When the Fauntleroys made their third-ever live appearance in March during Alejandro Escovedo’s annual South by Southwest closing benefit at Austin’s Continental Club, he joked, “It might be the last time you ever see us. Take a good look!”
But longtime pals Escovedo (on bass!), guitarist Ivan Julian, Chicago-based raconteur Nicholas Tremulis and offbeat (but never off beat) drummer Linda Pitmon, having just announced plans to release their EP Below the Pink Pony, were already plotting a quick gallop around the country. With the Plowboy Records EP slated to hit ears on September 16, 2014, the gang behind this rocking horse is lined up at the starting gate for an October 3-11 run with stops in Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New York and Washington, D.C. (See tour dates below.)
That’s longer than it took for them to write and record the EP’s six tunes in Julian’s East Village studio, NY Hed — located below the restaurant that gives the project its title. As these six raucous, turn-’em-up songs prove, it was quite the summit meeting of seasoned talents.
The career of beloved Austin troubadour Escovedo stretches from his pure punk days in the Nuns to Rank and File, Buick MacKane, the recently reunited True Believers and his lauded solo work. Julian, who toured with two-hit pop wonders the Foundations (“Build Me Up Buttercup”; “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You”), later joined prototypical punkers Richard Hell & the Voidoids before going solo, forming the Outsets and the Lovelies, and collaborating with the Clash, Shriekback and Matthew Sweet. Tremulis, a renowned member of Chicago’s music scene, has created an inspired blend of rock, soul, R&B and pop with his Nicholas Tremulis Band and Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra. Pitmon’s well-earned rep as a monster drummer was built via her ’90s stint with Zuzu’s Petals and her work with Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3, featuring her husband, whom she also joins in the Baseball Project alongside R.E.M. vets Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey.
Together, they make what one wag present at that Continental gig dubbed “chords and disc
hord” — juiced with raw energy and the charge they get out of making music just for fun. Sharing writing and vocals, their skill and camaraderie even gives Escovedo a chance to step out of his usual frontman role with a turn as bassist.
The Fauntleroys came to Nashville’s renegade Plowboy Records as a result of the label’s creative director Cheetah Chrome’s longtime friendship with Alejandro. Additionally, Plowboy’s Shannon Pollard had been an Alejandro fan for more than 20 years and had played in bands with Al’s former bandmates.
But the EP wasn’t any more spur-of-the-moment than the resulting tour. “Alejandro, Ivan and I had talked for a good two years about getting together for a recording project,” Tremulis explains.
Adds Escovedo: “I met Ivan when I lived in New York in 1978, and I’ve known Nick for a long time, and I’ve always been a fan of what those guys do. It was one of those things where we’d always talk about doing something together, and then finally Nick said, ‘Let’s go to New York and hang out for a few days and write and record some songs.’”
In fact, Tremulis had performed in an Escovedo tribute at the 2004 “Sunset on the Border” — the legendary private SXSW shindigs held at Austin’s late, still-lamented Las Manitas, where many of Escovedo’s projects were hatched or debuted. They’ve also co-written previously; their song “Tula” appears on Escovedo’s Street Songs of Love album.
For this effort, Tremulis says, “We all came in with unfinished snippets of songs and finished them together as we recorded.”
“I loved the spontaneity of writing and arranging everything together, following song and sound without knowing where it would lead,” he adds. “The whole thing felt like a long improvised solo.”
“Easiest birth ever,” asserts Pitmon. “No one cried!”
The resulting recordings capture the exhilaration of the four collaborators’ combustible creative chemistry.
“I think that we’re all pretty thrilled with the way this record turned out,” says Julian. “This is a record that none of us could have come up with individually.”
As for the name … it’s a reference to the foursome’s unique sense of style. According to Pitmon, her bandmates share “the best wardrobes this side of Willy DeVille’s closet.” Do not, however, expect them to appear in matching outfits a la the little literary lord who spawned a Victorian-era boys’ fashion rage. It’s far more likely they’ll be wearing their best Pony-riding outfits. That is, full rock regalia. It’s gonna be a wild ride.
The Fauntleroys on tour
Fri., Oct. 3 Cincinnati, OH Taft Theatre
Sat., Oct. 4 Nashville, TN City Winery
Sun., Oct. 5 Lexington, KY Willie’s Locally Known
Tues., Oct. 7 Pittsburgh, PA Hard Rock Café
Wed., Oct. 8 New York, NY Mercury Lounge,
Thurs., Oct. 9 Brooklyn, NY Rough Trade
Fri., Oct. 10 Philadelphia, PA North Star
Sat., Oct. 11 Washington, DC The Hamilton
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