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Atlanta Punks on Live Studio Takes, DIY Ethics and Booking Their Own Tours
“We’ve never been one to jump on trends. People have praised us for that. We stuck to our guns and that’s helped us survive this long as a band.”
Young Antiques’ singer/guitarist Blake Rainey expounded on the band’s history and the music industry at Tijuana Garage in Atlanta, first ordering a lime margarita then switching to Miller High Life, while smoking Parliaments and borrowed Camel Crushes.
Young Antiques, aka The ’Tiques, are a no-nonsense rock trio formed in 1999 who currently describes their sound as garage, power pop and post-punk. The band consists of lyricist Blake Rainey on lead vocals and guitar, Blake Parris on bass and backup vocals (who considers himself a craftsman to Rainey’s lyrical art), and Kevin Charney on drums. Rainey and Parris’ voices are so close in nature that their harmonies make them sound like brothers, while Parris and Charney’s combined harmonies are akin to female backup vocalists.
Meeting as children in the small town of Cedartown, GA, the two Blakes decided music was their passion, creating their first band at age 11. In early punk bands, they confused some people with gothic band names RIP and Jack Draculas. However, the band name Young Antiques derived from comments on how they looked and sounded when they were starting out.
“For all the songs I was writing, people were like, ‘They sound like songs we’ve heard before. They sound like an old style.’ That’s where Young Antiques came from. The drummer that was trying out for us one time, his uncle said, ‘You guys look like Young Antiques,’ because we were wearing thrift store clothing. We heard that and me and Blake Parris just started looking at each other and started laughing, and said, ‘That’s kind of a good name for what we’re doing. We’re young right now and when we get older, we’ll be the other side of it, you know. We’ll be the antiques.’ The way it looked to us, when we were 21, we were playing old styles of music that had been done forever,” says Rainey.
The basis for their classic sound began when older kids they knew in their childhood gave them records from The Jam, The Replacements, Elvis Costello, The Clash, and The Ramones. “That’s kind of the core of our stuff,” says Rainey. “And we love Bruce Springsteen and ’80s indie rock: Bob Mould, Hüsker Dü, Sugar. Stuff like that, and The Kinks. We were basically just music lovers at a really young age and sort of took all these influences, at least I took them all as far as writing goes, and the ones that really stick and shine forward are The Replacements. We get that [comparison] a lot. When we started out, everybody said we sounded too much like The Replacements. And it still [has] elements there, but I think we’ve grown past that and expanded a little bit.” Later he adds, “What we’re doing is not groundbreaking by no means; we just try to make good stuff, and I think that’s what’s kind of kept us afloat, kept us alive. We’ve never been one to jump on trends. People have praised us for that. We stuck to our guns and that’s helped us survive this long as a band.”
Rainey says of the band’s gear, “I mainly use a Fender Telecaster and Fender amps. Parris uses a Rickenbacker bass and Fender P-bass. Charney has a slew of drum kits, mainly vintage Slingerlands.” Currently, Rainey also plays guitar with the Clash-influenced band All Night Drug Prowling Wolves.
A Man, Not A Biography is The ’Tiques’ newest release (recently rated 7/10 in Spin), with a Ramones-style logo on the front cover and a back cover photo that simulates The Jam’s All My Cons front cover. Rainey declares, “We’re kind of like The Jam. We’re a three-piece, kind of punky, power poppy stuff. Why don’t we do a nod to somebody? We were like, ‘How about The Jam?’ So we got in front of this old house in Reynoldstown. It was abandoned and covered in spray paint, and we just sat up on the front porch and in the backyard and posed like that picture.”
Biography was recorded over two years in three locations with three producers, then mastered for cohesiveness with Jimmy Ether at Ether Lounge instead of re-recording tracks. Rainey expresses, “We’re not big on re-recordings. We do a lot of recording stuff in the studio live. On a lot of the songs, the lead vocals and the backing vocals were done completely live. They would sing the backing vocals while I was singing, so it wasn’t overdubbed. Basically we would do guitar, bass and drums live, to get that live feel. And then I would come in and maybe do like one more guitar track on some stuff, or we’d come in and do another keyboard track on some stuff. And then we’d come in and do the lead vocals and the backing vocals live. The guy that did keyboards on the record is Jeff Crews. And that was it.”
“[Biography] is all lyrically driven. They’re all little stories in there. They’re all little different scenarios,” he continues. Those scenarios are quite varied. “Fucked Up in Public” is a party song that could rock any home, club or bar that shocked his Southern Baptist mother. “Supermodel,” a story of celebrity fascination with wit, tells the dark side of celebrity. “Tibor Kalman,” an extremely catchy tune, verifies Rainey’s childhood nickname Brainy. He says, “Tibor Kalman is a graphic designer in NYC who did all kinds of things, including artwork for the Talking Heads and started the well-respected (and controversial) design firm M & Co. He was legendary in the graphic design field. I read a book about him and thought he would make a good subject for a song. This was also after I wrote the song ‘Tadao Ando’ for [’Tiques’ 2007 album] Soundtrack To Tear Us Apart. Tadao Ando was a legendary Japanese architect.”
So do Young Antiques have a point as a band? “It’s intelligent songwriting. The point I want to make is that I can write many different narratives. ‘Here’s a song, I have different stories.’ Just like my idols.”
Young Antiques attained a small amount of success a few years back when they received some airplay via MTV on a couple of reality series with their song “Porcelain” [Clockworker, 2003, their first album on Two Sheds Music with former drummer John Speaks] and a song by solo project Blake Rainey and His Demons called “Like Leaves” [Appetizer Sickness, 2004]. Young Antiques also did a national tour after Clockworker, and Rainey did a solo tour of the UK in 2006. The band has also opened for Mike Watt, Alex Chilton and The D4. But they live by a DIY ethic. They book their own tours and refuse to change their music or image in order to be successful, because that wouldn’t be authentic to the band’s spirit.
photos by Jeff Shipman and Stephanie Richardson