When the members of the band Prom Date were in college at LSU and Tulane, practices were social events. Their songs were as sprawling as their roster of musicians. The group is tighter now that the five permanent members are hoping to be able to quit their day jobs. But with their highly danceable beats, the band is still bringing the party.
Prom Date recently stuffed into the studio to talk with WRKF's Amy Jeffries.
SONG: Walking Dead
BOUDREAU: I'm Nick Boudreau. I play bass guitar.
BURKE: I'm Brett Burke, I play synthesizers, I sing, and I write some songs.
FULLER: I'm Dave Fuller. I sing and play the synthesizer and sampler, and I write songs sometimes too.
WEST: I'm James West and I play guitar.
LANDRY: I'm Steven Landry, and I play the drums.
JEFFRIES: Prom Date is here with me.
Why don't you tell me, first of all, how you guys got started, how you came together and started playing together, playing music together.
BURKE: Three of us actually knew each other in high school. Some of us went to LSU, I went to New Orleans to Tulane, and we decided to keep playing music together. Prom Date was just kind of born out of that. Dave and I actually met in a church on LSU's campus that had a grand piano in it.
FULLER: In the middle of the night.
BURKE: Yes. And we started playing Sufjan Stevens songs together and that kind of led to a musical conversation. We had a lot of influences in common.
JEFFRIES: So what were some of those other influences that you brought to the table that were common influences for you?
FULLER: One of my favorite bands has always been Mates of State. I like their dueling vocal style, and I know Brett had listened to them before too.
BURKE: We were both also raised in choirs since we could start singing and that's definitely a common musical background from a very early age.
JEFFRIES: There's another band that came out of LSU. Better Than Ezra started up in the ‘90s playing rock pop. Do you guys think of yourselves at all as being part of a continuum with Better Than Ezra?
BURKE: There's actually another Baton Rouge band that I kind of identify with more. They're called the Eames Era, and they started in Baton Rouge as well. Like in high school, I listened to the Eames Era and I thought it was great to hear like a pop sound coming out of Baton Rouge. I kind of looked up to them almost. It was really fun to play with them at Hartley-Vey Studios. We did that this past year and it was a great show.
JEFFRIES: Hartley-Vey is a venue that is run by the Manship Theatre that they're going to be relaunching on August 10, and you guys are headlining that show. I've always gotten this sense that Baton Rouge has more talent than it has venues. Do you feel like that's the case? Tell me about this new venue and where it fits in you think.
BURKE: One thing that distinguishes Hartley-Vey is that it's all ages and they seem to make sure that their ticket prices are within a certain range so that a lot of people of different income brackets can come enjoy music.
Growing up in Baton Rouge, and playing shows, there weren't always all-ages venues available. Sometimes we'd be in some warehouse off Florida Boulevard.
LANDRY: How many different dark rooms were there?
BURKE: Yes. Many of them were shut down and reincarnated in other warehouses. It was kind of a mess. It's really great to see someone trying to organize an all-ages scene in Baton Rouge. I think the kids needs somewhere to go and listen to music.
JEFFRIES: How difficult is it, or how easy is it, to get started as a band looking towards making a career in music?
BOUDREAU: It's kind of like we were saying, there aren't a lot of venues, there aren't a lot of opportunities. So it's not like in New Orleans where you could play music every night. Here it's a little more pick and choose, like, "Ok. I've played in Baton Rouge, we've got to wait a month before..." You know, you got to wait two months, or else you're just kind of over-saturating yourself.
But I guess there are some sort of benefits because there isn't a ton of music going on. that reason, when events do happen, people get really excited about it which is a nice thing about Baton Rouge.
JEFFRIES: Certainly one of the things that you need to have in order to start getting gigs is typically some sort of demo. When did you record your first demo?
FULLER: It was probably about five years ago, maybe after our sophomore year of college. We recorded a little five song demo. We called it the "Pool House Rock" EP because we practiced in a pool house at one of our band mate's houses. It was, I mean for the first group of songs that a group of people puts together, we were really proud of it. It was a really fun and a really great experience, and it was definitely the foundation from which we've built everything else and just launched off of.
JEFFRIES: When your music is in the record store or it's on iTunes, it's going to have a little genre attached to it in the metadata. So, what is the genre that you would apply to it, that you think is most accurate?
BURKE: Synth-pop feels pretty safe to say at the moment. We keep buying more and more synthesizers because we want to recreate these kind of soundscapes. Like, we can make a synthesizer sound like a group of strings.
FULLER: But we've also realized that some of our strengths lie in bass guitar and real guitar work because Nick and James are really good at that and we're trying to play to all of our strong suits so we can sound as good as we can. So, we definitely still like holding on to our organic sound as well as our synthesized sounds.
JEFFRIES: Nick is making rock-n-roll gestures in the corner just to prove his rock star status.
BOUDREAU: For a while we got really into our live show having everything be computer, everything synthesized. I was spending more time playing synthesizers and doing sample stuff than actually playing my bass guitar. At some point realized, no, wait, we're a live band, and we all have our strengths, and mine is back in the corner playing bass, trying not to be seen.
JEFFRIES: Nick Boudreau, Brett Burke, David Fuller, James West, Steven Landry, otherwise known as Prom Date, thanks for coming in.
PROM DATE: No problem. Thanks for having us.
SONG: Good Morning, Boyfriend
Prom Date headlines the relaunch of the Hartley-Vey Studio in Baton Rouge Aug. 10.
This interview was produced with help from WRKF interns Drew Walker and Claire Ohlsen.