Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pheaturing Ten Foot Polecats

Hot town, summer in the city. Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty. Been down, isn't it a pity. I can't think of the rest. That Lovin' Spoonful song goes something like that. Anyway, welcome to the Phile on a Sunday. How are you?  The Phile has a new sponsor.  Check it out.

In a new interview, Ralph Nader said there has never been a bigger con man in the White House than Barack Obama. Can you believe that? Ralph Nader is still alive!  NestlĂ© has launched a new premium water called Resource. They say it is made specifically for a woman who is a little on the trendy side and the higher-income side. Resource sounds so much better than tap water for women who are really rich and stupid.  Have you seen the ads for the Enduracool towel? They show people sitting in the sun with the thing around their neck and rubbing their faces in it. In each ad they say the towel uses a proprietary fabric technology that activates when wet to cool a person off. So in other words, it's a towel! All towels do that.  This story comes up about twice a year. They thought they have located the body of Jimmy Hoffa, the former Teamsters union leader, after 40 years of being dead. Nothing on the NSA whistle-blower, but we think we know where Jimmy Hoffa is. The cops in Michigan dug up a field to find Jimmy Hoffa. They found nothing.  Do you guys know who Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is? He's the the guy who made "Death to America" a popular slogan. Now his successor, a moderate guy named Rohani, doesn't believe in death to America. He believes in lingering illness to America. This Rohani guy has promised that he will boldly lead Iran into the 14th century.  The Senate’s new immigration bill is apparently more than a thousand pages long and weighs 24 pounds. Some critics say the bill is too long for the average American to read before it's approved, while some senators are saying that's the point. The immigration bill is more than a thousand pages long. That doesn’t sound like an immigration bill. That sounds like a menu at The Cheesecake Factory. A new study found that volunteering can actually reduce the risk of heart problems... which would be awesome news if it didn't also reduce the risk of having a fun Saturday.  Dunkin' Donuts is redesigning its stores so that customers will want to sit down and relax... because if there's one thing that goes through my mind when I see Dunkin’ Donuts customers, it's “These people need to move around LESS.”  Some people are still talking about Paula Deen being a racist, after she said a few things. She might be a racist, but she knows how to have fun. Take a look.

I went to the store the other day and they had a display ready for summer.

When I think of summer I think of fake severed hands.  The NSA has started to release a bunch of children's books, and I just happen to have the first one her to show you...

Found him. That crazy NSA.  I have been telling you kids that Disney is releasing some of their classic movies with the original names. Disney, by the way, is the greatest company to work for. Here's the latest one...

I've never seen that movie.  June 3rd was Bad Wolf Day and I asked for you to write Bad Wolf on a piece of paper or something and take a picture and send it in or Tweet it. I have one last Bad Wolf picture to show you.

Pretty cool. By the way, if you don't know what Bad Wolf is you are not a "Doctor Who" fan.  Well, summer is here. One of my favorite things to do in summer is to swim, even though I haven't went swimming since my accident last October. There's a lot of really cool pools to go swimming in on this planet, so for the next few weeks I will be showing them to you. Victoria Falls is on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is 360 feet tall. At the top is a natural rock pool, called Devil's Pool, where the water is relatively calm. From September to December, when the water level is low, you can swim in Devil's Pool. The pictures are bound to make you just a little nervous. Or a lot.

And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, here is...

Top Phive Reasons Why Men's Wearhouse Fired Its Founder, George Zimmer.
5. You can't go around taking customers' inseam measurements unless you're a tailor.
4. The board of directors thought his "Buy one suit, get three trousers, two sports coats, six handkerchiefs, 12 pairs of socks, three polo shirts, a trench coat, three MORE pairs of slacks, two dress shirts, seven ascots and a fedora for $10" promotion was unsustainable.
3. He wasted millions in R&D on doomed "Triple-breasted suit" project.
2. They couldn't convince customers that he isn't the "stand your ground" guy from Florida.
And the number one reason Men's Wearhouse fired its founder...
1. All together now: The board didn't like the way he looked.

