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Dead alive


Joshua Boydston January 12th, 2011

What do you get when you put four men from four decades in a folk-rock band? The Dead Armadillos.

The Dead Armadillos with Green Corn Revival
10 p.m. Wednesday
Belle Isle Restaurant & Brewing Company
50 Penn Place
www.belleislerestaurant.com
840-1911 

The Dead Armadillos began as a simple enough folk-rock outfit, but has gained all sorts of flavor with each move that it makes. It’s gone from stew to goulash, and is nothing if not unique.

“We have a strange mix here,” front man Nick Lyon said, laughing. “It’s an odd assortment … a motley crew of weirdness.”

Lyon first began writing what would become Dead Armadillos songs about four years ago and looked to flesh them out with a full band a year later.

“I always envisioned it being a full band,” he said. “I just wanted to hear how the music would sound as a full band.”

So he asked his brother Travis to join in. They had played together before — with styles ranging from screamo to traditional country, including a brief stint in The City and Skyway with their other brother, Mitch — but Nick was seeking to find a middle ground for his rather peculiar array of influences.

“My idea was just to be original,” he said. “I love Ryan Adams, I’m a big punk fan and my favorite singer of all time is Garth Brooks. It’s different, but all these influences come in, and I think we do a good job of balancing it out.”

On Craigslist, the pair found drummer Mark Hine, a 40-year-old veteran punk rocker who had toured the world in years prior. They played for a good year before adding practiced lead guitarist Dave Sharo, 55, to the mix. The now-set lineup includes two teachers, a tile layer and a lawyer whose birth years range from the ’50s to the ’80s. It’s different, but it works.

“It goes 27, 33, 40 and 55. My dad is 56, and I can’t imagine being in a band with my dad,” Nick Lyon said with a laugh. “But we click, so who cares? Yeah, we look like old guys playing in The Conservatory, but we are good at what we do. Visually, we look a little odd, but the thing I’ve learned in life is that looks aren’t everything. Here, it’s the listening that’s the important part.”

The mix — of both backgrounds and tastes — have helped the Armadillos cook up a tasty concoction of chickenfried cowpunk recalling Lucero or Drive- By Truckers and landed the band spots opening up for The Box Elders and Joe Jack Talcum of The Dead Milkmen.

Hooking up with like-minded local bands like Green Corn Revival and O Fidelis has helped not only find new fans, but inspire them as well.

“I saw O Fidelis with Ali Harter and The Uglysuit — two really good local bands — but their set sort of stuck with me for days,” Lyon said. “I just couldn’t quit thinking about it, and that’s the impression I want to try and leave on somebody.”

Playing tonight at Belle Isle Brewery, The Dead Armadillos look to expand beyond the metro area, eyeing dates in Tulsa and Kansas, as well as record a full-length album sometime in the coming year, all while spreading the group’s name to new listeners.

A high school English teacher, Lyon has tried to do so at school. It’s hard to compete with Justin Bieber, but he seems to be reaching a few of the kids.

“You’ve got a lot of different tastes in the classroom. Our music has a country sound to it and some of the kids are like, ‘What is this?’ But some of them like it. I have seen some Dead Armadillos stickers popping up on lockers, and I’m not the one telling them to do it.”

 
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