Bobbo Byrnes of the Fallen Stars Talks Making Music with His Wife, Firing Vegetarian Drummers
The Fallen Stars are an Americana outfit out of Orange County, California that features the talents of husband and wife team Bobbo and Tracy Byrnes. Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, the pair decided to head to warmer climes in 2000.
The Byrnes decided to expand from a duo and soon various incarnations of the Fallen Stars were hitting every stage that would let them play. Currently a four-piece, the band is on tour in support of Heart Like Mine, a terrific collection of edgy alt-country that should appeal to fans of Ryan Adams and early Wilco.
While driving through El Paso, and in anticipation of tonight's gig at La Grange, Bobbo Byrnes was kind enough to speak with DC9 about developing his band's sound and firing any drummer who dares lecture him concerning vegetarianism.
Is this tour with a full band or just the duo of you and your wife?
It's the full band. This tour is for our new album, Heart Like Mine. It's been going great. People have been really digging us.
Are there problems working in a band with your spouse?
There can be problems, but actually, it's working out really well. There are not a lot of positive rock and roll role models, but we do our best. There used to be Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore in Sonic Youth, but I think they broke up.
Do those two in the White Stripes count?
No, I don't think they count.
I enjoyed your version of "Can't Hardly Wait." Are you a big Replacements fan?
I am huge fan of the Replacements and Paul Westerberg.
What makes a band an Americana band?
I think there are some roots in classic AM radio that lead to the alternative rock and punk of the late '70s and '80s, the Minneapolis stuff. You throw it all together and you have a great mix of rock and roll and country music.
Do you feel that your band is more rock than country?
We take pride in being more rock than country. We have a couple of country songs, but we mostly play rock.
The song "Valentine's Day" is very reminiscent of Ryan Adams. Is he a big influence?
Of course. That song should remind you of a Ryan Adams song because [Whiskeytown's] Caitlin Cary is playing violin on that song.
Hopefully you're a bit more level-headed than Ryan Adams.
I am a bit more even-keeled than he is.
That's a good point.
A lot of Americana artists list Gram Parsons as their guided influence. Do you feel the same?
We got our name from Gram Parsons and we were inspired a little bit by him, but found out about him kind of late. We usually like it better when other people play his songs.
The history of your band is very interesting. What was the story about firing a drummer for giving vegetarian lectures?
Wow, I forget that was even in our bio. When we first moved to California, we had a drummer and it was like that movie Some Kind of Wonderful. There is a line in that movie that says it's better to be alone for the right reason than with someone for the wrong reason. That explains all about that guy. We actually fired him without having anyone else lined up to play. We told him we were done with him. I had forgotten everything about that guy.
Why did you relocate from Massachusetts to California?
We kind of wanted to get away from the snow. But now, on this tour, all we have seen is snow. That was part of the reason why we moved from Massachusetts.
Was the song "Glad" written during a particular happy time in your life?
We actually got that song from a friend of ours and the reason we do it is because it says everything I've ever wanted to say, but it uses only fifteen words.
You don't come to Dallas very often. Why is that?
We love Dallas. As a matter of fact, one of our best friends, Chris Savage, is going to be at the show. He was in a band called the Buck Pets.
Great band. That was Dallas' version of Soul Asylum.
Yes, he is a great guy and a great musician. I loved the Buck Pets. It will be good to see him.
The Fallen Stars perform with the Bryon Dowd Band tonight, December 7, at La Grange.