Pawn Shoppe Heart is the major label debut album from The Von Bondies, the Detroit-based quartet whose provocative persona, unerring instincts and alluring approach to the essentials of great modern music have elevated their status as one of today's most influential and innovative young bands after just one independent release.
Twelve potent and persuasive original songs comprise their new Sire/Reprise Records debut release, produced by Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads and Modern Lovers renown and convincingly underscoring their place among the cultural cognoscenti. The UK immediately embraced The Von Bondies where the notoriously finicky N.M.E. described them as "Representing the perfect thrift store-clad antidote to tearily solipsistic emo, boneheaded MTV mope-rock and sexless indie warbling the band exhilaratingly recasts the last 40 years of American music into one immaculately chelsea-booted whole."
Along with their previous pair of independent releases and a relentless round of touring that have taken their galvanizing live show across America, Europe and the UK over the past two years, The Von Bondies' unique sound blends raw garage, true punk and real soul music into a seamless hybrid that's honest, intelligent and built on a foundation of authentic emotions and human conditions.
The four members of The Von Bondies 'an even gender split -- have been friends since childhood. "We're a tight little family," explains frontman, songwriter and guitarist Jason Stollsteimer. "We all left home when we were around eighteen and moved to the city. Most bands in Detroit moved there from somewhere else, so we've always felt right at home."
Home, in this case, was the kind of quasi-romantic squalor indispensable to all dues-paying musicians, financed by various day jobs. Time between shows was spent in a crash course on soul searching. "I needed to know what my roots were," Jason explains, "but the honest truth is that I didn't really have any musical roots. Most of my inspiration comes from other sources. If I'd had a bad day, I'd write an aggressive song. If I had a good day, I'd write something a bit more melodic. That may be strange but it's the truth."
The truth is, Stollsteimer did discover such key influences as Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Otis Redding and Little Richard. "I also liked Eric Burdon and The Animals, those early records are great. As a vocalist, I've always admired Burdon's ability to capture emotion with real power and soul, but I'm still not sure that I'd call any of these influences. My goal has always been to find our own sound, not necessarily blues-based or garage-based but something different that was new and natural to us."
Drummer Don Blum calls Jason's songwriting skills "an anomaly. He has the ability to hear something in his head and create it in a way that's purely instinctual."
The Von Bondies quickly established themselves as one of the best live bands on the midwestern club scene, anchored to the solid rhythmic core of bassist Carrie Smith, drummer Don Blum and guitarist Marcie Bolen. It was that same sound the band took with them into the studio in 2002 with the debut independent release Lack Of Communication, co-produced by Jim Diamond of the Dirt Bombs and Jack White of The White Stripes. The album, featuring such live favorites as "Night Train," "It Came From Japan" and "Please Please Man," ignited interest along the conduits of the international underground scene, sparking a furious round of touring in the U.S., U.K. and Europe, and prompting the recent release of Raw & Rare in direct response to the fervent demands of their hard-core fans. The live album was comprised of in-concert BBC recordings released on Jason's own In The Act imprint.
Sire Records, the pioneering alternative imprint, was the natural choice for The Von Bondies big label debut, although Jason admits that he was initially reticent about the move to a major. "Credibility is important to us," he asserts. "We've got to keep close to the people who come to see our shows night after night."
The group relocated to a San Francisco recording studio earlier this year with producer Harrison to begin work on their new record. "We were really insistent about finding our own sound," Jason recounts. "We were never happy with our first record. It's always been a challenge to capture the power of our live show but I think we've come a lot closer this time."
"As far as the new songs are concerned," he continues, "I'm pleased with the direction they've taken. We'd been playing most of them live for over a year, so we knew what we could do with them. But at the same time, we were determined to stretch as far as we could. I even wrote some new material during the sessions that ended up on the record. Early on, I think we started out pretty much as a live band, but we're more well-rounded now. We've learned to channel our energy and to encourage our own evolution."
The result is Pawn Shoppe Heart: Full-on, guitar-overdriven, real rock 'n' roll, straight from the heart and totally committed. From the opening notes of "No Regrets" to such key cuts as "C'Mon, C'Mon," (the album's first single and video), "The Fever" and the title track, Pawn Shoppe Heart is, purely and simply, what rock 'n' roll is really all about.
--- from the official Von Bondies website