They pick faster than a sweatshop seamstress they sing louder than a hothouse strumpet they shoot straight county into the eardrums of every man, woman and child audacious enough to taste the sweet communion of freedom. A rag-tag witches brew of rowdy ramblers, five-time offenders, and filthy fiddlers, The Defibulators don’t shy from putting it all on the line. While greased-up pop sensations and corporate crooners spill out of Nashville by the dozens, this Brooklyn band mines the classics—Scruggs, Cash, Williams, Acuff and Wynette—and irresponsibly mixes them with jet fuel from the future. The resulting cocktail should be banned in fifty states because it’s high in proof that the thunderclap of rebellion and righteousness is alive and well. This isn’t weird science—this is true country music. And it goes by the name of The Defibulators.
I had the great fortune to sit down with The Defibulators over meat pies and bourbon in the east village recently. We talked about the roots of country music and the challenges that face the band. Here is a small excerpt:
How do the Defibulators contemporize traditional country music? What are the challenges instrumentally and lyrically?
Instrumentally, most of our challenges occur in transport. We have 7 people and 2-5 instruments per person. We have one ambulance. You do the math. Lyrically, I guess our songs tend to be a little more abstract than the traditional tunes they’re rooted in. Writing a great country song is a really tough thing. Hell, even writing a shitty one is hard. The classics were simple, clever, and heartfelt. A title like “Pardon Me, I have Someone to Kill”, by Johnny Paycheck says it all. It’s pretty hard to top that.
Brooklyn has for some time had a thriving country music scene. How do the Defibulators fit into this scene and how has it helped or hurt?
The band wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the scene here. It was born from the old-time and bluegrass sessions in the city and Brooklyn. There are a lot of incredible country pickers and songwriters here, despite what some might assume. However, being a “country band from Brooklyn” has definitely invited some skepticism, especially when we play the South. But once we start playing, it becomes obvious that we’re serious about this shit. We’re trying to do justice to real country music by building on it instead of trampling on it.
You guys (and girl) have produced comical video shorts, coloring books, and a recent variety show featuring a large cast of performers. Are these just supplementary creative projects to support the music or is there a deeper “Defibulators World” that you have been building?
Well, we have always had a fascination with Hee-Haw and had an itch to revive it with a darker twist. The comedy in it was corny, but the music was awesome. That show was all about the music. It would be great to do a show like that to showcase all the great underground country music that’s out there now. And yes, like all country artists we want to have our own amusement park. Construction on the new “Defibulators World” begins in May. It will be in be in Bay Ridge.
If the Defibulators were an animal, what animal would it be? And if that animal chose to cross-breed with another species to create a superbaby, who would it mate with and how would it seduce the other into inter-species intercourse?
We'd be that little cowboy monkey dressed up like Roy Rogers who'd ride out on a border collie during a break at the rodeo. Now, if we were that monkey, we'd probably try to lure the collie back to our trailer after the show, with banana schnapps and jerky treats. When you work so closely with someone in a job like that with all the adrenaline pumping, you know the sex afterward is going to be mind-blowing.
Finally, your debut album is entitled “Corn Money”. What the fuck IS “corn money?”
It's our debut album, you asshole.