The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

The Interview: Skid Marks from The Ladies and Gentlemen

By Sarah Dahnke in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 5, 2007 10:00PM

2007_2_5_skidmarksbigger.jpgWhen Chicagoist was organizing the bill for the upcoming Ctrl-Alt-Rock v2.0 extravaganza, we needed to make sure at least one band on the bill would cause the drunk masses to shake their drunk asses. Cue The Ladies and Gentlemen.

Formed from the broken pieces of former local bands, this new-wave quartet has been shaking up Chicago’s swankiest clubs for the past couple of years. We recently sat down with band founder Skid Marks to find out a little bit more about the gentlemen behind The Ladies and Gentlemen.

Chicagoist: All of the members of your band were in different bands before you formed The Ladies and Gentlemen. How did you all come together?
Skid Marks: The last band that I had, called Box-O-Car, had a kind of revolving cast of players. We needed a full-time drummer, and our guitar player at the time knew Mike Zelenko. Our bass player in Box-O-Car had a gig, so we needed one to fill in. We knew Lennie, who’s the bass player in The Ladies and Gentlemen. Box-O-Car disbanded, and Mike and I wanted to keep working together, and so did Lennie. And we started out having the three of us, and we had a couple different keyboard players who would fill in when they could. We wanted a full-time keyboard player, and Lenny was friends with Scott, who is our keyboard player now. Originally I was just doing solo gigs with a band, but we weren’t called The Ladies and Gentlemen. I was writing a bunch of new songs and just wanted to play them live and get the band going to see if people liked it.

C: And all of that was around 2004?
SM: Yes, exactly.

C: So when you found Scott, were you specifically looking for that synth element to your music?
SM:Yeah, at the tail end of Box-O-Car we were recording some new songs. We were basically a four-piece band with two guitarists, bass and drums. But the newer songs we were recording, we kept putting in keyboard parts or synth parts, and it was becoming new-wave sounding. So with this band, I was pushing that direction even more because it’s kind of the style of music I like anyway. We really wanted to have a keyboard player and really push the new-wave, dance element of the rock band. It’s kind of a cool instrument, and it’s kind of unique. I know a lot of bands are doing it now, but it kind of separates you from the bass, drums, guitar sound. It’s kind of more fun. It adds more depth to the sound without being louder.

2007_2_5_ladiesandgentlemen.jpgC: You talked about having a new-wave sound, but we’ve also heard you described as a power pop band as well. Which do you think of these is more accurate?
SM: I think we’re a combination of a rock, new-wave and power pop. Power pop for me … I think of catchy, melodic, three-minute songs. We try to write songs that are three-minutes or less. Every song could be a single. I admire bands that can have songs that are seven or eight minutes. I think that’s very cool. I guess I don’t have the patience for that. I’ve always tried to write songs that people walk away singing after the show.

C: Listening to your music, it sounds like you guys were heavily influenced by The Cars. What other bands do you think have shaped The Ladies and Gentlemen sound?
SM: The Cars are a huge influence, and probably equally important would be David Bowie, especially the Ziggy Stardust record. And The Verve, Pulp … a lot of the British rock bands. British bands just sound sexier to me, even in their comedy and culture … someone dressing in drag is commonplace. There are a lot of elements that are masculine and feminine in the music that really appeal to me.

C: Would you ever jump ship and go to England and try to start a musical career there?
SM: I don’t know that I’d try to start a musical career there, but I just sent out a bunch of press packets to England and to a bunch of publications there. We’re trying to target sending our stuff there and trying to get a bite or something to see if it would be worthwhile to go over there and play.

C: So where did you come up with your band name?
SM: In our last band when we were coming up with names, someone had come up with it, and I just remembered it. And I thought it was easy to remember. But the main thing … I always pictured us when we’d get introduced, “Ladies and gentlemen, The Ladies and Gentlemen.”

Catch The Ladies and Gentlemen live on Thursday at the Double Door as part of Chicagoists’s Ctrl-Alt-Rock v2.0.

Photos by Keith Claunch, courtesy of The Ladies and Gentlemen.