What began as a manifestation of two brothers’ love for music has in just three short years snowballed into a five-piece roots/rock band playing relentless live performances while building a rapidly growing fan base. Waldemere Revival is catching the attention of magazine editors and festival organizers alike, without having released a full length album… yet. This fall, they’ll embark on a tour stretching as far as Florida. They anticipate a CD release in the spring of 2011.
I met the men of Waldemere Revival (Steve Martin, lead vocals/guitar; John Young, vocals/lead guitar; Corey Flick, vocals/rhythm guitar/harmonica; Justin Atkins, drums; details on the 5th member below) at The Vollrath to talk about their demanding schedule, upcoming tour, and new band lineup.
NUVO: Tell me about your mile-long schedule. Let’s talk about festivals first. Are you going to new events? Familiar favorites?
Corey: This will be our 2nd year at Rootsnanny [in Brown County] and our first at River City [in Madison, IN]. And we’re also playing Saturday at Wuhnurth, right after Chicago Farmer and before Cosmic Railroad.
NUVO: Saturday night? That’s a good time slot.
Corey: It’ll be a good set. We’re fired up. I look at our schedule too, and I’m like, “Wow! Look at that. Busy getting busier!” And that’s not even the tour yet.
NUVO: Is that after you get through everything currently on your calendar?
Corey: Yea. We’re going to leave on tour three days after Christmas and head down to Florida. We’re hitting Nashville, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Pensacola, Orlando, Ft. Meyers, and maybe Key Largo. Then we’ll start coming back up the other side. [Band manager] Joey [Buttram of Hidden Relic] has it all planned out.
Justin: Everything is kind of TBA at the moment. One of the big shows we having coming up is going to be at Emen’s auditorium at Ball State University, which is going to be a lot of fun and a big show. It’s going to be eight bands; we’re the middle band. And in between each band will be a “hippie hop” with MC Sparkplug. The idea behind it is kind of like “The festival season is over… and here’s a sign off to it.” UV Hippo, Twin Cats, Midwest Hype, Catch Curtis, Embryonic Fluid, King Mountain, and New Old Cavalry will all be there.
NUVO: What’s the date on that?
Justin: November 13th. Saturday night.
NUVO: Emen’s is a big room to fill.
Corey: Around 3,300 is what I heard. And I just found out on the way here that we are doing a gig on September 8th at Birdy’s. It’s a River City Music Festival preview. It will be us and Kinetix.
NUVO: Your schedule and history shows that you book and play around Indiana a lot. What challenges and, conversely, advantages do you notice about staying local?
Corey: I think the advantage to being from here and playing around here is that you grow a local fan base. I think for challenges, it’s kind of the same thing. We’re drawing off the same local fan base so we try not to play too much in one particular area. We’re trying to get into a rotation now where we’re hopping out to Chicago, Cincinnati, Lexington, Richmond, Springfield, Milwaukee.
Justin: Bloomington’s where our main draw is. We’re based out of Indianapolis but Bloomington is more our home. We have a great fan base there. The clubs we play there are fantastic. It’s a lot of fun. There are definitely challenges to being in a band that is working like we do. It’s one of those things where we can’t over-saturate a market and that requires a lot of traveling. We love to travel. We’ve slept in our van more times than I care to admit.
Steve: Chicago is the worst, by the way.
John: Lots of stories about Chicago.
Corey: We slept one night in Wicker Park after we played a small lounge. It was every bit of 90 degrees at 2 a.m. and we all had our shirts off sleeping in the van. I would have hated… whoever walked by- I don’t even want to know what was going through their head. (laughs) But we got to watch our equipment that way.
NUVO: That’s right. You gotta be careful up there.
Steve: The guys from The Twin Cats just got their stuff stolen on the first night of their tour. Which was just awful. And they’re a great band. There are a lot of bands locally that we look up to. We’ve made a lot of friends- not only bands, but just different people- which is amazing. Every band that we’ve played with (with the exception of maybe one or two) has been very kind about helping us and we try to do the same to reciprocate that and help them. We luckily have gained a reputation for being one of the nicest bands around. It’s not a bad thing. I mean, it’s kind of funny to think that, but it’s one of those things we have been told and it makes us feel good to know that.
Corey: And it’s progressed now to where we just signed on with Joey Buttram from Hidden Relic as our band manager. We’re really entrenched now in the festival scene, so next year you’ll see a big run. We’re going to be doing a lot of bigger festivals and meeting up with bigger bands. We’re actually working on a deal right now with an independent label. The ink’s not dry, but it’s real close. So, next spring is going to be real exciting.
NUVO: There are a lot of smaller, local festivals popping up. Even just in Indiana.
Steve: They’re coming up like, every day.
Steve: Being a musician, I’m also just a huge music fan. So, as we’re promoting on the internet and seeing everything that’s going on I’m like, “Oh. Wait. What’s that festival? Never heard of that before.” And then we start seeing bands that are in our network playing those festivals and that’s what makes us say, “Ah, well. Yea. Let’s try to play that.”
NUVO: With such a heavy touring schedule, you probably have to sacrifice a lot of events that you would otherwise attend as a fan.
