What’s the best food in Nashville? According to Adam Moult of Jeffery Drag Records and garage rock bands Bad Cop and Western Medication, “Boltons. Hands down. The fried catfish there is serious. If you go there, get the catfish plate – spicy with everything on it and a piece of cheese, with spaghetti/macaroni and the baked beans. Goddamn. I’m still planning on writing a song about that place, and that specific meal.” So, with mouth watering and stomach rumbling, my road trip plotting began – I had to have it, even if it meant driving 12 hours. I also wanted to see if Adam would really write a song about that meal. Guess what? He did. And, it rules. Hear for yourself.
– left to right, Brian Mayo (driver, friend and wrangler), Alex Hartness (guitar for Bad Cop; bass for Hermosa), Adam Moult (vocals/keys for Bad Cop; drums for Western Medication), Michelle Ciarrocca, and Gabrielle Hall (of Hermosa)]
Bleary eyed and shaky from the nine hour drive the night before and four hour drive in the morning, my road warrior partner in crime, Loretta, and I rolled into Music City around 1pm and headed straight to 3 Crow – my favorite day-drinking watering hole. Catfish wasn’t happening till early evening… time to kill. Nothing like a mid- day bourbon to dust off the road. After catching up on emails, this was technically a “work” trip after all, and a walk about town, it was time to meet up with Adam and his buddies. Along for the Boltons experience were fellow band mate and music makers Alex Hartness (guitar, Bad Cop; bass, Hermosa) and Gabrielle Hall (vocals/keys/frontwoman, Hermosa), and Brian Mayo – friend, driver, and band wrangler. Finally, time to eat some spicy catfish. Ever the gentleman, and showing off his southern manners, Adam marched up to the counter and took care of ordering while the rest of us settled in and got acquainted.
So, when we were emailing back and forth last fall, you had just gotten back from NYC and CMJ, how was that?
Adam: We were up there for a whole week with 15 people. We’re like the Wu-Tang of rock ‘n roll. We roll deep. We play with each other, hang out with each other, grew up with each other, it’s a very small town. We had a van, a car, a few flew, and we all met up in NYC and had a big loft we all stayed in. We played a bunch of places – Pianos, Union Pool, this FUZZ NYC party, which was on the Lower East Side/Chinatown – this venue where they’re not really supposed to have shows, but you go up and they’re serving drinks. It looks like you’re going into an apt. It should probably only hold 75- 80 people, but there’s like 200 people in there. It was cool. Julian Casablancas saw us play. We were super nerding out about it. We grew up listening to the Strokes. We saw him, ‘Oh my god, oh my god.’ He’s really tall.
Brian: I couldn’t even get in the door. I just waited outside.
What’s your role with the band?
Brian: I have the worst job on tour — handyman, driver, keeping them in line. I don’t drink.
That’s a good thing for a driver.
Brian: It’s a struggle sometimes making sure all the doors are locked so no one falls out. When we toured with Cage the Elephant we took an RV – that’s the best way to travel. We went to New Orleans, Arizona…Vegas was off the hook.
Adam: That was the coolest show I’ve ever played.
Where did you play?
Adam: We played on top of the Cosmopolitan hotel, facing the street. They had this megatron set up like at football games. It was crazy. We had no idea. We’re used to playing in basements to 300 people… we think that’s a big show, and then we show up in Vegas and play to three or four thousand people. What the hell is going on? And, I had eaten some mushrooms before we played… I was freaking out in my head.
Gabrielle: We went to dinner and we looked up on the wall, and I think it was just a picture of a woman smiling, but we couldn’t stop looking at it – a mixture of complete fear and confusion…
Adam: I thought I was in the belly of the beast.
You kind of were.
Adam: Tripping my balls off in this super fancy hotel casino with little model girls with bags with dogs in them and crap like that.
Gabrielle: That one girl with all that cocaine in her pinky nail? She kept coming up to me, I was like, are you picking my nose?
Adam: I felt like I was in a movie, I had to get out of there… we tried to escape the chaos.
Sounds like Fear and Loathing…
Brian: They gave us our own suites.
Adam: We’ve never had shit like that.
Brian: It was the nicest bed I ever slept in for the two hours I got to sleep, and then the 30 hour drive back, from Vegas to Nashville – it’s a rough drive. We had to get security to wake up our tour manager. He was up til 8am gambling and drinking. I went to the lady in the office and told her, she had this look on her face, like ‘oh no, not again…don’t let him be dead.’ I was like, no, he’s not dead… he’s just passed out.
Adam: That week was us and Cage, the next night was Florence and the Machine so they’re used to shenanigans. We got kicked out of one club cause we were lighting a joint.
Gabrielle: The bouncer guy comes up behind and just grabs the joint and crushes it – like a Titan.
Adam: Yeah, he basically was like, you all played here tonight and it was sold out so you get a freebie – ‘normally, this would not fly, you just need to get out of here’… ok, we’re out. Just crazy, the coolest tour we’ve ever done. Their fan base is so diehard, they just have a really good organic crowd. Anyway, that was the Vegas experience.
It’s going to be hard to top that, start planning now!
Holy crap that’s a lot of food!! You described it so well I had to come try it.
