Musician Sadler Vaden… can make slow songs dramatic, sad songs tragic and up-tempo songs romp. He seems to be enjoying himself at every turn; which means you will too!… As a journalist who’s a sucker for a great rock and roll ditty I realize that though he may not claim to be a cultural zeitgeist he has delivered music that can be easily considered an American songbook of sorts. He “cut his teeth” early in life with music. Every instrument came to him naturally. If it banged, strummed or got whacked, Sadler could play it! He has an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music and a work ethic that won’t quit. It twas’ America’s great rock and roll poet, Chuck Berry who sang about Johnnie B. Goode..“He could play his guitar like ringin’ a bell”. If ever more apparent than with the swagger of Vaden..
Chuck Berry Sadler Vaden
With the final tour of Lynyrd Skynrd underway and the untimely death of Tom Petty there has been left a gaping hole that Southern tinged rock could fit into… The likes of Jason and the Scorchers, the Kentucky Headhunters, the Georgia Satellites and Blackberry Smoke can possibly create some legacy for music that emanates below The Mason-Dixon line . Music that NASCAR fans can actually pick up on. Sadler’s lead song, “Monster” is about political dissonance; but with its bluesy “Keith Richards” two-string intro and his high-lonesome yodel he unmercifully fills a void in the genre and should help reconnect with Southern-rock lineage. Charlotte’s favorite son’s bare-bone debut single, “Monster” stands out in an era dominated by slick production and synthesizers commandeered with violent videos.
In a way, Sadler Vaden is a musician out of time…. it’s almost as if God played the ultimate cosmic joke and stuck him in the wrong decade. Yet over the course of his young life, losing both of his parents during his early teenage years, he’s stayed true to his ideals, upholding the sound, spirit and tradition of classic rock and roll birthed by the likes of Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Fats Domino, and the Everly Brothers ( I know I missed a shit-load). His musical acumen as a solo artist comes from being a former member of Drivin’ N’ Cryn’ and currently playing as a “hired- gun” with Grammy award winning artist, Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit. has made his career that much more special.
“Twang” is the truest sound of American rock and roll. Describing Sadler’s music merely as Americana is a major injustice. Perhaps its my L.A. attitude? It’s kinda’ like leaving money at the table in Las Vegas while on a winning streak. It’s sad, but that whole Americana thing is full of folks who spend more time on their outfits…their beards …. their tattoos…their P.R. and their networking then they do on their music. It’s just a comment on mediocrity! I get to see a whole lot of that sort of stuff in L.A. where image is 99% and you go on telling someone how their tunes sound like shit!
Rock Bands of L.A.com had a chance to ask Sadler some questions about music, growing up and politics…
Rock Bands of L.A.com: “Monster” is about American disenchantment… Will there be a video? Is the album going to be purely political? What can we expect with the album.. this being your third? How many instruments do you play?
Sadler Vaden:I think Monster can definitely be interpreted as being about American disenchantment but it can go a few different directions as well. I think that is whats magical about songwriting. Its being able to put something out there that means one thing to you but can mean something entirely different to someone else. I’m not currently in the process of considering a video for “Monster” but who knows maybe I can put something together for it! Right now I’m not making an album. I’m just putting singles out for the time being. Maybe at the end of this year, I can go in the studio and cut songs to be on another full length LP. I play a few different instruments, basic rock band necessities. Drums, bass, keys, etc. A mean tambourine!
Rock Bands of L.A.com: Your solo music is so different from Drivn’ n’ Cryin’ (Let’s Go Dancing is one my faves) and Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit. Do you find all of this is a test of your confidence? From you last album tracks “Greta”, “Amp” and “Cherry Blossom Wine” are so reflective…I think with your parents early death you’ve channeled your emotions so easily in your songs….It’s such a great talent while at the same time being a grave misgiving? This emotional balance took Tom Petty almost a lifetime to achieve?
S.V.:I find that I’ve soaked up so much from being around Kevn Kinney and Jason Isbell. They are two of my favorite songwriters and I just happen to know them and play for them. Thats been one of my life’s biggest blessings. I think if anything, its made me more confident as a writer because now I’m a lot better at the editing process. Losing my parents at an early age was obviously really hard. Its not something I want to always write about but with my last LP, I felt it was necessary because you have to move on and cope. When you write about it, you can heal.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: Do you plan to tour solo? Any plans of coming to Los Angeles? Have you ever gigged on the West Coast? What’s the music scene like in Charleston?
S.B.: No plans to tour solo as of right now. I’m only really able to play a few shows here and there. Maybe if Jason (Isbell) decides to take a short break, I’d definitely be open to hitting the road some. I’ll be coming to the west coast this September with the 400 Unit. I used to gig on the west coast with my old band LESLIE from Charleston, SC. The Charleston music scene is probably one of the best in the country right now. All the bands seemed to be very free and creative. I think towns like that breed great artists because there’s not a whole lot of music industry. As a result of that, the music seems to feel more natural and exciting.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: I really loathe when critics refer to music as “Americana”… it’s really a misnomer… especially your songs… You are somewhere between Marc Bolan and Eddie Cochran… I know that’s a lot of fuckin’ territory but you capture all music that is indigenous to America… blues, country and rock n’ roll.
S.V.: I appreciate that! I’ve always just told people I play Rock N Roll music. I’m here for the Rock N Roll. The attitude, the ideas, the look and the music. The Americana term has basically swallowed up Alt-Country and Rock N Roll music. Journalists like to call our band, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Country but its not. The Rolling Stones twanged it sometimes but no one labeled them a country band. I feel that most people have forgotten or don’t know how to apply the term Rock N Roll anymore as a genre. I can say that having the Americana genre has really given us, as a band, and me as a player a really good foundation. It enables us to continue combining folk, rock, blues and country and not get pigeonholed by one term. But its only Rock N Roll isn’t it?
I wanted to thank Sadler for his time and his earnest answers….. We love his music…