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Don’t judge a band by its name

By Staff | Mar 24, 2009

I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and it’s equally true you shouldn’t judge a band by its name. Yet with The Deep Vibrations I confess I was, to my shame, guilty of this charge.

The moniker, along with the description of the band as roots-rockers, sounded too much like a generic hippie jam band to me. So when the publicist asked me if I wanted to interview the Nashville-based quartet ahead of their April 5 Mountain Stage appearance, I was hesitant.

Fortunately for me, Mountain Stage is known for quality, so I decided to give them a chance. The first songs I heard were from the band’s WOXY.com live studio show, another quality source of music.

What I heard was refreshing for a young band these days. The sounds coming from my earbuds were real American music, steeped deep in blues, soul and aggressive, early Stones rock.

A little more research and a subsequent interview later and I felt all the more a fool for doubting the Deep Vibration’s authenticity. You need look no further than the guest appearances on their EP and their name, which came from a pretty famous musician himself.

Lead singer Matt Campbell took some time out of the band’s trip to Austin, Texas, on the way to South by Southwest for an appearance at the famed music festival, to talk about all things Deep Vibrations.

Graffiti: I’m sure you get this question a lot, but it’s an interesting story, so I’ll ask it anyway. Can you run down for us how the band got its name?

Campbell: Well we went to (a show) and saw Lou Reed play and after the show we went around back and waited around. Of course people have to exit from the building and he came out eventually, and we went up to him and asked him for a band name and he said Deep Vibrations. We put a ‘the’ in front of it.

Graffiti: Were you immediately in love with the name as a standalone name, or was it because Lou Reed had recommended it?

Campbell: Oh no, it was a good name. We were excited. It was a good band name.

Graffiti: I also understand some of the guest appearances and help on the EP came about in a similar manner. Can you talk a little about how you got my future wife, Gillian Welch, into doing an appearance on “Tennessee Rose?”

Campbell: I met her after a show about five years ago at the Station Inn in Nashville five years ago on St. Patrick’s Day. We were drinking green beer and singing through the pizza mic where you call out for a pizza … it was a good time it was fun.

I just kind of kept in touch and would go to their shows and speak to them and they would go to some of our shows. We were recording this one song and I thought she’d be good on it so I called her and she sang on it.

Graffiti: One of the first things that caught me when I listened to the band was the sense of classic American music. It seemed like it wasn’t something being done just to sell records or be trendy. Where does this come from? Did you grow up in the Midwest, listen to a lot of Neil Young and Springsteen as a teen?

Campbell: I grew up in Tennessee. I grew up listening Bruce Springsteen and the Beatles and Roy Orbison — that’s what my dad listened to a lot of, Roy Orbison.

The guys, Jeremy, listened to a lot of Billy Joel. I didn’t listen to Bob (Dylan) until I was in high school. My history teacher said I should cover one of his songs for a history class. We had his greatest hits and we only had vinyl. I don’t know how but I hadn’t listened to him till then. So I covered “Rainy Day Women” and “The Times They Are A’changing.” I really didn’t listen to Neil (Young) till like two years ago. I don’t know how these people slipped my mind.

We all kind of listened to similar things and we listen to all kinds of stuff now.

Graffiti: So this is your first appearance at Mountain Stage?

Campbell: Yea

Graffiti: Are you familiar with Mountain Stage?

Campbell: No, I’m kind of a recluse. I’m not up on anything. But I am excited about it.

Graffiti: So what’s the band up to right now? You’re driving to Texas for South by Southwest, yea?

Campbell: Yea, we’re in the van heading over to Austin right now, which we’re excited about.

Graffiti: Do you have any other shows outside of South by Southwest there?

Campbell: We just have one official showcase. I think you’re only allowed to play one, and then we have lots of other shows down there too.

Graffiti: Will you have much time to check out some other bands?

Campbell: Yea we should have some time. We have Friday (March 20) night off and all day (March 19) till the evening time.

Graffiti: Anyone you’re particularly excited to see?

Campbell: I heard Gary Louris and some of the Jayhawks guys are playing. I like them, but I can’t recall who else is playing.

Graffiti: What’s up next for The Deep Vibrations after South by Southwest?

Campbell: We’ll be gone most of April and May playing shows and hopefully we’ll be getting some songs together and trying to get something together for a record. That will happen once we get the songs together. Our record, I guess you never know, but it could be in the fall when we record.

Contact Justin at jmcintosh@graffitiwv.com