words by Andy Turner
Terry Anderson & the Olympic Ass-Kickin’ Team take you to a happy little bar where the beer’s pretty good and cheap enough, people are dancing or at least not thinking about work or their unemployment check, and the band has a bunch of great songs that rock hard with more than a little bit of power pop and Carolina twang mixed in; in fact, they sort of remind you of NRBQ and the Rolling Stones and Chuck Berry, and man, if they don’t seem like they are having one hell of a time, and damn, why the hell am I smiling so much? Sadly, the North Carolina band doesn’t have any Milwaukee dates in the immediate future, but you can take a listen to their latest album, the mighty fine More Smooth Jazz and Sweet Sweet Jams, for evidence of the above dramatic recreation. The band is equally adept at silly (“Time for You to Go”) and sweet (“Nervous Around Pretty Girls”) and occasionally even stunning (“Not Turning Around”). Anderson, the lead singer and drummer, is supported once again by long-time bandmate bassist Jack Cornell, guitarist Dave Bartholomew and keyboardist Greg Rice. Cornell and Anderson, who also performed together in the Fabulous Knobs and the Woods (formerly of Twin/Tone Records) in the 1980s, recently took time to answer a few questions.
Had any confusion yet from anyone that you guys are a smooth jazz band? What do you think is the most sweet, sweet jam in the OAK Team’s repertoire?
No confusion yet! I think folks that know us (which ain’t many!) know the joke, there. And if they don’t, they’ll figger it out as soon as they drop the needle on the first song, which is anything BUT jazz! The sweetest jam is definitely “Yesterday Clyde Virginia,” from my first solo record. It’s a tender moment in the middle of a show that’s not unlike “the running of the bulls” inside of a nightclub. “Raindrops” is a close second.
From reading Terry’s blog , I saw that you guys had some interest from major labels for the album. How did that come about and what happened ultimately?
Through the years you work with folks who move up the ladder in the “biz” and we reconnected with several of them. They all loved the record but since we weren’t in a constant state of “touring,” they passed. It seems that’s the only way they can make their money back in these times of music sharing.
“Ridin’ Around” on the new album directly recalls NRBQ’s “Ridin’ in My Car” and “Me & The Boys,” former NRBQ guitarist Al Anderson has written with Terry, and the Q very much seems like an inspiration (among others) throughout the OAK Team’s albums. How would you describe their special appeal to you guys?
We first saw NRBQ in a club in Raleigh. They were playing across the hall from us in The Underground, a mini mall of clubs back in the day (early 80’s). Our jaws were on the floor and from that moment on, we went to every show they played in the area, whenever possible. They were everything we were trying to be, amazing musicians with great songs and funny as hell! They played with complete confidence and abandon. Our band, The Woods opened for them in Durham and Big Al was actually checking US out and digging it. I talked to him afterwards and followed them to Winston-Salem the next night. We became friends and when he quit them in the early 90’s and became a writer in Nashville we hooked up to write together. I had a publishing deal with BMG and they were trying to pair me up with other writers anyway so it was perfect timing. We’ve probably written 30 or so songs together, some that have ended up on my/our records and one was recorded by Etta James. That was no doubt my proudest moment as a writer…and yes, “Ridin’ Around” is a shout-out to those guys. They will always be my favorite band.
What’s the secret to mixing in a little comedy/good humor with your rock-n-roll and Kicking Ass and not S****** Ass?
To quote the aforementioned NRBQ, “it comes to me naturally.” As a band, we really love each other and making each other laugh…on stage and off. You should hear some of the conversations in the van!
In addition to the OAK Team, you’ve put out several albums from the Cartridge Family, The T’s and others on your own Doublenaught Records. Is there new music from those groups or other artists coming out soon on the label?
The T’s are in the middle of tracking a new one. They have a new drummer and the songs are strong. Stephen (Gardner) has a great vision for the band. There is no release date yet as there is still a fair amount of work to be done. The Bleeding Hearts fell into disarray and have recently reunited themselves with the original drummer. I have seen them live and the new songs are worthy! Sam is his own man but I hope to get them back in studio soon. Sadly, The Cartridge Family is no more. I hope to talk Chip Robinson (formerly of the Backsliders) into a project in the new year…. stay tuned.
How long has the OAK Team’s current lineup been together? Again, from the behind-the-scenes look provided by Terry’s blog, it seems like you guys are a pretty tight bunch and thrive on the short tours that the band takes. You hear musicians say that the road isn’t as glamorous as it seems, but you guys seem to have a pretty fun time (and experiences that lead to great album titles!).
This band kinda fell into place just after the self-titled album came out. That record was made with a bunch of our friends and Dave joined the live thing because he loves to rock and loved to leave town as much as we did. Greg saw us one night and said, “I’m gonna play with y’all” OK! Come on! He was the perfect fit! On stage, we are as telepathic with each other as any band I’ve ever played with.