The California Rocker Q and A With People’s Blues
By DONNA BALANCIA
The People’s Blues of Richmond will be headlining a gig with our friends The Two Tens and the Coo Coo Birds. Matt Volkes co-founded the self-proclaimed “Circus Rock” band in 2009 with guitarist Tim Beavers II. The band is working on a “Quit or Die” music video based on their latest album. Volkes took time out to answer the important questions:
CR: What are the things about Richmond that inspire you?
PBR: The bands name People’s Blues of Richmond is often confused for meaning that we are a blues band but really the name means the struggle of our city. The blues is more a state of mind. The world is hard and life is full of ups and downs but for us it helps to scream about that.
The people make the city what it is and it’s filled with music and food and culture and most of all our friends. I promise if you show up in Richmond without a place to stay or enough money for a beer someone will give you a place to sleep and make sure you get good and buzzed. That’s what inspires us and that’s what we bring on the road.
CR: How would you “classify” your music. You seem like a combination of folk with some heavy rock vibe.
PBR: We like to call it Circus Rock . There are aspects of a lot of different types of roots music and we just take the influences and sounds that we like and make them rock n roll.
CR: If you could live in any era other than today, when would you have liked to have lived?
PBR: I think the Wild West would be a cool time have lived it would have been hot as hell but something about wondering around the country on a horse living off the land sounds peaceful to me.
CR: Do you ever do unplugged? Is that something that you would consider?
We do it sometimes. Actually if you want Take a listen we will be doing an unplugged session Sept. 19 at KXRN. When I say unplugged usually it just ends up being us playing sitting down Or on a super low volume with battery operated amps but sometimes we pull out the acoustics.
We play some different material some old folk Tim has some songs he wrote a long time ago that sound dylanesque. Tim and I used to busk in Richmond when we were younger all the time so we have a ton of songs we don’t play anymore that we try and bring back for those sets.
I remember one week we had been out almost every day playing on the street for at least 3-4 hours and we only made $9 the whole week. We had a sign that said ‘Need money for Haircuts’ so maybe we didn’t look poor enough, but we were stealing lunch every day and splitting it between the two of us and spent the $9 on Virginia Gentleman (a gentlemans cheap whiskey).
CR: Have you performed with The Two Tens before?
PBR: We actually don’t know them we just got paired up for the show but have had a few phone conversations with them and we are really excited to plays some rock ‘n’ roll and make some new friends.
CR: Do you think the music of The Two Tens goes with your show? Why are The Two Tens a good supporting act for you?
PBR: Yeah The Two Tens definitely go with us and they are a great support act because they are a rock ‘n’ roll band and this is gonna be a rock n roll show.
CR: How did you and your band members get turned on to playing music?
PBR: Neko’s Dad is the drummer for the Wailers so it’s been in his blood from the get go, he’s been playing since he was 2.
Matthew Volkes (me) my dad was also a drummer played in a band called King Biscuit Blues Band played The Fillmore East and backed up John Lee Hooker a few times.
When I was younger I tried drums but bass ended up being the instrument I was drawn to.
Tim Beavers said: “Just from listening to music it makes me feel crazy inside.”
The Band’s first gig was at a place in Richmond that has gone through several different names. When we played it was called Bagel Czar originally it was The Nancy Raygun and now it’s currently called Strange Matter is a mostly punk/psych rock club that also has an arcade bar in it w vintage video games.
CR: Which tunes do you take particular pride in? Which was the quickest to write?
PBR: We take pride in all of our songs don’t think I could say there was one that we care for more then the rest. “Quit or Die” came to Tim over the course of one morning and he basically Frankesteined some old riffs we had thrown away with some new ones and then it just came together.