Listen Up: The Infidelles

The Infidelles: From left, Roger Ewing, Erik Griffin, Mick Parrish, Shawn Zorn and Justin-Browny-Brown.

Photo by Michael Donahue // Buy this photo

The Infidelles: From left, Roger Ewing, Erik Griffin, Mick Parrish, Shawn Zorn and Justin-Browny-Brown.

Recording at the legendary Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studios, The Infidelles are following in the footsteps of Al Green, Ike and Tina Turner, Ann Peebles and John Mayer.

When the band members, all in their 20s, wanted to make a new CD, their manager, Charley Burch, suggested Royal. “He knew we couldn’t cut these songs in a home studio,” said singer/guitarist/songwriter Mick Parrish, 21. “He knew that we needed a place that had ghosts in it. Even the mistakes you make playing, recording in here are somehow rectified by the spirit of the place.”

“The vibe in this place is swimming around,” said drummer Shawn Zorn, 23. “It’s intangible. Think about all the people that have played here.”

They weren’t sure how Grammy Award-winning Willie Mitchell would take to them; the last time he produced an all-white boy group was the British band Wet Wet Wet in 1988. “We heard a lot of stories about Pops and how he’s infamous for just not liking you and getting up and walking out,” Parrish said.

Burch told them, “Now listen, guys. You can’t wear your heart on your sleeve. No matter what he says, just take it with a grain of salt. He knows what he’s talking about, but don’t let it defeat you.”

“So, we’re all coming here mortified,” Parrish said. “Like we’re going to be the (worst) band in the world. And he shows up and he goes, ‘I really dig y’all.’”

By the third day at the studio, Parrish was calling Mitchell “Pops.” “I felt like he’s here and he’s ‘Pops’ and he’s just legendary for being ‘Pops.’ Poppa Willie Music.”

Asked what he thought about the group, Mitchell said, “They got their own sound, that’s the main thing. They’re good writers. In fact, they remind you of the Beatles a lot by just listening to them, how they structure their songs.”

Mitchell is mixing and giving technical guidance, but Burch and Mitchell’s grandson, Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, are producing the CD, Bad Guys Can Be in Love. The band also features guitarist and backing vocalist Erik Griffin, 20; saxophone player Justin-Browny-Brown, 20; and bass player Roger Ewing, 21.

Parrish came up with the name. “I’m a big fan of the Shirelles. Really, all the old girl groups from the early ’60s. I was thinking of names that would be cool with ‘elles.’”

They played their first gig about 1 years ago at the old Rally Point on Highland. “Liverpool and the Beatles had the Cavern,” Parrish said. “And the Ramones and all the New York groups in ’77 had CBGBs. That whole scene. And for Memphis and The Infidelles for 2007 we had the Rally Point.”

The Infidelles: From left, Roger Ewing, Erik Griffin, Mick Parrish, Shawn Zorn and Justin-Browny-Brown.

Photo by Michael Donahue

The Infidelles: From left, Roger Ewing, Erik Griffin, Mick Parrish, Shawn Zorn and Justin-Browny-Brown.

Their music stems from “blues, rockabilly and everything. Phil Specter is one of our big influences. The girl groups were big influences for us. There are a lot of bands out now that we’re really turned on to. There’s sort of a modern element to the sound.”

The narrator of the title track on the CD is a bad guy from the wrong side of the tracks, but, “That doesn’t mean, even though he sins, he can’t love somebody,” Parrish said. “He’s just a bad guy, but bad guys can be in love. That’s the subject of the whole album.”

“Torn Between the Two,” Parrish said, “specifically talks about two girls, but, from a general perspective, it could be two of anything. Pepsi or Coke. It’s about which option is going to hurt less rather than which option is going to be better.

“It was all built around a line that I wrote: ‘I feel like a liar just because I’ve changed my mind so many times.’”

The original look of The Infidelles was “long, long hair and jeans,” Parrish said. “When we first started out we were very disheveled. I had loafers, but they were split so my sock was hanging out of the loafer. I had a gray cap on and a gray suede drape coat. We weren’t always shaven. We were swearing all the time. We would mess up the words and put new words in that were just disgusting. We were really a very different band.

“I think we just decided, ‘You know, guys, we’re a pop group. We’ve got to behave.’”

They now wear all-black on stage. “I think we are probably the only band in town that their grandparents can say they enjoy the music,” Griffin said.

“Offstage we are filthy people,” Parrish said. “We are all kinds of disgusting. It’s like a heterosexual ‘Satyricon.’”

“That’s our next album name, by the way,” Griffin added.

To hear music by The Infidelles, click here.

The Infidelles play at 9 p.m. Sept. 3 at Kudzu’s, 603 Monroe. Cover: $5.

Listen Up spotlights area performers. Michael Donahue can be reached at 529-2797 or donahue@commercialappeal.com.

© 2008 Go Memphis. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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