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The last time we wrote about a prepubescent rock band, the reaction was…intense. And so we tempt the ire of puritanical rock adults once again! Our regular coverage of grown-up rock bands will resume shortly…
Third grade seems like early days to be thinking about rock stardom. I remember being more concerned with Star Wars action figures, my scratch ‘n’ sniff sticker collection, and the Lord of the Rings books. However, four boys in Takoma Park—-guitarists Zeke Wapner and Michael Untereiner, drummer/singer Ian Askew, and singer/bassist/Wurlitzer wunderkind Ben Miller—-are all about being in a rock band, and not just playing, well, Rock Band. Five years ago, when they are all 8, the longtime friends thought that starting a band would make for a good social outlet, and Ladle Fight was born. Well, actually, first they were The Sporks, then they were Blah Blah Blah, and then they tried out High Definition, but Miller quickly realized the downside to such a name. “It’s un-Google-able,” he says. “Even if we became Beatles famous, Sony would still come up in searches first.” Wapner suggested Ladle Flight, but that was too much like Flight of the Conchords, and the group finally settled on Ladle Fight.
Ladle Fight wrote its first song the year it got together. “It was called “L.A.,” Miller says. “Even though none of us had ever been to L.A., it just seemed like a cool place to write about.” That song didn’t end up on the band’s self-titled debut, but others did, like “Damn Fool,” which is told through the eyes of a man looking back on history as climate change takes its toll, and “Dictators in Command,” which takes the Bush Administration to task. Pretty weighty subjects for such young songwriters, but they made sure to write one unabashedly poppy tune, “Take It Easy.” “The title says it all,” Miller says. “It’s just about being mellow.”
It’s been five years since the band first practiced, during which time they’ve had a chance to gig around D.C., including a couple of performances at the Takoma Park Folk Fest. It was at one of these shows that Miller’s uncle, James Katz, a songwriter and producer in New York, saw the band. He told the band he wanted to produce a full album. “We started practicing with a metronome after that,” Miller says.
Soon the band was at Cue Recording Studios in Virginia laying down the drums, bass, and guitars. Miller and Askew then went up to New York to record their vocals in Miller’s apartment studio. “I learned you can’t drink milk or orange juice before you record vocals,” Miller says. “That’s a definite no-no.”
The resulting album, Ladle Fight, suggests The Replacements when they first started out (minus the booze and fisticuffs), mixed with classic-rock influences and a CD collection that came of age in the new millennium. The band hopes to play more around D.C. to promote the record and work on its songwriting. And the members want Ladle Fight to be given a serious chance. “Yes, people give us more attention because of our age,” Miller says. “But they also tend to take us less seriously because of that. It cuts both ways.”