The Shooting Gallery takes aim
Sheer intensity tends to be the first sacrifice when a band puts its music to tape. It has something to do with the sterile environment of a lot of studios, the lack of sweat and fetid bar air that, after playing so many shows in cramped clubs, becomes as much a part of your music as the drummer. So when I get a new record by a stunningly forceful and severe live band like The Shooting Gallery, that’s my first concern.
Not so on its debut full-length, Sailor’s Mouth. In fact, this album may actually be more intense than the live show, if for no other reason than that the instruments get equal tonal billing. Jon Ashley’s voice is jagged like a broken baseball bat and natural with a distortion that comes off like a megaphone, more gut than throat. Add that to the punk-country thrashing of loud electric guitars (courtesy of Justin Fitzgerald and Nick O’Brien — the latter has since been replaced by Nick Reifsteck) well-versed in both power chords and twang, Chris Reinstatler’s pounding drums and Eric Sexton’s bass (Scott Ritcher is now the bassist), and you have a nasty, fucked up stew of blood and blues. Not to mention Ashley’s substantial lyrical ability, twisting tuneful verse after chorus after verse of highly personal gutter blues in a pastiche of dual-minded Southern music: deep blues and subterranean country.
LEO: If you were Mayor, what would you do to help promote people like you in this city?
Scott Ritcher: Well it’s not the mayor’s job to promote music, but the mayor and Metro Council can do things to help create an environment in which creativity and the arts can flourish. I think our local government does a pretty good job with this. Maybe the only thing that could help more would be reductions in crime and things like that. A better economic climate and feeling of security always helps creativity.
Jon Ashley: Raise gas prices a lot more to make people angry so they will rock harder. But I am skeptical because people have been screwed pretty hard already for the last few years and they’re still not doing anything. Also, as mayor I would declare myself the only one allowed to smoke in restaurants that don’t serve liquor. This, too, would make people want to commence hard rocking.
LEO: Which Louisville musician needs to get more attention?
JA: Adam Kramer’s a really great singer-songwriter. Joe Manning also has a great voice and way with words. Also, the Shinerunners: The first time I saw them play I thought to myself, “Oh boy, the fecal matter has hit the proverbial air cooling device.” Slow Break is also an excellent newer band.
SR: The guy who sings that song “I’m Bill Collins. How do you dooo?”
LEO: If music were food, what kind would yours be?
Chris Reinstatler: Sloppy Mexican food.
Justin Fitzgerald: Scotch.
JA: Ribs. I had ribs for lunch.
LEO: Tell me about one of your favorite works of art aside from your medium.
SR: Air Jordans.
JA: I really like the new Mustangs.
LEO: What do you want to say that you know you shouldn’t?
JA: This city has always had way more talent than most, but lately people have just been too damn lazy and too wrapped up in trying to be cute.
SR: The splatter-paint LEO logo has got to go.
BY STEPHEN GEORGE