Getting down with Juicy and USFLOYD
Juicy Floyd formed in 2009 and is still going strong, playing all kinds of cover tunes (but not AC/DC – just so that’s clear) around West Virginia and surrounding states. In late 2011, the guys decided to kick things up a notch and formed USFLOYD to bring the music of Pink Floyd to the masses on a larger scale. Lead vocalist Kevin Mullins talked recently with Graffiti to give us the low down.
Graffiti: Thanks so much for doing this interview with Graffiti. First, let’s talk a little about how Juicy was formed. Is it still all original members that were attached to the idea?
Mullins: Randy Crouser and I were kicking around the idea of starting a band towards the end of 2008. By April 2009, we had the band together. We rehearsed for an entire year, until April 2010 when Randy decided to leave for another project. We auditioned a few guitar players and immediately decided on bringing Chris Amick into the band. Everyone else is still here and still excited to play. So we have Greg Fortner on drums, Jim Bateman on keyboards, Jeff Anderson on bass guitar, myself on lead vocals, Bobby Harrold on saxophone, Chris Amick and our newest (last year) addition Chet Williamson on guitars.
Graffiti: It’s cool to see a band that could easily be labeled a “tribute” band do what Juicy is doing with all of these classic rock ‘n’ roll songs. How did the concept come about?
Mullins: Well, Juicy and the Pink Floyd tribute are really two entirely different projects. We maintain Juicy and still love playing small clubs around town, as all of us have done for years. We decided in late 2011 we’d like to see if we could take it up a notch. So after a meeting at our secret rehearsal location (Greg’s house) we decided on doing a Pink Floyd tribute. Another entire year of rehearsal, and USFLOYD was born. I guess you could say the strength of this band is focus.
Graffiti: How do you guys come together to figure out what songs you’re going to do?
Mullins: Well, everyone has a few Pink Floyd tunes that are their personal favorite. So after those were written down, we all sat down to watch Pink Floyd’s Pulse concert and picked a few more. We forced ourselves to stop at two hours of music.
Graffiti: Does everyone contribute to the selection of material or do you have a few who really only worry about material?
Mullins: Everyone selects material. Even with other covers for the Juicy project. Usually someone will suggest a song. If everyone is on board, we do the tune. We don’t really spend a lot of time debating songs. We do, however, try to pick songs that are deeper album cuts. We always steer away from the standard bar songs. The first rule in the band is no Metallica, AC/DC, or Lynyrd Skynyrd. Other than that, it’s pretty wide open.
Graffiti: When you decide to cover a tune, do you go into it striving to play it as it is originally recorded, or does Juicy put a personal touch on the song?
Mullins: Both, some songs have to be pretty close to the original. Rush for example doesn’t have a lot of ‘jam’ songs. However, a Joe Cocker song is built for experimenting. With the Pink Floyd stuff, most of it is very close to their live versions, with a few modifications to enhance certain players.
Graffiti: How did the Pink Floyd tribute come about?
Mullins: USFLOYD, as I said earlier, is our attempt to take local music to a higher level. We knew we wanted to play bigger venues and we knew we wanted to bring in some additional players. We brought in Shayla Leftridge and Sara Renee from Hybrid Soul Project to sing backup along with Tim Carper on percussion. Our first show was at The Little Theater here in Charleston. Then an outdoor show on The Levee, The Lexington Opera House last fall, and now we going to do The Little Theater again on April 19.
Graffiti: Has your performance of the Floyd tribute and reputation as a classic rock cover band confused anyone about Juicy being a Pink Floyd cover band rather than what Juicy truly is?
Mullins: We get some confusion locally. But really having the two bands being two different entities has helped. Juicy fans will get a couple Pink Floyd tunes, but we have so many other tunes to play. We save 90 percent of the Floyd stuff for USFLOYD.
Graffiti: A lot of times bands that are primarily known for ‘tribute’ sets or sets of covered material have a few original compositions peppered throughout the set. Does Juicy ever focus on original material?
Mullins: We’ve kicked around a few original tunes, but we all realize there are no record executives coming out in Charleston, West Virginia to find the next superstars. All of our members have been playing live for decades in numerous projects, and we’re all very grounded in that respect. We’re all good friends, our wives are friends and there is zero drama involved. We really play music simply for the love of playing music.
Graffiti: When someone attends a show that has Juicy on the bill, what can they expect to experience?
Mullins: Juicy has a very diverse and eclectic song list. True music fans will appreciate it, maybe not so much for the pop radio listener. USFLOYD fans can expect a very elaborate production with video, amazing lighting, lasers and great Pink Floyd music. Sometimes there is a funny smell coming from the audience during ‘Comfortably Numb’.