David Serby rocks
December 27, 2013
David Serby is best known for his Los Angeles colored roots music, which always includes plenty of tasty country elements. With his new band, The Latest Scam, however, Serby explores more of a rock & roll vibe. And naturally, music aficionados want to know why he’s made this stylistic change.
“When I was writing “Poor Man’s Poem” [Serby’s most recent full-length], that was a very specific, concentrated project,” Serby recalls. “All the songs had to go together and it was this historical thing; it was trying to look at the world of today through that prism. I had written “Poor Man’s Poem,” the title track, and I had gotten it into my head that that was the best song I was ever going to write in my life, and I would never even be able to finish this record because I couldn’t come up with anything that good. I think I wrote “Rumor of Our Own,” which is one of the more country songs on this record, and I might have written “Waiting out the Storm.” They were just sitting there, and when I was done with [the album] “Poor Man’s Poem,” I kind of went back and revisited those songs. I thought, ‘It might be kind of cool to do more of a rock & roll record.’ I had happened to be listening to a lot of Rockpile, and Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds at the time and so I said, ‘Let’s see if we can pull this off.’
The result is not just a fine rock & roll album but — rarity of rarities — an honest to goodness double-CD, too.
“I like the idea of doing a double-CD,” he explains, “because when I was a kid I loved records, and nobody does double anything anymore because you can fit so much content on one CD. Certainly, I could have put all those songs on one CD; it’s a little under an hour’s worth of material.” Some of Serby’s reasoning might also have more than a little to do with nostalgia, as well. “Some of my favorite records, that I have on CD, were initially released as double records, like “Exile On Main St.,” “London Calling,” or things like that.
The Nick Lowe connection to this project goes even deeper than its sound because the band’s name was inspired by a lyric to the Lowe song, “Half a Boy and Half a Man.” “I was looking for a phrase in a Nick Lowe or Rockpile or Dave Edmunds song that would be a good name for a band,” Serby explains. “I heard that and that name worked on that level, but also I thought that being a musician is a little bit half a boy and half a man. It is kind of a racket. You’ve figured out a way to get paid a little bit and have fun. It is a little bit of a scam. It also worked that I’m cluing people in that this is going to be different. It’s not going to be historical folk music like last time, or even honky-tonk. “
Serby is so consistently good that even when he has the nerve to call his group The Latest Scam, you don’t at all feel cheated in any way. Instead, he’s just having a little fun with his music and image. Think of this as an unexpected wrinkle in the ever-evolving tapestry that is David Serby’s continually expanding style.