|Pictured Above: Dave Chale and Huner Embry|
Dave Chale and Hunter Embry have been around the Louisville music scene for a while now. Dave spent multiple years in Cabin and has been responsible for recording many of the best sounding albums to come out locally. Deadbird Studios, Dave’s baby and former living quarters, has been a home for Halloween parties, music videos, and as I found out this weekend, Shooter Jennings.
Hunter was the lead singer in The Bad Reeds, and has been writing about and booking bands in Louisville for nearly a decade now. Currently, Dave and Hunter are running The New Vintage on Preston St. A home for people who care about music. A venue for musicians, ran by musicians.
I hung out with Dave and Hunter Saturday night and recorded our conversation. We had a few drinks and caught up on old times.
Never Nervous: Tell me about how you guys met.
Hunter: KnubDust (Knubdust would eventually become The Bad Reeds) with a silent “K,” capital “D.” We met on Myspace. He had his studio posted there, and it must have been fresh.
Dave: Yea it was pretty new. I had recorded, I think, that Public House record, and I was working on…maybe I was still working on their record at that point. I was living at the studio, and then I moved above Tinks on Preston St. Basically, it (Knubdust/The Bad Reeds) was my first big recording project.
H: Then we met Billy and you guys and the other Jake.
NN: How long did you guys work on that album? Did you become The Bad Reeds before the end of it?
H: Yea that was the first Bad Reeds record. We came in and we did some songs that we had already written and played a lot. One night I went home and wrote 4 or 5 songs, the rest of the record, and that became The Bad Reeds. It was more bluesy, which it wasn’t before.
NN: Yea it was kind of more stoner rock or something?
D: Yea we recorded a whole record first. Then we went back after the studio moved and..
H: Yea, only 2 or 3 original songs made it.
NN: When did the Studio move from Preston St. to Crittenden?
D: Umm, I moved there in May of 2008.
H: Did we finish the first record there (Crittenden Dr.) or here (Preston St.)?
D: We recorded it here. Then you guys came up with “Hilly Pants.”
NN: Chili Pants?
H: Hilly pants. That wasn’t the actual name. I don’t remember what it was called. “Quick to be Bad,” that’s it. I haven’t heard that in years.
NN: There were some shows at the old studio right?
D: A couple. Did The Bad Reeds play there?
H: No. I remember seeing Cabin there.
D:Yea Cabin played there. I didn’t start recording most of that record until the new studio.
H: Where did you record the EP (Musical Seats)?
D: That happened at Kevin Ratterman’s studio.
NN: What’s the connection with you guys and Wax Fang?
D: I’ve been playing drums and doing shows with Wax Fang for the past 2 years.
H: Before that in, when he was playing drums with The Bad Reeds, we did several shows with Wax Fang. And Cabin played with Wax Fang once. I mean we’re good friends with Scott Carney.
D: Hunter worked at Northend Cafe with Scott.
H: Yea, that eventually turned into Dave recording Wax Fang and playing with them.
NN: So what have you recorded with Wax Fang?
NN: That episode’s fucking awesome.
D: He did the rest of the music and sound effects.
H: Scott’s an accomplished engineer himself. He records all that shit at his house.
NN: So what’s some other cool stuff you’ve done at the studio?
H: Fifth on the Floor with Shooter Jennings. That was cool.
NN: Yea, how’d that go?
D: That was awesome.
H: He slept on the couch…bought everybody shitty beer. He had like a million dollar ring on, sleeping on the couch.
D: He’s one of the coolest people I’ve met in the music industry.
NN: How was he in the studio?
D: He played piano.
NN: Did he just produce that album?
D & H: Yea.
NN: Let’s talk about The Whigs video. Scott came in and…
D: Scott just called me up like, “Hey we wanna shoot a video.”
H: Scott had toured with The Whigs.
D: They basically came in and set up for two days. Then the band came in and they shot for two days. The video turned out really cool.
NN: So let’s talk about The New Vintage. How did you guys come about this? I know we all used to go to Uncle Pleasants every now and then.
