Give ’em the old one-two: blues-rock trio draw inspiration from bad equipment, naked idols

by Ryan Snyder

The Old One-Two will debut their new album at the Blind Tiger this Friday with Red Snapper and Israel Darling.

Though their Thursday night gig at Club Artistika was just another sizzler in front of the hometown crowd, Chadd Myers and Hawke Kelley still managed to get a taste of life on the road. Opening for guitar fiend Bob Log III, the respective drummer and vocalist for burgeoning Greensboro blues-rock trio the Old One-Two got more than a casual glimpse at the cannonball suit and flight helmet-clad bluesman. “He was just standing there, butt-ass naked,” said Myers. “Just in the hallway, not even in a room or anything.”

They had already gotten more of a glimpse at the enigmatic one-man band than most when Log was helmetless backstage for hours before the show. But when Log walked off stage while still playing to end his set well past midnight, they headed backstage with their gear barely 10 seconds later to find Log had already doffed his suit and was standing in the urine-reeking stairwell in the buff. Chalk it up to the stony bravado acquired from a life on the road, though, the band agreed he was one of the coolest musicians they’d ever met, but Log also gave them insight that goes beyond what lies underneath his costume. The man who knows a thing or two about writing a killer riff gave some serious props to the Old One-Two’s guitarist Nathan Myers, younger brother to drummer Chadd.

“That one song you played, I don’t know which one it was, but it was a $20 million riff. It was like bum bum dada dadada dada bum dadadada da bum,” Log told him, most likely in reference to “Blind and Brokedown,” a track off of their forthcoming debut album Soulful and Small.

There’s a clear connection to be made between the guitar and drums fusion of the Old One-Two and the Black Keys, from whom the band readily claims their unmistakable influence. Their inspiration goes much deeper than that, however. In particular, it comes from the old blues recordings that Nathan says he constantly seeks out to emulate on his Japanese knockoff of a National, probably a Teisco though he’s not sure, and Kelley’s love for old country balladry. Another set of nearer influences comes from local bands Red Snapper and Israel Darling, with whom the Old One-Two grew up with in their native Hickory and will come on in support of for the band’s CD release party on Friday at the Blind Tiger.

The album, recorded in Nathan’s basement over the course of two days, is a solid reason for why that kind of praise is being heaped onto the young trio from all angles. It’s a collection of gritty, bluesy rockers that chews up and spits out their rootsy influences, driven in equal parts by the knockout combo of the Myers Brothers and singer Kelley. The album also exhibits the band’s keen melodic sensibilities, which drummer Myser says are a carryover from their days as Felons Rosenburg, a time in which he says they played “prettier music” before simply deciding to stop and go in an entirely different direction one day.

“Some of the stuff we had was pretty good, but it wasn’t a great live show. It’s hard to get a high energy set out of that,” said Myers. “We love the live performance and it would be hard to get up to snuff with that band.”

And it’s their live show where the Old One-Two stands out. The band’s bass-less dynamic allows for much greater improvisational flexibility, a hallmark of their guitar-driven shows and the chemistry between the Myers brothers. While the pair takes cues from one another, singer Kelley is seated firmly guitar-left hollering into an old harmonica microphone, just one of the many relics of equipment that they expect to fail unexpectedly on any given night.

“We have a lot of technical difficulties onstage and are forced to improvise. We’ve had our amps just stop functioning to where to had to buy some new equipment,” said guitarist Myers. “Sometimes Chad’s drums fall apart. Since we use a harmonica microphone for Hawke, there’s always some kind of issues with the vocals. None of the sound people know what to do with it.”

Blowing amps and bashing their instruments into submission? Sounds like the Old One-Two.