The Bottom Dollars Interview

Today I bring you the third installment of band interviews from CAPSLoveTwo and I can assure you that today’s interview is highly entertaining. In this post I talk to the band members from New York City’s up and coming band, The Bottom Dollars, of which my cousin Brian is a part of. The band’s got a number of recent accolades including being named Best Traditional Emerging Artist by The Deli Magazine back in January.  The magazine has also invited The Bottom Dollars to perform at The Deli Magazine 2012 Best Emerging Artist Festival in their native New York City next Thursday May 24 at Spike Hill (in Williamsburg, Brooklyn).  You can get your tickets now. Speaking of upcoming concerts, they’re slated to play on June 21 at the Williamsburg Waterfront in Brooklyn as part of “Make Music NY” and they are also excited to be returning to Brooklyn Bowl on Tuesday June 26th and tickets are just $5 on sale right now! For concerts outside of NYC, (they recently came to D.C. to play at DC9) you can keep up with the band on their website or their Facebook page.

The Bottom Dollars are: Dan “Shappy” Shapiro, Evan Berg, Chris Urriola, and Brian Cherchiglia

How would you describe your music? What genre is it?

BRIAN (vocals, guitar): Ha, that’s a really good question. There are definitely a lot of stylistic influences… honestly, I’d just call it rock and roll.

How did the band form?

BRIAN:  Evan and I have been playing together for a while (since college).  We’d been in a wide variety of bands that never really got off the ground, and honestly The Bottom Dollars had its share of personnel changes, too.  When we formed, we were bass-less and were anchored around a pretty serious harmonic vocal attack.  [At one time] we had friends Lyle (Divinsky) & Josh (Schwartz) on vocals, and Josh rocked some tenor sax as well.  Problem was, they had pretty solid projects already steamrolling in the scene (Lyle performs as a solo artist & Josh is in the eleven piece funk troupe Turkuaz); after a few months they amicably decided to focus more on their own stuff.

So, we started gigging as a duo to keep ourselves occupied, keep ourselves writing, and it was pretty fun…but we aren’t exactly The Black Keys or The White Stripes or anything and the songs needed to sound larger, I guess.  After a couple months we found our buddy Doug (Guttenberg) from college who played bass with us for about a year, and we cut our debut record The Halcyon Days together.  Then, when he left the band we contacted Shappy (lead guitarist, Dan “Shappy” Shapiro) & Chris (bassist, Chris Urriola) about coming in and the chemistry was instant so we just kind of hit the ground running and here we are.

What’s the story behind the name, The Bottom Dollars?

EVAN (drums, vocals): The name The Bottom Dollars came about more as an accident than anything, really.  Lyle, Josh, Brian & I were all hanging out at a bar in Williamsburg we frequented (where we eventually did our first residency) called The Lovin Cup Café discussing a new band name.  After tossing around a bunch of ideas that never really panned out, and complaining about our lack of funds for drinks (I think Lyle?) said something about being on his “bottom dollar;” the conversation took a very serious halt.  We looked around at each other and realized we found our name.  Then we each got one more $1 High Life.

What’s the most memorable concert you’ve played?

CHRIS (bass, vocals): I’d have to say the Bowery Electric “free whiskey” showcase in New York. That was the first concert that showed me how special this band really is. I mean, when does the venue give free whiskey out to all your fans?
BRIAN:  Right?  That was pretty fun.  Personally, I’d say the first time we headlined Brooklyn Bowl.  That was unreal for me, seeing so many great shows there. I think that’s the first time I felt like we were actually doing it for keeps.  That, and their fried chicken is unparalleled.  Maybe I was just high off of that…
EVAN:   The most memorable show for me would probably our New Orleans show from this past tour.  For most of us it was our first time in NOLA and we had went out partying outrageously hard the night before.  We woke up hungover as sin, slowly made our way to the venue…which turned out to be a huge playground for adults.
BRIAN:  No foolin’.  We’re talking like, pool tables, skee-ball, batting cages, a super stage, sound system AND a giant bar!
EVAN:  The gig itself was interesting…Chris broke his A String in the first song (we had 2 sets to play that night), Shappy put his little battery powered travel amp stacked on top of his 70’s Fender Super Reverb…it was an interesting night to say the least, but we played an absolutely brilliant show, made a lot of new fans and friends (Shappy in particular) and had a blast.
SHAPPY (guitar, vocals): Don’t forget the four player Pac Man Game!

The Bottom Dollars play SXSW 2012

Who are your musical influences?

BRIAN:  Oh god.  This question… I’ve always been really into blues & soul music…dudes like Son House, Muddy (Waters), Sam Cooke, Otis Redding.  I’m also super obsessed with songwriters, namely Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen and Jack White…I really admire Jim James and My Morning Jacket too.  Those guys are incredible.
EVAN:  I’ve been influenced by a wide variety of artists.  Jimi Hendrix (Mitch Mitchell on drums), Tool, Outkast, Wu-Tang Clan, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Buddy Rich (my favorite drummer), Pantera, Mastodon, (Tom) Waits & (Bruce) Springsteen as Brian also mentioned, System Of A Down…a lot more as well, but I won’t take up the entire interview.
CHRIS: I’d say my man, Tom Petty.  I even look for that special moment when the band is so locked-in and so together, that I call it “Tom Petty timing.”
SHAPPY: Django Reinhardt, Wes Montgomery, Soulive, Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Cropper, Roy Buchanan, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr.

Where in the USA have you never been to, that you’d like to play a gig?

