Checking In: The Inner Party

The Inner Party. L-R: Dave Morris, Keith Miller, Jimmy Holloway, Ezra Quinn

Photo: John Moore (noir33)

When we last checked in with Fayetteville band The Inner Party, people still used MySpace. That’s a pretty good indicator that it’s been too long. (Poor MySpace).

It has been so long, in fact, that the band took a two-year hiatus, and reformed to add two new members to join founders Dave Morris and Keith Miller.

They’re back now and stronger than ever these days, and they’ll be at Rogue opening for their friends Dreamfast tonight (May 11). They are also set to headline a show at The Lightbulb next Friday, May 19 with Lincoln, NE band Universe Contest.

We caught up with the band recently, and three out of four of them answered all our questions. Not bad!

Fayetteville Flyer: What have you been listening to lately?

Keith: Atheist and skeptic podcasts (Non-Prophets, Good Atheist, Godless Bitches, Imaginary Friends Show, Skeptics Guide to the Universe), Burt Bacharach, Purple Rain, Art Vs. Science, Joey Ramone, Julian Cope, Kaiser Chiefs, Jamie T, The Horrors, ELO, Doug Stanhope, Dead Milkmen, ABBA, These New Puritans, Slade, Ride, Penn Jillette’s audio book “God, No!,” Louis XIV. I’m always listening to stuff I’m working on.

Jimmy: City and Colour, Hot Snakes, Drive Like Jehu, Tricky, and an assortment of underground hip hop.

Dave: I’ve listened to the National more or less constantly for the last two years. “High Violet” is the best record I’ve heard in quite a while. I love the new Marilyn Manson and Garbage records! I am listening to a lot of Soundgarden in anticipation of their upcoming record. Also, we recently played with three very good out of town bands – Broncho (OK), Lizard Police (OK), and the Blind Pets (TX). I’ve listened to them a lot since their respective shows. They’re all coming back soon as well, so you should come see what the big deal is about each of them.

FF: You guys took a little break since we talked to you last. How does it feel to be back in action?

Keith: It’s been a real uphill battle to get the booking going again; Dave can tell you about it. I think we’ve finally started to get it kind of flowing after six months or so of trying. Getting back into the scene is a bit like digging a ditch. That being said, playing shows has been really good mostly. I’ve really liked playing at LaLa Land and JR’s is pretty fun to play at.

Dave: Booking shows is a nightmare. When you haven’t played a show in two years, you may as well have never played a show at all. The starting over aspect of it sucked, but we’re settling into a groove and have made some new friends and reconnected with some old friends so it’s getting a lot better. My big lesson from our time apart is that I will never be happy doing anything other than this. And by “this” I don’t just mean playing music, I mean playing in this very band. It’s all I want. I of course do want for us to be able to do things on a larger scale, but I am mostly just thankful that we’re back together.

FF: Tell us a bit about the current lineup, and how you started playing together.

Keith: Well, there’s me and Dave, aka Tato, and we’ve been working together off and on for over a decade. Last summer I went to FreeOK, the Oklahoma free thought convention, and ran into Jimmy. He expressed interest in playing guitar in a band. I was reluctant, not knowing anything about his playing and how he would fit, etc, but I finally gave him a call and have been happy about it ever since. He’s enthusiastic and that’s worth as much or more than a lot of other qualities people look for in band mates. That’s not to say he doesn’t have those other qualities.

Ezra, our drummer, was just a guy I had seen around town. I met him briefly once, that’s it. It was hard to miss him, he had a huge mohawk. I was talking to some friends and they suggested him. I was unsure about him too but for different reasons. I didn’t think a guy like he seemed to be would want to play a lot of the stuff we have. But it turns out we met at the perfect time. He was actually getting into a lot of new stuff for him and so was willing to try playing different things. He’s got a lot of energy, which you wouldn’t know from looking at him most of the time. He’s pretty reserved in public. But, he’s not reserved when he plays drums. When he’s feeling it, he beats the hell out of them.

