Hundred Year Flood To Play Kyle Friday, November 17
By Sean Claes
The small crowd that gathered at the Lucky Cup Coffee House in Kyle, Texas the first Friday of this month was treated to a great Happy Hour concert by Hundred Year Flood. If you missed it, the good news is, they are coming back this Friday (11/17) for another show between 6:00-8:00p.m.
Over the course of the last six years, the members of Hundred Year Flood have made four albums of their signature "original Southern Rock" sound. The latest album, released in April 2006, entitled Blue Angel captures them at their best thus far, and they just keep getting better.
Earlier this year the band got some attention for the Anti-War song "Ain't Gonna Fight in a Rich Man's War" which they released for free as an online download and video using MySpace.com and YouTube.com. It found it's way to Neil Young's camp, as well as into the ears of many, many people.
Vocalist/Guitarist Bill Palmer took time out of his schedule to talk with area freelance writer/photographer Sean Claes about the making of Blue Angel and life in a four-member band with two lead singers, two brothers, two marriages (Bill and co-lead vocalist/keyboardist Felecia Ford are married and drummer Jim Palmer and bassist Kendra Lauman are husband and wife), with two hometowns.
Sean Claes: You're based out of both Austin and New Mexico. How does that work?
Bill Palmer: My brother Jim and I were in a band called The Sharecroppers (with Nathan Hamilton and Marc Utter) in Austin for a while. That band dissolved and Hundred Year Flood was born out of that. For a few different reasons we ended up going up to Santa Fe to play shows and we loved it up there. All of our shows would have really good turnouts, which is so different than the Austin scene.
In December, we moved back here full-time but we go back there and do a lot of work. I run a recording studio up there, Frogville Records.
Last summer, I spent the entire summer up there and produced four records, and we played in a bunch of Festivals, opened for Joe Ely, Ozomotli, and did some stuff with James McMurtry. So, we still spend a lot of time in Santa Fe.
Claes: How does having two brothers who are married to the other two members of the band work out?
Palmer: We love it. There's really an honesty because we know each other so well. All of our relationships really run deeper because we're family. I think it really gives strength to it; where in other bands might not have it. Also, I think we're one of the only bands out there that it's guaranteed that every member of the band is going to get laid after the gig... and nobody is in trouble.
Claes: Here's the dreaded question, for those who haven't heard your music before, how would you describe it? Alt-country is the buzzword, but that really could mean anything.
Palmer: That's a little tough. If I say roots-rock people might think we're doing a classic rock or country or rockabilly kind of thing. I'm just as much inspired by the music we grew up on, punk rock, metal, but also country like Willie (Nelson) and Waylon (Jennings). I would say it's original southern rock.
Claes: Tell me about your single: "Ain't Gonna Fight in a Rich Man's War."
Palmer: I wrote that back in the spring. Of course, that was before the Democrats won back both the House and the Senate (laughs). I'm not sure what to do with that one now.
Anyhow, I woke up one morning and I guess I was kind of irritated about the war. I was thinking of these lines... people think that rednecks and salt-of-the-earth type people all support the president and that isn't true. So I had lines that talked about fishing, hunting, working hard and all of that coming to me so I needed a pen and paper. I couldn't find a pen or a piece of paper. What I found was a page out of my kids coloring book and a crayon. So I just started scribbling these lyrics down. When I finished the song, I grabbed my guitar and started pounding it out and my wife, Felicia, said, "That's cute, a little ornery."
When we got together to pound it out as a band it turned into to this real country-sounding anthem. When we got up to Santa Fe in June I knew it probably wasn't a song I wanted to put on a record, because I don't like to date my records, but I thought maybe it would be a really good song to put where people could download it off the Internet for free and access it. Not only to draw attention to ourselves, but to draw attention to the war and the fact that not all rednecks support the war.
Big John Treadwell, who owns Frogville Records, just for the fun of it, pieced together this little video our of images from the Internet. The next thing we knew it was on the chart of Neil Young's "Living With War" Protest Video (http://www.neilyoung.com/lwwtoday/) chart. I think it got up to number 7 (as of press time it sat at 35). It just came from a crayon on a coloring book.
Claes: Looks like it's been doing pretty well at getting your name out as well.
Palmer: Yes, it really has. Every time we go out to a gig, someone will come up to us and tell us they saw our video or heard our song. I know it has an impact. Anyone in music always wants to utilize a new medium like MySpace. In this day and age, you can have successful records and radio play, but if you do something cool on MySpace it makes it's rounds on its own.
Claes: Blue Angel is your fourth album, released in April 2006.
Palmer: I think it's our strongest work. I feel like with Blue Angel my writing had gotten stronger and our fluidity and chemistry as a band had gotten tighter. We had really started touring as a band in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona. We were really growing as a band, starting to play to greater numbers of people. I think that when you experience any kind of success as a band, you can really hear that confidence in the music.
In our career, Blue Angel was a break-over period for us when we realized our songs didn't have to necessarily just be simple tracks. They could be deeper, painful, and/or complex. All of our work since then has been taking it further down that road.
Claes: What are some of your favorite songs on Blue Angel?
Palmer: That's easy, I'll say this. My favorites aren't necessarily anyone else's favorites. "Don't Go" is my absolute favorite. Felicia had to stay home with the kids, so the other three of us went into the studio and started playing a verse-chord structure in a circle and kept it going for about four or five minutes. The next night, Felicia came in and I asked is she'd like to write some words for it and she wrote this song in 30 minutes. She just started singing it and it was beautiful. It was anti-war in the matter that it was anti-husband going to the war. Only a woman could have that perspective. That's my very favorite, hands down.
"Kingdom of Cold," a song that I sing, is probably my other favorite on the album. I think that song is everything I've been shooting for, a real cool alternative-rock kind of edge with a country vibe.
Claes: You're playing Kyle's Lucky Cup Coffee House (corner of FM150 and Jack C. Hays Trail) again this Friday, how was it last time?
Palmer: It was fun. It wasn't a really large crowd, but people were very attentive. The way we feel is, if people enjoy, it doesn't matter if there is ten or ten-thousand people, if you feel like what you're doing means something to the ones who are there... and they had free beer.
Sean Claes (http://www.seanclaes.com) is a freelance entertainment writer in Central Texas.