A live performance by New Orleans’ own Dirty Bourbon River Show will guarantee you two things: a fiery brass sound and driving, swingy pulse that’ll get you off your feet and a contagious energy to keep you wanting more. Since 2009, DBRS has cranked out two albums per year, but where they really shine is on the stage; their sound and stage presence are raw and exhilarating, uninhibited yet refined and, most of all, genuine. The boys took a break from their current tour to answer my questions about performing, recording and their upcoming appearance at this year’s Voodoo Fest.
WYAT: One of your biggest strengths in live performances is your energy. I got the chance to see you at Jazz Fest this year and everyone’s stage presence was electrifying. Can you tell me about your backgrounds in other arts besides music?
Charlie “Big Charlie” Skinner: First off, thanks for noticing! We pride ourselves on our ability to work a room. I personally think it is a responsibility of any performer or musician to also be an entertainer: to entertain you have to be having fun, so we make sure that we have fun on stage and keep ourselves entertained with new songs and sets.
I grew up with a dad who had a blues band and a grandpa who had a big band. I also did musical theater for most of my education, including some opera in college. Spending that much time on the stage will give you a real advantage in the world of rock and roll clubs. I use the skills I learned as a kid every night on stage with DBRS.
WYAT: Two albums per year in your first four years as a band is a real accomplishment, especially since there are just five of you producing such a big, full sound. What is your songwriting process like?
Matt “Slyfox” Thomas: It’s a little different for every tune, honestly. More often than not, Noah Adams brings us the song with some specific ideas and we play through it a few times. Every time we play it, the pieces start to form and solidify. Sometimes a song doesn’t feel really finished for weeks or months, but we take it to the stage as soon as possible to get the creative juices flowing. At some point or another, we’ve all started to get our hands dirty with songwriting, especially recently. When it comes to the finished product, a lot of times it’s just each of us trying things out and fine-tuning until it feels right.
WYAT: Are you shooting for two albums again this year?
Dane “Bootsy” Schindler: No, we’ve decided to wait till next spring to release the next one. We did release Accordion Anthology in January and we’ve been selling it on vinyl like hot cakes, but we’re taking our time with this next one.
WYAT: I can’t help but wonder: what is DBRS’ favorite whiskey?
Thomas: That’s a tough one! If I can afford the fancy stuff, I’m inclined toward an aged Knob Creek, but I’ve really been digging on Bulleit Bourbon as an inexpensive and tasty option.
WYAT: Who are you most excited to play with at Voodoo Fest this year?
Schindler: Outkast, Fishbone and Gogol Bordello for sure. I do want to see the crowd for Foo Fighters and Slayer as well. One time, Noah, Charlie and I saw Peelander-Z at Blue Nile; Noah and I were thrown on stage and ended up playing with them! And, of course, I’m gonna see Dr. John’s set and other locals; we have to stay in touch with what's happening at home!
Catch Dirty Bourbon River Show at 12:15 p.m. at the Ritual Stage on Sun., Nov. 2.