The neon-shirted teens in knock-off Ray Bans always look a bit puzzled as the trio takes the stage. The Rev sporting enough facial hair to make Grizzly Adams jealous, his wife Breezy Peyton holding her washboard at the ready, and drummer Aaron Persinger looks just as out of place as his band members. But barely a minute into their first blues-soaked Americana set, the kids, regardless of their background and iPod playlists, just get it, and the Hootenanny begins.
It shouldn’t work, but it does. From suburban punk rockers to top 40 pop kids, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band always manages to win over the generation weaned on sarcasm and cynicism.
With their third full-length, The Whole Fam Damnily, the trio is once again hitting the road and the Reverand took time to talk about winning over the kids, touring with the family and being discovered by Flogging Molly.
Innocent Words: You guys played a few Warped dates last year and are on the entire tour this year. What reaction do you usually get from the kids in the audience?
Rev. Peyton: Warped Tour fans are awesome. They are there to have fun, see some new bands, and let loose. About 30 seconds into our set, the kids have gotten it. They are rocking out right along with us, and everyone is having fun. We play real music from the heart, and we love doing it. You can’t fake that, and the kids respond to that. I refuse to BS them or anyone else.
IW: A lot of fans, myself included, discovered your band thanks to Flogging Molly. How did you first hook up with that band?
Peyton: They just saw us play at a festival we played together. They asked us to go on tour with them. It turned out to be one of those days that affect your whole life. They turned out to be real people, real music fans, and real fun to hang out with. Flogging Molly is family as far as I’m concerned. They have been real mentors to us.
IW: The songs on the new album seem to have some pretty original themes. Where do you get most of the fodder for your songs?
Peyton: I get sick of the same heartbreak song getting recorded. I write about my life, my family, things I like, and things that piss me off. I have always been proud that my songs were across the board. There is so much to this life. I don’t know how people stick to just one theme. The melodies will sing words to me. It is hard to even control it sometimes.
IW: Are you pleased with how the album came out?
Payton: I am very proud of this record. I know people probably always say that, but at this point… I wouldn’t put my name on a record that I didn’t believe in all the way.
IW: Where did you record the new album?
Peyton: We recorded it at Farm Fresh studio in Bloomington, Ind., with producer Paul Mahern. The studio isn’t far from the Brown County Hills where I live.
Peyton: A Kentucky Colonel is the highest award the governor of Kentucky can give to a civilian.
IW: Any perks to the title?
Peyton: Kentucky Colonels seek no perks.
IW: The band is you, your wife and your cousin. Is it harder or easier to be in a band with your family? I guess what I’m asking is is it harder for all of you to express your opinions about songs writing when your relationships go much deeper than being just band mates?
Peyton: This band is easy when it comes to getting along. We all like the same stuff basically, and we all believe in the same stuff more or less. I think family is way easier. When it comes to songs… I write a song, and then bring it to the band. The Big Damn Band is awesome about trying out my ideas, and bringing the vision to life. We are old-school style musicians. We practice in some way or another every day, either by ourselves or together. Breezy and Cuz are some of the best in the world – literally. It makes it easy.
IW: Along with the Warped Tour, will you be doing other tours this year?
Peyton: We are almost always on tour. Expect a full U.S. headlining tour after Warped and two trips to Europe. It will be busy, but that is what it is all about. We can’t wait.
IW: I read that a museum in your home state just had an exhibit on your band. What can you tell me about that?
Peyton: Yes – it was the Indiana Center for Folk Traditions. It featured some of our instruments, and interactive display with audio, and pictures. I was so honored. It really feels good to be recognized back home.
IW: What’s next for the band?
Peyton: Well, we have some really big tours, and a really fun music video for “Clap Your Hands.” Making it was one of the best days I have ever had. All of the people in the video were volunteers. Wait until you see it. It is amazing that so many people came together for the idea – just for the sake of making something awesome. Days like that fuel up the internal hope tank.