This past week, I went to a listening party at Drowning Fish Studios in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia to hear a band called Sadie Lex Machine's just-released first EP, Lex, Drugs, & Rock n’ Roll.
One thing led to another and I ended up putting on my journalist hat and having a chat with the four young guys who make up this meat-and-potatoes rock outfit. In between deep discussion of Chinese finger traps (which one band-mate jokingly called a “male docking tool”) and the ins and outs of Russian nesting dolls, I actually got their story. It’s a good one.
Together for a little over a year and moving fast, SLM has always been the same lineup: John “Johnny Stix” Hoff beats the skins, Drew “Lady Bugg” Landes plays left-handed guitar, Lou “P-Hands” Giansante yowls into a microphone, and Mike “Greasy Bastard” Sweeney plays the bass.
Their nicknames are real. Their tattoos are extensive. Their sound is unapologetically rock, reminiscent of Silvertide or Buckcherry, but maintaining enough creativity, wit, and substance to separate them from the many other bands offering a similar sound.
By the way, these guys are completely wacky. We sat around in Drowning Fish’s beautiful live room, listening to music and tossing back a few cold beers (except for Drew and I, who declined alcohol and wished fervently for Yoo-Hoo) and for every question I asked, I got at least four jokes.
Drew shared his ideas for a punny B-Movie, which I won’t ruin, and John bragged that he and Drew do the best duet to Meatloaf’s “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” this side of the Milky Way. Their camaraderie was visceral. These guys clearly enjoyed being around each other even when the instruments were unplugged.
“I hate John,” remarked vocalist Lou Giansante loudly during a lull in the conversation. “I really do. I hate him. Write that down. Write it!” Lou also did an extremely convincing–and entertaining–impression of Drowning Fish owner and chief engineer Jason Dunkerley, scratching at his beard and saying things like “maybe if we move this mic down the hall, or put it in the bathroom…” with a fretful look of concentration.
Jason himself was available for comment about his experience with Sadie Lex Machine.
“It’s like watching kids grow up sometimes. These guys came to me, wanting to record, and they were nowhere near ready. They kind of had no clue.”
The band wholeheartedly agrees with Jason’s assessment.
“But they are different band now. They really kept their ears open. They weren’t stubborn at all.”
“Dunk cares about the whole process,” put in John Hoff. “He’ll stop us in the middle of a session and completely change the way a microphone is placed if he doesn’t like the sound he is getting. And he doesn’t run up the clock when he’s doing it. I never met an engineer like that before.”
The vibe between band and engineer resulted in a five song EP that kicks off with “The Pub Song,” an absurdly catchy ode to being completely hammered. Then the sound vaults in every possible direction, from the sensitive and sincere “Far Behind” to the seven-minute opus “End of the Sun,” where Drew Landes’ acoustic guitar work truly stunned me. Lex, Drugs, & Rock N’ Roll is a creative success from a band that I don’t see remaining local for long.
You can find Sadie Lex Machine on Facebook, Myspace, and Reverbnation. You can also catch them live on Saturday, July 28th at The Legendary Dobbs CD Release Party, and on the 29th at The Whiskey Tango.
All jokes aside–for now–you don’t want to miss this band.