If you see it email me at

The 27th book to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Book Club is...

Alexis Asbe will be a guest on the Phile a week from today.

Today's guests are the guys in the great Boston band Ten Foot Polecats. Their new album "Undertow" is available now on iTunes. They'll be appearing next tonight at Crossroads Rt 20 in Palmer, Ma. Please welcome to the Phile Jay Scheffler, Jim Chilson and Chad Rousseau from... Ten Foot Polecats.

Me: Hey, guys, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Jim: Doing good, got a new album out called “Undertow”, just finished up a short tour and getting ready for our next tour in July as well as some other summer shows around New England.

Jay: Having a ball, man!

Me: I have to say, your band Ten Foot Polecats is one of my favorite bands I heard in awhile. You are doing a summer tour, but you're not playing Florida. What gives?

Jim: Thank you, glad you like the sounds, we are touring this summer throughout the south, midwest, rust belt, great lakes area, and back on home to New England. Yeah, sorry about missing Florida, we haven’t played in Florida yet but have been asked to so we are going to have to make a point of getting down to Florida. We wish we could tour a lot more often these days.

Jay: Summer tours in Florida are for chumps! We’ll be looking at a WINTER tour in Florida!

Me: There's three of you in the band. Have their always been three of you?

Jim: Yes, three of us now and always have been three. Jay Scheffler (vocals and harp), Jim Chilson (guitar), Chad Rousseau (drums). No bass player, we couldn’t fit one in the truck.

Me: Where are you guys all from? The band I think is based in Boston. You guys sound more like a band from the south.

Jim: We are from the greater Boston area. We do get that a lot from audiences down south. They seemed pretty shocked we are from up north but they are always accepting of us and really make us feel at home!

Jay: Yeah, the south is like our home away from home. Lot of friends down there. The music, the people, the food, the climate; we love it!

Me: How did you guys all meet, and have you all been musicians for awhile?

Jim: Jay and I were in a previous band together that wasn’t quite going in the same musical direction we wanted so we form a side project that developed into this. We found Chad through many auditions after our original drummer, Dave, had to leave the band due to his heavy work schedule as a truckdriver. Once we heard Chad, we immediately knew that this was the new drummer.

Me: Who came up with the name of the band, and what does it mean?

Jim: It comes from a Bugs Bunny cartoon where scientists crossed a ten pole with a cat… the result, a ten foot polecat. It sounded cool, we liked it. We get this question a lot as well as “what’s a polecat?” 

Me: Have you heard of the 80s band The Polecats?

Jim: I didn’t know much about them then but learned about them more when someone brought it up to us. As well as a band called Ten Foot Pole. I guess we maybe should have checked this out all before, but oh well. It is what it is.

Jay: I remember them! They were English and had a song called “Make a Circuit With Me”.

Me: Correct, Jay. You guys have played with lots of cool bands, and musicians. One of them was on the Phile a few years ago... Scott H. Biram. He's a pretty cool guy, isn't he?

Jim: Yes! Scott is excellent. We have played a few shows with Scott when he has come to Massachusetts and New Hampshire as well as gone to many of his shows. He definitely gets the crowd worked up! Great songwriter too.

Me: He's into the blues a lot. What bands and artists are you guys into?

Jim: Oh boy, this list could be the length of “War and Peace”, but we’ll give you some artists we enjoy currently that people should go and check out. Bob Log III, Possessed By Paul James, Left Lane Cruiser, The Cannibal Ramblers, Yankee Cockfight, The Scissormen, The Goddamn Gallows, Filthy Still, Molly Gene One Whoaman Band, Restarvant, The Calamity Cubes, Old Gray Mule, CW Ayon, Jeff Norwood (RIP), Lone Wolf One Man Band, Sean K. Preston, Husky Burnette… ok stop us now before we type forever.

