The Music Slut


8 Questions With: The Sons & Heirs

It's not every day that The Music Slut gives praise to a tribute band. In fact, I can't even remember off the top of my head, the last time we featured a strictly cover act, if ever. Well, that's until today.

The Sons & Heirs have been consistently performing around NYC for the past little while to rave reviews, and I figured it was high time to interview the men behind the Smiths cover act. With Ronnissey on voice, Ravi Marr on guitar, Jonny Rourke on bass and Kevin Joyce on drums (I love it!), I was beyond intrigued to learn more.

1. Tell us how this all began - who's idea was it to form a Smiths cover band and was it easy or was it a struggle to find the rest of the bandmates?

Jonny Rourke: Kevin & I have known each other & played music together for years. We met Ravi through craigslist – Kev & Ravi had both answered an ad from a singer who was looking to play some Smiths tunes. We all got together, and things just clicked between Kevin, Ravi & I. We knew that the ingredients were there to form a tribute to The Smiths & Morrissey, but we needed the right singer. We put up our own ad on craigslist, and Ronnissey was the first person to answer. We knew during the first song (Still Ill) at the first audition when he dropped to floor & writhed around like Morrissey that he was perfect!

2. Have you ever been contacted by anyone in Moz's posse? Is that a goal of yours or does that not really matter?

Kevin Joyce: We haven’t been contacted yet by anyone associated with Morrissey...while that would be an amazing thing and would be an honor if it happened, it’s not really a conscious goal of ours, nor do we anticipate that happening.

3. Do you ever/would you ever base your setlists off of Moz's current sets? Can you tell us your favorite tracks to perform, as well as your all-time favorite Smiths tracks, in general.

JR: That’s not out of the question for the future, but at the moment we’re more focused on playing the music of The Smiths, and therefore their original setlists have been a great reference for us in creating our own. As far as favorite songs to perform, we each have our favorites. For me, it’s a hard choice, but I have to say that it’s a close tie between ‘Accept Yourself,’ ‘Barbarism Begins at Home,’ and ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.’

Ronnissey: ‘I Want The One I Can't Have,’ ‘Still Ill,’ and ‘I Know It's Over’ are my favorite Smiths songs... probably because they sum up my life completely.

Ravi Marr: ‘William’ has been a great sing-along for the crowd and playing ‘Heaven Knows’ is like worshipping in the temple of Johnny Marr.

4. Your on-stage movements are nearly identical to those of Morrissey (it's almost uncanny), be honest with us - did perfecting your technique include endless hours studying his videos and live performances on YouTube?

Ronnissey: Morrissey was, and still is, such an expressive performer. I knew that if I was going to sing these songs, I would need to perform them properly as well. I've seen so many Morrissey videos over the years, that emulating his moves just seems very natural to me.

JR: It goes beyond just Morrissey for us, too - All of us have spent quite a bit of time studying both the musical & visual aesthetic of The Smiths – between the four of us, we have a pretty impressive library of videos & live recordings that, combined with the wealth of archival clips available on YouTube, have been instrumental in helping us recreate the look, feel, and sound of an actual performance by The Smiths.

The Sons & Heirs - William, It Was Really Nothing

5. Can you tell us a little more about your vocal training, also, is your voice naturally similar to Moz's or is there a certain inflection you have to carry out to make it work?

Ronnissey: I've never had vocal lessons or training. And I've never made any type of conscious effort to sound like Morrissey... what you're hearing is my natural singing voice. For as long as I can remember, my voice has been compared to Morrissey's. And that's actually what got me into The Smiths. People would always be calling out for Smiths songs whenever I played out with my original bands. And at first I was a little bothered by it, because I didn't know who The Smiths were... but once I checked them out, I began to take that as huge compliment.

6. Why the decision to only perform Smiths tracks and not any solo Moz material?

RM: I will admit to influencing our direction in this regard. Beyond loving The Smiths as a band and regretting being slightly too young to ever see them live, I have a very intense musical connection to Johnny Marr. I’ve always seen the Morrissey/Marr catalog of songs as being rarified territory, consistently surprising and brilliant. But ever since I got a hold of a few early period bootlegs and listened in astonishment at how Marr acrobatically played rhythm and lead at once, how he extracted every ounce of energy and melodic content from an arpeggiated chord, I became a devoted fan, student and copy-cat. I’ve been playing like him for so long that I feel this is the role I’ve been training for my whole life. So performing The Smiths material authentically has been my first priority for the sheer joy of it. And that’s not meant to take anything away from the great work of Whyte and Boorer, which I look forward to mining as time goes on.

JR: Ultimately, we’re not opposed to playing solo Moz material, and have even worked on a couple of his solo tunes in rehearsals. However, our primary goal with this project from the beginning has been to recreate as closely as possible something that people can’t see anymore – a performance by The Smiths. Morrissey fans can still go see the man himself perform live, but like Ravi said, many of us never had an opportunity to see The Smiths on stage. Since it’s unlikely that Moz, Johnny, Andy & Mike will ever reunite, we look at this as a void that needs to be filled, and we’re doing our best to accomplish that.

7. Tell us a little bit more about your upcoming show on 6/30 at BB King's following Morrissey's MSG appearance? What can we expect?

KJ: We don’t want to reveal too much and spoil the surprise, but we’ve definitely got some tricks up our sleeves for this show. Details will be revealed as we get closer to the date, but rest assured that this will be the ultimate in after-parties for Smiths/Moz fans.

8. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! What else is on the horizon for The Sons & Heirs. A full-length LP? A national tour? Tailgating Morrissey around the country on his upcoming visit to the States?

JR: We’ll be hitting the road this summer starting in May for some dates outside of NYC – we’re still in the planning stages of these tours, but keep checking our website for details. No plans to follow Moz’s tour as such, but if at all possible we hope to arrange our schedule to coincide with Morrissey’s stops on the east coast.

While recording these songs is a great exercise for us in perfecting the arrangements, we don’t intend to release them in LP form. Beyond the obvious legal barriers to doing that, the reality is that this is a live project. That being said, we’d be happy to contribute tracks to Smiths/Moz related compilations if ever that option presented itself...

MP3: The Sons & Heirs - These Things Take Time

For more info on the band and to hear more tracks, check out The Sons & Heirs MySpace page here!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sons and heirs rock! I'm a fan! Nice article

4:24 PM  

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