“Brooklyn’s kings of alt-country; just minus the ‘alt.'” -VICE
“Rowdy, punk-fueled twang highlighted by heaps of blue-collar
wit” -THE WASHINGTON POST
“The perfect soundtrack for a family picnic, or a meth lab.”
(photo by Jim Williams)
“A drunken square dance on speed” -PopMatters
“A blistering, let’s-get-down-to-the-truth, eclectic mix of musical styles that push and stretch the boundaries of country music” -No Depression
CBGB’s meet the Grand Ole Opry. Hailing form New York, the six-man, one-woman band blends bluegrass, country, rockabilly, and a sucker punch of rubber-meets-the-road roots sound. Many of their songs tow a thin line between serious and satire. But don’t let irreverence fool you. These accomplished musicians create artistic arrangements that feature harmonies worthy of Gram and Emmylou, and chicken-pickin’ guitar that belies their geographic origin. Country gentleman or downtowner, The Defibulators can make anyone a devotee of the do-si-do.
Described as everything from “Hee-Haw on mescaline” to “Carter Family-meets-Ramones”, The Defibulators unique brand of country has made them pioneers in the Brooklyn country music scene.
The band is currently touring on the heels of their latest LP release, Debt’ll Get’em. Co-produced with Brian Bender (Langhorne Slim, Jose James). The album is a striking, au courant take on classic country, channeling the frenetic energy of their legendary live shows into tight, punchy hooks and foot-stomping sing-alongs.
From “Pay For That Money,” a pedal steel and fiddle lament about debt, to “Let Me See That Ponytail Run,” a dreamy ode to beauty just out of reach, the album is full of gorgeous harmonies and razor-sharp wit. “Everybody’s Got a Banjo” is a biting, swamp funk-inspired nod to the instrument’s recent ubiquity (“If you don’t know how to play it, well it still looks cool”), and “Cackalacky” is the tongue-in-cheek story of an Appalachian musician who moves to New York City to make it big in roots music.
The band’s infectious energy and originality earned them a nod as one of Brooklyn’s best emerging bands in VICE Magazine, and a devoted following in a city not known for its love of country. “It’s fun to play for people who don’t think they like country music,” says singer Erin Bru. Guitarist/singer/songwriter Bug Jennings agrees, adding, “There’s something about the fast-paced, frantic, neurotic energy of New York that fuels our sound.”
Their debut album Corn Money garnered immediate critical notice from Buzzfeed to CMT, with New York Magazine raving that “[Bug] and singer Erin Bru slip into harmonies that recall the storied Gram Parsons-Emmylou Harris duets,” Under the Radar hailed it as “a boozy concoction worth swigging until last call,” and PopMatters describing it as “a drunken square dance on speed.”
Call it what you will, Americana, indie honky-tonk, truckerpunk, or Brooklyn Country, the proof is in the listening. There is a unique familiarity that percolates throughout Debt’ll Get ‘Em. The reverence for traditional country forms combined with an irreverent rock and roll attitude is a trademark of the Defibs sound. Gear-grinding twang and sawing fiddles saturate songs rooted in the debt-laden and downtrodden, the moods swinging between satirical and sentimental, with unpredictable outbursts into total country chaos.
When not on the road together, The Defibulators reside in individual, non-mobile homes in Hoboken, Harlem, and Brooklyn.
The Defibulators’ Songbook has been published by Mel Bay Publications.
(click on individual photo within the slideshow to save)
The Defibulators are:
Erin Bru – Vocals, Triangle
Bug Jennings – Vocals, Banjo, Acoustic Guitar
Chris “Roadblock” Hartway – Telecaster
Mike Riddleberger – Drums
Michael “Metalbelly” Ginsberg – Washboards, Harmonica, Percussion
Justin “The Giant Fiddler” Smith, Bobby Hawk, Adam Moss – Fiddle
David Dawda, Ian Riggs, Dave Speranza – Upright & Electric Bass
Extended Family: Grant Zubritzky, Spencer Zahn (Bass), Brian Kantor (Drums), John Foti (Accordion), Dave Melton (Piano)