E-Squared's V-Roys Rock This 'Town'

October 10, 1998
BYLINE: BY JIM BESSMAN

DATELINE: NEW YORK-
 

Knoxville, Tenn.'s youthful rockers the V-Roys made a major regional
dent with their 1996 album debut, "Just Add Ice." The
hard-touring quartet's follow-up, "All About Town," which E-Squared
releases Tuesday (October 6) via the Alternative Distribution
Alliance, shows particular growth in the songwriting department, thanks
to pressure from co-producer and label co-founder Steve
Earle.

"Steve pushed us a lot harder and put his foot way up our asses this
time," says V-Roys founder/front man Scott Miller about Earle,
who co-produced both the band's albums with Ray Kennedy (as the "Twang
Trust") and pitched in on songwriting. "He'd even hand
songs back to us if they weren't good enough and put in production touches
like backward guitars on 'Arianne.' "

"Just Add Ice," Miller says, was recorded "live without a lot of bells and
whistles, to get something out as quick as we could and go
out and support it." More time was spent on "All About Town." In addition
to the band--guitarist/vocalist Miller, fellow singer/

songwriter/guitarist Mike Harrison, bassist Paxton Sellers, and drummer
Jeff Bills--the new album features the playing of Del
McCoury Band bluegrass aces Rob McCoury, Ronnie McCoury, and Jason Carter.

"But it's still very song-oriented," says Miller, "because you've got to
have songs that are good enough to sing 200 nights a year."

Earle's E-Squared partner, Jack Emerson, says that the label is focusing
on "Amy 88," a driving uptempo rocker written by Harrison,
and "Arianne," a pop-leaning Miller/Earle composition, to show "both
sides" of the V-Roys. A promotional CD with both tracks went
out the week of Sept. 21 to triple-A stations, while the album was sent to
roots formats.

Instant support will be seen at triple-A station WRVG Lexington, Ky.
"They're just a great, kicking American aggregation, almost a
modern equivalent of Creedence Clearwater Revival," says the station's
assistant PD, Jerry Gerard, who also hosts its affiliated
WorldRadio Network morning show, "Early World."

"The first record was a solid reflection of their live show, but this time
they're really stretching out and adding elements of bluegrass
and broader production values--but they never forget that the song comes
first," Gerard adds.

They also know how to work it, notes Emerson. "They've done everything
from tour their asses off to endearing themselves at radio
with lots of visits."

Shane Tymon, manager of one of the two Knoxville Disc Exchange stores,
confirms the V-Roys' intense fan following and notes that
their debut disc was "easily the biggest-selling title" in the store's
10-year history.

"We're really fired up for the next one--but we're still selling the
first, so their popularity is growing," says Tymon. "They're just
regular old guys, but the music speaks for itself, and it's a big going-on
whenever they play here. They really tear it up."

The Monterey Peninsula Artists-booked band, which is managed by Earle's
manager, Dan Gillis, and whose songs are published by
Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp./Tall Midget Music (BMI), will begin an
open-ended tour later this month. E-Squared will
support touring in cities with past radio, retail, and concert activity,
says Emerson. A "guerrilla marketing" strategy will be employed
to emphasize strengths in those markets, he adds. For his part, Miller
says he is eager to hit the road again full time in late October.

"That's the fun part, and we live for it," he says. "It's really a simple
life: eat, drive, drink, sleep, and play--not necessarily in that
order. Besides, I've read as many books as I can since we've been off--and
I've got to get out of Knoxville."