The Armadillos Howler’s Coyote Cafe
Friday, February 8, 2013 Bloomfield
“The Armadillos began with three guys and a town called Butler. Austin Vanasdale, Matt Rychorcewicz, and Eric Rodgers, all hailing from Butler, Pennsylvania, started experimenting with acoustic instruments and songs they’d heard on old-time records in 2007. After relocating to Pittsburgh, The Armadillos worked to develop an original, upbeat sound built on Appalachian and old-time roots. Upright bass was added to the mix, with the help of bassist Chuck Shreve, and Sheila Liming lent accordion and female vocals. Their first album, The Armadillos (2010), was described by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Manny Theiner as “hitting listeners in the gut” with its “dark lyrics and bouncy melodies”. Since 2010, The Armadillos have continued to alter and establish their sound. Vanasdale and Liming share songwriting duties, in addition to lead vocals, and the results are fast, dance-able songs that often feature somber subject matter and well-intentioned social critique. Their eclectic style has landed them opening spots with touring acts like The Two Man Gentleman Band, O’Death, and Shotgun Party. The Armadillos added bassist Josh Dukes to their lineup in 2011, and in December of that year, were voted “Best Alt-Country/Alt-Folk Band” by Pittsburgh City Paper readers, and featured in the City Paper’s annual “Best of Pittsburgh” issue. At present, they’re hard at work on their new album, recorded in January 2012 at J-Bird Studios, and due for release this coming summer.”
Check out the band on Facebook, MySpace and BandCamp. They are appearing at Howler’s tomorrow night on a bill supoorting Driftwood along with Modern Nature. My thanks to Austin Vanasdale (Lead Guitar/Vocals), Sheila Liming (Lead Vocals/Accordian/Tin Flute), Matt Rychorcewicz (Mandolin/Backing Vocals) and Josh Dukes (Upright Bass/Backing Vocals) for taking a few to participate in this edition of First/Last.
- The first album you ever bought?
- Austin Vanasdale: I believe it was Pearl Jam, “Vitalogy”.
- Sheila Liming: “Album” meant vinyl when I was little…and it was George Harrison’s “Cloud Nine” in 1987. The first CD I ever bought was the original cast recording soundtrack to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”.
- Matt Rychorcewicz: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles when I was six as cassette tape.
- Josh: “Look What The Cat Dragged In” by Poison. I was so excited about buying it with my own money then my stepdad took one look at the cover and threw it out the car window because, “These guys wear more make up than your mother!”
- Your last album bought?
- Austin: The Beagle Brothers’ “Dancers of the Drunken Two-Step/Architects of the Bloomfield Sound”.
- Sheila: Sarah Harmer, “Oh Little Fire” (2010). It came out two years ago but I somehow overlooked it at the time of its release.
- Matt: Townes Van Zandt, “Live at the Old Quarter Houston, Texas”. I bought it to have a copy of the song ‘White Freightliner’ and it’s a really good record.
- Josh: The Darkness, “Hot Cakes”.
- Favorite album of all time?
- Austin: Pete Seeger, “Live at Carnegie Hall”.
- Sheila: Gillian Welch “Soul Journey” TIED with Belle and Sebastian’s “If You’re Feeling Sinister”.
- Matt: Bob Dylan and the Band, The Basement Tapes”. It sounds like it was a so much fun to play.
- Josh: The Who “Live at Leeds “. Hands down the best live album ever recorded.
- Least favorite/most disappointing album?
- Austin: The Shins’ “Port of Morrow”, not bad just disappointing.
- Sheila: Laura Veirs’ “Saltbreakers”. She made up for it with her following release, “July Flame”, so all is well with us again. For a moment there in 2007, though, things were a bit scary.
- Matt: Beirut, “March of the Zapotec”.
- Josh: Social Distortion, “White Light, White Heat, White Trash”.
- First concert attended?
- Austin: My dad took me to see No Doubt and Weezer a little after “The Blue Album” came out, and it was awesome!
- Sheila: Gah! Aerosmith! And trust me, I don’t admit that without a fair bit of cringing but, then again, I was nine. What did I know?
- Matt: Farm Aid. It was Neil Young and Willie nelson. My brother and I begged my mom to take us.
- Josh: Aerosmith.
- Last concert?
- Austin: It’s been a while since I have been to a show that I haven’t played but I think it was Boca Chica, Nik Westman, and Chet Vincent at Thunderbird.
- Sheila: Horse Feathers with Emily Rodgers at Club Cafe (11/10/12); most recent “mega” concert was supposed to be Morrissey, but he cancelled. Still undecided if I will attend the rescheduled date in January.
- Matt: Beirut is the last show I paid to get into if that counts.
- Favorite concert ever?
- Austin: The Decemberists at The Agora for ‘The Crane Wife’ tour.
- Sheila: Agh! A veritable Sophie’s choice. On a large scale, Sleater-Kinney’s farewell show at the Showbox in Seattle in 2006 was unbeatably memorable. On a local scale, I’ve yet to see anybody beat The Mon River Rambler’s 2009 CD Release show at Howler’s. Something about the indoor fireworks, coupled with a bluegrass cover of The Divinyl’s ‘I Touch Myself’, made that one stick in mybrain. Matt: Iron Maiden, Dio and Motorhead. The most fun I’ve ever had!
- Josh: Reverend Horton Heat opened for White Zombie. I’d never seen an upright bass played live before completely blew my mind and paved the way to my future.
- Least favorite concert?
- Austin: Not that it was a bad show just not that great and not well attended, The Fiery Furnace at Mr. Smalls.
- Sheila: Gustave Flaubert says that, ““We must not touch our idols; the gilt sticks to our fingers.” I regret every time I ever bothered to see Bob Dylan in concert.
- Matt: Whitesnake. Got free tickets from that basketball game you play at Post-Gazette.
- Josh: The Eagles…soooooo boring.
- Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
- Austin: The thing I love most about Pittsburgh is how tight knit a music community we have. Other towns are cut throat but here everyone wants to help out everyone else.
- Sheila: I wasn’t born here, but it’s my home, forever and ever. I love Pittsburgh. This city taught me how to be the person I wanted to be, and I owe it an immense debt of gratitude.
- Matt: Pittsburgh is a like a nest, I’ll always call it home.
Thanks, all. Really bummed I missed your CD Release gig at the Thunderbird this past November. I tried to get to the stage from the steps but I have never seen the place as packed as it was that night!
For the past month or so, I have been heading down to the Northside for this live jam featuring a rotating cast of local bands including The Shelf Life String Band, Panther Hollow String Band, The Moonlighters and The Armadillos. Very informal and very fun. There is nothing like unplugged bluegrass music. You should definitely check it out. More photos here.