Well, it’s time for another “new-to-me” Maine band performing in the Central Maine area. The venue is the Somerset Abbey in Madison, and the group is a quintet known as The Crown Vics, made up of Andrew Myers, vocals; Jennifer Myers, vocals; Frank Schwartz, guitars; Gordon Fellis, bass; and Steve Peer, drums and vocals. They have an album out called “Hell Yeah,” which sports 15 tracks including their first two singles: “Cheshire Moon” and the title track. I recently called Steve Peer at his Ellsworth home to chat about that CD and about the band in general — it was a 55-minute phoner that began this way.

Peer: Hello, Lucky!

Q: Hey, Steve — what’s happening, man?

Peer: Oh, jeesh, not a whole lot, but this is very anti-rock ‘n’ roll: an 8 o’clock-in-the-morning conversation?

Q: I know, but seeing we’re both up — why not? Could you talk a little bit about your band, The Crown Vics?

Peer: Well, I was just thinking about the Vics as I was waiting for your call, and I have to say one thing to our credit: We may be all over the place and none of us ever seem to agree on anything musically, but we all seem to have that deep, rich history — classic rock and maybe a little bit of jazz.

Q: Jazz?

Peer: My first concert was the Dave Brubeck Quartet when I was 5 years old. My dad was like, “You’re going to be a jazz drummer!” And here I am at 5 years old looking at him like, “Whatever you say!” Well, of course, it didn’t work out that way, because I saw Paul Revere & The Raiders next, then the Monkees and (Jimi) Hendrix opened that show in Queens, New York. So now I’m down the Mitch Mitchell (Hendrix’s drummer) road with Hendrix. Then it was Cream and The Who and Led Zeppelin, and that was the carrot — I was like, “Ginger Baker, Keith Moon, John Bonham!” And that was it.

Q: Well, having listened to your “Hell Yeah” CD, I can now understand the energy present there. It says on the back of the sleeve that the songs were written by the group.

Peer: I had a hand in writing most of the material on there, and I kind of borrowed from everybody — there’s, like, not an original idea on that record (laughter). It’s so funny; I listen to some of them, and I’m like, “Oh, yeah, that’s from the first Zeppelin album, and that one’s from the second Spirit album.” Then I try to obviously add in my own little sub-genius to the mix.

Q: Now, about where you’ll be performing on the 16th — any thoughts on this Madison venue?

Peer: I love what Tom and Stacey are doing out at the Abbey. Have you ever been there?

Q: No, it came along after I moved out of the area, but the acts that I’ve chatted with, that have performed there, all rave about it. Just out of curiosity, how long have the Vics been in existence?

Peer: Well, we’re probably going into our fifth year now — as of November, or something like that. Drew and I first met seven years ago and started talking about possibly starting a rockabilly band and got into Gene Vincent and Elvis and even Johnny Cash, which was a little on the outside with the country-western twang. That kind of morphed into Americana, and then we did a limited pressing of an album that was all rockabilly covers to use like a business card to get shows. Then we kind of ditched that and started working on our own material, which is a very twisted amalgamation of everything from Fleetwood Mac to dystopic music like the new band Muse, out of England. It’s a mess of stuff. It’s nothing resembling rockabilly, though people like to still kind of think we’re a rockabilly band — I think they find some comfort in that. But it certainly was the thing that got us all in the same room at the same time.

Q: One of the things that I noticed as I listened to your album was that you all sounded like you were having a ton of fun — it was very palpable throughout the entire album. Is this release fairly representational of what you’re like live?

Peer: Yeah. Yes, it definitely is. We probably do five or six tunes off of that album, and it’s all about not taking yourself too seriously but trying to do the best job that you can. Fun, though, is clearly a big part of what we do — we’re very interactive. Fun is paramount, there’s no question about it, and audience participation … It’s pretty playful, no question.

Q: When did the album come out?

Peer: It came out at the tail end of 2017, so it’s probably a year-and-a-half old. We’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of it, too. It was played by a Seattle station, and WFMU in New Jersey was also playing it. In Maine, WERU played the heck out of it for six months when it first came out and really gave us a lot of exposure.

Q: How many times have you played at the Somerset Abbey?

Peer: This will be our third show. We did a random one-off one summer, probably in 2016. That was the summer we did a lot of smaller theaters — we did the Chocolate Church, we did the Boothbay Opera House and Stacey and Tom’s place — and last year, we did a Valentine’s Day thing there like we are this year. It looks like we’re starting a little tradition of Valentine’s events there, and maybe we’ll do something there this summer, as well. It’s always been a very good time there, because they really put their heart and soul into a great meal, a great set-up — very cozy. So you really can’t go wrong if you’re in a 30-mile radius of the place. I think it would be a great place to celebrate Valentine’s Day, that’s for sure.

Q: Is there anything, Steve, that you’d like me to pass on to the readers of this article?

Peer: Besides reeking of attitude — required to be a Vic — everyone brings some magic. The Somerset Abbey is also “magic.” Madison should be bowing down to Tom and Stacey, as the area is blessed to have such a venue. And finally, when The Beatles became famous, they were doing something unusual, as did the Stones and Elvis before them. The Vics strive to go beyond “exceptionally mediocre” by making every night a show and every show an experience.

 

Lucky Clark has spent half a century writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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