H: This was an offshoot of Zazoo’s. I started booking a long time ago. Monthly nights, and weekly nights at different places. Dave and I, I don’t know how it came up but he wanted to do live sound and I wanted to book and promote shows. I had been out drinking at different places and was still very green at the time, but we were all living in Germantown. I was living with the band. A few blocks away from the studio. We didn’t want to step on anybody’s toes in Germantown because we hung out at Z-Bar every night. But we also though, well, every Friday and Saturday after midnight we’re all just hanging out on the patio, because we’re not into what’s going on inside. It was us and 50 friends just sitting there. It would be really cool to listen to live music after midnight. The opportunity presented itself to do Zazoos. Everyone told us, “It’s suicide,” “What are you doing,” “It makes no sense.” After 2 or 3 years, it worked and we were able to develop enough of a name, and bring in enough acts and develop a relationship with enough acts that we felt comfortable doing our own thing.
NN: Was Zazoos just you guys booking and running sound?
H: Yea, and then that became me sweeping the floors and cleaning the deck. We learned a lot in a quick amount of time. In hindsight, it was a great thing for us. This all came from us both being in touring bands, and we had been to so many venues, and I went to school for music journalism.
NN: You used to write for Louisville Music News right?
H: I did LMN. The first job I had was The Courier Journal. I did The Courier, LMN, some for LEO, and several national publications for festivals and stuff. After touring and playing in different bands, I thought, “I know acts on different levels, and I also know what I like and don’t like about venues.” So we wanted to provide a musicians venue.
NN: Yea one thing I like about this place is the sound is always fucking excellent. You know whoever you see is going to at least sound good.
H: That’s the consensus between bands that we have come through here. We picked this place because it’s set up to be a music venue. It’s not a bar with music, it’s a music venue that has a bar. It’s separated the way a lot of traditional venues in New York and San Francisco are. Plus that stage has seen so many people Chili Peppers, Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, and The White Stripes have all played that stage.
NN: What was the idea behind the name change from Uncle Pleasants.
H: The Uncle Pleasants name had been run into the ground unfortunately. It had a really good name. It had some steam and then it fell off. Then it became, is the place open? Do they only have metal shows?
NN: I do remember those days.
H: Yea I think we felt it was too much to tackle to try to rebrand that name. We had spent 3 years doing The New Vintage showcase at Zazoos. We took all of what was Germantown to us at the time (Zazoos) and took it to the east end. We had 300 hipsters jamming in a little bar in the east end.
NN: What is the plan for The New Vintage? Is there a plan?
H: Just keep on rocking in the free world. Things are brewing and we have announcements to make. They just need to be ironed out. That will be within the next year, but we can’t say it right now because it could change tomorrow.
D: The idea is just to be in all the parts of the music industry as often as we can. I wanted to do live sound because I wanted to meet bands. I wanted to be in the scene and not see it happen around me.
H: Now I think we’d both like to get back into the reason we started doing this which is the creative side. We’ve made a lot of connections.
NN: The thing I find intriguing about you guys is that you are lovers of music in every way. When you come here you are going to get a good sounding show and be able to talk to people that care about music.
H: Yea I mean we run this in similar fashion as a small music hall. This place holds 300 people here. That’s bigger than your average small bar with a stage. We live and die by booking shows and putting up flyers and getting them on different radio and TV spots. It’s the same format as a Headliners, Mercury Ballroom, or Palace on a small scale.
NN: So what are you guys listening to right now?
D: I’m definitely excited about Graffiti’s record. I really really like the record a lot. I think the music is some of the more interesting music that I’ve heard in a while. It really makes me feel something when it’s going and I don’t feel that way often enough. I’ve been listening to Ty Segall. I’ve been liking Ty Segall. I don’t listen to a lot of music, I listen to a lot of talk radio. (laughs) It’s sort of psychedelic rock in the vein of Tame Impala with disgusting guitar tones and craziness.
D: Those would also be at the top of my list.
NN: Seen any good movies lately?
H: I saw Birdman and fucking loved it! It was awesome. There are like 5 other movies I want to see but I really really really liked Birdman. Dave went with me and he doesn’t dig the same kind of movies as me.
D: It was awesome. It was one of those things that make you think the whole time.
H: And for like five days afterwards.
NN: Anything else you guys wanna talk about?
H: I watch football and basketball.
NN: Go Cards right?
NN: Are you a UK fan?
H: I graduated from there so yea. An educated one, but one at that.
NN: I’m sorry to hear that.