Big Bad Voodoo Daddy formed in 1993 in Ventura, CA, and since then, they’ve been bringing the swing to every corner of the globe. I sat down with founding member, drummer Kurt Sodergren to talk about food on the road, trumpets and tambourines, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s Wild and Swingin’ Holiday Show!
DH- Are you guys still in California?
KS- Yes, we are in Southern California.
OK, I wasn’t sure if the tour had started to bring you East yet.
Well, we just got back from Cleveland, OH and a few places around there. Just a short, five-day trip– and we are on our way to Epcot and Orlando the day after tomorrow for a week.
And then you guys will be making your way here to Macon on Dec. 6th for the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Wild & Swingin’ Holiday Party!
Yeah! That is going to be a lot of fun.
Kurt, I have heard that one of the things that you really enjoy is playing new cities and new venues. You guys have been to Georgia many times, but never to Macon…
I love Georgia, and this is going to be a lot of fun. We are looking forward to it. The Holiday Show is funny, you know, because there is something about the Holidays that… the vibe is different. Everybody is in a good mood, and it is just about having fun.
2018 marks the 25th Anniversary of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, you have got to see some familiar faces dancing out there in the crowd at your shows.
Oh, for sure. We just got back from Cleveland, and we have a family we’ve known there for about a decade who always come out– and now they bring their kids! It is like that a lot of places we go. In fact, Orlando will have a huge crew of people who we see a lot. It is always nice to meet new people and connect, and then you end up hanging out with them for 45 mins or an hour after the show, and that’s what it is all about.
You are seeing a younger audience that has started coming to your shows. It has got to be great seeing them put down their phones and enjoying an interactive dancing experience with your band.
Oh, I love it! And to see them enjoying a band that plays instruments and not just pushing buttons. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but you know…
You guys have the full band, immersive sound that is infectious. What would you tell someone who has never experienced a BBVD live show before?
I wouldn’t take the first two rows as you might get the spit valve from the horns pointed at you! It is a pretty powerful experience. Horns are loud! Sometimes we play symphony shows, and we won’t have anything mic’d and trumpets are still the loudest instruments on stage. So, it is a powerful experience. There are five horns, and it is very exciting!
You are right. Always the two loudest instruments on a stage are the trumpet, and then if someone brings out a tambourine.
Cowbell as well.
It is funny to me whenever you see a big group– and someone can’t play, people say, “Just give them a tambourine,” and I am like “NOOOO!”
“NOOOO!” It is the biggest offender of derailing songs is a tambourine!
Tell me some more about playing with symphonies. You talk about elevating the sound, it has to be amazing to hear your songs played with such a backing level.
It is a lot of fun because we do not really alter what we do as much as it is the symphony joining us a stage. We have arrangements now that we have used for a long time, and it is a blast! The symphonies are good times, and I wish we did more of them.
Thanks to your constant touring, you guys have accumulated over 2,800 live shows.
Yeah, that number is more than that now. Somewhere in the 3000s. We play at least 150 shows a year, and sometimes more.
So what do you do when you are not on the road. Is there a hobby that keeps you busy, or are you working on new material?
I live in Ventura, which is on the beach, and I am an avid surfer and bodysurfer. We had a week off, and I went to Oahu with my son who is a photographer. We did some pretty great photography at some bodysurfing beaches, and I have two kids. So once you add kids, you have a hobby for life, and it is pretty great, and I love the beach!
When you are on the road, is there any food that you crave, seek out– or are you up for new experiences in the culinary department?
For sure, we are! In fact, the show that we are playing at Epcot is the Food & Wine Festival. This chef turned us on to that, and we were actually at his restaurant in Cleveland– The Greenhouse Tavern– and we were sitting at the tavern, and he brought out a severed pig’s head and just set it on the table. I’m a vegetarian, and you should have seen everyone’s face when he did that. I think that most bands are like that when they get to a new city, “Well, what is a good restaurant here?” I am sure that it will be like that in Macon when we arrive.
We are a wonderful host of Southern culture and cuisine, and we will make sure that we find a meal that you will enjoy and remember for the tour.
That will be wonderful! Traveling sometimes ends up taking you to the usual haunts for food, so having really good food makes it so much better and easier and gives us something to look forward to. If you think about it, we don’t get paid to play music, we get paid to travel. Playing music is just gravy.
Thanks much for your time, Kurt. We will see you Thursday, Dec. 6th at the Wild & Swingin’ Holiday Party. You should come by and check out the station before the show.
We would love to! Independent radio is a dying breed, but it is making a comeback. I love radio and independent radio. I grew up listening to radio, and that is how we found our music. It is still that way for me with a station in Ventura. Come by after the show and say hello, as we do a meet and greet and try to say hello to everyone!