Dave: As Keith said, he and I have played together for a long time and I’m pretty sure we’ve recounted the band’s “origin story” comic book style in one of our past interviews with you fine folks at the Fayetteville Flyer (though probably without that much alliteration). I would like to add two things to what he said though. 1: I’d like to give a big shout out to Beau Cousins (Queen Beast, Lethal Red, the Drunkards) for playing with us at various times since our reformation, and 2: I’d like to thank Honey Kostelac (The Pullout Method/Womanimal) for suggesting we play with Ezra, because there’s no way that would have happened otherwise and we’re very lucky to have him. As I’m sure any local band in town can tell you, drummers are hard to come by.

FF: We noticed you guys’ 2008 release, Honky Heretics is on your Bandcamp page for free. Do you guys have any other recordings in the works?

Keith: We’re always recording. Those recordings probably won’t end up on an album, though. Right now we’re trying to figure out the best way to get a really good quality EP or a 45 released. I’d kind of like to do an EP on two 45s.

Dave: When we finally come up with a winning strategy, we’re going to post a Kickstarter project to make a record and hopefully something will come of that. In the meantime we’ll just continue to record at home as we always have. I think the grand total of “finished” IP songs at the time of this interview is 52, and between Keith and me (the songwriters) there are probably at least that many sketches and such that could easily be IP songs. We have most of those 52 previously mentioned songs loosely assigned to two albums, and if we had funds or label support we could knock out those two records in as many weeks and also probably get halfway through a third. Anyway, for right now you can hear most of our “demos” at soundcloud.com/theinnerparty

FF: Do you guys prefer playing live or recording? Or both?

Keith: I love writing and recording. I don’t play my guitar except to record, work on my sound, or band practice. Writing is why I do this at all. And recordings are the only product of the two that lasts. Like a lot of people I know I’m mortal and want to leave something behind, some kind of legacy. I just recently was turned on to R. Stevie Moore by my friend Thor, who I play in the Bling Grenades with. I looked him up and found an older guy who had been writing and recording music since the late sixties; piles of recordings. I thought, ‘That’s me.’ I’ve never heard of this guy and he’s just constantly spitting out songs for forty plus years. He’s not doing it because he’s making money. He’s doing it because he can’t not do it. I just hear shit all the time; while I’m feeding my cat, riding my bike or in the shower. It seems my brain is wired to make songs. I can’t turn it off. Sometimes I would like to. There should be no confusion on my previous point. Being wired for it does not presume quality.

On the playing live side, I would really love to play live if I was Mick Jagger or something. If we had a crew, and people there to just make sure shit is working right and that we’re mixed right. And that we can actually hear what is going on in our monitors. All that is to say that, there are so many things that can ruin an otherwise good show. Starting, obviously, with the band, and running on in to infinity. But, even if we have shit on total lockdown, the sound guy could be spending all his time talking to a girl. The venue might have shitty power and blow somebody’s amp, which has happened. The acoustics of the room can sometimes make playing unbelievably difficult.

I once saw Soundgarden open for Guns’N’Roses in the Pyramid. They sounded fucking terrible. But, I love them and know their stuff enough to be able to tell they were actually killing it; just had shitty sound. It was really clear that I was right about that when Guns’N’Roses got on stage and, at first, sounded just as bad as Soundgarden did; just as bad in every detail. But, by the time they finished their first song, it sounded like their cds. In between sets, I went to the bathroom. There were people walking down the halls yelling, “Soundgarden sucks!” Totally wrong, but they didn’t know. It was all the sound crew’s fault. Playing live is always spinning the Wheel of Fortune and only lasts the length of your set. Recordings are under control and last, at least in human terms, virtually forever. I’d like to say that we’re like Iggy Pop or the MC5; rock monsters. But, we’re pretty much always going to be a more rock version of David Bowie; planned and composed. To a lot of people, that can come off as contrived or pretentious and that can be a real problem for a rock band. But like it or not, that’s the way we work. And I don’t mind.

