their male-female harmony vocals are backed by horns, pedal-steel, fiddles, and piano, they are certain to keep their music familiar feeling, yet fresh and energetic.
SLO Brew is hosting a show with The Walcotts, and were fortunate enough to have sat down with the band’s lead vocalist, Tom Cusiamano and get some insider on The Walcott’s come up, how they herd around their crazy group of 9, and give some scoop on how Stagecoach 2017 felt like, on stage!
How is it working with such a large group of musicians?
It certainly has it’s ups and downs, but the good outweighs the bad…otherwise we’d be a 3 piece or be playing along to pre-recorded tracks! The upside is we can make a really big sounding and dynamic arrangement for a song and be able to do it live with the actual instruments they were intended for (like great Motown, STAX, or things like that). There is great interaction between the whole band, and so many “voices” that we can cover live. It is really a lot of fun! The downside is the “herding of the cats”…trying to juggle 9 different schedules so we can always have our top players with us is tricky. We’ve gotten better at it, but it can be a logistical nightmare.
Are you all 9 ever on stage together?
We try to all be on stage at the same time, yes! It is like having a gang, a really fun gang that has your back!
How has the membership of your band formed? Did you know each other before, or have the talented musicians slowly added on each other through the years?
There are four of us at the core: Jim (drums) , Devin (violin), Laura (vox) and myself (Tom – gtr/vox) – Jim and I have been playing music together about 14 years now. He answered an ad I put in the LA Weekly back in 2003 and we had a band together before this (that Devin joined in 2008) that couldn’t “get arrested”. We got some decent press, some decent shows and made a couple records, but it wasn’t working. We met Laura a year or two after the Walcotts started, she was singing with another band and I asked her if she’d like to sing harmonies for a song or two live and it blossomed from there.
The whole band started as a fluke though…it started as Jim was coming to visit LA (from SF) so we could go see a Bruce Springsteen concert, and I said I had been writing new songs. We threw the idea of getting some studio time together that weekend and ultimately cut 4 songs. A few months later I got a call to open up for America (the band) in San Diego, and decided that maybe we should do some of this music we’d been working on…we came up with a band name, did the gig, pressed a 4 song EP and then started getting music placements in TV and film. That’s what really kicked off the whole thing for us…we were successful (no broke), so we just kept pursuing it as we all love playing together.
We do have the 4 at the core, but we have our 5 go to’s for the other positions in the band, it’s a great group of folks with exceptional talent (I’m pretty sure I am the worst musician in the band!). We’ve been fortunate enough to meet some of the best players in LA and they all seem to really enjoy The Walcotts style and music…sometimes we have to rotate a person or two here or there, but mostly it is roughly the same group all the time.
Coming out of Los Angeles, what inspired your New Orleans style of music?
The New Orleans thing just crept out of influence I think…we’re very heavily influences by The Band, and Little Feat. Both of which worked with Allen Toussaint, who I am a huge fan of. Devin is really into the Meters (New Orleans) band too. It just kind of happened, there was no real plan. I think New Orleans style of music is the ultimate melting pot of influences from Blues to Country to Jazz to Soul to Gospel and more…I’m happy we have a “New Orleans sound”, I think that means that we’re making “real” music that touches people, so we’re “doing it right”. That’s what we view New Orleans as I suppose, music done right.
What are you currently working on right now?
Right now we’re about to jump into our month long residency in LA and some summer dates (including our show with SLO). But beyond that, I’m trying to get back in writing mode again. We’re a 5 year old band at this point, and we’ve been adding songs as we go, but we want to get a new wave of material going pretty soon and hopefully get back in the studio.
Please share with us how you experience was playing at Stagecoach this year.
It was a dream gig, we got to play the 2nd biggest stage (biggest stage we’ve ever played!) – had a 2ft drum riser and everything. The festival is one of my personal favorites, I’ve been going for years as a fan. So to get the call that we were wanted on the bill was such a thrill and really meant so much to us! The festival itself is a blast, it’s isn’t 100% country, but it isn’t to “scene-y” either, people are there for all sorts of reasons (to party, or with their family or what have you), we played earlier in the day on the stage and from all accounts we had a nice crowd for that time and stage. We made a lot of new fans probably played one of the best sets we’ve ever played (we were all on an adrenaline high for sure!). Plus to have the honor of playing the same stage as Jerry Lee Lewis (one of the founders of Rock’n’Roll), Willie Nelson and so many other icons and be on the bill with so many HUGE acts, it was just incredible. I’ll never forget it!
We hope we get to play it again!!
Let this band make you feel like you’re in New Orleans, June 27th at SLO Brew’s downtown pub. Buy your tickets here at https://www.slobrew.com/events/