The Louisville Ballet and LEO Weekly have teamed up to present Let's Go Crazy at Thunder, an all-evening Derby Festival kickoff taking place Saturday April 17th at The Louisville Ballet Center downtown on 315 E. Main St., which, needless to say, is at the heart of Thunder Over Louisville activities: fireworks, air shows, vendors selling those flexible neon glow sticks for 500% of what it costs to make them.
The party starts at 6 P.M. inside the Ballet, where there will be a bourbon tasting and opportunities to mingle with LEO staff and Louisville Ballet dancers. Outside, you can enjoy free catered food from Carrabba's Italian Grill, an open bar, and live music from Lexington 's Chico Fellini and Louisville's The Pass.
As if an unobstructed view of the fireworks wasn't enough, while others are stuck in traffic and port-a-potty lines after the pyrotechnics showcase, Louisville's Wax Fang will perform Prince's Purple Rain in its entirety on a stage outside the Ballet building. So, what better time than the week before the big show to catch up with Wax Fang front man Scott Carney? Of course that's a rhetorical question. There is no better time as the band is on the verge of a UK tour and breaking it big. That's no hunch, either. As inevitable as the cancellation of a sit-com soon after the addition of a small child to the cast, this power, progressive, and passionate trio will soon hit the mainstream with their unique, uncompromised, and grandiose blend of magical mayhem.
Louisville.com: I've read where you had about 100 names before coming up with Wax Fangs, which a bandmate shortened to Wax Fang. And here I was thinking it had something to do with Phyllis Diller's husband. Do you remember some of the names that didn't make the cut?
Scott: As a matter of fact, I still have them saved in my electronic brain. Some notable mentions are: Electric Chariot, Poison Apples, Pillow Fight, Space Station. Madame Ovary, Phantom Limbs, Origami Guillotine, Birth Control, Mechanical Bullshit, and Hymen Trouble!, to name a few.
Louisville.com: My Morning Jacket gets a lot of press and accolades. I know you guys have opened for them, and fans will remember when Jim James joined you onstage last Derby Eve at Headliners for a rousing version of My Old Kentucky Home. But being a Hikes Point man myself, I'd like to see St. Barnabas guys get the edge over St. Martha grads like James. I'll say with you and Todd Hildreth being from Barnabas, the Bucs have to get the nod over the Shamrocks no matter how many records MMJ has sold. Any healthy, friendly competition between the two bands?
Scott: I agree. As far as I'm concerned, the Battle of Hikes Point was settled one afternoon in the Fall of 1992 when my group of friends challenged a group of St. Martha kids to a brawl (ala The Outsiders) in a secluded forest at end the of Cabinwood Drive, where Beargrass Creek and Breckenridge Lane cross paths. They thought they were clever by showing up with golf clubs and tennis rackets, but then we showed up with hatchets and machetes and baseball bats with nails driven through them. We stood on opposite sides of the creek taunting each other, while a few of our friends from Ascension set off to flank them from the rear, forcing them to drop their weapons and surrender. Victory was ours. On a musical level, I can't speak for Jim, but I'm not a very competitive person. I just don't care for that sort of thing. I want everybody to win. Besides, it's lonely at the top, so I'm told.
Louisville.com: You have a good sense of humor, but the band's music is anything but carefree. It's complex tapestry of sound and intricate arrangements. In fact, Majestic and The Dr. Will See You Now both remind me a bit of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. What artists have most influenced you?
Scott: Peter Gabriel- very interesting. You know, our bassist, Jacob Heustis, is a big Peter Gabriel fan. Or maybe just a fan of Sledgehammer? I'm not sure which. I am mostly influenced by the golden oldies of the late 50's and 60's, British progressive rock of the late 60's and early 70's, hair metal and punk rock of the 80's and 90's post rock. And, of course, classical music and the avant-garde.
Louisville.com: American Songwriter called Wax Fang a "psyche-rock trio" Would you agree with that? Would another term be a better description? Songs like Bloody Murder have almost a jangly sort of 1990 British sound to it instead.
Scott: I do, to a certain extent. I don't think our sound is necessarily one thing or another all of the time, although there is evidence of psychedelia in many of our songs, particularly those on La La Land. I, myself, prefer the term, Fantasy Rock.
Louisville.com: You are on your own label Don't Panic. Does that provide more artistic freedom? Is a major label one of the band's goals?
Scott: It provides 100% artistic freedom which is great. We have, however, recently signed to a new label called Absolutely Kosher. They will be releasing our next two records. The first should be out early next year. I don't think a major label is our goal, per se. We are not opposed to it, though. We just want to keep making music as long as we can however it makes the most sense. If it ever made sense to be on a major label and we had an offer on the table which allowed to do our thing, I don't see why we wouldn't take it.
Louisville.com: How did the idea of doing Purple Rain in its entirety for the big Thunder Over Louisville show come about?
Scott: Sean Cannon, of Buzzgrinder, approached me many months ago to play a Thunder party that he and Jeffrey Smith, of Crash Avenue Publicity, were putting on in conjunction with the Louisville Ballet. Originally, we were asked to cover a Beastie Boys album, but I was uncomfortable with the idea of rapping. So, we threw out a few other ideas and Purple Rain just stuck. I went back and forth on it for several days because it's such an amazing album and so different from anything we've covered in the past. I actually had never listened to it the whole way through until about two months ago and after giving it a few spins decided, "Well, what the hell? Let's go for it!" And here we are. It's been quite a challenge, to say the least.
Louisville.com: Will you also be playing your own stuff, and I would be remiss not to ask if anyone will be dressed in scrubs and wearing a surgical mask.
Scott: If, by 'your own stuff,' you mean our own equipment, then yes. If, by that, you mean Wax Fang songs, then no. This will strictly be a Prince affair. We are still working on our wardrobes at the moment, but I believe the Doctor may be making an appearance.
Louisville.com: For three weeks in May, Wax Fang will be touring in the UK. Have you been there before? Do you expect any noticeable differences in the crowds.
Scott: I have never been there before, but I am SO excited! If you aren't aware, I'm sort of an Anglophile, so this trip will be like my pilgrimage to Mecca, so to speak. I honestly don't know what to expect. The past has taught me not to expect anything. That way, any good that happens will seem like a pleasant surprise. Regardless of what becomes of it, we are going to have a great time ripping though the UK from town to town. If people show up, great! If not, we're still overseas doing what we love to do.
Louisville.com: You played at this year's SXSW, which, much like legendary anchorman Ron Burgundy, is a pretty big deal. How did that go?
Scott: This was our fourth appearance at SXSW. Every year gets better and better. The shows this time around were about 50/50, but we had a blast.
Louisville.com: Any final thoughts on the upcoming shows, the theremin, or anything else?
Scott: Hmmmm... on the spot and drawing a blank...ah, wait a minute...no, that wasn't a thought, really...oh, nevermind...
Tickets are $75 and proceeds will benefit The Louisville Ballet. Guests are encouraged to "dress to impress" for this 21+ event. So the black Dio tour shirt and stonewashed jeans may not go over too well. For ticket and limited special parking information call the Louisville Ballet at (502) 583.3150 x229 or visit louisvilleballet.org. If you are a member of the Public Radio Partnership, you have the chance to purchase one of 50 pairs of tickets discounted to $60 each.