Tuesday, August 29, 2017

10 Questions With A Good Rogering

By Sean Claes
When you interview a musician named Skunk, you know the conversation will be interesting. Especially when you learn Skunk is in a band called A Good Rogering (AGR), which actually has it’s own tongue-in-cheek definition on Urban Dictionary.

Skunk Manhattan is an amazing guitarist, showman and band leader. AGR has been around - shocking and amazing audiences since 2008. They’ve laid low for the past few years, but with their new EP, This Is Death Metal, which will be released on September 5, they’ve re-emerged with a new line-up and fantastic new tunes.

Manhattan took some time to talk about the future of AGR with INsite… as he answered 10 questions.

Sean Claes: Looks like A Good Rogering (AGR) has gone through some lineup and style changes. You went from a three piece featuring yourself & Chef Bull RD to emerging from a year-long hiatus to a full four piece outfit. How did this transition occur?
Skunk Manhattan:I wasn’t looking at all; the stars just sort of aligned. Chef and I had grown tired of searching for drummers and really had just focused on writing after our last release. It’d actually been about 3 years since we’d played a show and then he ended up moving to San Francisco so that was that.

Anyway, I’d produced an EP for a band called Old World Kings in 2015 and somehow talk of us jamming together had come up. I’d already jammed with their drummer, Blake Haskins. Their bassist, Sammy Alvarado, was a fan and was all about jumping on board.

Enter Rick Lambert… He was fairly new in town and had heard of AGR and was wanting to get out and play, so I said let’s all learn 3 songs and get in a room together and see what happens. And it was killer! That’s how it all started.

Claes: Is there a new sound that goes with the new line-up?
Manhattan: The sound is finding itself, as it always has. We’ve rebranded and have started dubbing the music eclectic heavy-rock. I think it’s fitting even though we have a definite “old school” metal edge.

We’ve done everything from a mock TV theme to a classical piano piece so it’s hard to define a sound when you branch out in that way. The live show is an all out, high energy, hard rock assault. We love playing live and the energy between this group of guys has been second to none. I love it.

Claes: According to your website, your music was driven by channeling your “ancestral caveman predecessors.” Care to explain what this means?
Manhattan: I think that sentence sums up the band perfectly. We are rather brute. But yet charming. You just have to come to a show to get it.

Claes: I remember seeing you play Texas Rockfest a handful of years ago and what impressed me as much as the music (which was great) was your command over the audience. I felt like I was at rock & roll church. Where did you get such a command of stage presence?
Manhattan: Yeah that kind of ties into the last question. I think we really shine live, more now than ever actually. Back when you saw us I was doing a reverend shtick. It made sense at the time. I mean one of our members was already wearing an apron and a giant chef’s hat right?

But now it’s been stripped down. It’s just natural. We just go out there and rock the fuck out. It’s raw and honest the way rock and roll should be. Being on stage is easy. Honestly it’s one of the few things in life I feel comfortable with and in command of. It is my religion.

Claes: You released “The Snail” as a single back in November. To me, the song seems to be a tell-tale about the music industry - musicians wanting instant success without putting in the work. So… who is “The Snail?”
Manhattan: Actually that song is also on the EP but with a different drum track. It’s also the only track Chef is on bass. It features Blake on drums. We decided to release that version as a tribute to that roster that never was. It’s cool we at least got in the studio for that one song though.

It’s a typical simple but not really simple AGR type tune. There’s always little tricks that will make you feel like an asshole if you didn’t do your homework and learn the tune (laughs).

Anyway, lyrically it is about being frustrated. I’ve definitely experienced disappointment and wasted time and am no longer interested in moving at a snail’s pace or working with anyone not dedicated. This time around we’ve hit the ground running and I have no intention of letting up.

I think if can get in front of the right crowds over and over again the honesty in our music and performance will get us where we want to be. I’m a romantic like that. A caveman romantic.

Claes: One thing that makes it hard to explain AGR to people is the fact that your music is not one-note or really one-genre. Do you think the fact that you’re so genre-jumping makes it easier or harder to reach new audiences.
Manhattan: Well it doesn’t make it easy to package and that is something I’ve learned you have to do, at least to some degree. I don’t like it, but that’s part of the business. I think we’ve really found who we are, though. Things are really coming together with this lineup for sure.

There are those quirky tracks we’ve done, but live we are a high energy, take no prisoners rock and roll band. And we can get pretty damn heavy but I still don’t like to say metal. So “eclectic heavy-rock”. That’s our “package.” One thing I’ve noticed is that when we do gain fans they tend to really enjoy the diversity of the music. Which I take as a great compliment.

Claes: You’ve got an endorsement with Tregan Guitars. Why did you choose that brand?
Manhattan: Oh Tregan is fantastic. They’ve always been super cool to work with. I met Tony Guarriello (founder) at a NAMM show here in Austin ten years ago. I actually got on board with them before A Good Rogering had even been conceived. I was with the band Quartershackle and we had a nice press kit. Tony liked the band and the image so we came up with the Skunk signature guitar and the rest is history. I’ve done demos at NAMM shows and have had national advertising with them over the years. I love playing the guitars. That’s pretty much all you’ll see me playing live, and almost all the guitars on the AGR albums are Tregan.

Claes: Tell me about This Is Death Metal, your EP that is out September 5.
Manhattan: The title is from the last track and it’s exactly what it says it is. The other tracks are all different. “Never Miss” is a re-work of a track on Long Overdue. “The Snail” with Rom on drums is a totally different mix from the single. And then there’s “Five Ministries.” The total opposite of Death Metal. It’s more groove and melody based with lyrics that make you think, if you want to.

Claes: You’ve got a tour coming up this month. Where are you heading?
Manhattan: Yeah, well we’ve got some dates on the calendar. We’re doing a festival called 828 Rockfest in Asheville, North Carolina so that’s kind of been the catalyst. We’ve got a few east coast shows on the way  and then a few in Louisiana on the way out. We love playing that state, the fans are awesome! We go up as far as Maryland or possibly New York and then we’ll be heading back for a few Texas shows.

Most of our schedule is on our website

Claes: When do you play Austin next?
Manhattan: September 23rd. I guess it’s technically in Pflugerville. And I haven’t played north Austin in years so we’re excited to play up in that area for those fans that don’t like having to deal with downtown and all that.

Gonna give a shout out to Ear Splitting Media here because they put on a lot of good shows up there.

A Good Rogering will be playing Fitzgeralds in San Antonio on September 6, then they’ll head out on tour around America before returning to play Hanover’s in Pflugerville on September 23. If you’ve seen them live before, you’ve likely already got these dates on your calendar… if you’re new to AGR, do yourself a favor and make a show. It’ll restore your faith in locally-sourced live music.

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. This is week 34 in his "52 Weeks of Austin Musician Interview" series. See the others here: 52 Week Project

No comments:

Post a Comment