INTERVIEW: The Deterrents
Former Amazing Royal Crowns Frontman Talks About His New Band (The Deterrents)
By: Alex Steininger
Jason Kendall fronted the Amazing (Royal) Crowns for eight years, leading them on countless nonstop tours across the U.S. But life in a van catches up to you and, as Kendall puts it, the band was "growing old on the road."
"That was the Crowns' fault," he says of their grueling touring schedule. "It was my own damn work ethic, but we toured back to back, even playing gigs that didn't make sense just to play a lot. I had my thirtieth birthday on the road."
So goes the story of a rock-n-roll band.
Non-stop touring wasn't their only problem, though. Label woes seemed to follow them at every corner. "The Crowns got screwed so much," Kendall says of the major label system.
But the same work ethic that propelled the Crowns to underground stardom and the inevitable burnout helped Kendall establish a new band not too long after the Crowns' final show. However, before jumping right back into a band, he did make sure to take care of his love life.
"The day after the Crowns broke up I took the van, went to San Francisco, and picked up my girlfriend of four years," Kendall says with joy. "We broke up because of the Crowns constant touring schedule. I drove and got her and we're together now."
With things back in order in his life, Kendall spent no time at all establishing the new outfit he envisioned. After calling upon longtime friend and one-time Amazing Crowns guitarist Dennis Kelly, Kendall tapped Joe Fletcher (ex-Sinners Club, the Applause and Highway Strippers) to play guitar, allowing Kelly to switch off between the guitar, lap steel and organ. Bassist Chris Cook, formerly of the Hydrogen Terrors, added the low end the band needed, and veteran drummer Mark "Evvo" Evans (who played in hardcore legends the Cro-Mags, as well as performing roadie work for Motorhead) completed the lineup.
With everyone in place, the scene was set for the band to rock the world. All they needed was a name. After they came up with the Deterrents, everything fell right into place. Even the songs came naturally.
"We completely gel," Kendall says of the lineup. "We're writing three songs a week and the ideas are flying. We'll write a country tune, then a rock tune, and then a garage tune."
Explaining the band's prolific clip, he explains, "Dennis and I wrote the first songs, brought them to the guys, and then the ideas started to pour. And now we have 15 songs and we've only been together a short while. The Deterrents are a lot more prolific than the Crowns."
"The band is a natural progression," says Kendall proudly. "We don't have a stand-up bass player, so it frees us up to do other forms of music."
The Deterrents played their first show April 19th at the Met Cafe in their hometown of Providence, Rhode Island.
"We brought in three hundred and fifty people, better than I thought we'd do," says Kendall, excited about the band's prospects. "People are totally into it. We did get one post (on the band's web page, www.thedeterrents.com) from a young rockabilly kid in Cali asking 'Where's the billy? Don't forget the billy.' Ninety-nine percent of the comments are positive, though."
As for the lack of rockabilly in the Deterrents' sound, Kendall says of his new band, "It's a totally different band, totally different thing. The band does everything from Steve Earle country to Thin Lizzy rock. Whatever comes out is natural. But what is coming out of us is definitely not rockabilly."
He pauses and then quickly states, "I won't be doing rockabilly for a while.. With the Crowns I felt we were pigeonholed into Gretsch guitars and the stand-up bass. I love that style of music and will love it until I die, but--the stuff we're writing now is country/punk... we're writing a rock album."
Besides the sound, another thing that is different about the Deterrents is their thoughts on touring. Whereas the Crowns hit the road year in and year out, Kendall is a lot more business-minded about it this time around.
"We need to tour behind the right reason," Kendall tells me. "We want to get an album out first and let it build."
The band is currently busy working on their constantly evolving songs on stages in their local region, demoing songs in the studio, and working on a goal of putting out a full-length by the end of the year. "We want to mix it up for the first album," Kendall says. "We mixed it up for our first show. For our next show we will come out and play just the rock stuff and then come back and do the country stuff, ending with a big bang. The album will be mostly rock, but we'll put a few country songs on it."
So, what are The Deterrents all about?
"Everyone's been up and everyone's been down. There is a lot of humility in what we're doing," Kendall replies.
The band currently has three MP3s available on www.thedeterrents.com for fans to enjoy.