Adam: This is one of my favorite restaurants of all time. I eat here like once a week or more. It’s the best southern food around… there’s so much good food here in Nashville, everything is fried.
I’m a little scared. It kind of smells like a Big Mac, is anybody else getting that?
Gabrielle: Yes, yes it does.
Guess it’s the pickles and onions, the mayo – weird.
Brian: This is not mild, those bastards.
Alex: Man, I should have just gotten the catfish.
Adam: Load on the hot sauce, I like it hot. I like to punish myself when I eat here; it’s a sick twisted pleasure.
This is so good.
Gabrielle: Ok, now I feel it.
Alex: You feel it, now? The hallucinations kicking in…?
Gabrielle: [gasping, eyes watering] Like a volcano of fire.
All of us: Bread, bread, eat the bread!!
[Gabrielle grabs my arm, sweating]
[laughing] I don’t have any milk, but I’ll get you some.
Gabrielle: I’m glad this is recorded. That’s one bad catfish. Dammit!!
Brian: The very first time I ever came here I got the medium, and, two bites in, I was just profusely sweating and shaking and drinking all the drinks I could get my hands on.
Is this the hottest? What did we get?
Adam: No, we got the medium. It goes hotter. Mild, medium, hot and extra hot, two more after that. That’s just uneatable, I don’t know who eats that. Medium is a struggle. I wanted to get y’all something hot, but not ridiculous.
Brian: I’m still sweating.
Alex: I can see it
Brian: You can’t touch your face.
Alex: Yeah, I have to remember to not touch my eyes.
Or anything else!!! I can almost feel my lips again.
Adam: [Bolton’s] it’s a family business. There are three now, it’s grown a lot in the past few years.
Any ideas for the song?
Adam: I eat here all the time, I always eat catfish, like a CCR song… [singing] going down to Bolton’s, gonna eat some catfish, always eat the catfish… I am going to write something… it’s going to be more kind of bluesy.
I know you’re in Bad Cop and Western Medication, but you run your own label too. How and when did Jeffery Drag Records come about?
Adam: In 2009, the first thing I ever did was make Bad Cop demos – hand painted 50- 100 tapes and put them in the front of Grimey’s for free. They ran out of them real quick. You know, people started liking it, started catching on, and playing a lot. I was meeting more bands that way so I started putting out some of my friends bands – the Hussy, a split between us and them. Then, the first vinyl release was Pujol, that was start of 2011. But, before that 2009/2010 was all just tape releases and was really just sort of for fun, not serious. After the Pujol release, I saw that it was progressing and catching on and decided to do a record with Ranch Ghost, then with Natural Child, and then we signed a distribution deal with Frenchkiss Label group. So, it’s only been around for a few years, but it’s really grown a lot in that time which is really cool. We can actually get records in stores and get exposure. I also want to point out that JDR is not just me – I pick the bands, but RJ and Mike do the technical stuff. They made it possible to turn it into an actual business and not just a hobby of mine. RJ is also our tour manager.
What’s in store for 2013?
Adam: Pujol resigned with us. I love that guy – he’s one of my favorites, him and her (pointing to Gabrielle). Buy her record, homegrown southern shit.
Gabrielle: It’s not southern at all.
Adam: The label, not the music.
Hermosa – what kind of music is it?
Gabrielle: Beach House meets Elton John, Best Coast, Joni Mitchell… spacey beachy rock ‘n roll, happy sounding songs with really depressing lyrics.
Do you have a CD, or can I download some tracks?
Gabrielle: We are recording now for an EP release set for May and a single set for a March release. We will be doing music videos before then and a lot of playing around. I really want to do a west coast tour next year!
Adam: Western Medication is releasing The Painted World 7” EP January 29. February 19 [we're releasing] Useless Eaters' Hypertension LP, this record is serious business. It's like a super weird cross between Ariel Pink, Television, and Black Flag or something like that. This is his 5th LP as Useless Eaters, and is actually going to be our first full length release. So far we have only unleashed the 5th track “Black Night Ultraviolet”, but you can expect to hear and see more about this record before the street date. We've also got two new 7″s from Bad Cop and Natural Child in March, just in time for SXSW and some cool plans for SXSW in general… and, we'll be working on the new Hermosa record.
Good deal. I think it’s time for a drink. Where can we get a beer?
Gabrielle: We should go to Santa’s, it’s just around the corner. It’s the most magical trailer, and Santa – the guy that owns it, you walk in and all you want to do is sit on his lap and ask for a lot of beer. He actually appreciates it when you do that to be honest. Karaoke every night.
That would be awesome, let’s do it.
Gabrielle: They’re open to 3am. Some nights, it’s hipster central – neon and dark hair. And, other nights it’s random 50 year olds all hammered and coming up to you after you sing, saying, ‘ya know… I work for Sony,’ and you’re like, ‘um, no you don’t, you’re wearing overalls and I’m pretty sure you’re covered in ketchup. You don’t work for Sony and you just drooled on my hand.’ Still, though, an elegant place.
And, with that, we headed to Santa’s to continue our Nashville night, a few games of pool, some PBRs, and karaoke… luckily, though, no one drooled on our hands!