April Kass is the lead singer of the Los Angeles based Blues band Lookin’ for Trouble. They offer not only a great bluesy sound, but also make it their mission to give back to the community. Lookin’ for Trouble is currently working on their second album so we caught up with April to discuss the band, the Blues, and the importance of giving.
EV: Welcome to Entertainment Vine, April. Thank you for taking the time to discuss Lookin’ for Trouble.
April: No problem at all. I’m always excited to discuss the band and our music so thanks to you for giving me an opportunity to do so!
EV: To begin, could you give us a little background on how you first met Greg, Don, and Scott?
April: I personally hooked up with the band back in February of 2010. I had been searching out bands that were looking for lead vocalists, and I found a few bands that were looking for Blues singers on Craigslist. Lookin’ for Trouble was one of those bands. Once I heard the samples on the Lookin’ for Trouble website I was certain that I wanted to play with them. When I tried out and realized just how talented they all were as musicians I was determined to make sure they chose me to front the band. They tried out quite a few singers, but I eventually won them over with my charm … or perhaps it was just my persistence! Either way, it worked.
On a side note, Scott is no longer with the band. We all really love him, and he is a talented musician, but he decided to leave the band for personal reasons. We have a new bassist named David May who has just started with the band.
EV: At what point did you all decide to focus mainly on the classic sound of the Blues?
April: That was a decision made by our guitarist, Greg Conte. Lookin’ for Trouble was his brain child. He had always played in a number of live bands in his youth, but somewhere along the way he had stopped playing and focused more on his family and career. He really missed being out in front of an audience and so he set out on a mission to find what he describes as, “The best musicians possible, with an idea to play classic Blues with new, contemporary arrangements”.
I have always had a love for Blues, Soul, and Jazz myself, so when I set out to look for a band I chose to search specifically for Blues bands. My vocal style fits very well with this kind of music, and I wanted to be doing music that I really loved. This is all about having fun for me (and for all of us in the band) so we chose to cover songs we love or write songs in the same style. Greg is killer at coming up with amazing arrangements for songs that really suit our sound and style.
EV: I love the boogie-woogie sound on your version of “Flip, Flop, and Fly”. What is your favorite Blues subgenre?
April: I think the band goes the route of the Blues-Rock subgenre for the most part, but if I were to pick my own personal favorite subgenre it would have to be Soul-Blues (by Soul-Blues I mean artists such as: Etta James, BB King, Little Milton, Robert Cray, etc).
EV: What advice would you give to aspiring musicians who want to break into the Blues scene?
April: That’s a tough question to answer. All I know for sure is that if you want to be playing music, you have to play. Find yourself a band and get to work. Be diligent with rehearsing and once you have some sets that you’re proud of, look for local venues that would be supportive of your type of music and start getting out and playing. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. If you want to be a musician you have to play music! Those are the rules!
Another little tidbit from a marketing standpoint is to make sure that you are doing internet marketing. At the very least, have a website and Youtube account. Also, it helps to have a Facebook account, Twitter account, and a blog, and use web resources like Reverbnation, Soundcloud, or Gigmasters to post your music or find gigs. It’s amazing how easy it is to stay connected, and to find new fans and gigs simply though the use of technology.
EV: You recently mentioned how you all are huge Muddy Waters fans. Is there a particular song of his that inspires you?
April: Muddy Waters was an amazing Chicago Blues artist, and his music was some of the earliest of that style blues. In addition, his music was some of the earliest Blues with a male vocal that I was exposed to on my own musical journey, so I think in that regard it will always hold a special place in my heart. I’m a huge fan of his version of ”Got my Mojo Working”. In fact, sometimes my husband will put that song on and we’ll both dance around our house like fools. What I love about that particular song is that even though it’s about a guy who gets every girl but the one he wants, it’s still guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Sometimes a sad song can make you feel so good – it’s all in the rhythm and the delivery – and “Mojo” just has that certain feel-good quality.
EV: What do you think it is about Muddy’s sound that resonates so deeply with people? And, do you suppose we can find a way to bottle that?
April: He was extremely charismatic and that came through in his music. Like Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Donny Hathaway, and the like he was one of those artists that drew you into his world when he sang. If I put on “Mojo Working”, the sound of the music, and the sound of his voice help me to forget about whatever else I’m thinking about, tap my toes, and sing along. I don’t know if we can “bottle” it but if you are into his sound, try exploring some of the other pioneers of the Chicago Blues sound. I recommend listening to Junior Wells, Magic Sam, and Freddy King.
EV: The various sounds of the Blues would seem to allow the opportunity to cater the songs to any audience. Is there a particular type of venue where you find it’s easier to interact with the crowd?
