- Tuesday, August 14, 2007, 7 p.m.
- Strings Music Festival, 900 Strings Road, (Corner of Mt. Werner Rd & Pine Grove Rd), Steamboat Springs
It's 11:50 a.m. New Orleans time, and after 20 minutes of talking, Jimmy Messa admits he's finally woken up.
To Messa's credit, he had warned against scheduling a phone interview this early the day before, when he owned up to being "an old hippie."
The bass player for New Orleans-bred rockers the subdudes, Messa doesn't tour quite as hard as he used to, and he's slowed down some since the band's early days as a louder group called the Continental Drifters.
Although he sat out on the decade-long stint that from 1987 to 1996 moved the subdudes to Colorado and won them word-of-mouth fame and a record deal, Messa has been with the band since it officially reformed in 2003. He and subdudes lead guitarist Tommy Malone were New Orleans residents during the storm and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - a circumstance that weighed heavily in the songwriting on 2007's "Street Symphony," but certainly has not dampened the subdudes' party atmosphere.
On Tuesday, the band returns to the Strings Music Festival for its Different Tempo Series. Messa talked to 4 Points about what makes a good song, how a storm affected his beloved city and how the subdudes audience changed in the nearly two decades he was away from it.
4 POINTS: What can people who might not be familiar with the subdudes expect from the concert Tuesday?
JIMMY MESSA: Plenty, because we have a lot of things going on right now. We are about to do for the first time an acoustic tour, kind of starting in September, so we might start sneaking in a little bit of that. And we were thinking for a change, for the first time in years and years, let's do some covers, and everybody's picking some cover tunes. And who knows, we might sneak in some of those.
And then we'll definitely be doing a lot of stuff from the newest record, which is now a year old.
4 POINTS: Was that latest record any different in sound than the band's previous output?
JM: They (the songs) are all pretty personal on the last one. A lot of it was co-written, and we were collaborating, all sitting in a room together, all at the same time.
4 POINTS: How does that make it turn out differently than if just one person does the writing?
JM: You know what? I guess to the casual listener they can't tell any difference. But to us, it's a slightly different way of doing it.
4 POINTS: Which way do you prefer?
JM: Whatever makes the song great; whatever serves the tune best. : It doesn't matter how you do it. : Whatever gets you there. And it can be any which way. And sometimes it fails, of course.
4 POINTS: And this record we're talking about, 2007's "Street Symphony," that was the first thing you put out after Hurricane Katrina?
JM: Crazily enough, we put out (2006's) 'Behind the Levee,' and it mentioned 'levee,' and everybody thought that related to Katrina because it came out right after. But we had named it long before the storm came along.
4 POINTS: Did the storm end up playing a big part in the "Street Symphony" recording process?
JM: A lot of the songs deal with Katrina, because much of the writing was done : in the middle of the war zone.
Say it's Tuesday and we're going to write some songs, and you're driving to Tommy (Malone)'s house at 10 in the morning and you're pretty much riding through the destruction, and you start talking about it. And the next thing you know you're talking about what to write and you end up writing songs about it.
4 POINTS: Going back to when you started playing with theses guys in the Continental Drifters, before they were the subdudes, how have you seen your audience change in those years?
JM: Everybody's a lot older. There are more walkers and Viagra and blue hair and AARP cards, you know? : (When they started.) That was a different realm; that was the early '80s.
I guess truly, back then, people would go out and it was meat market time, and they were just going out anyway. A lot of people weren't coming to see us - they were just going out and having fun. And now, just by virtue of our longevity, people have finally started to listen.
And now these have become some of the songs of their lives, so they come and see us, and it's kind of a reunion for our old fans. It's something they've been doing for a long time.