Word of the Stockholm Syndrome has begun to leak. People in the know are starting to pay attention, and ears across the globe are beginning to perk up. Some may think this is simply some side project that will be like most side gigs: good, but never great. Well some people are wrong. Part of the confusion with "some" people is that this is no side project; this is a full-fledged band, one that's poised for big things. What we find with the Stockholm Syndrome is a decade-plus relationship between bassist Dave Schools of Widespread Panic fame and Mr. Jerry Joseph, one of the most under-appreciated songwriters and performers of our day. These two musicians have been kicking it down for quite some time, and when they set forth to put this band together they certainly were not fooling around.
Keeping things dark and dirty, Schools and Jerry elected to go after a man by the name of Eric McFadden, who just so happens to specialize in black magic guitar and mandolin mayhem. Along with Eric they nailed down Wally Ingram (Jackson Browne, Sheryl Crow, Tracy Chapman, and many more including extensive work with David Lindley) on drums and classically trained German keyboardist Danny Dziuk, who has recorded and played with Jerry in the past.
Stockholm Syndrome :: Bahamas
With these five highly acclaimed musicians in place the band went down to the famous Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas to record their first album. I was lucky enough to get a preview copy of Holy Happy Hour (due out on Terminus at the end of June) and it instantly comes across as a monster of an album. One would expect high things from this crew, but what was put down far surpasses my own personal expectations, and has fed the fire that burns as I await my first live consumption.
On May 7, in Berlin, Germany, the world at large gets its first taste of the Stockholm Syndrome. As the band prepares to set off on a 13-date European tour before returning home for a few shows on the East Coast to begin their American leg, I was lucky enough to catch up with the men behind the Syndrome. While Dave Schools spoke from his home in Athens, Georgia and Jerry Joseph finished up a few solo dates in the Pacific Northwest, I picked their brains a bit, trying to get at the heart of the beast. Come along as we begin to write the first chapter of the story of Stockholm Syndrome.
HOW WAS THE BAND PUT TOGETHER?
Schools: Well obviously Jerry and I have known each other for over ten years, and we sort of conceived this idea--I guess it was really like fall of 2002 maybe. We played at a friend's wedding and called ourselves the Stockholm Syndrome because we thought it was a twisted take on our relationship, that hostage/kidnapper thing. And Wally was there, and Danny Barnes as well. We asked Wally to sit in with us and Wally has sat in with Panic a couple of times, and Jerry and Lindley have a long-standing relationship. So that was in place and I had known Eric for a long time, he played on the fist Slang record, and we knew that he was great. And his trio had played with the Jackmormons a few times last summer and fall, so that was another mutual person that was in place. And then Danny Dziuk had worked with Jerry on this album called Oil which came out in Germany on Ulf Tone, so that was the one I had to take Jerry on his word, but I heard Oil and thought it was great and met Danny briefly when Jerry and I were touring Europe last winter. Danny had sat in with us in Berlin and did some amazing stuff, so everybody threw their hats in the ring as it were.
Dave Schools and Jerry Joseph
By Michael Weintrob
THE SOUND OF THE BAND
Jerry: We have these highly creative players and wanted to see what happened when we put it all together really.
Jerry Joseph :: Bahamas
Schools: We sort of new what they were all like individually, and we knew what we wanted to get. But my production technique is a little more organic. As many times as I've gone into a production with a specific sound for the band, or even a song in my head, it's usually cooler to just see what happens on the spot and sort of take your cues from that and you can bend it and shape it a little more. But it always roughly comes when you're cutting a track with the whole band; there is kind of a direction that is already suggested. And I thought it would be really cool with this band since we had such very little rehearsal time to really let the talent meld together. And everybody was really on their best musical behavior. Nobody was showboating, everybody was adding to the project. Everyone knew how under the gun we were time-wise and how lucky we were to have that studio, Compass Point, with that engineer Terry Manning getting it all on disc. So it was really cool for me as the producer to get these live takes and maybe go back and listen after a take or two and then sort of suggest a couple more takes with these few things in mind. And that's basically how that worked out, everybody really brought their individuality to bare, but that individuality was tempered with solid team spirit.
HOLY HAPPY HOUR
Jerry: I think it's pretty fuckin' good, a cohesive album. It could be guilty of a little genre hopping, but the songs just sort of wrote themselves, at least the stuff that Dave and I did. I think it sounds great, and the songs are cool. I think the playing is really good.
Compass Point Studios :: Bahamas
Schools: I think it's an amazing record. It's sort of a Whitman's Sampler, stylistically. Which is kind of a rare thing these days. Bands tend to market themselves very narrowly, probably because it helps the record label. And Jerry was worried a little bit about it, you know we got seven or eight tracks done and every one of these tracks sounds like it could almost be a different band. And I looked at Terry Manning one morning when I came in early to do some cleanup work with him and I said, "You know, do you think this is a problem?" And he looked at me and he goes, "No, you know I wish more records were like this. Think about the records that we love." Terry and I both share a really immense love for the The Beatles and that sort of British Invasion rock. In that era anything goes. Not to compare ourselves to The Beatles, but just the variegated styles that are represented on the record I think it's refreshing. It just got a five star review in the German Music Express, which is like their big music magazine.
