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Q&A with Ladies and Gentlemen

Local band Ladies and Gentlemen is all gentlemen ¸ no ladies. "No, no, we're the gentlemen, we get the ladies!" Clay Letson, the band's guitarist, said.
By Lindsay Walker
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday April 10, 2003

Local band Ladies and Gentlemen cannot be categorized. The group doesn't play punk music and it doesn't play hardcore music. It isn't a "garage band," and pop and jazz are not its specialty either. It's been placed in the nerd rock family or with the rock-and-rollers. But band members just like to call themselves comfortable and unique.

The 3-year-old group consists of guitarist and vocalist Alex "The Kid" Porter, drummer Dave Williams, guitarist Clay Letson and bassist Garth Bryson. They are currently signed with local label Stunning Tonto and are talking with interested parties from No Name Records about expanding. They have recorded one full album, titled Incorporated, and are in the process of recording a new EP.

Ladies and Gentlemen will be performing with fellow band The Smoke Detectives tomorrow at the Bookman's, 6230 E. Speedway Blvd., at 7 p.m.

Despite his busy schedule, Letson took some time to chat by the fountain at Old Main.

Wildcat: So why did you guys name yourselves Ladies and Gentlemen?

Letson: Well, a friend of ours, we were just talking as friends often do, and he was like, "If I ever had kids, I'd name them Ladies and Gentlemen, 'cuz then I could be like, Ladies and Gentlemen, please come down!" So that was one of the names that we brought up.

Wildcat: But there aren't any ladies in the band.

Letson: I know, people always ask us, "Where are the ladies?" And we tell them, "No, no, we're the gentlemen; we get the ladies!"

Wildcat: So what's the funniest thing that's ever happened on stage?

Letson: Oh, man. I think it was my birthday and we were playing a show. So I was rocking out, right, and I decided that I could do better rocking out if I was on the floor, with the crowd, so we could rock out together. So I jumped down and after a while it was time for me to jump back on-stage, but I decided not to do a slow climb. I wanted to do one big leap onto stage. So with both my feet, I jumped up. But I missed and hit my shins on the edge of the stage, and my sandals fell off. It didn't hurt that bad, so I got back onstage and started playing with my shoes off. Then, I was wondering why it was so wet on the floor, and I looked down and my feet and the stage were covered in blood. I had gashed my shins open and they were bleeding profusely.

Wildcat: That's funny?

Letson: I thought it was hilarious. I just kept rocking out and during the next song, I sat down and someone came around and bandaged me up.

Wildcat: So, other than that, what's the most memorable moment you've had with your band ¸ not necessarily performing, but just with the guys?

Letson: We went on tour this summer. We decided one night we wanted to drive through Compton, 'cuz you know, then we could say we were straight out of Compton. So we were driving through and we saw these huge lights, and we decided to check it out. It's in an area that's like this classic gangster's paradise. So anyway, we stopped, and they were filming a new Jamie Kennedy movie where he's a white rapper; I guess it's coming out soon. So Jamie Kennedy comes by, and he's a really nice guy. If you watch that movie, in the scene where he's robbing a convenience store, he has a Ladies and Gentlemen card in his pocket. You can't see it, but it's there.

Wildcat: So, how do the individual personalities of each band member come out in performance?

Letson: I move around probably the most, although Alex probably would if he wasn't singing or had one of those cordless mikes. And then Garth is the bass player ¸ the strong, silent type ¸ but he's been known to "get down," if you know what I mean. Yeah, we have a good stage show. Like for this show on Friday, it's a Christmas show. There'll be surprises. You might get some candy.

Wildcat: Ooh. So what other kind of shows have you done?

Letson: Our shows are kind of gimmick-orientated. Like, we did a ninja show where we had people who looked like us (I got my brother) to go onstage and say, "Hi, we're Ladies and Gentlemen; we're going to play some songs for you." And then us, the real Ladies and Gentlemen, came out in ninja outfits, with plastic swords and masks covering our faces. We went onstage and tied up the fake Ladies and Gentlemen and said to the crowd, "We are the Greeting Card Ninjas; we will not stop playing until we receive 28 dollars and 37 cents. Give us the ransom if you ever want to see your precious Ladies and Gentlemen again!" At the end, the fake Ladies and Gentlemen broke free and killed us.

Wildcat: How did they kill you if you are here right now?

Letson: They were plastic swords (laughs). No, so that was fun. We also did a football show, where we all dressed up like football players and we had cheerleaders from our high school, and they stretched out this banner that said "Ladies and Gentlemen." And we ran through the banner. We had a referee on this ladder, and the cheerleaders did a dance and a cheer. Then, every time we finished a song, we got 7 points. And we were playing against our friends The Retainers, and they had zero points because they played first. And I guess they didn't know we were at a football game! At the end, we had like 70 points and we said, "All right, looks like we're going to win!" and we started playing "Stairway to Heaven," except it was all messed up, just random noise. So the ref called a penalty and gave us zero points, and the other team got infinity points.

Wildcat: That's sad that you lost.

Letson: Yeah Ě oh, also, we played in a tent once. One time, we had a huge box onstage and it was wrapped like a present and we never opened it. Everyone was used to us doing something big, so they were like, "Oh, I wonder what's in the box." So, later, we just took it offstage and people asked us what was in the box. And we were like, "What box?" Oh, and one time, we played the entire show facing away from the audience. So we'd ask "How's everyone doing out there? It's kind of hard to see you!" And we threw free CDs at the wall. We really like to have fun onstage. And we like for the audience to have fun.

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