The Detroit rock trio of Jeremy Porter (guitar, vocals), Gabriel Doman (drums, vocals) and Bob Moulton (bass, vocals) seamlessly fuse energetic live performance footage with colorful animation to illustrate “Put You on Hold’s” storyline about a girl becoming captivated with city life.
“I wanted to go for a bit of a throwback to the Aerosmith videos with Alicia Silverstone – sort of a very loose plot about a party girl that maybe worked with the song, but didn’t necessarily follow the song’s lyrics to a tee,” said Porter, who worked with director-photographer David Kellogg on the video.
“There are nods to the lyrics here and there, and in general, like the song, it’s about a crazy night out for a not-so-crazy girl, but the concept and its tie-in to the lyrics aren’t overthought. We glammed the look of the band up a bit for shits ‘n giggles to do something different, get out of our comfort zone and have some fun.”
Porter and The Tucos demonstrate that glamorous fun while dressing head-to-toe in white or black and adorning sunglasses and scarves, thanks to stylist Alessandra Lipman. They proudly sport those hip stage fashions in a darkened gym located at the Plymouth Arts & Recreation Complex (PARC).
“PARC is an old high school here in Plymouth that’s been converted into an art space with studios that local artists can rent and stuff like that. I wanted something big like a high school gym, and it just seemed perfect,” said Porter, who’s partnering with Ghettoblaster Magazine to premiere the video today.
“I also like to keep my money in my community when possible and support the arts when I can. David and I met the manager there, and she showed us around, and we agreed it was our spot. The gym has the feel of the ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ video a bit, which I liked.”
In tandem with the band’s live performance footage, the “Put You on Hold” video includes compelling animated characters and background scenery by Jones William. It explores the main character’s social outings with friends as well as her dating life and city adventures.
“(Jones) answered a Craigslist ad and was honestly one of the very few worth following up with. We never talked, just through email, a language barrier was an issue, and I wasn’t sure what I was gonna get. In the end, he delivered, and I was pleased with the work he did,” Porter said.
The band’s “Put You on Hold” video ultimately came together with Kellogg, who brought a “youthful, enthusiastic energy” to the camera.
“I met David through Instagram when we were recording. His work caught my eye, and he ended up doing all of the photography, including the cover, for the record. And even though he’s younger, he still gets the ‘70s/‘80s references we were throwing out – he’s well-traveled, so to speak,” Porter said.
“He didn’t have much to do with the concept or animation part, but he was very involved in scouting and choosing the location and everything that went into the performance part – lighting, setup, direction and all that. He and I also edited it together.”
The Many Flavors of Candy Coated Cannonball
The catchy track blends crunchy, swift electric guitars, thumping drums, exuberant bass and frantic organ as listeners vicariously join the main character’s exciting journey. Porter sings,” Little sister what you doing next Wednesday night?/Maybe grab a little something if the feeling’s right?/Don’t you worry momma don’t you have no fear/I’ll pick you up at seven in my Cavalier?”
“When I was writing Candy Coated Cannonball, I pushed myself in some different places that I hadn’t been before, whether it was a song like ‘Dead Ringer’ or ‘The Things All Men Do.’ It’s definitely not the last record part two,” said Porter, who formed The Tucos in 2010 after playing in several highly regarded Michigan bands.
Released via GTG Records in January, the 11-track Candy Coated Cannonball album, now available on all streaming platforms, nicely delves into diverse musical terrain through the lush greenways of alt country to the jam-packed cityscapes of classic rock and power pop to the subterranean sounds of punk and folk. Each track packs a powerful sonic punch with intricate stories about changing relationships and memorable life experiences.
“I’m a big sucker for melody – I love The Beatles, Cheap Trick and power pop stuff. We also have that tender country, Americana side. But then at the same time, I think our music also has a lot of energy and balls to it,” Porter said.
“That’s what I was going for with the title. The candy coating would be the sweet melodies of the acoustic and country grooves, but the cannonball would be the rock, the big amps, the electric guitars and the faster tempos.”
Porter and The Tucos also share a fast, addictive tempo on the Wilco-esque, power pop gem, “Dead Ringer,” as pounding drums, vivid acoustic strums, dancy bass, fiery electric guitars and spirited percussion depict a tale of an enchanting love interest.
He reveals, “I wake to find her standing there/In my twisted mind she’s everywhere/Telling me this chance is mine to lose.”