Steve: You don’t get to go to none of that. (all laugh) I mean, there’s no going to shows for us anymore. We play the shows. Our “shows” are getting to see the bands that we play with in our network. I think that’s one of our favorite things. You know, we’ve heard of the Twin Cats. We’ve heard of Midwest Hype. We’ve heard of all the other bands that are running around. Our big high from everything is that when we go and play, then it’s time off work and we go to watch all these other bands. Then we get to hook up with them and go do it again. Besides the people and the festivals, that’s one of my favorite things to do- just being able to watch the other bands and see all the good music that’s coming out of the Midwest right now, which is very exciting. There’s a lot of really great things happening here.
Corey: We get updates from our friends that live here in town about what great shows that we missed at The Bluebird.
John: They’re like, “Where you guys at this weekend” and I’m like “Cleveland.” or “Dayton.” And they say “Yea, we just saw Dumpstaphunk.” And I’m like “Yea… yea. I bet that was great.”
Justin: We always follow it up with “I’m really sorry. I really appreciate the invite. But I respectfully decline.”
Steve: “How can I turn down a night in the band?”
NUVO: But has it always been like that? I mean, Thursday, Friday, Saturday… sometimes a couple shows in a single day.
Steve: The further we’re progressing, the busier we’re getting.
Corey: We’re doing a lot of two-gigs-a-day now. We did a Mass Ave festival. It was an arts and crafts festival down on Mass Ave at The Art Bank.
John: Art Has a Heart.
Corey: That was at 3 o’clock. And then that night we were in Ft. Wayne and we had to do sound check by 8 so, we were cutting it close.
Steve: It was a couple weeks ago so, if you remember, if was un-godly hot outside. At that time it was the hottest it’d been yet this year.
Corey: We were on our way to Ft. Wayne and I looked at everybody and I was like, “I don’t think we’re gonna make it.”
Justin: I think the one thing that definitely helps keep us going beside the love for what we’re doing and the drive to be successful at it is that, honestly, if we weren’t in a band together playing shows… we’d all still be hanging out. We’re all great friends. It’s very much like a family.
NUVO: I see a lot of studio time listed on your calendar as well. So, are you working on a new album?
Corey: Yea, we’re going to have a 10-track live album released before September. It’s going to be “live and uncut”- just songs that we’ve recorded while out on the road. And we’re going to release our debut album next spring. So, we’re going to be recording a lot this fall.
NUVO: And spring will be your debut album? You’re doing all these shows and still haven’t released a CD?
Steve: We have a five-track EP that was done a little over a year ago.
NUVO: Where are you recording at?
Justin: When we do the full-length record it’s going to be recorded at The Pop Machine, which is located in Broad Ripple. We’ve tracked one song already called “So Damn Blessed” that we did at The Pop Machine. But, like Corey mentioned, in the meantime we’re putting together a compilation disc with live recordings.
"So Damn Blessed"
NUVO: You’ve also recently secured a new bass player?
Corey: Our old bass player (who is a very talented guy)… well, you’ve seen our schedule. He didn’t like to travel a lot. So, with us being a full-time traveling band, it wasn’t going to work. So, we had numerous auditions and locked in with a guy by the name of Blain Crawford.
NUVO: From The Post Script?
Corey: Yea. We have been friends with the guys from The Post Script for quite a while, and when the position opened up, Blain said he would love to fill the slot. He has a real love for music, and will be playing in both bands.
NUVO: I had no idea.
Steve: We didn’t either. He came to us and said, “Hey, I see you guys are looking for a bass player. Would love to play for you.” They’re an awesome band. We actually had the opportunity to do an [all-star] late night jam with them at Springfest this year. It ended up lasting four hours. So, we’ve got a lot of history with The Post Script. We’ve done shows with them. So, we were really shocked that he would be able to play with us, in addition to playing with them.
Justin: But we’re really excited. Our last bass player was amazingly talented and left on extremely good terms. It was just one of those things where it wasn’t the right fit for him and wasn’t necessarily the right fit for us. And I think it really worked out for the better. We’re all very excited about Blain. He definitely fits in with the family, first and foremost. Before an instrument even comes out of its case, there’s that personality trait that has to compliment with us. We were such great friends going into it that it was just a natural fit.
Corey: We told him, “We have to have someone we can talk to and communicate with in the van.” Cause we spend a lot of time in the van. (laughs)
Steve: Gotta be able to sleep together in the van.
Corey: We need a guy that doesn’t mind that the air conditioning doesn’t work in the van.
John: There’s a lot of things in that van that don’t work.
NUVO: So when’s he going to start playing out with you guys?
Corey: He already has. He is transitioning right now. We’re going to team up on some shows with The Post Script, so he’s going to be getting double work playing both sets.
John: Having Blain there is great not only for having that good, brotherly connection with him but also because he wants to be creative, which is one of the big sellers for me. We’re all really creative writers and having somebody onboard who’s not just a band-aid (jumps on, does the songs, and does his thing) but he also wants to write with us. That’s a big thing.
The members of Waldemere spent the last of our time together discussing a band they plan to work with in the near future: Chicago’s Steepwater, a roots/rock/blues band who just returned from a European tour, recently opened five shows for Gov’t Mule, and are preparing to go on tour with My Morning Jacket. Waldemere anticipates a joint show with Steepwater in Chicago this spring, after both bands release the albums they are currently working on. Catch a preview on September 24th when Steepwater travels to Indy to play Lizard’s on the southside.
Look for Waldemere Revival in the forthcoming September issue of Relix magazine, featured in the “On the Verge” section. Be sure to catch them at Wuhnurth Music Festival on September 18th. Listen to their music online. And check out their impressively busy schedule to catch a live show.
All photos by Robert Coulson.