Four brothers, dressed in their grandfather's clothes, sit around a table overwhelmed with coffee cups and ashtrays at Kaldi's on Main Street on a Sunday afternoon.
These are four unmistakably distinct personalities and yet the sideburns alone offer enough evidence that they are together.
They are Jody, Newky, Lance and Mick — The Stapletons.
The Stapletons is a fairly new band in Cincinnati, even though none of the members are new to the music scene. After playing venues like Sudsy Malone's, Mad Frog and Top Cat's for about a year, they have recorded their first album, Electric Record.
Anyone who has ever heard the Stapleton sound would probably agree that labeling it or defining it is a difficult task. Newky Stapleton, who plays the 12-string electric guitar, says that the primary goal for the band was to take a natural and more simplistic approach to the music. The Stapletons describe their music in terms like "twangy Rock & Roll" or "Music that's stripped down to the roots." And some of those roots become apparent in just the first few tracks on the album. The sound is undeniably Alternative, but with a twist of Folk and Country that makes it playful.
"Everything that defines our style predates us," according to Jody Stapleton, lead vocalist and guitarist.
In fact, The Stapletons' diverse influences include The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons, The Beach Boys and The Byrds. The group members say they enjoy old Country music, as well, and they aren't afraid to put it into their music, especially in songs like "Honky Tonk Heaven."
The group's love of music goes back to childhood. Jody and Mick recall that their first performances were on the front porch. On rainy days, they would go out in the front yard and shake water off the bushes to get their hair wet. Then, they'd slick their hair back like Bowzer from Sha Na Na, grab the broomsticks, and rock out to Chipmunk Punk, a record many had but few will admit to now.
And as if one embarrassing childhood story isn't enough, they also say they forced Lance to sign a contract to play bass for the group back when they were 14 and 15.
"And I'm still under contract," says Lance. "That's why I'm here."
Obviously, their style has changed somewhat since those early days messing around as kids. According to Mick, the band's drummer, the music just got progressively more elaborate.
"We would make these really primitive records with really bad music," he says. "Then we decided, 'Let's be a real band.' "
Now they've moved from Alvin, Simon and Theodore and slicked hair to writing their own music and lyrics and creating a unique style that they like to call "the mod hillbilly look."
The Stapletons are starting to get some attention from the local music scene. It's no longer just family and girlfriends (who, by the way, are lined up in the front row like baseball wives behind the dugout at every show). They've noticed more increasingly familiar faces coming out to watch their shows.
"(The audience is) so gracious with us, and that's so important," says Jody. "They help us get to that next level every night. We love them and have a great deal of respect for people who come to see our shows."
"Somehow we include them," says Mick. "There's no big barrier."
"It's a very personal thing with the audience, it's very interactive," adds Newky. "It's like the KISS Army, only it's the Stapleton Family."
A small regional tour as well as several upcoming dates locally (including "Slammin' On Vine" in May) are in the near future for The Stapletons. As for a more distant future, they don't have much to say. After a long silence (and believe me, it's a feat silencing these guys), Lance offers, "We'd like to be making a living playing music."
The others nod emphatically and agree until Mick interjects, "I'd still rather be a superstar."
THE STAPLETONS will be hosting a CD release party, The Stapletons Music Festival, on April 28 at the Mad Frog.