Michelle LaRose talks with Tom Spittle for Road To Jacksonville
Photographs by Michelle LaRose
Rebel Pride is aptly named. These rebellious rockers from Tampa Bay Florida beam with southern pride.
We caught up with Rebel Pride at one of their favorite hometown watering holes and were able to chat with Tom Spittle about their new album, Bike Week and Southern Rock.
Tom: By immaculate conception from the gods of rock and roll!
RTJ: Can you tell us a bit about your new album Backin It Up.
Tom: We’re really happy about that album. It’s selling really well, especially in Europe. It’s just a continuation from the last album. Where the first one left off, that one picks up and we’ve thrown in a couple of ballads this time to show a little more diversity and a little more of what we’re about but there’s plenty of rockers too. It was made in the studio over about four or five days and we’re real proud of it.
RTJ: Who writes the songs?
Tom: Pat writes most of the songs although Sonny has a few songs that he writes all the words and music to. Brian usually comes up with the riffs on guitar. Although Shine-Ola was one that I came up with the idea for and then the band came together and Pat wrote some lyrics. So that’s how that one came together. Texas Mud was one that Brian wrote a long time ago when his tribute band was touring through Texas. Flatlands is one that Pat just walked into the studio with, just a three chord song. We all picked up on it instantly in the rehearsal studio one night. On The Road was something that Brian wrote with a couple guys he was with in a Skynyrd tribute band, so that one’s been around for about twenty years. That song was in the archives and we pulled it out, put a new edge to it, some guitar harmonies on the end of it and that’s how that one came to be.
RTJ: My next question was going to be how is the song writing process accomplished. But it sounds like everyone brings something to the table.
Tom: Especially in the recording process. Nobody comes in with all the parts. So we rehearse them, we play them out on the road, we see what the response is before we ever go into the recording studio.
Tom: Those albums came out before the current lineup we have right now. The lineup we have right now has only been together for three years. The first of the two came out in I think ’97. It was more country; it has pedal steel and fiddle on it, a different drummer, and a different singer. The one that came out after that, Rock Stars and Cowboys, we recorded in Nashville with all Nashville session musicians on it. We had an old singer, Brian and I put a couple of leads in it, but they’re not a good representation of what Rebel Pride is today and what Rebel Pride has been for the past three years.
RTJ: Sonny Harlan left the band for a while. Can you tell us why?
Tom: He just had this wonder lust. He had a band called The Murder Junkies offer him to tour Europe with them. The Murder Junkies is a punk band that used to have a lead singer by the name of GG Allin who is no longer with us, he was one of the craziest lead singers there ever was. He wasn’t really lacking on stage. Sonny was filling his shoes and they were quite hard to fill because that guy was pretty wild. Sonny went and did a tour of Europe with them and the northeast U.S. and Canada. He was gone for a little while but he missed us and we were really grateful to get him back.
RTJ: You have played Bike Week in Daytona a few times. For those of us who have never been to Daytona Bike Week, can you tell us what it’s like?
Tom: It’s a blast! It’s a lot of noise! Good noise! Because a Harley sounds as good as Alex Van Halen on the beginning of Hot for Teacher… really! It sounds like that 24/7. It’s a blast! It’s really fun! We played right downtown Main Street. Hundred’s and thousand’s of people, everybody’s really cool. People have a really bad vision of what bike week is like and I don’t understand why. It’s nothing but a lot of fun and good people. Every year we play for Biketoberfest and Bike Week.
Tom: That was through a friend of ours who’s an agent, who gets bands booked on that every year. There are usually different bands each year. That was the biggest thrill for me. The best musical weekend I’ve ever had in my life.
RTJ: Stomp Yer Foots is the first cut on the Gritz CD compilation Homegrown And Hand Picked. How were you able to get the song on the CD?
Tom: I worked very hard to get Rebel Pride to open up that CD. I had been reading Gritz magazine for a while; in fact I found out about Michael Buffalo Smith and met him at that Charlie Daniels ‘Angeles’ concert that you spoke of. He’s there every year and I subscribed to the magazine and I submitted a CD to him and he liked it a lot. We started talking on the phone and we advertised in his magazine. We were really honored when he chose that song to open up the compilation.
RTJ: Music videos are all the rage now days. Do you have any plans to do a music video?
Tom: Yeah we do need to get a music video. I mean with the ads and YouTube and Myspace and stuff. That is something that we are defiantly lacking. I have a friend that makes movies and television shows out in California that’s offered to do that for us. So it should be happening soon.
RTJ: You have a web page, a myspace page and an electronic press kit (EPK). Does having an internet presence help the band and how so?
Tom: If it weren’t for our internet presence we wouldn’t be selling CDs in Europe, thanks to internet radio stations like allsouthernrock.com. The congress and the copyright people are about to pass a law that’s going to make it even harder for small internet radio stations to exist by charging them really stupid fees of a minimum $500 or something. But because of stations like that there’s still a big diverse amount of music available to people. If it wasn’t for internet radio all we would get is the same cookie cutter stuff from big corporations shoved down our throats and that’s all we would get to listen to. But the people need a bigger choice than that. I hope people will write their congressmen and… wait this is for a French magazine isn’t it? Okay tell the French to tell the Americans to tell their congressmen to keep internet radio alive because I’m sure the French would like to hear a lot of our internet radio stations.
Tom: Because of the advent of the music video. Even though a lot of these southern rock bands are still kickin’ they don’t really have music videos. Like MTV, they tried to adapt to that but they weren’t as driven to do that. They were just good ole’ boys playing good ole’ music who were influenced from and came from the south. That was their influence, country and a New Orleans sound and blue grass, all that influences southern rock. Then the advent of the music video came along and these weren’t image conscious guys, these were just guys who made music. When music took a back seat to the image… even in my iPod I have an example of that. In my iPod I have an Outlaws video that was shot in the 80’s for MTV. I love the Outlaws but these videos; they just took away the imagination that we use to get from just hearing the music. When you had this visual interpretation of someone else’s interpretation of what music is it lost all its imagination. Half the thrill came from the image you came up with in your mind from hearing that music. Not from forcing you to see it on a TV screen.
RTJ: Thank you for speaking with Road To Jacksonville.
Tom: My pleasure… and hey, get us over there to play some gigs in France. I hear you make great wine!