Interview

Nick Lotz
 
When people think Kent, OH, they think of two things: First, the National Guard mercilessly slaughtering innocent protesters, and second, great music. Drunken Sunday is of the latter variety (thank God).

Their music is a freakishly awesome mixture of jam band groovy funk and hip hop vocals with an Alice in Chains-esque sound. My personal favorite song off their album was "Break Away," but you can decide for yourself, as the whole album can be found here.

Also, they’re opening for Ekoostik Hookah at The Outpost in Kent, OH this Friday (tickets can be purchased here). If you have a love for music, this show cannot be missed.

I had the chance to drunkenly meet up with the equally drunken members of Drunken Sunday last Thursday at the Kent Stage, and interviewed their frontman, Joel Covender, along with their hand percussionist Jessie Fetty, and their bassist Brian Raglo (who remained quiet, as a good bassist should).
 
Joel Covender (Guitar and Vocals)
Cory Riley (Drums)
Ricky Hlavaty (Guitar / backing vocals)
Ted Younessi (Keyboard)
Brian Raglo (Bass)
Jesse Fetty (Hand percussion)
Ben Brown (Guitar / backing vocals)
 
What are your greatest influences?
 
JOEL: My favorite band is Alice In Chains and I love Bill Withers, Jimi Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix and David Gilmore were my first favorite guitar players, when I started really studying their stuff. Later on, with my career with the band, I started listening to Alice In Chains and trying to emulate that vocally-fuck, I'm not ready for this.
 
What was that quote you gave earlier?
 
JOEL: (Our band) is like if Alice In Chains and James Brown had a baby.
 
Wasn't Eddie Vedder in there somewhere?
 
JOEL: He was the stepdad.
 
Who causes the most trouble in the band?
 
JOEL: What kind of trouble?
 
Beautiful trouble?
 
JOEL: Define that.
 
I guess it would mean who causes the most chaos.
 
JOEL: Ricky causes the most chaos.
 
JESSIE: Yeah, I'm going with Ricky.
 
JOEL: Yeah.
 
JOHN: Definitely Ricky.
 
JOEL:  He's probably the reason we'll never play with Primus.
 
(Despite my bumbling, Joel tells this awesome story)
 
JOEL: One time Primus was playing here at the Kent Stage and me and Ricky were working security and Ricky tried throwing one of our demos on the stage. The band was whatever about it but one of the stage crew was not cool about it at the end of the night and was talking about throwing it away. Ricky got pissed, ran up on the stage to go get our demo back and the owner was chasing him out like "Get the fuck out of here, you'll never come to our stage again!"
 
Our manager had to smooth it back over. At the end of the night Les Claypool's bus was outside and Ricky was pounding on the side of the fucking bus, and while somebody walked (sic) onto the bus he fucking shoved our demo into their hand "take this onto the bus!"
 
That's some very aggressive promoting.
 
JOEL: I wasn't a huge fan of it. But, I bet Les Claypool will never forget it.
 
JESSIE: Maybe.
 
JOEL: I bet if we got on the show at the quarry with him this summer, he'd be like "Drunken Sunday! I've fucking heard that name somewhere!"
 
I wanted to talk to you a little bit about your vision problems.
 
JOEL: Yeah, I have retinitis pigmentosa which is a hereditary disease that causes me to lose my vision slowly. When I was young it starts with losing my night vision and now I have no peripheral vision left, so I have only central vision and at night I can't see at all. I've just started using my sight cane and everything like that and trying to get acclimated to it. One of the songs on our next album that's coming out this summer is called "Retinitis Pigmentosa." I wrote it when I was 16, when I first started dealing with the inevitability of going blind.
 
That must be difficult to deal with. How does that work for you, feeling out your audience and whatnot?
 
I'm sure it might be more difficult than people that can see the audience, but once we stop playing, I can hear them and I feel it.
 
To Jessie: How do you guys feel about the vision thing?
 
BRIAN: Jessie is the biggest help.
 
JESSIE: I'm always the lead guy. He's always grabbing my shoulder at night time...that or just giving him a heads up, "Joel, there's a row of pedals in front of you." He steps on them! "Oh! They were right in front of you man." "I didn't think they were that close!" "Well, why was I warning you then!"
 
Do you feel like musicians (i.e Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles) that are blind, do you feel like being blind as a musician kind of helps you as a musician in some ways?
 
JOEL: I feel like, there's one misconception in that people feel like when you lose one sense your other senses become stronger, but what really happens is your other senses become primary. Most people, their vision is  their primary sense, how they get around and how they perceive everything. For somebody who can't use their vision as their primary sense they have to focus more on their hearing.
 
JESSIE: More like strengthening your attention rather than strengthening your senses.
 
JOEL: I feel like it helps in that I can listen to things in a way that people that rely on their vision as a primary sense probably wouldn't think to listen to in that way.
 
Jessie is wearing a Bernie Sanders shirt. Does your band as a whole support the Bernie Sanders campaign?
 
SOME GUY: I tell yah, he's the most solid guy I know.
 
Are you in the band?
 
SOME GUY: No.
 
<Some guy goes on to wax poetic about how awesome Joel is>
 
Last question, boxers or briefs or tighty whities?
 
JOEL: Naked.
 
Ha! I'll leave that out.
 
JOEL: Nah. Naked works.