Jimmy: So far I haven’t done any recording, so playing live.

Dave: It depends really. I absolutely love playing shows, but it can be soul crushing when the performance is off or the crowd is weak. I love recording, but I tend to drive myself crazy revising things I write and pining for thousands of dollars in gear. I’’m just glad we’re able to do both, even in the modest means by which we currently do them. Hopefully someday we’ll do it all on a much larger scale.

FF: How do you guys perceive the music scene in Fayetteville these days? Any other local bands that you recommend that folks check out?

Keith: I’m not sure how to say this really, but compared to a few years ago, the scene seems less vital. I’ve noticed a lot of waxing and waning in the scene since I moved here in 92, and this seems to be a waning period. There’s still good bands but, there’s a lack of energy in it. This may just be me getting older but, I don’t think I’ve seen any real energy in the scene around here since before 95 or so. Even when old JR’s was still going, there was a steady influx of good music from outside and the local bands responded to that. They had something that I haven’t seen in a long while. You know when you hear a coach say a player is hungry? They were hungry. There are good bands, some really good, but they seem resigned to some kind of “I’ve got a shitty job and will die with a different shitty job” mentality.

I just turned forty a couple weeks ago. I don’t give a damn. I’m not dead, yet! Pretend you’re still sixteen if you have to, but get fucking hungry. You, and yes I’m talking to you sitting in your underwear, can do great things. Stop worrying about people seeing it or hearing it or what you might think they want. If you feel the urge to, get out of your stupid sheltered box and create something. I feel seriously stupid using this example, but Van Gogh sold ONE painting in his life. One. I know we all want to be at least marginally recognized in our lifetimes for doing something. But don’t forgot how fucking cool you will be if no one recognizes while you’re alive and you turn out to be fucking Van Gogh. You were always around and doing great things and everyone else was too tied up with football and insurance and girls/guys and talking about their stupid worthless fucking jobs to bother noticing. Ultimately, and I say this with enthusiasm, nothing matters, so let some shit fly. Think of your favorite musician, whoever that is. He/she doesn’t matter one tiny bit. Billions of years of evolution matter. It’s never too late to begin.

Jimmy: Dreamfast, Fauxnz, Matt Demon, A+ Setup, and Potions.

Dave: I wish there was a pass option on this one. These kinds of questions always lead to some kind of post interview drama! I apologize in advance to whatever friends I mistakenly overlook. I certainly think Amyh from Dreamfast is the hardest working, most underrated musician in town. I also greatly admire what both Shreves have been able to achieve around here. It takes a lot of hard work on top of everything else to achieve the kind of dominance they have here, and I don’t see how someone couldn’t respect that, even if they didn’t necessarily like their music. I’m extremely stoked about the Indiana and the Byrds reunion. Beyond that, I’m down with Sharkcunt, Dying, Left Holding the Gun, Friday Maybe Saturday, the Pullout Method, and anyone else that can deliver a real performance. Samantha Hunt has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard. She pretty much only does covers, but she really owns them.

FF: What does Fayetteville really need to know about the Inner Party?

Keith: In the words of Iggy Pop, “we have sincerity.” I absolutely, positively, beyond most people’s ability to understand, believe in the music that we make and will die thinking so. And I don’t think many bands can honestly say that. I said “honestly.” No willful ignorance allowed here!

Jimmy: We will never die.

Dave: We are desperately poor and in severe need of a cash infusion, just like everyone else in America. If you take part in the Inner Party bailout, you’ll be rewarded with rock tenfold. This is a lot of the reason why our recent songs are almost exclusively about issues of class, wealth, poverty, labor, etc. We certainly want to make our little contribution to and commentary on social issues, but these songs are also extremely personal to us.

Click below to hear “The Dance” by The Inner Party
[audio:https://www.fayettevilleflyer.com/mp3/innerparty_thedance.mp3]