Crazed New Orleans rock |

Crazed New Orleans rock

Cowboy Mouth promises a lively show, from silly to serious

Margaret Hair

Cowboy Mouth

— New Orleans pop punk quartet Cowboy Mouth has been around for more than 15 years – clocking time with a major label, opening for Hootie & the Blowfish and always being aggressively honest.

Fred LeBlanc, the band’s drummer, lead singer and main songwriter, attributes that longevity to a hybrid live performance.

“I like to say that if The Clash and The Neville Brothers got together to have a baby, it would be us,” LeBlanc said on the phone from his hometown.

LeBlanc spoke with 4 Points about music in the Crescent City, staying ahead of the industry curve and writing songs about daytime TV hosts.

4 Points: Is it hard to sing and play the drums at the same time?

Fred LeBlanc: A lot of people would think it’s hard – I think I’m the only drummer/front man that’s out there, but it works for me. It’s quite a sight to see from what I understand, but it works.

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4 Points: What’s the name of the new single you’ve got coming out?

FL.: ‘Kelly Ripa.’ We played it on ‘Live with Regis and Kelly.’

4 Points: Well that’s fitting. How did that happen?

FL.: It’s kind of a freak thing. We recorded this silly song, they heard it and they loved it – and its silly lyrics. You know, ‘Kelly Ripa, Kelly Ripa, a mommy with the body of a strippa.’

A buddy of mine who works for CBS here in town had a copy of the demo of the song, and without me knowing, he sent it to them, and they loved it.

4 Points: I’m guessing you didn’t really mean for this to be your next single when you wrote it.

FL.: The band wanted to learn it, but it was like, all of the sudden, you’re going to be on national TV, and you’ve got to learn it.

4 Points: So, all of your songs aren’t quite that ridiculous. What are you going for when you write?

FL.: It depends on the mood. The songs kind of write themselves – it’s just kind of an emotion that fleshes itself out in song form.

There was a song on the last album called ‘The Avenue.’ It was about Katrina, and I wrote it the week of the flood, when everyone was saying New Orleans could not come back. The chorus was, ‘Because the marching bands will roll / I’ll find my city in my soul : on the avenue.’ I knew New Orleans would come back, so that song was kind of putting my arm around the city.

But at the same time you write a song called ‘Kelly Ripa,’ and it just kind of comes to you.

4 Points: How has coming from New Orleans influenced you?

FL.: It’s hard to grow up here without being exposed to all kinds of music on a regular basis. One of my earliest memories growing up is watching Mardi Gras parades – the drums in the parade are like thunder, especially when you’re 5 years old.

I think of it as: Everyone else in the world kind of talks from their heads, and in New Orleans we kind of talk from our hips.

4 Points: Well, that’s the best line I’ve heard in a while. What’s coming up for Cowboy Mouth?

FL.: We’ve got a new album or EP coming out sometime in spring – just like everyone else, we’re trying to figure out the new paradigm to release music.

4 Points: Do you have any thoughts on how to do that?

FL.: In shows and in retail, we sell a good amount of discs, but at the same time, I don’t want to release an album of new songs and then have the whole idea of an album be gone in the next week. So that’s how we came up with doing EPs.

It’s about keeping ahead of the curve : It kind of goes more along the way that you write, because I’ll write 10 to 15 songs within the space of eight months, but only five or 10 of them are good.

4 Points: Do you think that will work better than having more space between releases and putting out an LP?

FL.: These days, people download per song. So the days of buying a CD for one song – and how many times have you done that – those days are over.

People want what they want, and they want it for a fair price, and that’s the way it should have been all along.

I’m very happy to see it go that way, but at the same time, you’ve to figure out how to make that work in the market.