Jay: Everyone Jim just mentioned is totally worth checking out. They are each putting their own spin on blues, country, bluegrass, and just straight-up rock and roll. Everywhere we go, we discover new and surprising talent. Surprising usually because they’ll be doing something you didn’t expect or never imagined!

Me: Who did you listen to when you guys were getting into music?

Jim: Generally speaking, anything and everything. Of course I have my favorites and direct influences, like RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Iggy and The Stooges, Son House, Fred McDowell, Roy Clark, CCR, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Hound Dog Taylor.

Jay: I was into metal when I was a kid. I discovered John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson in my teens; right around the same time I found out about Black Flag, Bad Brains, Butthole Surfers etc.

Me: Let's talk about your new release "Undertow". This is your third release, right?

Jim: This is our third release, and our 2nd LP. Our first release was an EP in 2007 called “Sterno Soup”. Our second release was an LP entitled “I Get Blamed For Everything I Do” which came out in 2010 on Hillgrass Bluebilly Records out of Austin, Texas. Our third release, also an LP, is “Undertow” and that is also on Hillgrass Bluebilly Records.

Me: How do you think it compares to your past releases?

Jim: We really like how everything came out. Richard Rosenblatt recorded us and he knew exact what to get out of us and how to do it. We record very much like a live band so alot of these songs are the first or second take with hardly any overdubs, if any at all. We like the feel of the current energy in the room when recording instead of “Frankenstein-ing” it together. I thought this CD was mastered beautifully by Toby Mountain who has been entrusted in the past to bring such iconic albums as "Ziggy Stardust" and "Joe’ Garage" to CD…so needless to say we were in good hands. But the main difference in this album compared to the last is that all the songs are original compositions and have been played before live audiences before the recording began.

Jay: We like to bang ‘em out live a few times to make sure they work. I’d like to go in and record a whole album all at once, but we tend to record 4 or 5 at a time then go back and work on the next batch.

Me: There's been a lot of flooding recently, especially with Sandy last year. Is that where the name "Undertow" came from?

Jim: There is definitely a natural disaster take on the album but it wasn’t about any particular storms, but more of a metaphor between the ever changing cycles of life, from good to bad.

Jay: Also, the way the album is sequenced, there’s kind of an undertow effect. Fun, lively song followed by slower darker song. Kind of up and down like that.

Me: Who does most of the songwriting in the band?

Jim: Jay does most of the lyrical songwriting while Chad and I figure out how to work the melodies around the lyrics, or sometimes it’s the other way around, we don’t have a set way to do it. On this album all of us chipped in with lyrics, but Jay is definitely the main songwriter.

Jay: Chad helped out a lot by recording jams that we would have forgotten otherwise. A lot of those jams turned into songs.

Me: Jim, your guitar is handmade. Most guitars are, I think, but what I think it means is you made your guitar yourself. Why is that, Jim?

Jim: I designed it with Matt Sulivan of MJ Sullivan Guitars in South Boston. Matt builds high end acoustics but wanted a different challenge, and I had one for him.

Jay: Matt is a master craftsman and a true genius. Amazing what he can do with a chunk of wood and a few hand tools.

Me: How long did it take you to make it, and did you help?

Jim: Matt was pretty quick about it, at least quicker than I thought it would all come together. I didn’t help in building it at all, if I did it would probably who have sounded like shit. I left that to Matt but I did have some certain details I wanted included and specific parts, etc.

Me: Is it made from scratch, or other parts of guitars?

Jim: The body (box) itself was made from scratch as Matt used a cedar top, and bubinga sides and back to create the box, as well as a pretty neat raised pickguard out of koa to rest my picky on when I am fingerpicking with the other fingers. The neck is a warmouth and was taken from a Stratocaster I had, the pickups were some Lollar humbuckers that I heard good things about, and the hardware was all purchased specifically for my taste. No special hardware, all pretty general stuff but I do like those planet waves tuning heads that cut the strings at the proper tension, they stay in tune great.

