INTERVIEW: A BROKEN BAND REUNITED
It seemed like life on the road was trying to break Jayke Orvis and the Broken Band. In their year-plus touring non-stop, they were hit by a drunk driver in Detroit, crashed into by a semi truck in Colorado, and broke down no telling how many times. Yet, they persevered.
“We were destined to be a Broken Band in a broken van,” says Liz Sloan. “We damned ourselves with the name, I guess.” Regardless, the Broken Band made an impression on anyone who saw them and will be doing the same only at the 2017 Westport Roots Festival.
The band includes Jayke Orvis (mandolin), James Hunnicutt (guitar), Jared McGovern (bass), and Liz Sloan (fiddle). All four band members contribute vocals. These days, Orvis regularly tours with The Goddamn Gallows; McGovern and Sloan have formed the hard-working and -touring Urban Pioneers; and Hunnicutt is working on his next album and rehearsing with a new metal band, Sadhu.
Jayke Orvis and The Broken Band Play Friday, May 26th
THIS MESS BLESSED
What made the Broken Band so special? If you’ve heard them play live, heard them on YouTube, or have listened to ‘Bless This Mess,’ then you know.
“Usually you might have one or two players that shine during solos and everyone else holds the fort, but everyone could shred and tear it up and vibe off each other well,” says Hunnicutt. “I think chemistry was more important than skill. I’ve always had the feeling and desire to do it again at some point, too, and had faith that it would happen.
“We each know that it was the best band we’ve been in. We knew it then, but in hindsight we had something very special. When we were on, it felt really amazing,” continues Hunnicutt. “We all felt like we would end up playing together again, which is probably why everybody said yes when asked about the possibility. People were bummed that it ended. I know the feeling. When you love a band and they quit playing, that sucks, so I’m stoked.”
Sloan agrees with that sentiment. “I always thought it was a shame we broke up in the first place. I think we’ll enjoy being on stage again and just playing together. Hopefully I’ll know my parts by then.” She’s not kidding about that, the Broken Band played fast and meshed together well. “There are a lot of timing things, because we’ve spent so much time away from it,” says Sloan. “I think the Broken Band was the most orchestrated band I’ve ever been in. Everyone had their own parts. I wouldn’t say the context of them are difficult, but the way we played them with each other and how they lined up is a bit difficult.
“Jayke would be doing something, then Hunnicutt and I would harmonize a part together, so everything had it’s place,” she continues. I also feel like I’m a lot different fiddle player then than I am now. It will be interesting to see how it comes out. I love Westport Roots. I feel like there’s a couple of venues we visit the most and feel the most at home and both the festival and the Westport Saloon are definitely up there in that category.”
LIFE IN THE BROKEN BAND: A HISTORY
So, what happened? Why did the Broken Band break up? “It wasn’t ugly, or mean. If we were all in the same town, we’d likely still be together, but with James in Washington, me and Liz in Tennessee at the time, and Jayke in Pittsburgh, we were all so spread out.”
How’d it all come together? Hunnicutt takes us back to the beginning. “It initially started around Jayke’s first album. Jayke was playing in the Gallows and was still raw and in a dark place after .357 String Band, which was also a really special band. Darren from Farmageddon Records knew Jayke was not in the best place, so he got hold of me, Johnny Lawless and Courtney Kostrick. Jayke had some songs and ideas, but we got together and it happened very organically. It was what he needed to get back in a creative place. That set the table for the Broken Band.
Hunnicutt recalls the very first Broken Band show: “We used to have the Psychobilly Brawl in Seattle, I played it every year. The Gallows played during my set, and Johnny was here, so we played three or four songs off ‘It’s All Been Said,’ the first actual performance of that album. We called it Jayke Orvis and his Dirty Little Secrets. I think the first time it was a full band was in Bozeman, Mont., in the spring of 2010. Jayke, Johnny, myself, and Joe Perreze on banjo. Then, Courtney started playing with us, and we started touring with the Gallows. At that point, I think we started calling it Jayke Orvis and the Broken Band right before the touring started.”
The Broken Band was years in the making, literally. “We toured a year and a half with Courtney, then Jared and Liz played with us in December, 2011, on a tour opening for Wayne Hancock,” says Hunnicutt. “We hadn’t gotten to know each other at that point, but were very aware of each other’s talents and stuff, really stoked to do it. That went so well and Courtney was having a hard time doing both the Broken Band and Gallows, so it made sense to have more of a solid line-up. Jared and Liz were still with Bob Wayne at that point. They were burnt out and at Muddy Roots Europe in 2012, we decided during that tour they were going to join the Broken Band full time.”
The Broken Band played it’s last show at Muddy Roots Music Festival 2014. Until now. It will be a hell of a show. “We’re glad to get the opportunity to play together again and just play, not organize a tour or worry about money,” says McGovern. “All we have to do is show up in Kansas City and rock the fuck out.”
Who’s in? Catch Jayke Orvis and the Broken Band at Westport Roots Festival, 2017!