CHRIS: I’ve kinda been raving about New Mexico for a while.  I’d love to play a southwest “deep in the desert bar,” somewhere you’d find the ghost of Hunter S. Thompson…
EVAN:   Maybe Halloween at Madison, Wisconsin?  I heard that shit gets rowdy.
BRIAN:  I just want to go back to New Orleans, over and over and over again.  We’ve already played there though, so that doesn’t count.
SHAPPY: I’ve got a friend in Denver that said it’s pretty awesome-sauce.

What is your favorite original Bottom Dollars song?

BRIAN:  Um, that’s a toughy…
EVAN:  I guess if I had to choose, “Fall Into Arms.”
CHRIS: I’m gonna go with Ev and say “Fall Into Arms.” Huge dynamic presence and its a blast to play live.
SHAPPY: “Jorb In The Citwarf,” simply because of the name. Are we gonna really call it that?
BRIAN:  Probably (just to keep people on their toes).

What’s the craziest/most memorable thing a fan has done for you?

BRIAN:  We had this family travel from North Carolina for a local gig we had in the Lower East Side.  That was pretty incredible.
SHAPPY: I heard that some fans were having a no-pants dance off at one of the shows, but the lights were too bright and I couldn’t see much.
EVAN:  I gotta go with Brian’s answer on this one…those folks driving up from NC to see us was pretty amazing…also the shots of Jameson he bought were sweet.
BRIAN:  That was really nice!  The guy’s name was Rick, such an awesome dude.

 A favorite song of mine. I love how bluesy it is.

Your adoring fans want to know: which of you are single?

BAND:  Brian & Shappy are perpetually single.  Must be a guitarist thing.  Go get em, ladies!
SHAPPY:  Sup, girl?

What’s your sign? (both Chinese Zodiac and Astrological Zodiac)

EVAN:  Taurus, which is all too fitting as my nickname is “The Buffalo.” Tiger for the Chinese Zodiac.
CHRIS: Taurus as well, my birthday is actually May 6th, yee haw!
BRIAN:  Gemini.  Not sure exactly what that means, but my birthday almost always falls during Bonnaroo (ehem, ehem, cough, cough).
SHAPPY: I’m an elemental Fire Rabbit coupled with a strong Taurus presence from the future. This means  I am fiercely picky, creative, stubborn and loyal, having a strong propensity for Zebra Cakes.

If you weren’t in a band, what would your second-best job be?

EVAN:  Jedi.
BRIAN:  You always said you’d side with The Empire!
CHRIS: I think being a helicopter pilot would be awesome!
BRIAN:  Astronaut.
SHAPPY: Man, Brian, you stole my job! Being a Boston Pedicab driver was pretty amazing, until they made you wear helmets…
BRIAN:  Shap, you know we could both be astronauts, right?
SHAPPY:  I always wondered what it would be like to write a song in outer space while looking at the Earth through a space window, and also playing Mario Kart 64 (specifically, on Rainbow Road) in zero gravity.
BRIAN:  We have GOT to tour with a working N64.

When touring the country, who usually drives? Who’s the best and worst driver?

BRIAN:  We’re all pretty good, but Shap swerved pretty hard this one time rolling from D.C. up to Boston.
SHAPPY: What can I say, it’s all about that swerve…In all seriousness though, I was a professional valet for a few years, so I’m pretty sick nasty. Chris might be better though.
CHRIS: We all split it pretty well.  I’d say Bri is the champ when it comes to long hauls, his current tour record is 11 hours straight. I like night driving.

Has the band ever had groupies? (See this definition.) Would it surprise you if you learned that you did?

BRIAN:  <tugs at collar> Oh boy…
EVAN:  ….No comment.
CHRIS:  I am not a crook.
SHAPPY: I think I was the first groupie.  I mean, I made custom stuffed [buffalo] animals for the band. Come on, now…

Hand-made buffalo stuffed animals!

Speaking of which, can you explain where the buffalo image for the band came from?

EVAN:  To be perfectly honest, the nickname “The Buffalo” didn’t come from anything too outrageous, more of just a funny coincidence.  Once upon an inebriated night about 3 years and some change ago Brian and I lived with our very good friends Owen (former singer of “Analogue”) and Chris Morgan.  Chris had been watching that ridiculous movie “Hot Rod,” which brought up spirit animals a whole lot.  So Morgan went on a drunken rant about all our spirit animals…he looks at me and states I am a Water Buffalo.  At this point in my life I was much heavier, and had really long curly hair, pretty serious beard and such….the association was pretty obvious.  Later on that year, another good friend of ours, the illustrious Steve Kawalek, was going on a very inebriated spirit animal rant and landed on me saying that my spirit animal is the mighty Buffalo.  After that, all the guys starting calling me the Water Buffalo or Buffalo for short…then our friend Dyalekt found about this and it was all over…I became known as “The Buffalo” throughout Brooklyn.

What’s your dream for the future of the band? What can we expect to see from The Bottom Dollars in the future?

BRIAN:  We’re just gonna keep at it.  Keep touring, keep writing, keep recording.  That’s our job, right?  I mean…we do all of our own admin, write our own press releases, book our own tours, produce our own recordings, etc. So, really we just have to stay motivated and maintain that creative spark.  We’re just excited to be able to do what we do.  Its a really tremendous privilege, and I really want everyone to know just how much we really appreciate being allowed to do it in the first place. 🙂

 A music video for this song is also in the works for the future!

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