5 questions for Milwaukee's Doghouse Flowers
New Milwaukee band Doghouse Flowers – set to release its debut CD this week with a gig at Kochanski's Concertina Beer Hall – is the fruit of the meeting of a Brew City music scene veteran and a new man in town.
Jonathan Ziegler has been a member of The Uptown Savages and The Exotics – to name two bands – and hosts the popular country music show, The Chicken Shack, on WMSE.
When he met Justin Reuther, who moved to Milwaukee from New Orleans, a new band was born. Doghouse Flowers got together last spring and is already releasing a disc.
"Chasing the Sun" is rock and roll tinged with country – or vice versa – part Whiskeytown, part Black Oak Arkansas, part Waylon Jennings.
We caught up with Ziegler to ask about the roots of Doghouse Flowers and about making "Chasing the Sun."
OnMilwaukee.com: Tell us about the new band.
Jonathan Ziegler: The band formed in the late winter/spring of 2012, when our singer Justin Reuther moved to Milwaukee from New Orleans. I had met Justin the previous fall on a trip to New Orleans and I had heard that he was a good songwriter. I agreed to help him network a bit in Milwaukee and hopefully meet some like-minded musicians. A few weeks after moving to Milwaukee, Justin came over to my house, and over a handful of beers, he played a bunch of his songs for me and I was floored. His songs were as good as, or better than anything that I have heard in that vein. I told him that I wanted to play bass and we decided to try to put together a band, and began looking for players. It did not take very long to put the core of the group together.
We pulled in Brian Scheehle on guitar. Brian is a relative newcomer to the Milwaukee music scene himself. Brian teaches music in Menominee Falls and is a very apt guitarist whose previous gigging experience had been primarily in cover bands and he has done some theater work. Brian is a quick study and had the right sound and influences so he was our first pick for guitarists. Mike Budde was also our first choice for drums. Mike has been playing in bands regionally for decades. He is a rock solid time keeper, and does a great job with harmony vocals. The band started gigging in June of 2012 and plays two or three nights a month currently.
We are augmented occasionally by pedal steel guitarist Leroy Deuster, who plays pedal steel and dobro on the CD. We are also currently working in a keyboard player, Kevin Schultz (Boney Fingers) to augment the group's sound.
OMC: Is the band doing mostly original material at this point?
JZ: The CD is all original. I guess the genre would be country-rock, or alt-country/Americana. Depending on the venue and circumstances our shows contain 50-100 percent original material.
We all come from relatively diverse backgrounds, but when we are on the way to a gig or hanging out we always default to the same records: Southern rock stuff, '70s country rock like the Byrds, Burritos, Parsons, Poco, '68-'78 Rolling Stones, X, The Clash and other early punk stuff, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Johnny Cash, etc. I would say that you can find some traces of all of that on our record.
OMC: Did you do the record mostly live in the studio?
JZ: The CD was recorded at Hamtone Studios in Milwaukee, engineered and mixed by Jeff Hamilton. Along with Leroy Deuster on pedal steel and dobro, the CD also features Matt Meixner (5-Card Studs) on keyboards, and Chrissy Dzioba (Whiskeybelles, Blonde on Blonde) on vocals. The songs came very quickly in the studio.
The bass, drums and rhythm guitar is all live, for the most part. We did most of the bed tracks, lead guitar and vocals in just a handful of sessions. We took our time with mixing, we did not want to rush and put out a bad product. The mastering was done by Milwaukee ex-pat Trevor Sadler.
OMC: Do you expect the band to have a pretty active schedule?
JZ: Our plan is to be as busy as possible, while avoiding the cover band game and not getting fired from our jobs. So I would say that we endeavor to be very casually active. It is difficult for guys in their mid-to-late 40s to start a new band from the ground up and expect to be rock stars. We are not that delusional.
However, we do put a lot of experience on the stage and we always deliver a professional performance regardless of the audience or venue. Our immediate goal is to put on a great show, and get it on as many stages as we can. We already have enough new material to make another record so that is also something that we look forward to.
OMC: A release party is coming up soon, too, right?
JZ: Our CD release party is going down at Kochanski's Concertina Beer Hall on Sunday, Jan. 26. Andy (Kochanski) has always been cool about letting me do what I want for shows at his place, so we thought that doing a Sunday Matinee show from 2 to 6 p.m. would be fun and different.
It looks like we will be playing as a six-piece band that day, so I anticipate a really great show.
Crazy Rocket Fuel will be playing with us that day, as well. They are an all-female rockabilly group that we have played with quite a bit. They are always fun and put on a very entertaining show.
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