Me: I like that it is square. My dad had a square guitar he designed as well and named it Loentz. It is one of a kind and Gibson made it. He was a Bo Diddley fan, and that's why his guitar was square. Anyway, why did you choose that shape?

Jim: I thought I recognized that last name! Your dad had some great sounds in Foghat and Savoy Brown! As far as the shape, it is kind of related to Bo Diddley’s guitar in the fact that it was modeled after a cigar box guitar. I wanted to build a guitar that had a dirtier, rawer natural tone and I think the angular corners of the box gives it that sound in comparison to the flowing interior curves the sounds flows around in some hollowbodies and semi-hollow bodies. I could be technically way off base on that but Matt and I seemed to hit the nail on the head with this guitar, I love it.

Jay: Aw cool! Foghat was bad ass! That was the golden era of rock.

Me: Is that the only guitar you play on stage and record with?

Jim: The guitar is about 2 years old now, and it has been the only guitar I play live. The guitar is also featured exclusively on the new album “Undertow”.

Jay: His other guitars are quite jealous and refuse to talk to him now.

Me: You play sitting down with no guitar strap, Jim. Have you always played that way?

Jim: I do still wear a strap but since I have been exclusively fingerpicking, I do sit down. I am pretty aggressively with the picking and butterfly technique (you would have to check out some videos to know what I mean) that I usually knock the guitar off the strap when playing standing up. I need some stability, so having some support from my legs under the guitar is definitely needed in the way I currently play.

Jay: I’m the only guy standing onstage. I feel like the guy who lost at musical chairs but on the other hand, the stage is MINE!!!

Me: Jay, your microphone and harmonica are not hand made, right?

Jay: My mic IS hand made. It’s a Shaker Dynamic. Shakey Joe from Arkansas makes them one at a time. They are relatively inexpensive and I love the sound. The harmonicas are Hohners and Suzuki’s. I used to play Herings but I think the company went out of business; can’t get ‘em anymore.

Me: And Chad, you didn't build your own drum set, did you?

Chad: No. Nothing custom for me. I play a standard maple Renown drum kit made by Gretsch.

Me: You guys recorded with the great singer Molly Gene, right?

Chad: Ahem. Actually, she recorded with US. Just kidding, of course. Molly Gene is super talented and we are all big fans of hers. We recorded a couple songs with her. It was a great experience and a pleasure and we hope to collaborate more soon.

Me: Where did you meet her, guys?

Jim: We heard her online in the ol’ Myspace days and set up a show with her when touring through Kansas City in 2009. She is amazing and has travel the world over. She is really making a name for herself and all the success is well deserved!

Me: Do you think she'd like to be on the Phile?

Jim: I definitely think you should contact her, I would love to read that interview!

Me: Okay, so, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to this little box of cards I have called Tabletopics. All three of you can answer... Which other culture would you choose to be born into?

Jim: Interesting! I think I would be most intrigued by the older Eastern/Asian Culture as it is seems to be a polar opposite to the current Western Culture (obviously). It would be refreshing to have proper spiritual conscience without being forced feed anything from any Kardashian’s, Hilton’s or TMZ.

Chad: Early Japanese history fascinates me. I’ve always had a bit of an interest in English culture as well. One of those, I suppose.

Jay: I would love to have been born into a Native American culture before the Europeans arrived. That’s a culture that fascinates me; so pure and connected with the earth.

Me: Thanks so much for being on the Phile, guys. Go ahead and plug your website and please come back soon. You guys fucking rock.

Jim: Check us out at for news, shows, and to buy music and merchandise. You can also find us on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Reverbnation, Soundcloud, and our music at iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Rhapsody, and other social media outlets throughout earth and beyond. Check this video out too, it is from our song “Do That Thing” from our current album “Undertow”.

Me: Fantastic. Ten Foot Polecats! Man, their album "Undertow" is great.

There, that about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to the guys from Ten Foot Polecats, one of my favorite new bands. The Phile will be back tomorrow with Phile Alum Joy Ike and then next Sunday with author Alexis Asbe. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!

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