'A Name To Stick With!'
Ever wonder how cool, innovative bands get their totally off the wall names? Devin Swanson, Tefflon's lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist - as well as playing the rubber ducky on one track - claims it goes all the way back to his upbringing in South Carolina!
Alicia Ruggiero, Tefflon's resident classically trained violinist and co-architect of the band's fascinating indie college rock meets classical vibe, remembers playing an open mic gig in their adopted hometown of San Diego and needing to come up with a name quickly. “Devin threw it out there and, ironically, the name stuck around… as did the crowd.”
With banner defined, Devin, Alicia, veteran San Diego drummer Brian “Nucci” Cantrell and Tefflon's newest member, upright bassist Tony Keil, are hoping one thing sticks and even grows - the incredible buzz the band's been getting since debuting on the club scene in 2005.
In March, Tefflon held its big album release party at Blind Melon's in Pacific Beach, one of the many hotspots they play, which include The Tiki Bar, O'Connell's, Cane's and Lestat's. Last year, they performed for over 3,000 fans at Baja Bash, a South of the Border music festival near Ensenada.
The Morning Way, which includes seven original vocal tracks and three fully instrumental, violin-driven tunes (the hypnotic title track, the Latin flavored “Low On The Highs” and the soap opera-themed “Santa Barbara”), was co-produced and engineered by multi-San Diego Music Award winner Jeff Berkley and Mastered by two time Grammy Award winner Gavin Lurssen, best known for his work on the 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Soundtrack.
Chatting recently with Devin, Alicia and Tony, and noting that Devin gets to play his very own 'rubber duck' on one of these new tracks, I first wondered if they had perhaps ran out of instruments at one point?! Devin - “Well, I really was just trying to experiment a little. It’s used in our instrumental tune ‘Santa Barbara’ and so far has gotten a response from everyone who’s listened to it.”
Alicia - “Rubber ducky, you’re the one!”
Devin - “Perfect example!”
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying your new 'The Morning Way' CD, how would you yourself describe your sound and what they are to expect? Alicia - “We use the phrase ‘indie/college rock meets classical violin.’ Everyone in the band is very musically educated so we shy away from the three chord, 4/4 stuff and go big with lines like ‘the deeper the breath, the deeper the tar in my lungs.’”
Your album title 'The Morning Way' is an interesting choice, but perhaps it originates from a more personal standpoint for you? Devin - “We like the ambiguity of the title. The album’s about waking up as well as coping with your surroundings so in that sense it is personal.”
Tony - “It’s also a street in San Diego that we’ve all hung out on and made some memories.”
And just where does the band name originate anyway and just what else could it so easily have been called? Devin - “It was a nickname of mine in high school and, ironically, has stuck around.”
Alicia - “I was pushing for some sort of symbol or a word with ‘The’ in front of it. Fortunately, they still let me in the band.”
If there was one track on 'The Morning Way' that truly encapsulated Tefflon at their musical and lyrical finest, which one would it be? Tony - “That would be ‘Ludes.’ It’s got Alicia doing a beautiful violin part over the line ‘take another Quaalude and she’ll love me.’ It’s worth a listen to say the least.”
Noting that your new CD features seven original vocal tracks and three fully instrumental, violin-driven tunes, I'm wondering if mixing the two genres of music was ever considered a musical risk? Devin - “Trying to express yourself to people through music is a risk in itself. The instrumentals all came very naturally to us and Alicia really does some fantastic string work on all of them.”
Tony - “I think the risk is in not playing them at all.”
So, Tefflon began with Devin originally meeting Alicia in Boston, before they both migrated separately to San Diego, and then ran into each other in Ocean Beach ... coincidence or fate?! Alicia - “Fate all the way, no doubt about it!"
Please tell us more about the interesting - and rather provocative-looking - front cover art for the new CD!! Just what is going on?! Tony - “The cover art is of a guy yelling at an armadillo. A lot of people think he’s trying to take a bite out of the armadillo but we don’t endorse that kind of behavior.”
Devin - “Yelling at an armadillo is OK though.”
Just for fun, and taking the titles of a few of your album tracks, please let us know:
'Low On The Highs' - OK, what has been your own personal high in the past five years? Tony - “Quitting Guitar Trader.”
Alicia - “Quitting waitressing.”
Devin - “Quilting.”
'A Long Drive' - If you could take a long drive anywhere where would you go ... and who would you take?! Devin - “I’m a southern boy by birth and love the Appalachian mountains… anywhere on the Blue Ridge parkway. Band members are more than welcome as long as they behave and don’t block the view!”
'Drunk Her To Bed' - When was the last time you got so drunk that managing to hit your bed at the end of the night was a luxury beyond all luxuries?! Alicia - "Sooner than I’d like to admit. My charitable cause for the next couple years is to warn people about the dangers of combining booze and Ambien... things happen that no sane person would do.”
What '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! Devin - “Pleasure Principle by Janet Jackson. I love that tune.”
Tony - “It’s the principle of pleasure.”
Lastly, I like Penguins ... do you?! Tony - “Armadillo’s are cuter and less likely to be documented by French filmmakers.”
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Tefflon's new CD, just answer this easy question: Devin originally met Alicia in Boston when she was the girlfriend of his freshman year roommate at Boston University and she was a music major at which college?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great new and AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before August 1st with your answer and the subject title 'TEFFLON SIGNED CDs' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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