April: I personally like a smaller, indoor venue where we can really connect with the audience. Something that holds about 100-200 people that’s cozy, but not so cozy that people can’t move. I really love it when people start dancing. Sometimes the energy is just there, there’s no explaining or describing how the crowds’ energy can effect a performance. The band can sense it when the audience is really into the show, and we get really into it as well. Man, just talking about it makes me want to play so bad!
EV: You have a very strong bond with your fans. Tell us a little bit about the Trouble-Makers and how folks can subscribe to the chaos.
April: The Trouble-Makers are like family to us! They’re the ones that bring the support, the dancing, and the energy to our shows! From the start, all I’ve wanted to do is play music I love and share it with people who love to hear it. Our fans, friends, and family members have been so supportive of that dream. Anyone who’s interested in following us online can find us through our website, Facebook, Twitter, or band blog.
EV: Your site offers a ton of great Looking’ for Trouble goodies where not only can your fans support the band, but at the same time give back to the community. You donate a percentage of your merchandise profit to women and children’s charities, would you mind sharing a little about those charities?
April: We’ve only released a 5 song album so we haven’t made a ton of money to donate, however the charity we’ve been supporting lately is called, “Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund“. It’s a non-profit organization that provides college grants and financial assistance to surviving children and spouses of our U.S. military service members who have lost their lives in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
On a personal note, I find it extremely important in my life to donate my time to charitable causes. In the past few years I started trying to do something charitable every month and last year I founded a group called “Compassion Club” made up of people who want to be of service. I coordinate a new volunteer activity for the members of the Compassion Club every month. Some of the causes we have supported are the Midnight Mission (I organize regular drives and dinner service at this homeless men’s facility and rehabilitation center), The Dream Center (we did a furniture and clothing drive to help two single mothers in need), Union Station Homeless Services (we donated food to the kitchen, did a volunteer day last Thanksgiving, and will be providing sack lunches for their family center in June, July, and August 2012), held clothing drives for a local women’s shelter and LA Prom Closet, and we’ve fundraised, run, and walked in support of Relay for Life and the Say No to Drugs races.
EV: Wow! You are a true inspiration. Thank you for sharing that with us. What can we expect from your next album? After the release of your last album you hinted that there might be some unexpected twists.
April: I’m super excited about our next album. It is in the works and should be released this coming July. All of the tracks are recorded, and they are currently in the process of being mixed. We write all of our own arrangements of classic Blues tunes, and our last project was made up entirely of other artist’s songs. The most exciting part about the new CD is that we’ve written and recorded original material, so a good portion of the songs on the album will be our originals. There is nothing as cool as seeing a song you’ve written take shape and come to life. I can’t wait to share the new stuff with our friends and fans.
EV: What are a few essential go-to albums you would recommend as a necessity for anyone who may be a first time Blues listener?
April: An easy way for the first time blues fan to hear a lot of different music would be to pick up a few compilation CD’s or DVD’s. Our drummer, Don, lent me a fantastic compilation DVD called “Lightning in a Bottle” which has tons of amazing blues artists performing live (there is a CD of that show as well) it’s definitely worth picking up. Don also recommend me “Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues” and he suggests listening to Eric Clapton’s “From the Cradle”. Just find the songs you like and then go back and listen to the folks who sang them first.
If you feel like looking into individual artists I would first and foremost recommend any CD by my vocal idol Etta James! I also suggest checking out Ruth Brown, Muddy Waters (of course), Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Albert King, Freddie King, Magic Sam, Big Mama Thornton, early Fleetwood Mac (The Best of Peter Green is fantastic), and Janis Joplin.
EV: One last question, if you were the babysitter in Adventures in Babysitting who is forced to sing at the Blues club, what would the first verse of your babysitting blues song be?
April: That is a crazy question! I saw that movie at least half a dozen times when I was a kid, but I totally forgot about that scene until you reminded me. “Nobody leaves here without singing the blues!” Well the difference between Elisabeth Shue and I is that I would have loved to get that gig! I doubt I would sing about babysitting while I was up there though. On occasion I have made up lyrics on the fly at a jam. They’re usually pretty generic. Something like:
I’m feeling downhearted
Feeling so alone
That aching has started
Since you’ve been gone
You made me so happy
made me feel so alive
Then you stole it away
In the blink of an eye…
Now that I’m starting to sing it I want to keep going! Who knows, maybe I’ll take those lyrics and finish them up and perform them at one of our shows… I hate to waste!
EV: Thank you so much for sharing with us today, April. We look forward to hearing more from Lookin’ for Trouble.
April: Any time! Thanks for taking the time to get to know me. I look forward to sharing more of our music with you.
*For more information on Lookin’ for Trouble be sure to check out their official band page at www.lookinfortrouble.com.