INTERVIEW: Shotgun Betty
I was granted the opportunity to interview the sensational Shotgun Betty this past week. They are a bluesy-Americana-folk band out of Lake Worth and they have been playing constantly around the Tri-County area. They’ve just wrapped up work on their first EP and also found time to film their first music video. I’ve seen them several times around South Florida–at Dada in Delray, at Propaganda in Lake Worth, and for a moderately intimate acoustic set at Radioactive Records some months back. I have been privileged to watch them grow and evolve from a duet to a trio and from a trio to a quartet over the course of the last year. Their sound has matured into an energetic, snarky southern teenager. I foresee a bright future for this group. They are just about ready to kick off a tour as well. So, to introduce my dear readers to them and with the desire to help them take flight this year, I’ve whipped up some “gettin-to-know-you” questions for the bunch and they were gracious enough to go through them with me.
TuffGnarl: So, Shotgun Betty, who are you and what are your roles in the band?
Shotgun Betty: Alexis plays guitar and sometimes the mandolin, Fern handles percussion and occasionally plays guitar. Noah covers banjo and mandolin, and Tom plays upright bass. Alexis and Fern sing primarily, with Noah backing up.
How did you all find each other?
Alexis: I formed the band in November of last year with a friend. We started playing shows and had some lineup changes over the first few months. In the end of January, a friend of mine connected me with Fern. We took that music and started reworking it to really get the crowd moving. Noah saw us at Dada (Lounge) and asked if we need a banjo player. That formed the lineup we have now, except for Tom who sought us out in August after moving here from Philadelphia.
Besides just awesome, how would you describe your music? From where do you draw inspiration?
SB: We feel our music is a combination of folk, bluegrass and Americana but with a modern spin. We try to write high energy songs with a good rhythm and a strong harmony that are fun to dance to but use traditional instrumentation. I think we draw a lot from our experiences, but all of us are also very well versed in a variety of musical genres that influence our sound and the way we write.
Can you describe what the composing process is like for Shotgun Betty? Would you say that you write the music then the lyrics, or the other way around?
SB: What typically happens is that one of us brings the bones of a new song to the rest of the band and then we develop it–work on it until it really sounds like “us.” We definitely have a consensus on the fact that writing the chord progression first is easier, however, “One Man Band,” on our upcoming EP, was written lyrics first.
I enjoyed the music video a lot. Do you have any more of them planned for the near future?
SB: Yes definitely! We have a couple of other singles lined up from the EP and plan to shoot videos for each. It’s nice to have a visual element to go along with your music.
What major act would you all like to play a show with? To tour with?Fern: Alabama Shakes.
Alexis: Shovels and Rope.
Noah: Punch Brothers.
Tom: Shannon and the Clams.
I haven’t heard much in the way of this kind of music coming from South Florida. How did you come up with your sound? Was it planned or did it evolve as you went on?
SB: When Shotgun Betty started it was really old timey slow music. When Fern joined, we really started to focus on faster, uptempo songs that people could move to and it seemed like our audience had more fun. So we decided to focus on that in our writing. It evolved from there. I think that foot-tapping folk sound is what helps make our songs more memorable now.
What venue would you most like to play? Is there one in your mind that is your “we’ve made it” spot in the country?
SB: Oh yeah! Saturday Night Live!! That’s all such an amazing place to find out about great emerging artists.
I know very little about preparing for a tour. How do you finance this kind of endeavor? What kind of planning goes into it?
SB: Most bands save up between merch and EP sales and shows. Then you just try to work out gigs that will keep you fed, while having gas in the van for the tour. We’ve been planning this January tour for a while now and it definitely is a lot of work but worth it to get our music beyond South Florida.
Alexis and I talked a little about “shameless self-promotion” using social networks like Facebook and Twitter. A lot of artists these days go from zero to sixty in nothing flat with the advent of social media, especially within the last 10 years. How do you feel this has affected you as up-and-comers in the music scene?
SB: Well it has been really great for us in terms of exposure with shows like Balcony TV, however I think that sometimes it affects the industry negatively because it can be so over saturated that people tune out a lot of what you’re doing.
What would you say you like the most about the scene in South Florida? What gets under your skin about it?
SB: It’s great that so many musicians are connected and all know each other here. It’s a great sense of community and I think we all try to support each other. The drawback is everything is so spread out that is sometimes hard to watch everything you want to see without putting hundreds in your gas tank.
I’ve found that there is a lot of talent in this part of the country, but it seems that we don’t get a lot of attention down here. Why do you think that is?
SB: I think it’s really geographic location issues mainly; it takes six hours to get out of the state and takes bands 10 hours to come down and then leave. The opportunity to play bigger shows isn’t as available as other places.
What can you tell me about the upcoming tour? When does it kick off and where will you be visiting?
SB: Our Southeast Tour is January 9-18 going up through Virginia and back down through Tennessee and Louisiana to Florida. We will be announcing specific locations really soon!
What is the release date of the EP and when might we expect a full length album?
SB: We are shooting for December for the EP. We recorded all the tracks for a full length album, so that is already in the holster for next year!
Go check out this track from Shotgun Betty’s upcoming EP. The song is “Grab Your Gun.”
And, here’s the official music video to tide you over.
If you’re still scrolling down here, I can only assume you want more. Here’s an acoustic set Shotgun Betty performed on WLRN this past spring.
And just in case, here’s the video from Balcony TV.
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