Posted: January 6th, 2010
"It was surprising that the club in DC didn’t have any cognac."
Interview & photos by Joe Hammeke
When you come from a small town, you’ve got to make do with who’ve you got when forming a band. The McIntyre brothers lucked out in that both of them dig the same music and work well together. On top of that, both are talented musicians who are down to hit the road. After moving to Omaha, NE, for college in ’07, Jeremiah met Dave Goldberg at a show and recruited him as the third member, forming the Box Elders in its current form. Following a spot at Gonerfest Five in 2008, they scored a record deal on the Goner label and were invited back for Gonerfest Six this September 24–26. I caught one of their shows in LA a few months ago and also picked their brains. Here’s what they had to say.
How did the Box Elders begin?
Jeremiah: Clayton and I are brothers. We had a band that would goof around on Friday night. Our mom would sing, and Clayton would play bass and kick drum and snare.
Clayton: We did “Wooly Bully” and “Blitzkrieg Bop.” We wrote a couple songs and figured we should find somebody to complete the band, so we recruited Dave since we’ve known him for a long time.
Your mom was a band member?
Jeremiah: That’s kind of how it started. I was in school. Clayton was 14 or 15 and we lived in the middle of nowhere. It was mostly covers. She does a mean “These Boots Are Made for Walking.” Our parents are both musicians. My dad played the guitar. My mom’s from Texas where people are generally into music, but she was never in a band.
Jeremiah, what’s it like being in a band with your brother?
Jeremiah: It’s good. We fight like brothers fight, but it’s usually over pretty quickly. We can fight and then it’s forgotten about. Not like a fight with a regular band member where the tension lingers.
Dave, what’s it like being in a band with brothers, neither of which are your own?
Dave: It’s like being in a band with a married couple. Which I have been in before. I just learn to tune it out. With the married couple, I would always pick the wife’s side. With these guys I just stay neutral.
Did you tour or record an album first?
Jeremiah: We did a 7-inch that sold pretty well. We did a tour through the South and a West Coast tour. When we were in the South we met the guys from Goner records. Eric, who worked with the Oblivians and Jay Reatard, was into us. Goner supports us. We’re doing a Goner LP and a 7-inch on Jay’s label. We also have a 7-inch coming out on Hozac.
What genre would I find Box Elders filed under?
Jeremiah: We call it cave pop.
Clayton: Maybe ’60s pop, early punk stuff.
Five influential bands?
Jeremiah: Slade, the Ramones, CCR, Minutemen, the Clean.
Dave: Cramps, Gories, Oblivians, Slade.
Clayton: Devo, the Modern Lovers, CCR, Little Richard, Red Kross.
Dave, what made you decide to play drums standing up?
Dave: I always thought the guy from the Stray Cats looked super cool, so I would stand up for a few songs. Then these guys convinced me to get rid of the stool.
You’ve been a frontman in other bands. What’s it like behind the drums?
Dave: I feel like I’m a frontman regardless of where I am on the stage.
Clayton: We are all frontmen here. No one is behind anyone else.
Do you plan to stay in Omaha?
Dave: It’s a good place to be if you’re touring. We plan to leave often. It’s a good home base; at least six months out of the year we’re gone.
Jeremiah: It’s centrally located. You’re never too far from your stuff.
What’s your favorite place to play a show?
All: The South. Alabama, Louisiana. Dixie.
Jeremiah: We’ve had good times in Brooklyn. San Francisco, Brooklyn, and Canada.
Clayton: All the shows in Canada are in the south of Canada, so it’s got to be the south.
Any city that just sucked?
Jeremiah: It was surprising that the club in DC didn’t have any cognac.
Dave: It was anti-crunk. Not what we expected.
Clayton: We kind of have a crunk list, rating cities by their crunkness. DC was a disappointment. The Chocolate City was a letdown. New Orleans and Memphis top the list for crunkness.
Jeremiah: Ben’s Chili Bowl in DC was crunk.
What’s next for you guys?
Jeremiah: Our record Alice and Friends came out August 11 on Goner. Then we’re going two weeks with Jay Reatard, two months on our own to some festivals, and then a month in Europe. Everyone tells me that they love rock and roll in Spain.
Download Box Elders albums and songs from the iTunes store here or check their myspace page for upcoming shows.