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The Vulgar Boatmen's "You and Your Sister" Turns 25
Posted November 27, 2015 by Seth Johnson
WRITTEN BY
Seth Johnson
ON
November 27, 2015

 

Since the start of Musical Family Tree over a decade ago, there have been few bands that have brought the local music community together quite like the Vulgar Boatmen.

 

“The Boatmen demonstrated that a band could have longevity and a fair amount of success by staying true to itself,” says Irvington Vinyl owner and longtime Indiana music advocate Rick Wilkerson. “Their vision never really changed over time. They got three records out and very nearly became signed by Warner Bros.”

 

He continues, “Even after that fell through, they kept going. It's got to be inspiring for other bands to see that not everyone gets to be huge, but there's a path for a group of committed musicians to make original, even groundbreaking, music and still get paid to do it.”

 

This Saturday, Wilkerson’s TimeChange Records will re-release the Vulgar Boatmen’s much-loved You and Your Sister album, which originally came out in 1990. To celebrate the album’s 25th anniversary, the Boatmen will perform at State Street Pub, being joined on the bill by a very special guest in Bloomington’s Mysteries of Life. Prior to the show, I caught up with Vulgar Boatmen frontman Dale Lawrence (who also played in the second version of the Gizmos) to discuss all things You and Your Sister.

 

Listen to live versions of tracks from You and Your Sister from our archive in the player above.

 

Seth Johnson: Give me a little background on You and Your Sister. What all went into the making of the album, and why was it an important Boatmen release?

 

Dale Lawrence: In 1989, my songwriting partner (Robert Ray) and I were each fronting versions of the Vulgar Boatmen, his in Gainesville, Fla., and mine here in Indy. This was the second time we had tried a joint recording venture. The big difference this time was that we were recording at Robert's home, on a Tascam 8-track, instead of being on the clock in a studio, and it made all the difference in the world. We could take as much time as we wanted and experiment with sounds and arrangements, until we got the results we were looking for.

 

SJ: When you look back on the album, what are some things that you like about it?

 

DL: I do like the way it sounds, especially since we've remastered it. It sounds clean but hefty too. Neither the sound nor the songs sound like much else that was happening in 1990, which I think helps it hold up today. And, it has some of our best songs on it.

 

SJ: When you look back on the You and Your Sister era of the Boatmen, what stands out? What made that era of the band special?

 

DL: That was when things really started happening for us. We were finally getting some national press, some college airplay, even some commercial radio play--which meant we were able to seriously tour, which was exciting. I distinctly remember the first time that someone at an out-of-town show requested one of our songs. It was in Pensacola, and it felt so weird. We were like, "How do you know that song?"

 

Photo courtesy of Dale Lawrence

SJ: Tell me about the reissue that you're releasing. I read that there will be some bonus tracks.

 

DL: We're really happy with the remastered sound. And yes, there are three bonus tracks: "Nobody's Business," which we recorded shortly after Sister, and which appeared previously on a 7" included as a bonus with an issue of a German magazine called Howl; "It's a Secret," which had actually been recorded a few years earlier and issued on a cassette release; and a cover of the Monkees' "The Kind of Girl I Could Love," which was recorded around 1992 for a various-artists comp. The new CD also has liner notes by Ann Powers [of NPR].

 

SJ: It's awesome that you also have Mysteries of Life on the bill for this show. What went into that decision? What does their music mean to you?

 

DL: The big reason they're on the bill is that they are finally active and playing again. We did a show with them in January in Chicago, and it was just a blast. They sounded great, people loved them, and it was fun to share a bill again. They are such a great band (besides being my best friends) and sound very distinctively Indiana, I think. They've just recorded a new CD, called Bad Advice, so it'll be a record release show for them as well.

 

SJ: Ultimately, what about Saturday's show are you looking forward to?

 

DL: Everything: Playing with the Mysteries, playing for the first time at Jimmy Peoni's new club, unveiling the new CD, seeing a lot of old friends. We're going to play all of You and Your Sister straight through, which is something we've never done before. Hopefully that won't make for too many slow songs.

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