Rev. Peyton and Big Damn Band take roots-rock road from Indiana to everywhere

Rev. Peyton, Breezy Peyton caught in the moment

When Reverend Peyton and the Big Damn Band came home to Indianapolis for their annual show at The Vogue November 26, it was a quick stop on home turf before turning the van towards their next gig  –  but one that had extra meaning for the three members of the blues/roots/country cowpunk band.

After a run of concerts that has taken them up and down the East coast, they return to the Midwest, with shows in Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago before hitting Indy, and then to Cincinnati and a Southern states swing. We caught up with the Rev. by phone  as the band was on their way to a show in Ithaca, NY. We talked about the Indy show, their next project, pork tenderloin sandwiches and Junior Brown.

ROB: I read in a story that you said the homecoming show at the Vogue is always one of your favorites. What is it about these Vogue shows that makes them so memorable?

REV. PEYTON: It’s one of those things where you want your hometown shows to be big. That’s important now. Some of our pals like Avett Brothers and Flogging Molly, their hometown shows are their biggest now, and it’s the same for us. We want to make sure to keep that going. I know they feel the same way; I’ve talked to them about it. And there’s a little bit of nostalgia for me. The Vogue Theatre — I grew up as that being the place to play, and the only time I ever get nervous about shows is when we play them at home. I’ve played in front of literally thousands of people all over the world and I’m only nervous at home. Isn’t that strange? So what do is I make those shows the best. Those are the ones where we pull out all the stops

ROB: You guys are just amazing road warriors with the travel schedule that you keep. I read that you said “People are people.” Are there differences, though, that truly matter between Hoosiers and the rest of the country?

RP: There is definitely a Hoosier culture and when I was growing up I didn’t see it. I didn’t realize it when I was young because it’s very hard to see your culture until you are able to step away from it. Looking at it from far away and traveling, I’ve been able to do that, and it’s given me a different perspective on it than most people. From right down to the Hoosier food, it’s just a little bit different. The rest of the world doesn’t eat their tenderloins flattened out to the size of a plate and then serve it with a hamburger bun — you know that’s weird. [chuckle] That’s different. There’s also a kind of Indiana culture that comes from being sort of at the intersection of certain cultural divides. The North meets South at the Ohio River and it puts us in a unique position. There’s a unique Hoosier way about saying stuff and doing stuff and I really appreciate it. You get away and you go to other parts of the country and you’re able to come back and really appreciate it.

ROB: Did the “Clap Your Hands” video open up your music to new or different fans?

RP: Yeah. In Germany, we had a show in Germany and it looked almost like the Soviet bloc or something. A sold out show, and when it came to “Clap Your Hands” people went nuts because they had all seen the video. And that’s kind of interesting and wild to think about. I never thought I’d say that about a music video, but I loved making it and I’m really proud of it.

ROB: You have just played in New York City. How was the big city?

RP: When we were there, we stayed with the director of “Clap Your Hands”, Kevin Custer. That guy, everything that he touches just turns to gold; everything he does is beautiful. And (his apartment) was on the 25th floor in Brooklyn and he had this lounge area on the 51st floor. We went up there and the view was unbelievable. You could see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, you see the whole city right there. I said, “Man, this has got to be one of the best views of the whole city.” And he said, “Well I think it might be.”

ROB: You went to Europe too?

RP: We played on the BBC just a couple of weeks ago, right in the United Kingdom. The BBC – it was beautiful. They treated us like royalty there. And we were recording live for radio, and we’ve got headphones on. And I’m talking to the big man in the control room, like “Can I have some little more music in the headphones. I can’t hear myself.” They said, ‘Well, the problem is here in the UK we have a law where headphones can only be in a certain volume, they can’t be any louder than this. So unfortunately, no, I can’t give you any more music in the headphones.” [chuckle] It made me laugh, so I thought, man, can you imagine in the United States if someone put a law on how loud headphones can be? [laugh]

ROB: You changed drummers in 2009 (Jayme Peyton was replaced by his cousin, Aaron Persinger, beginning with their December Vogue Theatre show). Not to compare the two but how’s it going?

RP: It’s going great, man. When your heart is in the right place, you’re working hard. What I think, that everybody is where they belong. And things are clicking so well. I think this is the best that this band has ever sounded. And people coming out to shows, they’re saying the same thing.

ROB: What’s the next project you’ve been thinking about or are working on? Is there something in the back of your head that is exciting you?

RP: I’ve got stuff in the works. I’ve got some projects that I may be working on for next year hopefully. We did the Gospel Album — a full length EP is what it was. And I’ve got a couple of those theme albums in mind that I want to start working on next year — and I’ve also been writing songs for the next full length Big Damn band record. I think my best songs haven’t been written yet. And I can get better at singing and playing a better show. I work on it every single day. And this is the going to be the first time we’ve played in Indianapolis as a headline and club show since “The Wages” album came out.

ROB: If you could have any musician sit in with you guys for one night, who would it be?

RP: Oh man, I got a bunch of them . I’d love to play with Junior Brown. Yeah, I’d love to get in with him. I think that’d be great. He was born in Indiana. I met Junior once in Austin, Texas. But it’s hard to say if he can remember me or not. [chuckle] I’d like to think he would. [laughter] Every now and then, we get together with our pals Flogging Molly and they join us on stage and I’d love to do more of that. We get to meet so many great musicians and great people. I’ve been able to meet some people that I really, really looked up to growing up when I was young, like ZZ Top. And it’s amazing getting to play with some of them. That’s one of the things that I am real, real lucky to be able to do.

The thing that makes me most proud is that we’ve been able to hang with these people and be respected as just another musician. It’s pretty exciting. That makes me most proud. We’ve always been proud to be band that other musicians ran to. The world tour, at the end of the Warped Tour (in 2010), they have all the bands and crew and vote on different things, the best band, best merchandise all different kinds of things, and we won best band. And Breezy and I won best couple.

ROB: That’s awesome.

RP: Yeah, it’s pretty fine. And those are people from other bands are doing that, you know what I mean? The people that really know, they really respect what we’re doing. And that makes me proud. That’s my goal. And I want tomorrow’s show to be better than tonight’s show, you know what I mean? I work on that every day.

See Rev. Peyton’s European tour photos

“Clap Your Hands” video

Live at Indy CD and Vinyl

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