posted on November 14, 2012 08:00
Last year when St. Louis born and bred The Urge reunited after their second prolonged hiatus, the six members of the band said they had no expectations for making it big. They were just happy to be back together making new music and playing shows. It’s a year later and longtime member Bill Reiter says there is a lot more to come from The Urge.
The band is getting ready to take up residence at The Pageant for another run of shows this month. Concerts on Nov. 16 and 17 are sold out leaving Nov. 23 as the only one with tickets still available. Well, until it probably sells out too.
It was one year ago that the band took over The Pageant for four shows around Thanksgiving. They brought in a friend to shoot video of their return to the stage in St. Louis and now they have a live DVD and album from those Pageant performances. For the time being, the only place you can get those recordings is at Urge shows.
We sat down last week with Reiter who plays saxophone and keyboard for the band. He talked about the new album that’s expected for next year, a little of what fans can expect at the shows this month and what might be in store for the band in the future.
You played a pair of shows at the Blue Note in Columbia in April. At the end of the summer, the band played a pair of road shows, in Iowa with Slipknot and in Kansas City playing on the same bill as 311. What was it like to go back out on the road after such a long time?
The show in Iowa was right next door to Omaha, so there were still plenty of people that showed up and remembered us even though it was Knotfest, much more of a metal scene. The interesting thing about going on the road is it’s like riding a bike. It didn’t faze me at all. It was like the good old days.
In Kansas City, Nick Hexium (from 311) sang with us on “Jump Right In” for only the second time ever. That was a blast. He was the reason that song was so successful. And talk about riding a bike, it was surreal running into those guys backstage. We used to do that all the time when we toured with them. It was great to talk to those dudes. Some of them are married and have families. Some of the guys in our band have families. It was nice to see.
You played the run of shows at The Pageant last fall. Now three shows this month. Is this an annual thing now?
As of right now, we have every intention of playing the Pageant next November. We used to have the holiday run at Christmas time. Without a doubt, that’s the plan. We’ll be playing in St. Louis around the holidays every year while our legs still work.
Obviously the band took some lengthy breaks from playing live shows. What have you guys been up to?
It was so we could concentrate on writing new songs. We weren’t trying to find opportunities, but we couldn’t pass up playing with 311 again or playing near Omaha. We had actually hoped to have the new record in hand right now. The songs are pretty much completed for the most part and we’re neck deep in the recording process now. It looks like early spring is when we’ll have it finished up. We wanted to put in enough time so we could have the batch of songs done. If we booked some shows, then the weeks before a show becomes rehearsal time and not writing or recording time. I expect we’ll be playing more often in 2013 once we have the album finished. We’ll definitely get back to Omaha, Kansas City, Columbia for sure and then branch out from there.
How many tracks on the new album?
Right now it’s 11. When we record we make a big board with the song titles and the parts we have to record. So when we finish the bass part for a song, we put an “X.” On that board, there are 11 songs. We leave blank spaces because we have so much material, and near the end we might go back to something that didn’t make the final cut and put it back in. That’s all part of the process. But right now there are 11 songs.
When we spoke to the band last spring, several of the guys said that they enjoy the recording process more now compared to when you were on a record label. Is that still the case after you’ve spent considerable time making this album?
We’re the only people who know what we’re supposed to sound like. Every situation previously, especially the three major label records, there was always an attempt to buff out the rough edges and make it more commercial. That’s not necessary now. I’d argue it was unnecessary then too, but now we’re not beholden to anybody else to pay to rent the recording studio. We’re the captains of the ship, for better or worse.
Will we be hearing some new songs at the shows this month?
At least six. The plan is to do two different new songs a night. That plan might change, but we’re rehearsing six right now.
With the run of shows close together, how does the band plan the set lists for the shows?
It’s a fine line. In an hour and a half there are certain tunes people expect to hear. We would probably never play a show without playing “Violent Opposition” or “Brainless” or “Jump Right In.” So those kinds of songs will always be on the set list. But one night we might play “Warning Warning” and another “Welcome to Gunville.” But it’s hard to not end a set without “Getting Hectic.” I’m not sure the last time we didn’t. We do spend a lot of time in rehearsal talking about that exact subject because we don’t want it to be the same every night. That’s the best part about doing multiple nights in a row, the chance to make it different every night.
While you’ve had some success with your studio recordings, The Urge is known more for being an energetic live act. How do you guys feel about that distinction?
That’s one of the things we’ve always struggled with. Our live performances always end up being what we want to be as a band. Compare that to the very nature of recording an album and the meticulous nature of it subtracts some of that energy we have on stage. I think the live performances of any of our songs would stack up or exceed the studio versions. The DVD is a lot of fun. I’m excited for people to see it. It’s a very good depiction of us.
I’ve heard the commentary on the DVD might be interesting, possibly fueled by a few beers.
Jerry had just gotten back from a Cardinal playoff game and I think he did what any of us would have done at a game. I was watching it on TV and had some beers in the process, so I was no different. I have it on good authority that the commentary is very entertaining. Although, sometimes I have to believe it has all six of us trying to talk over each other.
When I spoke with other guys in the band last year, they said you have more freedom as a group because you don’t have expectations of making it big nationally. Still agree?
It’s pretty awesome. When you’re in your 20s, you don’t think the same way. Now, this is all for its own sake. There’s no end game. We’re under no impression that it’s going to end anytime soon. The goal is to continue to play for people and continue to make music. It can take any form. The new original album will not be the last original album from The Urge. It might take us a year or two before we decide to make another one. There’s no expectation on that.
If I had a time machine and I could go back, just four years ago when the group wasn’t together, would you back then expect the reunion, the live shows or the new album in the works?
That’s a good question. No, I would not believe this. I would not have expected to be doing what we’re doing right now. But that’s what makes this experience such a gift. That’s why it’s so much fun.
Get ticket for the third and final Urge show of 2012 HERE.
Get more info on the band's website by clicking HERE.
VIDEO INTERVIEW: The Urge - 4/6/12
REVIEW: The Return of The Urge @ The Pageant - 11/14/11
INTERVIEW: The Return of The Urge - 9/7/11