FAVORITE SONGS OFF HOLY HAPPY HOUR
Jerry: My favorites are "American Fork," "One In My Hand," and I think "White Dirt" has some of the best lyrics I've ever written.
By Michael Weintrob
Schools: I really love "One In My Hand" because that was the first song Jerry and I wrote for this record together. I wrote it on keyboards, he made me play keyboards and he was playing bass, so that is kind of neat. It's a real studio song, it's very ethereal, and has a lot of different instrumentation and some very serious background vocal work. I love that, and I think the other song that is my favorite on the record is "Shining Path." I think that is sort of the direction of the band. That sort of sinister, post-apocalyptic, European anthem sound. I think that is a really, really successful track on the record, and it should be because it took John Keane and I three days to mix that one. That and "American Fork" were the two... in fact everything about "American Fork" was difficult.
STOCKHOLM SYNDROME VERSUS FROM YOUR OTHER BANDS
Jerry: It's got keyboards. I think it's pretty different from the Jackmormons in many ways really.
Schools: Panic is sort of a democracy; It's like a headless democracy. There's no clearly defined leader, it's a melting pot of ideas. Just because you play bass doesn't mean you can't suggest a drumbeat. And just because you play drums doesn't mean you can't record an acoustic guitar track. And that works really well for Panic, but especially with this band, really never having played together before, someone had to take the reigns. And Jerry and I did that, and I wound up being sort of the go-to guy as far as the reigns went. Everybody has freedom of expression in the band, don't get me wrong, it's not an autocracy or anything, but the buck does kind of stop with me and Jerry. It is different, and I think when you are in the business of creating things, I think that every new experience that is different from what you do, or you are best known for doing, every time you can gather some new experience from some other field of endeavor, it just refreshes everything that you do. Like going out with Gov't Mule made me return to the Panic arena with a whole batch of different ways of looking at things and listening to things. And I know this was important to Jerry, and I think everybody in the Stockholm Syndrome digs the fact that what seemed to be just a recording project became a band really fast.
Dave Schools :: Bahamas
Jerry: Europe is a really great place to develop a band. When we came up with the whole idea for the band both Dave and I knew we loved to travel, so why not develop the band in Europe? There aren't as many expectations based on our other bands. And Europeans have a bit more of an open mind, and are really attentive. It seems to be less about selling drinks and more about the music. And overall it's just a dream come true really.
Danny Dziuk :: Bahamas
And the last time we played just me and Dave there were some really cool shows. Paris and Hamburg... Berlin and Barcelona are my two favorite cities in Europe. And we all have a connection to this club in Switzerland Muehle Hunziken, it's like the fuckin' coolest club in Europe. The promoter guy is a really interesting artist and he designed the place himself. It's kind of like the House of Blues if it wasn't a chain. He made the art that's in it. I've played there a number of times and I'm really looking forward to that. This place in the Bastille [Paris] is supposed to be really cool, La Scene. So you know the whole thing is sort of a wet dream of me and Dave's. "Let's have a band and we'll start in Europe. See how it goes and get our sea legs or whatever." So I think that will help determine the sound of the band.
Schools: Well, venue-wise I know the place Fabrik in Hamburg is the place Jerry had played with Vic Chesnutt, and he thought it was really cool. Apparently the place in Paris is really cool. Cities I love--I love Paris. I'm psyched to play the Milky Way in Amsterdam, Panic has played the Borderline in London, that's sort of a damp rock cellar, it's really small and really cramped, and if there's a crowd in there it's really cool. That's the great thing about these clubs, it doesn't take much to make them feel really cool and packed, and in your face. It's going to be a good litmus test for this band.
TOURING EUROPE VERSUS TOURING THE STATES
Jerry: The food's better. People are more polite. They have more of a sense of fashion, and we have to apologize a lot for being American.
Wally Ingram and Eric McFadden :: Bahamas
Schools: Well obviously the venues are smaller. And crowds, especially for a singer/songwriter like Jerry, they're very respectful. They want to sit and smoke their cigarettes and listen to the words. They are very reserved until the end of the night or the song is over. And when an American crowd invades a tiny little nightclub in Germany it's a bit weird because you have all these Americans up front that are used to vying for space and getting real excited and everything, and that's great. But then you see the local Germans in the back hovering around the bar, pressed up against the walls, standing on chairs, intently trying to listen as the crowd sings along. It's just different, it's a different culture and they look at things in a different way.
Jerry: The song "White Dirt..." There are two things to it. Literally "White Dirt" is... Well, in the South I find things to still be sort of segregated by choice as opposed to by law. Like when you go to gas stations some of them are geared towards a white clientele and some are geared towards a black clientele based on the forties of Saint Ide's or menthol cigarettes and whatever kind of weird stereotypes. But the black gas stations often have this white dirt that they sell in a bag. It's white clay and you eat it. Black people in the South eat it, and I don't know if white people eat this, I could totally be making a stereotype, but they eat it for two reasons, one it acts like kind or a Pepto-Bismol kind of thing, and also I heard they would eat it because it absorbs, and when you are hungry it kind of fills your stomach. So they sell this stuff in the stores and it's called white dirt. So that's where I got the title, but usually I write titles and then the song that follows doesn't really have anything to do with the title. "White Dirt" was something I wrote as a title, and then it was just sort of a heavy fall for me, I had a lot of weird death and shit going on. So the song is more kind of...whatever, my personal drama.
