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Thursday, November 11,2010

‘Everybody knows this is nowhere’ with Young tribute

By David DeWitt

Photo Caption: Southeast Engine
If the fine residents of Athens, Ohio, find themselves searching for a heart of gold on Friday night, there's only one place to turn: the Southeast Engine show at Casa Cantina.

The band that typically plays maybe one cover song each performance is dedicating an entire set to Neil Young this Nov. 12, which happens to also be Young's birthday. Southeast Engine will play a second set that night of their own music as well, including new songs from an upcoming album that's slated to be released next spring.

"We just decided for this show that we would do a set of covers," said vocalist Adam Remnant, who plays the guitar and harmonica for the band and writes the majority of songs. "We just kind of collectively decided on Neil Young... And we learned about a month after we scheduled the show that Nov. 12 is actually Neil Young's birthday, too."

Other bands playing at Casa on Friday include Whale Zombie and a second band featuring Southeast Engine's bass player, Jesse Remnant, called Jesse Remnant and the Trainwrecks.

Southeast Engine drummer Leo DeLuca said members of the band have all been long-time fans of Neil Young.

"I think he's one of our very favorites," he said. "I can't speak for everybody else, but I particularly got into him even more so (after reading the Young biography 'Shakey'). He's always been one of those go-to artists."

The band even likes to sometimes go ironically overboard with their Neil Young enthusiasm, doing a comedy bit as rabid Young fans, wearing Young t-shirts and hats and pretending Young is the only music they would ever allow to hit their eardrums.

In New York, through a friend that does merchandising work for bands, Southeast Engine found some authentic Neil Young hats and wore them out together on the weekend, taping maniacal Neil Young fan interviews, DeLuca said. Remnant promised to search for the hats to bring to Friday's performance.

As for Southeast Engine itself these days, a new album, "Canary," was recorded last February and mixed last spring and is scheduled to be released this upcoming March on Misra Records. Misra released the band's last album, "From the Forest to the Sea," and DeLuca now acts as manager of the label, which was founded in 1999.

After that album drops in early March, the band will go on a big month-long tour across the country, including the Misra showcase at the famous South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.

"It's an exciting time," said DeLuca, noting that the brothers Remnant have been working on some Christmas tunes as of late, and keyboardist Billy Matheny has also been keeping busy.

Jesse Remnant and the Trainwrecks also recently recorded a new album at 3 Elliott Studio here in Athens, and will be performing some of those songs at the show on Friday. Jesse said that this album is also scheduled to drop in the spring.

And as for the band members' favorite Neil Young tunes? Jesse's is "Powderfinger" off of "Rust Never Sleeps"; Adam's is "Walk On" from "On the Beach"; Billy's is "Thrasher" from "Rust Never Sleeps"; and Leo's is "Tell Me Why" from "After the Gold Rush."

After DeLuca revealed that he wasn't very impressed with Young's latest effort, "Le Noise," Matheny said that part of what makes Young great is that he's so fallible.

"There are albums that are really, unquestionably bad," he said. "His fans can't really defend them. But it's all kind of part of him. The same guy who can make an album as good as 'After the Gold Rush' can totally make something as awful as 'Landing on Water.'"

Matheny said he likes the fact that Young can sometimes make mistakes.

"That's what makes him interesting," he said.

In an Athens NEWS exclusive, Matheny also revealed how he sees his role in Southeast Engine, using an NBA analogy.

"I consider myself the John Stockton of Southeast Engine," he said, further revealing in the phone interview that at the time he was wearing only a Richard Nixon mask and a toe ring.


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