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Von Bondies go two-by-two


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The Von Bondies are (from left to right) drummer Don Blum, guitarist Jason Stollsteimer, guitarist Marcie Bollen and bassist Carrie Smith.
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The Von Bondies
Music Room
Detroit (Michigan)
Jerry Harrison

(CNN) -- With two girls, two boys and two guitars, the Von Bondies are probably the second most famous garage band to come out of Detroit, Michigan, in the past few years. Like the White Stripes, the Von Bondies make raw, bluesy and punk-inflected rock.

Both groups grabbed headlines in December when frontmen Jack White (of the Stripes) and Jason Stollsteimer (of the Bondies) were involved in a fight onstage at Detroit's Magic Stick club.

But the brawl fallout isn't the only reason you'll be hearing more from the Von Bondies. The band's second album, "Pawn Shoppe Heart," landed in March and is quickly generating buzz for its first single, the cathartic, screaming and catchy "C'mon C'mon."

The recordings on the disc -- produced by Talking Head Jerry Harrison -- take cues from the band's raucous stage show.

"Definitely we're not a studio band," lead songwriter Stollsteimer told CNN during a stop at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

"Our live act and touring is definitely a very, very key element of who we are as a band." Bassist Carrie Smith chimed in, "We love playing live."

It's a good thing, too, since the Bondies' South by Southwest stop was only two months into a 10-month tour.

The Music Room sat down for a chat with the musicians:

TMR: How did ya'll get started?

DON BLUM: We were bored.

JASON STOLLSTEIMER: It was out of boredom honestly. The Von Bondies started with being bored out of our minds, and music was our one release for angst. And I know for me the Von Bondies were very therapeutic, still [are]. Thank God. I don't know where I would be.

MARCIE BOLLEN: You want to tell them how we started?

STOLLSTEIMER: Marcie actually brought me to a show to see this band called the Cramps and this band called the Guitar Wolf. And I had never really been in a band before, never played the guitar and neither [had] she. ... We went to the show and had no idea what kind of music it was, and the bands were so amazing, just vibe-wise, and we wanted to go home and just start our own punk thing. And you know we started out playing just straightforward punk rock music. ... I think all of us started the same way -- playing out of angst and boredom. Growing up in the Midwest, there's just nothing else to do, you know?

TMR: Did you guys find any differences in touring overseas as opposed to in the States?

CARRIE SMITH: I think there is definitely a difference in touring overseas and in the States.

STOLLSTEIMER: The crowds are way more open-minded about bands, like for example the U.K. is smaller than Texas, so if you can do well in the U.K., word of mouth travels fast, and there's much more of a media frenzy over there. There're more magazines just based on music, TV's way more open-minded to having bands play. And you know America's huge -- it takes 10 times as long ... but we're slowly chipping away at it. Maybe well conquer Texas one day, who knows? We're trying.

TMR: What's the ultimate for you guys?

SMITH: I think our ultimate goal every single night is just have fun. I mean just to get up on stage and have fun playing.

STOLLSTEIMER: We're four best friends and that helps a lot. We weren't put together by some label -- we've been doing this for a long time, and it shows on stage because we have fun together. ...

TMR: The video for "C'mon C'mon" -- it's kind of a different video than what you normally see. ...

BLUM: Yeah, it's kind of like a video game. ... We didn't want to have ourselves featured in it so we got one of our friends to play the lead character. He does good.

BOLLEN: It was produced by director Charles Genson, who actually is going to do another video for us. He did a really good job. It was actually a lot of fun doing it, too.

STOLLSTEIMER: The main character in the video is our feet, so you know we might get a shoe endorsement soon, who knows? Yeah, no ... we're not the type. I mean we play music, [and] we try to sell that. We don't try to sell what we look like.

TMR: A lot of music comes out of Detroit. Why do you think that is?

STOLLSTEIMER: Boredom. The reason why so much good music is coming from Detroit -- even from like the day of Ted Nugent and when the Stooges first started -- they have all been quoted as saying it was out of boredom. They played not to become rock stars, not to become rock god idols, but because of boredom. There is nothing else to do in the city of Detroit. ...

SMITH: I also think another thing is that there's no music industry in Detroit, so bands can just play the music that they want to play because it's genuine, it's heartfelt. You don't have to like try to impress any record industry or anything like that ... and that's good music to me. ... Corporate overproduced stuff doesn't mean anything to me. ...

STOLLSTEIMER: If we would have been from some other city, it might have been different because there could have been some music scene that could have hindered our growth. The way we've grown was natural. It wasn't because of some record label or because of a producer, because of that band or this band, because that's what we wanted to do.


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