Photo: Kimmy Bowen
Prison Book Club (L-R: Adam Meisterhans, John Miller, Andrew Ford, Tucker Riggleman) returns to Huntington tonight for a show at Black Sheep Burrito & Brews...
Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch
It’s fitting that John Miller and Tucker Riggleman shared the interview duties for Prison Book Club.
After meeting through mutual friends at a concert for the Memphis-based alt-country band Lucero in 2005, (Lucero served as a big influence on PBC) the pair became friends, started hanging out and sharing tunes. Miller and Riggleman have shared the singing and songwriting duties in the Shepherdstown-based alt-country rock band since its inception.
They’re such good friends, already being in The Fox Hunt and The Demon Beat, respectively, Miller and Riggleman are so dedicated to Prison Book Club that they have matching PBC tattoos.
But Prison Book Club, having released their self-titled sophomore record last August, has at this point moved out of the shadow of The Demon Beat and The Fox Hunt, made fans and a name all on their own, and turned any discussion about the band from one of a side project into talk of being a force all its own.
The band (Miller: rhythm guitar, vocals, bass; Riggleman: bass, vocals, guitar; Adam Meisterhans: lead guitar; Andrew Ford: drums) returns to Huntington Monday, January 16 for a show at Black Sheep Burrito and Brews as part of a 16-show, 18-day tour of the Southeast.
“This is definitely the longest that we will have been out together,” Miller said of the steady string of shows. “I had gotten used to traveling with The Fox Hunt at least as much, if not more, than being at home and I’m excited to get back out.”
As favorably as their sophomore release was received, Prison Book Club has all new songs that they’re taking out on the road.
“We do have a handful of new songs that I believe are some of the strongest we’ve ever done, which is a good sign,” Miller said. “You don’t want to make a record and then go back, work out some new songs and think ‘man, this sounds the same’ or ‘man, we’re slipping.’ We’re very excited to have the chance to tighten them up a bit on the road.”
Riggleman, strictly a bassist in The Demon Beat, gets to write and sing his own stuff in Prison Book Club. It was Miller who helped Riggleman, then a student at Shepherd University, get started as a singer and songwriter, helping him overcome any anxiety he may have had by providing a friendly ear. Also, these late nights laid the groundwork for an enduring friendship that would one day turn into Prison Book Club after the duo welcomed Meisterhans on for PBC’s first gig at a friend’s wedding.
“Personally, when I started writing songs I kind of always wrote them with a full band in mind,” Riggleman said. “I think John and I had kind of always wanted to get something going, like a rock and roll band, but we just had to wait for the right moment I suppose.”
That right moment also provided Miller some level of lateral movement musically, still offering him the opportunity to write down-and-out type songs, and sing with his instantly recognizable, tough-but-touching country music voice, only in a rock band.
“I really wanted to write songs outside of the string band dynamic that we have in The Fox Hunt, and Prison Book Club offered an opportunity to bring some different things to the table,” Miller explained. “It’s not apples and oranges, but there’s a little more freedom there. And really, we’re all good friends; we all sort of came together when The Fox Hunt and The Demon Beat were first starting to play locally, but certainly things would have been a lot different if Tucker and I hadn’t been buddies from the outset. We’ve put up with each other’s crap for too long to discredit that.”
Miller added that Prison Book Club has enjoyed a renewed energy, “cohesiveness and focus” and welcoming drummer Andrew Ford on in early 2011 is part of that.
“We’ve definitely taken the jump from ‘this thing we do every now and then when we have the time’ to ‘this is its own band,’” Riggleman added. “Bringing in Andrew on drums has been great as well, and we feel like he really pushes us to play better, being that he’s a very talented dude.”
For now, Prison Book Club is looking forward to taking its new songs out on tour, making fans the old fashioned way: playing out as much as possible. And for Riggleman, the friendship that exists between the members of Prison Book Club is what it’s all about.
“I couldn’t imagine being in a band with strangers or people I didn’t like. Making music with some of your best friends really is about the best thing there is, in my opinion.”
If you go:
Prison Book Club
Where: Black Sheep Burrito and Brews, 1555 3rd Ave., Huntington
When: Monday, January 16, 10 p.m.
Contact: http://www.blacksheepwv.com/ (304) 523-1555