The Seratones (Photo by: Pooneh Ghana)
When the Seratones met in Shreveport, Louisiana, their common bond was punk rock. That might come as a surprise, given that AJ Haynes, a tiny dynamo and the group’s lead vocalist, got her start singing in church and the remainder of the band leans toward rock. But the music is tighter than the blues and not nearly as loose as gospel. You’ll find yourself wondering how the group carries such great sound with only four people. Their debut album, “Get Gone,” features 11 tight-knit songs that are all over the musical map — blues, funk and even a power ballad, “Tide.” How do musicians who seem so different on paper mesh so uniformly? We asked Haynes (and in the process learned that she likes tequila.) The Seratones play Friday Cheers on June 3 at 6:30 p.m., followed by The Revivalists at 8 p.m. $10.
Richmond magazine: How did this all start? Where was your first gig?
Haynes: Connor, Jesse, Adam, and I have known each other for about 10 years. We met at punk shows at DIY spots in our hometown and have been making music with each other, in some form or another, ever since. Seratones’ first gig was at our local spot, Bear’s. We got rowdy and I went crowd-surfing.
RM: Who in your band is least likely to be on time?
Haynes: I’d say that I’m the least likely to be on time, in all honesty. I have a bad habit of trying to do too many things at the same time. Or I’ll get distracted by a song idea or art idea and lose track of time.
RM: Do you have similar musical influences? Similar song-writing processes?
Haynes: Our collective musical influences vary on the mood and time of day, but lately we’ve been listening to lots of Black Sabbath. We all have lots of jazz influences. We’ve definitely spent evenings together sitting around a record player listening to [Miles Davis’] “Kind of Blue” on repeat. On a laid-back evening, there’s nothing better than J.J. Cale’s “Naturally” record … or if we’re on a psychedelic kick, Thee Oh Sees’ “Floating Coffin.” I’ve been on an Os Mutantes and Los Zafiros binge lately. Our songwriting process is completely collaborative; each person writes their own parts, but we give each other ideas and direction with songs. Like Tom Waits says, music is really just something interesting to be doing with the air.
RM: Between the four of you, what instruments do you play?
Haynes: Guitar, bass, drums, vibraphone, timpani, marimba, didgeridoo, clarinet, infinite washtub bass
RM: Any pre-show rituals? Weirdest thing on your rider?
Haynes: Wu-Tang’s “36 Chambers,” ginger tea and honey, beer, silver tequila and lots of stretching. I like to put on my favorite scented oils and red lipstick.
RM: What do you listen to on the road, and does it change often?
Haynes: When our Party Boss, Josh, is driving, we don’t listen to music because he prefers the sounds of the open road. Right now, we have the second CD for the “Eastbound & Down” soundtrack stuck in our CD player … but when we aren’t listening to that, here are some of our favorites: Queens of the Stone Age, Ty Segall, Frank Ocean, Satan’s Pilgrims, Os Mutantes, Jorge Ben, D’Angelo, Moonlandingz, Beastie Boys, Prince … and we love to check out local stations from city to city.
RM: Where/how do you find inspiration?
Haynes: I’m restless most days, so as long as I’m receptive, inspiration comes my way. It’s what Martha Graham calls a blessed unrest, a queer divine dissatisfaction.
RM: What food do you crave after a show?
Haynes: Tequila blanco and lime.
Here's the band, playing live at SXSW in March: