Johnny Iguana (The Claudettes)
SPB: How did the band come to combine the different musical styles that make the Claudettes so unique?
Johny: I had every intention of making the Claudettes a pretty straight-up blues-piano band, but as I wrote even the first three or four instrumentals, I found the Tin Pan Alley stuff I'd been playing late (Hoagy Carmichael, Irving Berlin...) creeping in...those melodramatic chord changes...and then little bits of Schumann classical passages (a la Kinderszenen) and some punky Minutemen endings (as on our instrumental "Hammer & Tickle") and trippy Meat Puppets echoed-out peyote-fueled excursions; some of our bluesy/rootsy instrumentals ended up collapsing into dreamy, classical-esque bridges. I just find that my ear takes certain keys and chord changes and wants to take them to dreamland for a while before returning them unharmed. I must listen to these urges. I'm writing first and foremost for myself, to be as honest and expressive as I can be--and I know that sounds funny when speaking of instrumental music (which our first recordings were), but I do think that chord progressions can be honest or dishonest, just like lyrics.
Over time, I've started writing specifically for the band members who are with me, and that means writing for Berit and Zach. Their personalities and temperaments and skills define where we're going musically, 'cause I'm writing for them now. I love those two and I love writing for them. We have found a Claudettes sound--call it blues-punk-soul-a-billy or whatever--and it stands apart from so much else because it's not synth- or guitar-driven...it's really piano- and voice-driven.