Listen Up: Crushing Juliet

Crushing Juliet: (From left) Lonnie Hammer, Justin McKee, Steve Hatmaker and Alan Doty.

Photo by Michael Donahue // Buy this photo

Crushing Juliet: (From left) Lonnie Hammer, Justin McKee, Steve Hatmaker and Alan Doty.

Alan Doty was driving around in his Chevy Malibu the first time he heard music by Crushing Juliet. A friend had told him the band was looking for a bass player.

“(He) sent me tracks in an e-mail and I plugged them into my iPod and listened to them,” said Doty, 21. “I was tapping my foot and singing along. I wasn’t near a bass, so I went to Guitar Center with my iPod and I started playing along. I think I picked up a Fender Precision.”

Crushing Juliet: (From left) Lonnie Hammer, Justin McKee, Steve Hatmaker and Alan Doty.

Photo by Michael Donahue

Crushing Juliet: (From left) Lonnie Hammer, Justin McKee, Steve Hatmaker and Alan Doty.

Doty got the job. That was last April.

Crushing Juliet formed in June 2009, but they’d never had an official bass player. They recorded a CD, but enlisted studio people and friends to play the bass on the songs. They’d never played a show, so they didn’t really need a bass player.

Crushing Juliet will play their first show Saturday night. They’ll open for veteran Memphis band Chosen View at Minglewood Hall.

The title of Crushing Juliet’s song, “Someday,” could sum up the band.

Why did they wait so long to play a gig? “In the past, in different bands, everybody gets so excited about wanting to just hurry up and play, hurry up and play, hurry up and play,” said vocalist Justin McKee, 25. “We’ve all been through that. But this band we said, ‘Hey, let’s fight the urge. Let’s finish this album. Let’s get this thing packed up, so when we come out we have a product.’”

Their CD release party will coincide with the release party for Chosen View’s new CD, “The Common Thread.”

McKee and guitarist Steve Hatmaker, 23, began writing songs after their old band, Whiskey Penny, broke up. They then added drummer/songwriter Lonnie Hammer. The idea was “just to jam, just to see what happens,” McKee said.

They wanted more direction in Crushing Juliet. “Instead of just coming in and partying and not taking it too seriously, let’s come in and still have fun, but let’s write songs we think everybody will enjoy.”

Their goal was to write a dozen songs in a month. “(We) only made it up to about 10 songs,” Hammer said. “I think about four or five of them actually made it to the record.”

Chosen View guitarist Dave Cowell was the producer.

Crushing Juliet named their CD “Broken Cadillac” after one of their songs. The album title refers to the time and effort the performers put into the band and the CD. “We have a Cadillac, but are we gonna be able to start the engine?”

Whiskey Penny was more “hard rock with a metal edge.” Crushing Juliet is a commercial pop rock band. “It’s a little bit poppy. Some of it is hard, but it’s all catchy. You can tap your toes to it. You can have a good time.”

“King and Queen” talks about popular kids in high school who end up getting pregnant or getting arrested for misdemeanors. McKee, who writes their lyrics, said the song is about how “people can change. People go through rough times, but they can overcome that. They can make it through. They think it’s the end of the world at the time, but (they) have to find a way to figure it out.”

Listen Up spotlights area performers. Michael Donahue can be reached at 529-2797.

Crushing Juliet, Chosen View CD-release Party

Saturday at Minglewood Hall, 1555 Madison Ave. Doors open at 7 p.m. All-ages show. $10. Call 312-6058; minglewoodhall.com.

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