Crank County Daredevils on Azkena, new music, and more

Known for balls to the wall live performances, riffs that both rip and groove, searing vocals and an embodiment of every bit of debauchery synonymous with the rock and roll lifestyle, Crank County Daredevils have stormed the scene after a long hiatus. With a recent EP release, and another EP on the way, I sit down for a Skype session with Scotty P and Billy Velvet to learn more about their recent adventures in Spain, what’s in the works for the band, and talk about their hiatus and current lineup.

Crank County Daredevils

VH: First off, how are you feeling, Scotty? I understand you busted your foot pretty badly at the Azkena Rock Festival in Spain recently. What happened? Billy, did you know he had broken his foot at the time?

SP: Well, right now I’m feeling a little bit better. I had surgery Friday (the 14th) to repair my heel. I’m on a lot of Percocet, so I may have some trouble talking… The last few days have been rough, a lot rougher than I thought they would.

We had 3 songs left and I jumped off stage, and it turned out to be a bit further down than what I anticipated and when I hit, I hit a cable box and it slammed my heel down into the ground. It snapped my heel bone up, and severed into my cartilage in my ankle.

BV: I saw him. I think he wanted to get closer to the crowd and he jumped off the stage. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him hopping and trying to get back on stage. I figured he twisted his ankle. When he got back on stage, he wrapped his bandana around his foot, threw his foot up on the monitor and just went for it. We finished up and carried Scotty off the stage to an ambulance. He is a rock and roll soldier and finished the set.

It will be nice that I won’t be the one holding up the band at airport security now, though. With all the bolts and screws he has in his foot now, metal detectors are going to hate him. It’s usually me and my tooth that holds us up. (interviewer’s note: said tooth is truly a sight to behold, a silver front tooth encrusted in diamonds. Thanks Skype for the super awesome closeup. I counted atleast 9 stones) Airport security likes to profile me, I think.

Adam Stevens at Azkena Rock Fest

VH: Ouch! I can’t believe you finished your set!

SP: I did, yeah. I wasn’t able to get back onto the stage myself, so the security guy at the bottom picked me up and put me on stage. I kicked my shoe off and wrapped it up with a bandana and did 2 more songs. I knew it was broken at that point, and I think the band did to. It was completely off to the side. As soon as the set was done, and ambulance arrived.

VH: Were they able to do anything for you there? I know you waited until you got back to the states to see a doctor. 

SP: We stayed overseas for three more days after that. I could have stayed there and probably gotten the surgery for free. I contemplated doing that at the time. But, it would have involved a very difficult surgery, and then they were saying it would probably be two months before I would be able to go back home to the states. I’m glad I didn’t go that route. It would have been nice to get it done there, but here I found out how intricate of a surgery it really was.

VH: Wow, that’s rough stuff! So, you’re back home and recovering. What is your time frame for recovery and when will you be back on your feet performing?

SP: We had to cancel a bunch of shows for now. Our first show back will be at Full Terror Assault in Cave In Rock, IL in September on a Friday. Overkill, Goatwhore, Iron Reagan, and more – it’s a great bill. That will be the first week I will be able to stand up on my own. The doctor says as long as I’m not jumping around, I can do it. I’ll have a cane and just have to old man it, but I can do it. So, I’m going to get me a bitchin’, Alice Cooper cane.

In the meantime, Adam Stevens (an original CCD member), has been playing with us again. Him and Rory have been Skyping to riff and write new music for the next record coming out. I should hear those this week to start putting vocals to. So, we should have our next 6-song EP coming out later this year. We seem to be leaning more towards the EP route now.

BV: Scotty and I have played together for something like 15 years. We’re honing it all in for the new EP and it will come together. Rory’s studio takes our recording to the next level. He can get a lot of boom out of this band in his studio. We all know our role in the band, and it comes naturally.

VH: Yeah, I feel that a lot of bands are going the EP, or single release route now. There seems to be this instant gratification or shorter attention span that fans want new music more frequently. They don’t necessarily want to wait the length it takes to record a full album. 

SP: Exactly, yeah. It’s not like it used to be where you’d pop out a full CD and then you could wait another year or two to hear new music.

VH: I know that Rory has been playing for a long time, and that Adam has come back, and the two have been playing shows together. What is the current lineup of Crank County Daredevils and what are the plans for the guitarists going forward?

SP: The current lineup is me, Billy Velvet, Adam Stevens, Rory Kelly, and our new drummer Springs Wade. Our drummers blow up, sort of like Spinal Tap… every year, they blow up. Hopefully, this one doesn’t blow up… I played guitar in the band for a long time, but I’m horrible. I always wanted it to be a five piece. The balance of Rory and Adam together is just ideal. It’s the way we want our music to sound, especially on recordings and such. I knew that they would always be great together, but timing just hadn’t worked out until now. It’s working and it’s one of the best lineups ever doing it this way.

BV: Having Adam and Rory both on guitar is amazing. Rory has the freedom to do what he does best, and Adam is an original member and they are a tight unit. It frees them both up to just go for it. This lineup is family and it’s special.

VH: Crank County Daredevils picked up from a long hiatus just last year. How has the experience been different this time around? 

SP: We have the family back together. With Adam back, and all of our head’s clear. Before, we were just always full throttle on black ice. Everything was just spinning. You’d have high points, but a lot of times we were kicking ourselves into ditches. Now, there is more guidance and traction. We are going out and playing great music and not just getting lit all of the time.

