By Geoff Slade
Not too long ago, Emily Robb recruited two work friends and her sister (all three were first-time musicians) and formed Louie Louie. Their sound owes plenty to classic soul and garage rock bands of the ’60s, but the organ and layered production give the music an otherworldly delicacy that is something different. And those harmonies!
We caught up with Robb just before Louie Louie started the current tour that will bring them to Atlanta on Tuesday. (Click here for ticket info)
ATLRetro: Thanks for taking the time to chat with ATLRetro. It looks like Louie Louie just started a pretty serious East Coast tour. Are you on the road a lot?
Emily Robb: We haven’t done any significant touring for over a year, but we’ll be on the road a little this spring and probably summer.
Where are you originally from? Where’s home now?
My sister Jenna [drummer] and I are both originally from an island in Maine. Leslie [organist] is from Arizona and Emily E (bassist) is from outside of Philadelphia. We currently live within a few blocks of each other in Philly.
How long have you been playing music? What did you do before? Still have a day job?
When I was around 21, I started teaching myself guitar. My first experience being in a band – that wasn’t my grade school band – was in Montreal. Later I played in a band called Lantern for quite a while, as well as Myrrias which I’m currently still in. I wouldn’t call it a day job, but yes, I have to work other jobs still. I try to be very part-time at several different jobs so that it’s not difficult to take time off for touring.
I always wanted to form my own band, so about three years ago I asked my fellow waitresses and my sister if they wanted to start something with me. Originally I wanted lots of harmonies which is why I was excited to start the band with these women.
I know some folks get testy when asked how they settled upon a band’s name. I hope you are not one of them. I’d assume it comes from The Kingsman song (or maybe the Hot Chocolate song), but what do I know? Only that it is hard to Google you. So, why is your band named “Louie Louie”?
Yeah ,we’ve gotten many complaints about how difficult it is to Google us. I thought Richard Berry‘s song “Louie Louie“ was the perfect song – incredibly simple, three chords, the progression doesn’t even change between verse and chorus, it’s very open so you can do anything with it, and it’s not at all boring even though it’s repetitive. Also I liked the plurality of the name and the fact that it’s not gender-specific.
I take it you don’t mind the comparisons to the classic all-female groups of the ’60s, as that is among the best pop music ever recorded. Are there any in particular you consider your favorites?
That’s not a fair question! Recording/production-wise, I take a lot from both.
Who are some influences that may be less obvious?
I love Yoko Ono. I love Neil Young. Some of those cool Kinks songs like “Fancy“ and “Everybody Felt the Rain.” I love the Byrds. I’ve definitely taken a lot from all these bands even if it’s not obvious.
Do you ever suspect that some of your younger fans may not be familiar with these groups? Does it matter?
I suppose a lot of them wouldn’t be, but in the end I don’t honestly think it matters. I teach music workshops for youths and I’ve introduced them to some of this ’60s soul and they’ve loved it! One of my classes chose to cover “Come See About Me” by Diana Ross and the Supremes after I played it for them.
Have you recorded anything? How can we hear it?
Louie Louie has a single out that was released on Hidden Volume Records and we just released our first full length on Born Losers Records. You can stream them on our bandcamp as well as all the normal streaming sights and you can order the vinyl LP from bornlosersrecords.bigcartel.com
What are you listening to these days?
To be honest, so much Neil Young lately.
Yeah! It’s awesome to look sharp and weird and whatever else we look in our outfits! Also the fact that she makes them all by hand and they don’t exist anywhere else in the world makes me so happy.
Anything else I should be sure to mention?
We’ll have our records for sale at the show!
Thanks for your time, and we’ll see you Tuesday at The Earl.