Jerry Joseph :: Compass Point Studios
Schools: We obviously recorded "Couldn't Get It Right" [originally cut by Climax Blues Band] with a single in mind. It was something we had thought about doing, it's helped break bands in the past, to re-cut a classic single. And we searched long and hard for the right song. It wasn't a perennial favorite, but people remembered it from 20, 25 years ago. And that was one that got routinely, "Ohh yeah, I hadn't heard that song in 25 years, I love that song." So we sort of pressure-washed it a little bit, jumped up the tempo and sort of modernized it a little bit, and I thought it was very successful.
Jerry: The single is "Couldn't Get It Right." And it was remixed by Dennis Hearing who just did the new Modest Mouse record and is doing the new Elvis Costello record, did all the Counting Crows and stuff like that. So he did the mix for the single, I think it's already out in Europe. So that is definitely the radio song.
Jerry: Everything we've heard Eric do, he seems to be able to fit in with a lot of different types of musical genres. He's a really original sounding player, and he's a sweetheart. Most of the reason we picked people was based on their talent and ability to play outside of the box. But basically it's also who we like as humans.
Schools: I've always known Eric as a great guitar player, and he's also a great mandolin player. Stylistically he does that Flamenco shit great. And he can adapt it to the electric guitar the same way Santana adapted Latin jazz scales to the electric guitar, and the rock arena. What I discovered about Eric despite having known him for about ten years on this project is that his ear is impeccable. And he is a chord library, so in other words he knows a lot of theory and stuff like that. Which makes it really easy for he and Danny to work together because Danny is a classically trained keyboardist. So they can work the colors and the textures out so incredibly quickly, so it was a real boon to the session. So that was what really surprised me about Eric because I just never knew about it, but I guess it goes hand and hand because Flamenco is not exactly easy to learn, or easy to play, and I guess there is a good bit of theory and classical studying that goes along with it.
DAVE ON JERRY
Schools: He can take shit better than anyone I've ever seen in my life. He's got a great sense of humor, a big old black sense of humor just like mine. We go off on these tangents, just these ill tangents that would turn most people's stomachs, and you know we're off laughing in the corner and we've lost everyone else. But that's the other thing; Eric and Wally are both sick dogs too. So the humor quotient--it's a band full of damn comedians.
JERRY ON DAVE
Jerry: He's a smart guy. I think he tends to be more thoughtful than a lot of people I work with. Philosophically and musically we have a lot similar tastes. He’s kinda like me; we buy a lot of records and listen to a lot of different stuff. And hopefully when we boil it down to the common denominator we tend to end up on the same page.
Jerry: We have the framework for a bunch of songs. That's kind of the thing we're most excited about, making the next record. And we're definitely pulling from my back catalogue; I've got something like 250 songs. I'm kind of leaving it up to the band to pick the ones of mine they want to do. And I think for each person we are hoping to have everyone front a couple of songs a night. Eric has a pretty big catalogue of songs, Danny Dziuk has an endless amount of songs; they're all in German. Dave has Slang stuff and Panic to pull from. I don't think there is any kind of rulebook we're going with. We certainly want to get into a position where we can do two or three nights of music and not repeat stuff. That's definitely one of the things we get from the jam band world, we're not going to do a "show," with the same songs every night, mostly because I think Dave and I would go fuckin' berserk. I think we want to introduce new music every night to get the catalogue up there.
Schools: Well you know the last thing we want to be is conceived as a butt rock band, although we could do that. What we're really looking to do is get the songs across. And that was a big part of my production job on the record, making sure this isn't a guitar jam band, and that it's also not like a singer/songwriter/storyteller band, and that it's not just a jam band in general, or any kind of band that people think they can pigeonhole. Maybe it's that we want it to be a band in the classic sense of the word, where everybody is intelligent in the band, and everybody has a unique personality and a strong ability to bring that personality to the forefront, but also has the maturity and temperament to not do so. And to understand that here is your little hole, fill it. So you're probably not going to hear a lot of extemporaneous noodle jamming, you might, but it might be like a ten-minute metal jam if that happens that night. You just don't ever know. The mystery to us is that we just don't know how deep this stuff can go. We've barely scratched the surface of what this band is capable of making this record. I think it's just going to be surprise after surprise in Europe.
Dave Schools and Eric McFadden :: Compass Point
THE FUTURE OF STOCKHOLM SYNDROME
Jerry: The whole plan was to have a band with legs. So we have two things we want to do: continue to make better records as we go along, and in Dave's words, "To play anyplace that has electricity" and just being able to play around the world.
Schools: THIS IS NOT A SIDE PROJECT.
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