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The Davenports
no slouching on this sofa
by: Chuck Plummer - April 27, 2008

I remember when I was a boy my Grandfather used to refer to his couch as a Davenport, and I never asked why he didn’t just use couch or sofa like everyone else. To this day he is the only person I’ve ever known to use that word, then along came The Davenports. Their current line-up led by Scott Klass drives their sound to one steeped in pop/rock Weezer meets Ben Folds meets The Hold Steady leading you to sing along to songs that you’re hearing for the first time while stories unfold of relationships gone awry and all too familiar feelings. If you investigate their back catalog your will find that although their sound has gotten a little edgier and electric guitars are play a more prominent role, the conciseness and sharpness of the songwriting still abounds. There are no extraneous frills here, just tight solid songwriting, which is no doubt the reason why the A & E network picked up one of their songs “Five Steps” for their Emmy nominated show Intervention. Currently finishing their third full length they’ll be playing a show at Joe’s Pub April 29th sharing the bill with Chris Collingwood from Fountains of Wayne whom Scott also collaborates with. Scott took some time to answer a few questions before heading out of town.

It seems like your sound has changed a bit since the last time I saw you guys a few years back at Joe’s Pub. At that gig you mostly played piano with a band and had a string section, now you’re working with a smaller group, tell me about your current line-up and how it came to be?
There is a core lineup now—Tom Ward, who’s been in since 2000 (bass), Angela Webster drumming, Tommy Borscheid guitaring, and me—but we still like to embellish the live show and will have the strings (Claudia Chopek and Eleanor Norton), as well as percussionist Rob Draghi, at Joe’s Pub on the 29th. Tommy is the newest add—both he and Angela were part of the Rhett Miller band on his last tour and are incredible. Plus they’re cute, though maybe not as cute as Rhett.

Your sound has also changed a bit since I last saw you. There is definitely more of rock/pop thing going on, is that due to the musicians you are playing with or do you write the songs knowing full well how you want them to sound?
Probably a combo. I wanted to make a punchier sounding record this time—I think I was listening to more aggressive stuff as I was writing the bulk of this batch, so the new songs lent themselves to that (this all depends, of course, on where you put the Dirty Sock Funtime Band on the aggressive scale). Some string-drenched ballads are there too, as always. But the band is definitely adding to the punch. Angela scares me a little bit—if you see her play, you’ll know why.

How much does your environment effect the type of songs you write and do you think living in NYC causes you to write one way rather than another?
Never really thought about that but I guess there could be an influence. There’s the stress and alcohol thing, but I guess we don’t have an exclusive on that. This record is really about this couple and a handful of particularly crappy situations that they don’t navigate so effectively. I knew a few people going through divorce over the past couple years and some pretty unbelievable stories came out of it.

How long have you been living in NYC and how long have you actively been out performing?
I’ve been in NYC since 󈨟 (in Brooklyn now—It’s like the country). Probably started performing more actively in the mid-90’s, but our playing out sort of goes in waves. I feel a wave coming on in support of this new record. No, wait, I think I just have to go to the bathroom. This band is certainly making it more fun. Not going to the bathroom. Performing.

What have been some of the highpoints of living/performing in NYC as a musician?
Love the Living Room—we play there a lot. Good hang, nice people, great sound people. We were also fortunate enough to open for They Might Be Giants at the Bowery Ballroom a few years ago. That was fun, though I forgot to tell the screaming crowd the name of our band. Joe’s Pub is a great place to play too—gotta love a good rehearsal room, and a bathroom attendant. And of course, the best thing about living in the vicinity of all of these places is that you don’t have to saddle up your cow to get there.

I see that for your next show on April 29th at Joe’s Pub you’re sharing the bill with Chris Collingwood from Fountains of Wayne, how did you get paired up?
We met ages ago, waiting on the bathroom line at the Cooler at a Candy Butchers show. I don’t know why I keep bringing up the bathroom. Anyway, he and I started talking about how much we love Mike Viola, exchanged some demos and started playing a bit. He was doing his thing Smalltown Criers so I joined him on that, playing guitar and singing harmony. We’ll likely do some of it at the show on the 29th if he returns my calls.

I understand that you are putting the finishing touches on your new album, when will it be released and what can Deli readers expect?
Still trying to figure out the release but likely in the next month or two—I know we’ll be doing a sort of sampler and giving it away at the show. Maybe a video too, that may or may not show someone stripping on a webcam. The record again focuses on this couple, Christopher and Mary (no relation to Collingwood), their various trouble-spots and ultimate divorce. In “Christopher Starts,” for example, Christopher gets drunk and publicly talks down to Mary. In “Anything for Amelia,” Mary's old mother emasculates Christopher and dangles her money over their heads (sung from the mother's perspective). In “Something's Gonna Get Us,” Mary assumes some tragedy will befall the family b/c they've had a few months of happiness. Fun!



 
 

"Angela scares me a little bit—if you see her play, you’ll know why."


The Davenports
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what it is

Sharp songwriting in orchestral pop dress.