Review Fix chats with Spayed Koolie’s Dr. Neal “Quickdraw” Phillips who discusses the band’s origin, creative process, signature sound and new album, “Ashtray Change.”
About Spayed Koolie:
Spayed Koolie is an Americana/country/southern rock band from the central Florida area that owes its namesake to the swing fiddler of the 1940s, Spade Cooley. The band plays all over central Florida and makes the occasional trip to Nashville. The band has opened for Montgomery-Gentry, Kellie Pickler, .38 Special, Pat Benatar, Charlie Daniels Band, and other national acts.
Founded by lead singer and songwriter David Dorr, the band has been performing for seven years in arrangements including duo (most often), trio, 4-piece, and 5-6 piece when opening for name acts or playing at well-attended festivals.
The band’s instrumentation includes acoustic and electric guitar, bass guitar, percussion, fiddle, and the occasional keyboard, banjo, or mandolin. The band’s first professional single release, “100 Years (Need)” and their cover of Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl” can be found on iTunes and Amazon digital music.
Review Fix: How did the band get together?
Dr. Neal “Quickdraw” Phillips: David Dorr, the lead singer of Spayed Koolie, was the bass player and back-up singer for a country band a little more than 10 years ago. That was his start, but then he wanted to front his own band, so he got together with some musician friends from Disney World, and Spayed Koolie was born, the name a nod to the Oklahoman swing-fiddle player from the 1940’s. Membership in Spayed Koolie changed over the years, but some stabilization came when I, Dr. Neal “Quickdraw” Phillips, joined the band 4 years ago, and I along with Dorr have been playing as a duo, or larger as the venue and budget will allow, ever since.
Review Fix: Who or what influenced this album the most?
Phillips: David Dorr’s ex-wife influenced a lot of the hateful-toned songs. Infidelity as well. A lot of the songs also reflect on what David experienced growing up, while “Songwriter” is a track I wrote at Nashville Songwriters Association International workshop a few years back, the event being the inspiration for that one.
Review Fix: Make makes this album special to you guys?
Phillips: This was a collaboration with a lot of love and soul, very diverse. Many minds are better than one. At our best, Spayed Koolie is seven pieces or so and completely diverse as membership includes Caucasian, African-American, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Native American members. The greater band all contributed to multiple recordings on the album, which lends to the myriad styles of song. The band is a family, and knowing that everyone in the family contributed makes it super special.
Review Fix: What’s the standout track? How was it written?
Phillips: “We Ain’t Blind” is the standout track, we think, as it talks about hard work and just trying to get somewhere each day. “We’ve all been walking that fine line” for years, that’s for sure, that “line” being a country on the brink of economic, emotional, and political chaos, and it sure seems amplified now more than ever. “We Ain’t Blind” is an anthem asking the average citizens to defend themselves in the midst of all the uncertainty, get back to core values, and keep persevering.
Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Phillips: I like to call it “Southern swamp rock.” It’s Americana mixed with blues riffs mixed with 60′ rock mixed with contemporary country. Something like that. The diverse style makes the band perfect on a card with the Charlie Daniels Band as easily as it would be with Jason Isbell or Pat Benatar.
Review Fix: How do you want this album to be remembered?
Phillips: We’d like the album remembered as, from a listener standpoint, one that featured enjoyable music, themes with which listeners can relate, and hopefully as music/a band that many listeners discover and hold on to, much like I did the first time I heard a Coldplay album. Spayed Koolie feels its music is timeless, and hopefully fans will think so as well.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Phillips: Currently, Spayed Koolie is making a modest radio push on the Americana Music Association chart (radio promotion via Bill Wence Promotions) and on the Music Row chart (radio promotion via Mach 3 Promotions) and is looking to be added on a national or international tour, or at the very least, as possible tour support for better known acts on multiple dates. I will be attending the Americana Music Association conference in Nashville in September, main goal to connect with those who could add Spayed Koolie to a tour in some fashion. Radio promotion will also continue on the Texas Red Dirt charts and with Americana and Music Row stations.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Phillips: Absolutely. Even though both Dorr and I are middle-agers, they believe there’s a large fan-base out there that can relate to Spayed Koolie’s sound and message. The two often joke on stage that they have five marriages and seven kids between them, and that’s just the kids they know about. After a performance at central Florida’s Runaway Country music festival, a married couple came up to the band afterward and said, “You know what? We like you guys better than anyone here. You know why? You’re real people with real problems.”