Over the course of the ’90s, the alternative rock explosion found its way to St. Louis, where much of the music scene in the ’80s consisted of mediocre cover bands. Numerous bands helped expand the city’s plethora of sound, including the pre-Wilco, Jeff Tweedy-led Uncle Tupelo, which created a sweet concoction of pre-grunge era alternative-country, where Merle Haggard met Henry Rollins.
Noting the opportunity for new, exciting music to hit their city, the members of The Urge brought their own blend of metal, punk, R&B and funk to the St. Louis scene. The members went from attending Webster Groves High School together and jamming in friends’ garages to touring the world for 14 years before breaking up, only to reunite in 2003 and again in 2011. The group will perform Friday at The Blue Note,
In preparation for the band’s Columbia concert, MOVE chatted with frontman Steve Ewing about lengthy careers, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and playing grimy bars:
[MOVE]: How did your band move from jamming in basements to opening up for Incubus?
[Steve Ewing]: We started off playing small bars, which is really how you make it in St. Louis. Back then, it was hard to get a gig if you weren’t a cover band. So we started playing as much as possible. Once you’re playing on the road, you just naturally meet different bands and end up sharing the stage with them.
[M]: How has the band’s chemistry progressed throughout the years?
[SE]: We’ve always been great together. When we’re writing music, the creative part can be challenging. But once you get out of that realm that’s stopping you, it’s like playing in the sandbox. It’s awesome.
[M]: What are some of the band’s biggest influences?
[SE]: We were influenced by Fishbone, Bad Brains and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. There were so many bands from that era we identify with. We saw all those bands come up from the underground scenes, and that’s how we wanted to do it.
[M]: The Blue Note show will be your band’s first concert of the year. Have you been preparing yourself in any particular way?
[SE]: We get together and go over all the material and make sure we’re tight on the sound. But most songs we have we’ve been playing for so long, so it’s never a chore.
[M]: What is one of your favorite memories from your musical career?
[SE]: After a show in St. Louis, I met Mick Jones of The Clash. Talking to him and him complimenting our band was one of the greatest moments in my life.