Hey guys! I had the chance to talk to Sean with examiner.com yesterday and here is our interview!
Interview with Brokedown Cadillac, 7/28/09
July 28, 9:34 PM
Today, July 28, 2009, you’re going to hear from country band Brokedown Cadillac. This country band released their debut album, “Somewhere In America” in March. They had five songs in the movie “Race to Witch Mountain,” and are performing extensively in the Los Angeles Area. They are also performing September 10 at MacArthur Park as part of their summer concert series.
Sean Arenas: My first question for you today, Corri, is how long has your band been together?
Corri English: Well my partner Randy and I do all the songwriting. We’ve been together for a few years now. We started out playing as an acoustic duo, playing cover songs. We had a residency gig at a club in the valley, in LA. We were performing together for a little while and decided to start writing some music, and that was a couple of years ago. We put the whole band together about a year and a half ago now. That’s when we started playing with the whole band, until then it was just a duo.
SA: That sounds cool, how did you come up with the name for your band?
CE: Well, it was really hard. We looked down our song list for inspiration, and Randy had written a song called Brokedown Cadillac that had been inspired by … sort of what I did. I’m from Atlanta. I was born and raised there, and I kind of threw everything in the back of a car. I had like a guitar and some clothes and not much else and didn’t have a place to live, and looking back, I’m like, wow, what was I thinking? But I just kind of threw all my stuff in the car and took off for the West coast, and thematically that fits with our band; following your dreams, and feeling good, and having fun, and all of that, so we toyed with the idea. I think the song kind of makes sense, the right feel, we kind of like the name, so we settled on Brokedown Cadillac.
SA: Cool, so Brokedown doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing, it’s your sign of moving forward and going on with things.
CE: Yeah, in the song, Brokedown Cadillac, we’re talking about how her dad wants her to take the Ford because it runs better, but she likes the pink leather in the Cadillac. So the brokedown thing is more fun, really, and it’s like she’s on the side of the road but she doesn’t care, she’s going to keep going, she’s going to find a way to go out and follow her dreams anyway, so that was the inspiration behind the song.
SA: What are your musical influences?
CE: Wow, that is a big one for me. My dad is a musician, and so from the time I was a baby, I was travelling with his band. They were primarily a cover band who did original music as well. They did a lot like the Beatles and the Everly Brothers and Bruce Springsteen and all that, but I’m also from Georgia so I also grew up listening to Shania Twain, and the Dixie Chicks; they’re two of my favorite artists. I like all music, but in terms of country, Randy’s favorite band of all time is the Eagles, and that’s one of my favorites of all time too. And it’s interesting cuz the Eagles have a lot of country going on, and they’re not really considered a country band, even though now they are edging more towards that way, but with the country that we do, it’s got a lot of that flavor in there.
SA: Yeah, I think they’re kind of rock/country, and I can hear some rock in your country as well.
CE: Exactly, and it seems like a lot of the new country music is going that way, it’s sort of rock/country.
SA: Right, it catches fans of both genres.
CE: Yeah, definitely.
SA: So, you say you’re from Atlanta, and Randy is from Northern California, so where is the band from?
CE: Well, I guess the band was born in Los Angeles. I’ve been out in LA for the past 6 years, and that’s where I met Randy, and we started playing together. He had been in some other bands in the past, and kind of reached out to some amazing players that he’s worked with in the past, and pulled a great group together.
SA: So you guys are based out of Los Angeles or Nashville right now?
CE: That’s kind of interesting, we’re in transition at the moment, we’ve been based out of Los Angeles, and now just Randy and I are in Nashville for the summer, setting up a homebase here right now, and we’re going to try as much as we can, depending on what happens we’d like to get our whole band out here. We’re really looking to be touring in the south east soon, so probably the next step would be to get the whole band on the road, and be able to actually move them out to Nashville with us, but for now I’m completely happy going back and forth. I’m still working television and film in Los Angeles, so it kind of works out, we’ll see how much time I spend in each city, but there’s so much going on in Nashville in terms of country music that I’m trying to spend a lot of time here right now.
SA: Yeah, I figure a country band would want to live closer to where the music’s heart is.
CE: Definitely, definitely.
SA: So were you in a band before this, or just acting?
CE: I was just acting, but I grew up singing, and I grew up doing all kinds of theatre, musical theatre, and I’ve always been a singer, but this is really my first band. Since I moved to Los Angeles I’ve been really lucky to work consistently in television and film, and there’s been some crazy union issues which I’m sure you know about. So I’ve been writing music with Randy and when the writer’s strike happened with the writer’s union, it was kind of a forced vacation for actors, and we really couldn’t do anything, so we took that time to actually go and record a demo and right about the time the strike was ending, that demo got into the hands of Andy Fickman who directed Race to Witch Mountain, and he loved the music, had us write some stuff for the movie, and actually put us in a scene in the movie. From there some things really started happening for us, it’s opened a lot of doors for us with the band.
SA: You actually answered a future question I was going to ask, which was how you got so much of your music in that movie. It sounds like the writer’s strike actually created an opportunity for you. Just like the economic downturn right now is forcing people out of work, and people have to go into business for themselves or try something new, it sounded like this gave you an opportunity for something new.