“The title came about from a story that Tom Waits told on ‘The David Letterman Show.’ He asked Dave, ‘Do you know how they got the term ‘dead ringer?’ Apparently, back in England in the 18th and 19th centuries, when they would bury someone in a cemetery, they would tie a string around their finger, and it would go up to the surface to a bell hanging on a stick,” he said.
“If you were buried alive, then you could ring the stick. They would hire somebody to stay in the cemetery all night and listen for bells. That’s how the term ‘dead ringer’ came up. I heard that story, and I’m a huge Tom Waits fan and thought that would be a great name for a song.”
In late 2020, the band also released a lyric video for “Dead Ringer,” which blends live performance and studio footage with still images. Porter shot live footage at pre-pandemic shows in Missouri, Illinois, West Virginia and Ohio while Moulton captured studio shots at Willis Sound.
“We couldn’t do a video because of the pandemic, and we needed a video for the record to come out. Lyric videos are all the rage, and some of the footage was taken at the last show we played, which was at The Village Idiot in Maumee,” Porter said.
Another endearing Candy Coated Cannonball track includes “Downriver Song,” a thoughtful, emotive rock track that pays homage to Porter’s family legacy south of Detroit. Shimmering cymbals, heated electric guitars (think Tom Petty and Mike Campbell), vibrant organ, soft bass and placid drums invite listeners along Porter’s father’s early work experiences of delivering papers and working in a foundry.
Porter reflects, “My old man returns now and again/To see what’s changed, what’s in the wind/And I make it back myself, sometimes too/I call ‘em my streets, tried and true.”
“My dad was raised in Woodhaven and Grosse Ile, and I was born in Alpena and grew up there and Marquette. We would come downstate, and my dad would show us the house he grew up in,” he said.
“When I moved downstate and started playing in bands, the first couple bands I was in were Downriver-based. I was running around on those streets, and it dawned on me years later how that came full circle, and then I tied in the whole plight of Detroit industrialism, the rise and fall.”
Porter took “Downriver Song” and the other 10 Candy Coated Cannonball tracks into the studio with co-producer/engineer Doman and Moulton in early 2020. They recorded the project at Willis Sound with engineer Jim Roll, completed additional tracking at The Pharmhouse and The Basement and worked with The Loft’s Tim Patalan to mix it and Sun Room Audio’s Dan Coutant to master it.
“Jim and I have a million friends in common, and I had heard his name for years and years. I’ve played guitar on records that he’s engineered. I wanted to work with him, and we ended up with him at Willis Sound, and we quickly became fast friends,” Porter said.
Candy Coated Cannonball also features stellar collaborations with Evan Mercer (Farfisa organ), Ingrid Racine (trumpet and flugelhorn), Roll (backing vocals) and Kellogg (hand claps).
“Both Evan and Ingrid came through Jim. I asked Jim, ‘Who should we get to play the Farfisa?’ And he’s like, ‘I got your guy.’ The same with Ingrid, and I was like, ‘We need a spaghetti western trumpet,’ and Jim said, ‘I know exactly who to call.’ They both were amazing,” Porter said.
The Future of The Tucos
With the return of live music, Porter and The Tucos are eager to promote and share Candy Coated Cannonball with fans locally and nationally. The trio will play their first live show together in nearly 18 months at The Village Idiot on Aug. 14 in Maumee, Ohio.
“The Village Idiot was the last show we played the night before the entire country locked down, so it makes great sense to start back up there. It’s a small room where people go to listen, but it’s also got that dive bar, music joint feel that we’re comfortable in,” said Porter, who also performs solo acoustic shows.
“We’ll do two sets, material from our entire catalog and a few well-paced, unexpected covers. Sometimes things get a little crazy there, so who knows what else might happen. We do have a couple of new songs in varying states of completeness that will almost certainly be debuted that night.”
After The Village Idiot show, Porter and The Tucos will play Hamtramck’s Outer Limits Lounge on Oct. 22, Lansing’s The Avenue Café on Oct. 23, Knoxville’s Preservation Pub on Nov. 5 and Detroit’s PJ’s Lager House on Dec. 4.
“We’re writing and practicing in The Basement regularly, and that’s been cathartic. We plan to hit the road in 2022, continue to write new material and work toward a new record, though it’s too early to start talking seriously about that. I want to focus on supporting this record for the next year or so,” he said.