photo: Shannon Guthrie
After a decade apart, Chris Tackett, Kevin Allison and Alex Kendall are back as the Huntington-based psychobilly trio The Heptanes.
Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch
Together again with the original lineup for the first time in over a decade, The Heptanes March 3rd rehearsal at The V Club was all of the above: effortless, energetic, and, electric.
“Once we started playing, we were firing on all cylinders,” singer-guitarist Kevin Allison said over the phone. “Even though it’s been ten years since we all played together, it went well, despite the electrocution.”
“I’ve got a vintage amp and it’s actually got the original plug on it,” Allison explained. “I had a ground thing rigged on it, and when I started to play the vibrations knocked it loose, and I went to sing, and I got electrocuted right through the mouth,” he said with a painful chuckle.
“I’ve had that happen several times. You can taste your fillings, it sucks.”
Drummer Alex Kendall said that despite the time apart, he, Allison and original bassist Chris Tackett hadn’t missed a beat.
“When the three of us get together, it’s effortless,” Kendall said over the phone. “It’s not that we’re great, or that we’re amazing, it just clicks.”
There’s definitely some effort put in, though. Tackett has to drive in from Lexington, and Kendall has a bum ankle leading up to the show, not a pleasant experience for a drummer. Still, the show must go on, he said.
“As soon as I heard about [the show], I think my response was, ‘I’d like to see who’s going to stop me from playing this show,’” Kendall said laughing. “Regardless of whatever health problems, I’ll take a shot of whatever steroid or miracle drug, or if they have to lower me into a giant metal casing to keep me upright, I’ll do whatever it takes to make this show happen.”
The Huntington-based psychobilly trio reunites for a St. Patrick’s Day show Saturday night at The V Club with Deadbeats and Barkers and AC30.
Formed in 1999 out of Allison and Kendall’s work together in Fuzzbucket, and their mutual appreciation for The Stray Cats, The Heptanes, after recruiting Tackett, released their debut, “Phantom Cadillac” a year later.
The attraction of rockabilly, the energy, and fun, was apparent to Allison and Kendall even in Fuzzbucket.
“It’s actually kind of funny, because the way we came upon the idea was kind of like how The Stray Cats did,” Allison explained. “They had their band the Bloodless Pharaohs before The Stray Cats, and they’d do a few rockabilly tunes before closing out their set. And we’d kind of do the same thing in Fuzzbucket.
“In fact, one of one of the Heptanes’ tunes, “U.P.D.,” was written when we were in Fuzzbucket. We’d play it at the end of the shows, and people would just get up and dance, and I mean, it was funny because we’d play the whole night, and then we’d play that song and everybody would go crazy,” the singer-guitarist recalled with awe.
Gigs were booked, fun was had, but, like so many other bands, they couldn’t keep the band intact.
“To be honest with you, with all the other times we’ve done the band without the original lineup, it never really felt right,” Allison admitted. “To have it back to the original lineup, it’s pretty cathartic, I have to say.”
While the show on St. Patrick’s Day is a reunion for the band, both Allison and Kendall stressed their desire to have old friends and fans of the Huntington scene from the 90’s reunite, too.
“With the band and the whole scene we had going at the time, we’re trying to get people who went to Calamity Café or Gumby’s back in the day to get together,” Allison said.
“You’ll see on my Facebook page I’m trying to pump this thing up and bill this as a Huntington reunion,” Kendall added. “I’ve heard from a lot of people who are coming to town, booking rooms to get back together and see everyone again. I’m hoping for a big reunion of the old school people.”
Allison recalled first being exposed back in the 90’s to the preeminent, pioneering psychobilly artist, who also just happened to be a West Virginia resident.
“I saw a flyer one day on campus for a Hasil Adkins show, and I thought ‘Oh this sounds interesting.’ So I went and checked it out and it blew my mind. To me, in my heart, part of this music, psychobilly, was created by HIM, HERE. He had a huge impact on the whole reason I got into rockabilly.”
It’s that excitement, both for the music The Heptanes play and for the experiences shared with friends and fans over the years in Huntington that Allison and Kendall say they hope to recapture Saturday night.
“It always feels good to get back out there and do it,” Allison said. “I think the reason we were popular back then, was, it was a very straight forward version of high energy rock and roll.
“For us, the basis of a Heptanes show was to entertain people,” Allison said, summing things up. “There’s no big message. People just want to enjoy themselves when they go out, and that’s what it’s all about. We all still enjoy it, and that’s why we do it.”
If you go:
AC30, The Heptanes, Deadbeats and Barkers
Where: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington (304) 781-0680
When: Saturday, March 17, 10 p.m.