Eric chats with Gentleman Jesse about leaving Atlanta (not really), the awesomeness of Texas bands, and his experience reuniting with the Carbonas for the Mess-Around (read our recap here) in this edition of Pouring the Red Whine.
Atlanta’s own Jesse Smith, otherwise known as Gentleman Jesse, floundered his way through some emo-eking teen combos before finding his true caterwauling call in the demi-infamous Carbonas, one of the better trash rock blasters of the 2000s. Not long into that group, Jesse was already answering yet another siren screech, that of that late-70s mini-era of skinny tie Power Pop. And by decade’s end, Gentleman Jesse and His Men released a few singles and an album, then kind of faded away for a spell. Well, Jesse is back with an abbreviated band name, but maybe the most grabby garage-pop piece he’s done yet, Leaving Atlanta, out right now on Douchemaster.
It’s been like four years since the last Gentleman Jesse & His Men full LP, and in fact you now go simply as “Gentleman Jesse.” What have been the changes, why the wait, etc…? Have you decided to embrace the tyrannical solo identity completely?
There was some personnel changes, but the main reason is because [that name] is too long winded. And it sounds like I fuck them. The name still pops up on flyers and T-shirt though. As far as me being a tyrant, I’m just as bad as when we first started the band.
Do you actually want to go into the story of getting beat up? Maybe you’re tired of telling it…
It’s not that interesting. Someone snatched my wife’s purse and I tried to be all manly and got my face smashed in with a bat. If I had just called the cops we probably would have got the purse back. Oh wait, the cops in Atlanta just hang out at Zestos and eat chili dogs. I can’t blame them I guess.
Despite the pitfalls of the last few years, the new album sounds way fresh and upbeat. Love the Little Richard rip, “Rooting for the Underdog”… and do I detect a Tom Petty affinity in there?
Ever since I saw the movie Predator as a kid I’ve loved Little Richard. It was going to be left off the record but I felt like it fit with the loose theme of the record. And yes I love Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
So the new album is called Leaving Atlanta. Please give me information that will allow me to not drop the obvious rock critic metaphors about the album having a rootsier bent to your fab power pop, and hence you may be looking to “leave behind” your punky past. Oh god, I just did it anyway…
Punk is what you are on the inside, maaaan! That’s what 15 year-old me would have said. It’s all just rock’n’roll at the end of the day. Some bands make the term power pop seem really nerdy, so I don’t mind a little distance from that. Lord help me, I never use the word “teenage” in a song, unless I’m saying that I feel bad for that age group.
For a fairly well known act, especially down South, you went on first Saturday afternoon, at like 1, at the Atlanta Mess Around fest a few weeks ago in Atlanta. So I was thinking maybe you were working out some new tunes or something…?
Nope. Just new members. But I don’t mind playing the Bloody Mary set. Plus I had to play three sets that weekend. I had to space them apart a little. (Jesse has another new punk side-project called COPS.)
Your thoughts on the Carbonas reunion set at that same Mess Around?
It was super fun but it hurts to play that music. It was very different than when we were around. That crowd knew more words than I do.
How much did you get to/not get to practice?
We practiced two times as a four piece and once with Josh. The songs came back to us pretty quickly since it’s only been four years since we quit playing. The first practice was a little rough.
The Mess Around was certainly a who’s-who of new trash rock. Who are some of your fave newer bands out on that landscape?
Those Texas kids have shit on lock down. OBN III’s and Video rule. It seems like whatever the groups of bands that Carbonas would play with are still my favorite new musicians. There are always new projects from these people.
Do you ever think about actually leaving Atlanta, like moving away? And if so, where?
I’m pretty invested in Atlanta at this point. I would love a vacation house though. Want to go in on a time share?
Last time I saw you in NYC, I believe was the opening slot for King Khan and the Shrines. Any memories from that weekend? You hitting the road with another band this time?
My favorite moment was when Torbin, the Shrines’ saxophonist, played “Baker Street” as soon as we finished our set. We are touring with The Barreracudas this time around. We share several members, so we can cram ourselves into one van. In this economy you have to share members!
Five Favorite Pairs of Jeans You Ever Owned
1. Bugle boys as a child. Lots of pockets!
2. I had a pair of $8 rustlers in the 90’s that I wore in nicely.
3. Black Levis that I bought from Horsetown.
4. Stretch f@$#cking jeans while I was in the Carbonas. The only tight pants available at the time.
5. These Levis trouser pants I’m wearing now are pretty sweet.
Five All-Time Favorite Acts from Georgia
2. Neon Christ
3. The Satellites
4. REM (sorry)
5. Little Richard!!!
Five Ways in Which You Are Not Always a “Gentleman”
1. I constantly talk about feces, whether or not you are eating.
2. I like to slap magazines out of people’s hands.
3. I threatened to stab a waitress the other day.
4. If I’m at a party at your house, I’m not wearing a shirt.
5. I didn’t bring coffee for everyone. Just myself.
Five Ways in Which You have Broken a Guitar
1. I broke one’s spirit by playing in crappy bands.
2. My cats knocked one over and the controls don’t work anymore.
3. One has a crack and I have no idea how it got there.
4. I’ve never broke a guitar in a cool way is what I’m getting at here.
5. Bye everybody!
Photo By: Tim Song