Febuary 8, 2006
"So, be honest—is this, like, gonna make us famous?" Chaz Lindsay, lead vocalist of The Suitors, asks jokingly.
Lead guitarist Mark Fields also has his concerns, primarily whether his swearing will show up in print. "My mom's going to read it," he pleads.
At 16, Lindsay is the oldest member of this four-piece garage band; Wells Mortimer (on drums), Joe Parry (on bass) and Fields are all 15.
The four are only sophomores in high school (all attend St. Andrew's except for Lindsay, who attends Murrah), but their group dynamic, witty banter and self-aware senses of humor peg them as older.
Plus, they aren't writing and playing whiny, adolescent heartache music. The year-old group does have the one obligatory ode to an ex-girlfriend, but most of The Suitors' other songs have surprisingly imaginative subjects.
One song, titled "All About Pinkie," is about the main character of Graham Greene's "Brighton Rock" (a summer reading assignment), and the band's most popular song with their friends and fans (though they themselves hate it) is "Waiting."
"It's seriously just about waiting. Mostly for the song to end. We have lots of half-complete songs, and we're always looking for more ideas," Fields says.
The creative process is not quick, however. It takes The Suitors months to write the songs, in part because Fields is such a perfectionist that it takes months for a song to gain his approval. And they rarely sit down just to compose new music.
"Mark and I will start off with a really good jam, and Joe will come up with the most off-beat horrible thing. And we usually end up keeping it because it ends up working," Lindsay says with a shrug.
At one point last year, the band didn't practice for two months, which extended the process even further. It's a hiatus they do not wish to repeat—and have made a plan to avoid. "We have a system now; we're thinking about copyrighting it actually," Fields says.
"It's not so much a system, actually," Mortimer points out, explaining that the "system" is just a set time they have chosen to practice.
Every Saturday at 7 p.m., everyone has to be in the Mortimer garage in Belhaven, ready to play. The only excuse for an absence is if somebody's out of town, but otherwise, there are consequences. What those consequences are is somewhat unclear, but the guys seem fairly certain it would involve a healthy dose of the silent treatment.
Regular practice or not, the band has already played some impressive venues: two shows each at W.C. Don's and The Joint, as well as gigs at Jubilee!JAM fund raiser and some parties. They are also looking into studio time to complement the four self-produced recordings they've done out of the garage.
The Suitors will soon record an EP, with plans for an LP eventually—as long as there is enough material that it won't all fit on one album.
They also have big plans to try every soft drink at the new Fondren Beverage Emporium and write songs about the best ones.
Whether those songs will be rap, rock or alt-country is anybody's guess, as the band's sound is still in its infancy. But The Suitors don't take themselves too seriously, and mock good-humor bands that try too hard to classify themselves.
"We're sort of nu-jazz, electronica, a cappella, some country and western, a little bit of Gregorian chant. It's like Franz Ferdinand meets … no, I wouldn't want to compare us to anyone else," Fields says. "We have our own sound—we're artistes."
Their refusal to commit to a single genre may stem from the fact that each band member has different musical influences: Mortimer listens to a lot of hip-hop and rap that shape his drumming; Field's biggest influence is the Beatles; and Lindsay's favorite band is The Strokes.
One thing is for certain, though: "We are not emo. We are not emo in any shape or form," Fields says firmly.
Why don't y'all write an article on Apache Valentino? They are so good!
- Patrick Roach
We wrote something, but its been a while. I'm anxious to hear the new record.