CE: Yeah, it did, it was all really lucky timing. It was great to have a little bit of time off. Usually between auditioning and working on films and television, I had been too busy to do anything else, but I had always wanted to take some time to pursue my music career. I wasn’t sure when that was going to happen. This was a perfect opening. Andy Fickman was an acquaintance of mine through my television and film career, and he had come up to see Randy and me play in our acoustic duo gig that I told you about, and asked if we had a demo, and we had it because of the writer’s strike. I don’t think we would have had it otherwise. So we gave it to him, then we got a call from him a couple of weeks later asking if we had a certain type of song, and we said no, but we’d love to write one for you, and he said sure, have at it. We literally played it live for him a week later. We didn’t know exactly what he was planning, and he says I’d love for you guys to be part of my movie. I’d love to use five of your songs, throughout this sequence, and we were just over the moon. We were really starting to test the waters with our original music, and he was our biggest cheerleader, and really played a big part in getting us up on our feet and really moving forward.
SA: Really inspirational story.
CE: Yeah, pretty cool.
SA: What’s your favorite venue to play at?
CE: I think my favorite venue in LA is Molly Malone’s, it’s like an Irish pub. Half of it’s a bar, and then there’s a big music venue on the other half. It’s not a huge place, but it’s a really fun vibe and all of our fans in LA seem to really love that place. It’s where we have the most fun, for whatever reason, so that’s my favorite. Every time we’ve played there, we’ve had a great time, and to me that’s really what it’s about.
SA: That sounds like the place I’m going to check you out when you play there next.
CE: Awesome, awesome, I would love it.
SA: A big trouble for startup bands is that venues always want you to play for free. How did your band get past that stage? I figure in your case, having your music in a movie helped open some of those doors. Did you play for free for a long time?
CE: Well, it’s interesting, a lot of the venues in LA, unless you are a touring band, like on a label, a lot of bands actually have to pay to play. It’s too bad, it’s interesting being here in Nashville where they actually pay you to play, it’s interesting. But we got around doing that by having a little clout with this stuff going on, but what we did have to do in terms of paying our dues is we had to play … you know it’s easier to get the fans out on the weekends, especially Saturday night, no one has to work the next day, and you kind of have to play a Tuesday night to show them that you can fill up the room. From there we’ve been really lucky. Usually the way we play at the local clubs, it’s a percentage at the door. The contracted paid shows are more like festivals and things like that. And privately funded events, even like non-profit organizations, where you’re contracted for a fee, and most of the clubs … I mean, obviously we’re not playing the Staples Center and places like that, mostly it’s small intimate joints and for the most part the places that have country music, it’s all based on how many people you get there. So if you can sell the place out, you’re OK.
SA: My final question for you is, what’s next for your band?
CE: Right now, a big part of being here in Nashville is really, we’re a little backwards, the way we did it. Most country bands would come to the south and start playing grassroots style for the people, and getting a fanbase and a buzz going and getting some licensing and placements and whatnot. Because it’s been out in LA and in the TV and film community, we’ve had some of the placements happen, and now we want to come back to the south and play for where there’s so many country fans. We’re in the early stages of planning a southeastern tour right now that we hope is going to happen by the late Fall, which is very exciting for me because I’m from the south, and playing Atlanta man, that’s going to be fun. The economy has made everything hard right now. Things are really slow in the acting industry, and it’s the same in the music industry. Labels aren’t signing people like they used to, they’re dropping people left and right, so what we’d rather do is do as much as an indy band as we can. I think a lot of bands are doing that right now. By the time we’re ready to sign on with a big label we want our fans to be out there already and to hold on to our creative vision as much as we can. We’re pacing it kind of slow and steady, because I have so many musician friends, whether it’s a publishing deal or a big label deal, that have taken some kind of deal just to take a deal, and then it’s not the right one, and if it’s not the right one, you can end up in huge debt for an album, or not making any money because the label owns everything, so we’re kind of taking baby steps in terms of the business side of it and really just getting in front of our fans as much as we can. We play as many shows as we can, we’re writing music all the time.
SA: So you’re from the South, then you moved to California and you wrote this album while you lived in California. But now you’re moving back to the south, do you think your music is going to change at all?
CE: You know, it’s possible, right now we’re working with a bunch of great songwriters in Nashville, and whenever you get in the room with someone else, it always changes the song a bit. I think always is changing based on what’s happening in your life, but we will always stay true to what we were talking about earlier, this country/rock thing, because this is where our hearts lie. Randy grew up in California but his whole family was from Oklahoma, so he grew up on country music. He also played in rock bands for many years, so he has a rock style that comes through in his writing, and that’s what I gravitate towards as well. So, we always want to stay true to the country side of it with the rock mix. There’s a lot of pop country going on right now. We don’t want to go so far that it’s not country music anymore, and I think that being in the South will help us do that. Being immersed in the southern hospitality and all of that. I guess I really didn’t really answer the question. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens, but we’ll always try to stay true to where our hearts lie in terms of what kind of music we play.
SA: The way you talk about it makes me want to move on down there.
CE: Oh man, you know, I had forgotten how great … not that LA isn’t great, I’ve met some amazing people … but people are so outgoing in terms of their friendliness in the south. You don’t walk by a group of people without them saying hello and asking how your day is going. Just in terms of natural artist community, everybody helps everybody and everyone is welcome with open arms, we’ve met so many people, made so many great friends in the short time that we’ve been here and it’s just awesome.
SA: Alright, that sounds great! We’ve been talking to Corri English of Brokedown Cadillac. Be sure to see them on September 10th at MacArthur Park, and thank you for your time.
CE: Thank you so much.
Author: Sean Arenas
Sean Arenas is an Examiner from Los Angeles. You can see Sean's articles on Sean's Home Page.