BV: It’s been a lot more fun and easygoing for me. My life is much more in order. I own a restaurant in Asheville, NC called The Asheville Yacht Club. It’s a tiki bar in the middle the mountains. It makes no goddamn sense, and that’s the way I like it. I’ve always gone against the grain. We’ll be going on 10 years now, it’s great. It’s easier to travel now. Also, I have a 3 year old son now, named Volt. He’s super cool. Things change. They get easier in some ways and more difficult in others, but traveling and touring is easier now. Crank County needed a break. We weren’t mad or not getting along, we never broke up. We just needed time for ourselves and it was very mutual. In the end, it was in the best because we’re back and focused.

VH: Speaking of great shows and music, you just played Azkena Rock Festival in Spain. The pictures and videos from that are incredible – that crowd was impressive…

SP: It was an impressive experience! The last time we were there was 7 year ago and we had a label over there that had been ripping us off. When we took a break 7  years ago, we left off on a high note over there. After that, our drummer had a stroke. things went sideways and we took a break. We started separate projects. We were asked to play the fest this year and we were there a few days early, hanging out at rock bars and stuff, and we were hearing our music on airwaves over there. It was weird, but it was cool to know people still listened to our stuff after 7 years. To get up on there on stage and see 18,000 people. It was mind boggling. It was a great feeling to be able to share that moment with the guys.

BV: We played Bilboa the last time we went and it was amazing. Azkena was incredible because the crowds were singing our choruses louder than we were playing them. It’s funny because I don’t remember selling more than 25 records over there. I guess it’s a testament to the digital era of music. It was humbling to experience that much fun and to have that opportunity. It was grounding for me.

VH: So, this year marks your first release in 8 years with Feed the Beast, your EP. How did those songs come together?

SP: One of them, Broken City/Detroit City was written vocally on a tour when Adam was in the band. It’s actually a tattoo the original members all got after being broken down in Detroit with a busted up transmission for a week on tour. We rediscovered it. The other ones are riffs that I had been tinkering on for another project, but it just sounded too much like Crank County, so I had them stockpiled for us. One is a revisit of an old song we did. Heads are Gonna Roll and Kicked in the Teeth are also older ideas.

I’m excited and looking forward to what is happening now with the five piece. The last few times we have gotten together, it goes instantly into writing with Rory and Adam. With both of them being very good artists, I think they are really killing it with the new music we are working on now.

BV: Really stupidly easy. The songs were written and some of them recorded the same day at Rory’s studio. Alcohol, Fire, Weed – we wrote and recorded that song in maybe three hours? After being together for so long, we know what each other is thinking. We pick up on each other’s ideas easily and it moves quickly. We have fresh ears this time around and that has helped with songs. Acoustically, I think this is one of our best records and I think these songs have long legs and will stand on their own.

VH: Any tour plans once you’re healed up?

SP: We have been talking to promoters and the plan is to get back over to Europe and the UK, hopefully in the fall. We’ll do that to coincide with the release of the new EP. Rory has been doing all of the recording for us at his place. He did Feed the Beast and he is just doing a great job with it.

VH: Anything else going on in the Crank County Daredevils camp that we should know about or look forward to?

SP: Other than firming up tour dates, we are really trying to get into the video realm. We cut a really cool video right before we left to go to Europe, but we haven’t released it yet. But, that’s definitely something we all want to explore. Having more fun with visuals and videos. I like the idea of adding eye candy to what we do. We’ve put our visual on our backs for the live shows, just a real working man’s band approach, rather than videos or merch. It would be nice to broaden out and explore those avenues.

BV: More debauchery. More insanity. More fun. Louder volume. Way more live shows. Just overall, reckless abandonment rock. The band is tight, but it teeters on this point of breaking. We are like a rubber band that just stretches and stretches. Instead of breaking, we always seem to snap back. We’re looking forward to the new music, releasing it and getting back on the road.

VH: I’m always curious to know what moment, band, video, artist, show, etc. impacted you in a way that made you say “that’s what I want to do” and influenced your playing music. 

SP: I don’t know, I’ve always been drawn to it. I didn’t start playing real bands until I was in my 20’s. Adam and have known each other since we were teenagers and we grew up learning guitar together. We were into punk rock and skateboarding. I think the real moment was when I moved to Atlanta and played out with a band. I was like, “holy shit, I can do this too”. I’ve always had a love for rock, but it was getting the backbone to know I could do it myself took a little longer. There is no one thing. My parents had records of Jerry Lee Lewis and hard driven rock, or listening to the Sex Pistols for the first time, or seeing David Lee Roth for the first time. They all played a roll.

BV: When I was younger, I felt better being out traveling rather than at home. My aunt would travel the country. She had hitchhiked to Portland, Oregon and was playing in a gospel bluegrass band. One of my uncles was playing guitar, another uncle played harmonica, and my aunt sang. I had never seen that before in my life. I remember they were eating whoppers too, I guess they were really stoned. I didn’t know that at the time.

When I saw them play, that’s when I started buying records. My first record was Black Sabbath. That’s weird. I haven’t thought about that in awhile. As I grew up, I felt more comfortable on the road and finding comfort in music.

Crank County Daredevils is:

Scotty P – Vocals/Guitar

Adam Stevens – Guitar

Rory Kelly – Guitar

Billy Velvet – Bass

Springs Wade – Drums





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