Tag Archives: Skinny Jim & The Number 9 Blacktops
Posted: May 2, 2013
Earlier this year, Skinny Jim & the Number 9 Blacktops released their latest effort, Cool on My Right. Supersuckers frontman Eddie Spaghetti produced the album, which was recorded at Proletarian Studios in Indianapolis over an eight-day period.
“I wanted the album to have a raunchy rock feel,” said Skinny Jim frontman Jim Rotramel. “I wrote songs about monster trucks, strip clubs and the state of Kentucky. I also wanted rougher guitar tones than most of my older stuff. The album is definitely more rock ‘n’ roll than any of our previous material.”
In sticking with tradition, the album is named after one of the song’s lyrics. “Cool on my Right” is referenced in the album’s track, “Frankfort Avenue.”
“It’s about Sean Hopkins from the band Dallas Alice,” said Rotramel. “Sean has ‘Cool Hand’ tattooed on his knuckles, and the song’s lyrics go ‘Driving straight on through the night, hand on my left, cool on my right.’”
Rotramel revealed that most of the songs came together over those eight, surprisingly stress-free days at the Ken Avery-owned studio.
“Whoever wasn’t tracking at the time was upstairs writing, grilling out, or just hanging out on the couch,” said Rotramel. “The recording process is never really smooth but this one went pretty quick, with not too many stressful moments. I’m horrible about not finishing any songs before I go into the studio. Some songs we didn’t even know, and I think I only had one or two solos written when I went in. I left a lot of the songs open, in hopes that Eddie would help with what direction he thought they should go. He nailed it 110 percent!”
Spaghetti also sang backup vocals on a few of the tracks, which can be previewed or ordered on iTunes.
Posted: July 13, 2010
Skinny Jim & the Number 9 Blacktops are set for a mid-July release of their new studio album Daredevil Action, an appropriate title for a southern Illinois trio that dared to stretch its rockabilly wings on their latest effort.
“It’s faster and more aggressive compared to our last album (Horsepower! Horsepower!),” says frontman Jim Rotramel. “It’s still rockabilly by all means but the tones are more aggressive and there’s more of a driving tempo. I’m not ashamed to say that this album is hard-hitting rock and roll, but with pop melodies. It still has the same rockabilly beat behind it — the walking bass line, the Gretsch/Fender amp tone — but I think it breaks the mold and is not the monotonous stuff that’s been done a million times before.”
Carving out a niche in the rockabilly world is tough to do. As Rotramel notes, “It’s all been done before so you have to break the mold. You can’t just play a song that’s G-C-D because it’s all going to sound like ‘Rock Around the Clock’ or ‘Blue Suede Shoes.’”
So Rotramel blended his wide-ranging musical influences — Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Brian Setzer and the Black Crowes — with a tempo borrowed from his childhood exposure to bluegrass music to create a brand of rockabilly that’s been dubbed “hot-rod rockabilly.”
“I have always considered us as being right down the middle between rockabilly and psychobilly bands,” says Rotramel. “Most rockabilly songs are going to be in this I-IV-V progression whereas psychobilly bands don’t really have walking bass lines. They are doing all the crazy punk rock stuff. A lot of our songs have that bluegrass tempo that’s on the 2/4 count.”
Rotramel’s bluegrass guitar tempo preference was influenced by his father, who introduced him to Bill Monroe and John Hartford while he was still a young boy.