Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid 

If you’re an original band that plays music that’s defiantly left of center, our local club scene can be a tough nut to crack.

Just ask Argyle.

This hardworking and dedicated quartet has been plying their disjointed aural wares around town for the past few years, and – after quite a bit of apathy or indifference on the part of local clubowners and talent bookers – they’re finally beginning to get a modicum of respect for the work they do.

Their name crops up more frequently in our Soundboard calendar, at a wider variety of venues than might have seemed possible even 9 months ago – yet that doesn’t mean they’re playing out nearly as much as they’d like.

An unrepentantly eclectic band, the group’s original material shifts incessantly across genre lines. One minute, they’re playing a full-on dub reggae groove, and the next, they’re wailing their heads off, drummer Stephen Riddle’s sticks practically leaning into his crash cymbals like a trucker’s boot on the brake pedal of a runaway semi.

This tendency (or determination) to throw the kind of volume and manic energy more often associated with hard rock or punk into an otherwise easygoing jam has made it rather difficult for many music fans around town to pigeonhole the group. But, according to the bandmembers, they’ll happily trade smaller crowds for the luxury of doing just as they please with their own music.

“I think it does effect our pull a little bit,” admits Stephen. “But that's basically how it's going to be for us anywhere. You can't please everyone and still keep your musical integrity, so it's basically a take it or leave it situation.”

Riddle’s bandmate (and brother) Jeremy agrees.

“We aren't trying to alienate anyone,” says the guitarist and vocalist.

“We do wish for people to enjoy what we do. But we're not going to compromise what we feel is a powerful performance of original art.”

Stephen notes that often, in order to clinch a booking, the band will augment their original material with a variety of cover tunes designed to keep the attention of audience members who may have no interest in discovering new talent.

Jeremy concurs, adding that although such a reality can be frustrating to a group so passionately devoted to their own songwriting, they have found ways to keep the cover material enjoyable for themselves as well.

“When we are required to play a more covers-based show we pretty much stick to music we enjoy listening to and not as many of the old standards that have been played out in this town. (We do) stuff like 311, and moe., and even add our own genre twists to all kinds of songs.”

“Genre twisting” is as apt a description of Argyle’s succotash style as I’ve heard so far. It’s a great form of shorthand that lets folks know the band is not afraid to monkey around with listeners’ preconceived notions of how certain types of music are supposed to be played.

That unique sensibility has likely helped the band to stand out from the scores of others trying to earn their keep on the already-flooded Southeastern touring circuit. And, while the band has already played as far away as the music mecca of Athens, Georgia, they admit it’s still quite difficult to get their foot in the door without a full-length album or established record label behind them.

But at least one aspect of that may change soon, as the band is knee deep in working on their debut release, which they tentatively plan to self-release.

“We're going to try it indie for a little bit, and stay under the radar,” offers Rob.

Stephen says they’re allowing themselves much more studio time (to focus on the songs) than they have during previous recording sessions.

For this upcoming show at AASU, they’re seizing the moment, and plan to perform a set comprised solely of songs that will make up their forthcoming debut.

They say it will be a pleasant change from the grind of their 3 and 4-hour club gigs, and will allow them to cherry-pick their very best material.

This is the way they’d like to present themselves at every show. However, they are well aware of the near impossibility of that at this stage in their career.

“We understand it's a long road, and don't mind taking the humbler path,” explains Rob.

“We're going to play as much as we can, wherever we can, and if that takes us from unknown to signed, then so be it. We're willing to pay our dues.”

Argyle opens for Revision next Wednesday, October 27th, at 7 pm, in the Armstrong Atlantic State University Fine Arts Auditorium. It’s free and open to ALL AGES.


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Jim Reed

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