Locals Only: : does anybody remember laughter?

The Newbees strive to bring fun back to Rock & Roll with a playful, often humorous brand of Retro Pop

Oct 20, 2004 at 2:06 pm
Brandon Schilling

The Newbees

Introducing a buzz band that will take you back to when you drank milk with dinner, your mom still packed your lunch and the '80s hadn't happened yet.

Warm, fun, surprisingly sophisticated and honest, The Newbees prepare to feed Cincinnati a spoon full of sugar with their debut album, Songs from a Dilapidated Apartment, which will certainly help the medicine go down.

The Newbees — Jeff Perholtz, Misty Perholtz (yep, they're married), Chris Damele and Tim Seiwert — are cut-and-dry business folks by day and fun-loving harmonizing fools by night. In essence, it was this realization that formed the Retro Pop backbone of the band's sound. Realizing their daily lives were full of serious endeavors, they wanted their music to be old-school fun, an outlet and release for them and for those listening. Just when it feels like too much, the band backs off the nostalgia.

"It is a delicate line we draw though, because, we want to sound good and be professional and joke around at the same time," says Jeff.

The Newbees remind listeners that vintage sugar Pop can still be meticulously organized, intelligent and taken seriously.

"We are four silly/goofy people," says Jeff. "And believe it or not we do have more serious tunes, but we really see the crowd come to life when they get the joke."

The quartet can be compared to Josh Rouse meets The Sundays. Jeff and Misty, who have been singing and playing together for years, were worn out by limitations of their duet last spring. So they decided to double their duo.

In April they began to search for other singer/songwriters and quickly found Seiwert, who brought his snazzy snare drum lines to the group, and Damele, who rounded things out with signature "Dr. FunkDaddy" bass.

"I am really just an old hippie girl and hippie girls love to groove," says Misty, mid-dance move before a recent Newbees show.

Pulling off good, four-part vocal harmonies live is no small feat, but the Newbees wouldn't have it any other way.

"Vocal harmony was a must, it really added to that old-school, familiar sound that we have come to love and be associated with," says Jeff.

Misty's female vocals add a sultry soul in songs like "Maybe" and "Good Sunlight," which she wrote. Each of The Newbees wrote at least two songs on the album, atypical of most bands.

The band's full schedule the past six months has been crammed with shows and recording, gaining The Newbees some significant buzz. Songs from a Dilapidated Apartment is a 14-track montage of lush harmonies, funky baselines and groovy percussion. The track "Song from a Dilapidated Apartment" was indeed recorded in different parts of an apartment.

"I produced and played from the studio (aka, a teched-out bedroom). Misty cut her guitar and vocals in the kitchen. Tim drummed in the hallway; and Chris played in the real bedroom, dirty clothes on the floor and all," Jeff explains.

The Newbees admit to being "geeked out" by Josh Rouse's 1972, which is highly retro-fluential. This led them to hire the same mastering engineer to finish off their album.

"Jim Demain, of Yes Master in Nashville, added the final magic touch to our CD," says Jeff. Demain has also worked with Steve Earle, Elton John, Billy Joel, Michael McDonald and John Hiatt.

Expect to be laughing and singing along with them even if the goofy group isn't in line with your usual mantra. The talented Newbees are infectious. Catchy tunes like "22" and the jazzy "For the Painters" have a way of getting stuck in your head for weeks.

"After years of chipping away at serious 'song-crafting,' we finally got it. Music should be fun and now we can really own the whole process," says Jeff.

After the CD release The Newbees have no plans to slow down.

"Let's go global. Nobody seems to visit Zimbabwe these days," adds Jeff.

THE NEWBEES' CD release show is Saturday at Radio Down