The Defibulators are an anomaly in New York. Their country/bluegrass/rockabilly sound fits the Texas roots of founding member Bug Jennings. Curiously enough, it was not until he and cofounder Erin Bru (an LA native) met in New York that The Defibulators became a reality. Since 2005 they’ve been gaining a steady following and today they’re one of New York’s most popular country acts.
This month, Erin and Bug bring their act to the west coast, playing San Diego on Tuesday night and Los Angeles on Wednesday and Thursday. To celebrate, The Sitch is giving away TWO FREE PAIRS OF TICKETS to their Thursday, September 13 show at The Satellite (where they’re appearing with The Dustbowl Revival). Just email email@example.com with your name and contact info for a chance to win.
What was the genesis of The Defibulators?
Bug: The short version is that Erin and I met in college at NYU, and we got the band together at a BBQ restaurant I was working at about six years ago, where we met our guitarist. Had to open up for a punk band and get the group together in a week —
Erin: We basically did it on a dare. Can you put a band together in four days? And we did it. Just for fun. And suddenly it became real.
Bug: It’s just addictive. Country music is addictive.
What are your biggest influences?
Bug: I grew up in Texas, and I did not like country music at all. All you heard was Nashville pop, and that did not appeal to me. It wasn’t until I actually moved to New York and bought my first Hank Williams album that I started getting into it — I was almost angry that I hadn’t heard this music before! It was right under my nose the whole time! So I started playing catchup — learning as many songs as we could.
Erin: And hearing that influence in other artists — Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead — that was pretty amazing. But George Jones, Buck Owens….
Bug: Oh yeah, those are the biggest two for me.
How would you describe the band’s sound?
Bug: Classic country is the foundation. But when we started we wanted to be three different types of bands. We wanted to be a swing band, we wanted to be a bluegrass band, we wanted to be a rockabilly band. So it’s a mixture of all those different styles.
Erin: But then obviously living in New York gives a different flavor to it.
Bug: I think I’d call it short attention span music. New York has that effect on you. You tend to think more short term than long term…
If you weren’t based in New York, where do you think you’d be living?
Bug: You know, our band wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t met there. I never in a hundred million years thought I’d move from Texas to New York to start a country band.
Erin: Along our travels, we’re always getting to different towns, talking about ‘Could we live here?’ but ultimately the answer is no.
Bug: We throw Knoxville, Tennessee a lot. It’s beautiful down there, and it’s got a great scene.
Erin: I love Austin too.
Bug: I used to think we could to Austin — I love it down there — but the scene there is changing so fast. It’s exploding very quickly, and kind of oversaturated. But that’s happening in Brooklyn too. We used to be so proud to say ‘We’re a country band from Brooklyn!’ but now….
Erin: Every band is from Brooklyn.
What is your favorite venue in LA to play or see music?
Erin: Growing up in LA, I was actually too young to go to a lot of venues out here. But when I’d be home from college, I’d go to Largo — the original one, on Fairfax — and Spaceland [which is now The Satellite, where the band plays this Thursday night].
Bug: And the Echo! We saw some good country shows there too. But the best is Pappy and Harriets in Pioneertown. That has got to be one of the best places in the world. We played there once and have visited two other times. That is one of the best.
What’s your favorite drink?
Bug: Bourbon. Whiskey.
Erin: Give me some Jameson with a spash of water. Neat. That’s what I do.
Bug: We definitely are a bourbon based band. Actually we work with Buffalo Trace a lot. They sponsor parties with us, and are really involved in the music scene. And they’re good.
If you could live in any decade, when would it be?
Erin: Man, that is one I’d have to think about.
Bug: You strike me as like, a 60s gal… you would do the whole hippy thing.
Erin: Really? Really???
Bug: I would love to be a part of the 50s country scene…. to see the early days of Nashville.
What would be your last meal in Los Angeles?
Erin: I feel like I kind of have to say Yuca’s Tacos or Senor Fish — those are just part of my childhood. Ooh, or what about Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles??
What’s next for the band?
Erin: A new album! We’ve been working on it for quite some time. Actually, we’re about to release a book of sheet music, full of old and new songs, which is really cool.
Bug: And I’m hoping to start restoring our 1977 Dodge ambulence, which we used to tour in. Lot’s of good trips in that van.
The Defibulators are in LA for two performances: Wednesday, September 12 at The Basement in Santa Monica, and Thursday, September 13 at The Satellite in Silverlake. You can learn more about the band here.