“No one talks about what a stupid name U2 is,” observes Will Edwards, vocalist and bassist for D.C. trio Soaphead Church. After efforts to think of a “trendy Mighty Lemon Drops–type name” stalled, he recalls, the nascent combo took its moniker from a character in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. (Morrison’s Soaphead Church, as it happens, addresses God on the meaninglessness of names.) But like many high-concept ideas, the band’s anti-name gesture backfired, emphasizing rather than downplaying what Edwards calls “the name issue.”
“Now we can’t believe how lame it is,” he laughs.
Indications to the contrary, nobody in Soaphead Church is an English major. Edwards and guitarist/co-vocalist Lee Wilhoit met while both were students at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. “He heard me playing guitar through the dorm window,” remembers Wilhoit. Edwards and drummer Mike Barnett had been playing music together since high school, inspired, says the band’s press kit, by those perennial muses, “cheap beer, Kiss, and the Replacements.”
Soaphead Church’s tangle of influences is apparent on its self-titled debut CD. When Wilhoit notes that “music is interesting where styles meet,” he could be describing the group’s scrappy mix of hardcore and country elements. The band ascribes its sound to geography: Edwards and Barnett grew up in this area, while Wilhoit hails from Tennessee.
The disc, which was produced by Clutch and Avail veteran Larry Packer, took the trio a year to record. (The band is appropriately diplomatic about Packer, who is variously described as “opinionated” and “commanding.”) Wilhoit says the recording process was an education unto itself: “We went from guys who just had some songs to people who had opinions about how records should sound,” he explains. The bandmates are already anticipating their sophomore album, which they hope will capture the energy of the group’s live sound. “The next one will get a little more of the passion across,” Wilhoit promises.
But, adds Edwards, “We’re not going to worry about that until we pay off this one.”
Soaphead Church performs at Club Asylum May 17. The disc is available at HMV and Waxie Maxie’s and for $10 postpaid from Soaphead Church, 2200 Wilson Blvd., #102-249, Arlington, VA 22201. The band can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.—Nicole Arthur