Song of the Day: The Ironclads - Step to the Sea

Brittney Bush Bollay

Brittney Bush Bollay

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Every Friday the Song of the Day podcast spotlights local musicians. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Midday Show host Cheryl Waters, is “Step to the Sea” by The Ironclads from their debut album Space Between the Maps available from Wizard Rock/Basement Empire.

The Ironclads - Step to the Sea (MP3)

Last Friday local band The Ironclads played a few tunes live in the KEXP studios and gave a rather entertaining interview with Afternoon Show host Kevin Cole (listen here for one more week!) which whet our appetites for more intel on this group. Luckily they were more than happy to oblige a little e-interview and apparently had loads of time at 3:47 am on a Tuesday morning:

KEXP: So, what’s the deal with everyone in the band coming from or meeting each other in various parts of the world? Are you all army brats?? Or maybe involved in international espionage?? Or perhaps just free spirits destined to roam the earth? And why was Phil so shady about how he got to Seattle?

Phil: The Ironclads actually represent the World Bank, each one of us representing a negative component of said organization:

Phil = Nihilism
Thom = Bloodlust
Jamie = Greed
Nora = Unquestionable Power

We are the financial Voltron. We have been sent forth by an unnamed glorious leader to destroy and manipulate. In that order, it’s a testament to our in-efficiency as humans. Sometimes we play music. You think I’m kidding, but I’m serious. How do you explain the fact that a band that nobody has ever heard of got to play your awesome station? WORLD BANK.

Phil actually got to Seattle by way of a lovely ex-girlfriend and a friend going to Tibet for two months. It’s a complicated tale of a young woman suffering from Lyme’s Disease and himself running away from a typical adult way of life and a friend needing someone to sublease his room. I’ve actually told this story so many times since moving out here that I am not going to tell it again. Sorry, I’ll keep this one story private for now. I just think you should know that Lyme’s Disease is an illness that not many people have an accurate perception of and she is still fighting the severity of it. To find out more visit The Lyme Disease Association.

Thom, Nora and Jamie all attended the University of Washington. They are even alumni. Super.

We have now all come together on behalf of the World Bank. We play music in hopes of networking.

KEXP: How does Nora feel about being the only girl in the band? I see you have a tour coming up and traveling in a van with a bunch of stinky dudes can’t be easy. How does she do it?

Phil: Nora isn’t the only girl. We are all girls. We are actually The Runaways trapped inside unattractive flesh capsules. It’s tragic. We’d get more press if people knew how attractive we really were. Besides even if we were dudes, did you know our upcoming tour is actually sponsored by Axe Body Wash? That means we totally smell good. We are actually contractually obligated to use the body wash (water optional) every 1.5 hours.

KEXP: What is your favorite song to play live and what makes it so?

Phil: “Reflecting God” by Marilyn Manson but we never play it. One of these days we’re going to bust it out and nobody is going to know what the hell is going on. They’ll probably confuse it for Bright Eyes and that’s a major bummer because we’re way too hip to play a Bright Eyes song. We also do a mean cover of “The Boys are Back in Town” by Thin Lizzy, but not many folks have heard it. That’s because we don’t have many fans. You could also question the fact whether or not we write “songs”. We rock other tunes too... “Common People” by Pulp...”Hollowpoint and Whiskey” by Planes Mistaken for Stars. Maybe we should become a cover band? I think we’re all really into butchering other people’s songs.

KEXP: What is “Step to the Sea” about or what was your original inspiration for this song?

Phil: That song is actually inspired by Madonna’s “Cherish” music video. Jamie always thought it was kind of unfair for the mermaid in the video not to be able to leave any footprints along the shore... just awkward fin marks. That’s not romantic. Step to the Sea is about wanting to leave your mark... that and being a douche bag who constantly fucks up their love-life. So the song is about secret mermaid tracks, mermaid hunters and sucking at love... and the overall hotness of Madonna way back in the day.

But isn’t that the beauty of songs? It doesn’t matter what artists say they mean, it’s always going to mean something different to the listener. When I think about “Step to the Sea”, I think about Max Weinberg and Janet Weiss. However that’s only because I’m totally cheesing it on drums and worshipping at their altars. I actually want Max Weinberg to join this band, I’ll just do public relations when he takes my place.

But I think that Thom and Jaime (and Nora on the newer jams) do an excellent job of painting visuals with their lyrics and the subject matter is pretty amazing. Give them an obscure newspaper clipping about some personal story and they can come up with most amazing stuff. But then you have not-so-obscure stories that are told on our album. “Lisa Marie” is named after/about that crazy astronaut lady and her love triangle. Remember all the crazy props she had? Google it, you know what I’m talking about. Lots of songs about space and forgotten public figures. Weird animal planet voyages. You know... stuff.

I don’t know. We’re a lighthearted bunch. We want folks to enjoy our 3-minute tunes. I don’t think there is anything revolutionary about it. We practice in the basement, next to the garage, in a house... you know... the typical boring stuff. Sometimes we do bad interviews. Sometimes we play shows. Sometimes we kill Bald Eagles. Hopefully we play a lot more shows so we can stop decimating the population of our nation’s bird. It’s all for publicity. Like I said earlier, that whole inner The Runaways thing is really stifling our potential.

But lately people have been taking a chance on us lately and we appreciate that. We think it’s cool. We think it has something to do with Obama. Just think about it....

Obama reminds people of Abe Lincoln. It must be because he’s tall. Obama isn’t as tall as Lincoln but with that excellent posture of his, it sure seems like it!

Abe Lincoln reminds people of the civil war.

The civil war reminds people of Ironclads.

People are all “Obama this, Obama that”. But do you know who is really making a comeback? Ronald Reagan. He got mentioned every 34th word during the latter stages of the Presidential election. Everybody still invokes his name. I pick his holy ghostliness to win the 2012 election. But then you have that whole Mayan doomsday date thing…so I don’t know if his poltergeist actually gets inaugurated.

We draw inspiration from all over the place. Thom, Jamie and Nora all really love Lagwagon and I’m not sure why. But then again the same could be said for my love for Toto. All of us listen to all sorts of shit though I might be the only one with hip hop mix tapes in my ipod a regular basis. We have common ground on so many musical/cultural/personal levels that it really doesn’t matter. We’re all insanely goofy. I think that’s the most important element of the band.

Well, that goofiness seems to be working for The Ironclads. They have been garnering quite a buzz around town especially with fans of The Whoremoans and The Hands (our new favorite band name is The WhoreHands) who had quite a “hand” in The Ironclad’s album. Various members of each band contributed musically or behind the scenes to Space Between Maps and have helped ease the Ironclads into the local music scene by playing various shows with them. But as all chicks must leave the nest at some point, The Ironclads are embarking on their own adventure with a west coast tour starting today in Eugene before returning triumphantly to the homeland on May 1st where they play the Tea Cozies’ CD release party at the High Dive. Keep your eyes on their MySpace page for more dates and info.

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