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Jimmie's Chicken Shack -Grade "A" Cock Rock

Jimmie's Chicken Shack -Grade "A" Cock Rock Brought to you by: guitar.com

To give you some idea how busy Jimmie's Chicken Shack have been these days, well, just know that they had to squeeze their phone interview with Guitar.com between a walk from a taping at MTV to a meeting at their record company's offices a few blocks away. It seems their latest album, Bring Your Own Stereo, has gotten abundant attention now that modern rock radio has taken a shine to the single, "Do Right," about a guy's bitchy girlfriend who can't seem to find anything nice to say about him. But, unlike so many of today's new alt-rock albums, Bring Your Own Stereo isn't simply about a song. The band has learned over its last few releases how to write and play really excellent, guitar-powered stuff. Guitarist/songwriter Jimi Haha and second guitarist Double D lead the band on a roughshod ride o'er choppy rock terrain, from the rumblingly melodic "Silence Again" to the Smiths-gone-punk of "Face It," and the Ben Folds-ish pop of "Do Right."

Throughout the record, Haha and Double never rely on any one idiom to power their songs. Rather, they dabble in a spectrum of expression, from reggae, ska, punk, hard rock, to acoustic pop without ever stooping to clich or cheap, in-joke humor. In fact, Haha's got a serious streak and a knack for coming up with sober, memorable lines like, "Everything I knew was just a lie" ("Let's Get Flat") and "Just tell your ma to stop calling me trash!" ("Trash").

On their way up, the hard-working Baltimore-area band has built a following brick by brick, zig-zagging around the country preaching to the skeptical, the what-can-you-do-for-me? crowd who don't think much about the band other than why they picked such an oddball name. Along that ragged road, though, the Shack has learned how to make those impossible gigs worthwhile, and what it takes to turn tough audiences on. A valuable lesson, for sure, and one that's resulted in, among many other things, conducting big-time interviews from a cell phone on a Manhattan sidewalk.

Guitar.com: So what were you guys up to at MTV?

Double D: We had to do a taping of one of our songs. But it's really hard to fake playing especially when you have a bunch of people pretending that they're rockin' us and we're rockin' them. At least they made us look like we were more handsome than we are in real life!

Guitar.com: How do you feel about the band, now that you seem to have turned a corner?

Jimi Haha: Things are good, really good right now. I just want to keep playing, because it seems that the more we do, the more they get turned onto the music. Maybe we'll even get to make another record!

Guitar.com: When do you think the transition for you really occurred?

Jimi: It seems like in the past two or three months we've been able to tell from show to show that we're really getting tighter and tighter. We're definitely trying our best to smooth things out. By this time next year we'll be playing these songs with our eyes closed.

Guitar.com: When did you know guitar was your calling?

Jimi: I've known since I was, like, 12, when I saw my cousin get his first electric. I thought it was amazing. Back then I was listening to the Beatles and the Beach Boys, stuff like that. I never had much patience for lessons, but I had to keep myself interested and did so by listening to Black Sabbath records. Reading music to me is like looking at a bunch of lines and squares. I realized if I learned a lot of other people's songs it would never end up sounding like me. After you figure out a few AC/DC songs it's time to start writing your own songs. That's what I say.

Guitar.com: D, Tell us about how you got started playing guitar?

Double D: I started on acoustic when I was 14. My dad got me an electric shortly after that. At first I was into everyone from songwriters like Elton John to Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, and everyone in between. Then once I got to college I found some bands I really liked. That's when I met Jimi and he stole me from my comfortable life.

Guitar.com: When you were growing up, did you spend a lot of time playing?

Double D: I'd buy the mags and find the transcriptions. Someone helped me find an A chord and I was off after that. I'd hang out in my bedroom and just teach myself shit. Truthfully, I was the biggest dork. I'd have my homework done by 3 p.m., like right after school, so I could play guitar 'til midnight. I was really dedicated, especially because I was kind of a late bloomer. I had to do something fast.

Guitar.com: Do you remember when you decided to dedicate yourself to the guitar?

Double D: It's funny. I've found that life changes you more than you change yourself. I came home from college one day, and both my parents were there. My dad goes, "Are you ever gonna get a real job?" And my mom told him, "Honey, he's never gonna wear a suit, he's never gonna get a job, he'll never be what you want him to be, so just accept him for what he is." And from that moment on, that was like my green light to go after playing music for a living.

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