January 16, 2009

Kleveland: Harder

photo: Laura Domela

Kleveland may well be the dirtiest sounding rock band from Portland, Oregon. Led by Stephanie Smith on guitar and vocals their second full length Harder is a slap in the face for all of those who think that "rawk" died in the Seventies.

Echoes from the New York Dolls and the golden age of glam rock loom large. Find a riff and bring it home, kicking and screaming if need be. Narrow minded parents will freak out when they take notice of the lyrics, demanding that there should be a big "parental advisory" thingy on this. Yes, it's about sex, quite a lot of it too. "Do what you want, don't be polite" (from opening track Do it Big) would have been a good alternate title for this album. Kleveland rocks.

Stephanie Smith: guitar, vocals
Kevin Hahn: guitar
Allen Hunter: bass
Kevin Rankin: drums

Kleveland: Harder

Harder is released on In Music We Trust Records. Buy it from CD Baby.

  1. Do It Big
  2. Crutch
  3. Harder
  4. You're Not Sorry
  5. Late Bloomer
  6. Low
  7. Sloppy Seconds
  8. It's Your Turn
  9. Golden Gloves
  10. It's Over
Stephanie Smith

The HCTF Kleveland questionnaire
Stephanie Smith kindly answered some questions via email:

The band is called Kleveland, a pun on "cleave-land" a name dreamed up by the owner of Ozone Records store on Burnside in Portland. Is he is on your guest list for all eternity?
"Of course he is! As is Ase Kleveland (60's Norwegian Folk singer & Stateswoman) and anyone from the town of Kleveland, Norway. If you google 'Kleveland', Ms. Kleveland's references come up more than ours, but we are working on that."

Which group besides Mötley Crüe may call you night and day for a support slot on a world tour?
"As much kinship as we feel with the Crue, we would happily accept collect calls for tour support from The Hellacopters (should they do a reunion), Queens of the Stone Age, PJ Harvey, Iggy Pop and Amy Winehouse, because she really knows how to party!"

Your sound comes straight from the Seventies. A bit of the New York Dolls, the Ramones and the Runaways. What kind of equipment did you use to lay down the tracks?
"First off - thanks for noticing, I take that comparison as a compliment. We kept it pretty simple - we recorded the basics live to 2-inch tape. I played Gibson Jr.s, both with p-90's, through an Orange AD30TC 2 x12. Allen (bass) played a '74 P-bass through an Ampeg SVT-Classic 300-watt tube head through a 6x10 cab, the lead players went through a Marshall 800 50-watt head and 2x12 cab. And the drummer just played like a caveman and hits hard."

Harder is louder than the previous album now that you are on small independent label. More budget equals more power?
"Actually, our last album was produced through another Portland Indie label, Pampelmoose, run by Dave Allen (Gang of Four), but we had a very limited time to complete that album, and it was recorded as a trio. For Harder, we were a four-piece, we took our time and worked with our favourite engineers around town (one of whom is now our new lead guitarist, Kevin Hahn). And for the first time, I am happy about a recording!"

A lot of your songs are about relationships going on the rocks. Did you choose an acoustic on purpose for Sloppy Seconds and It's Over to make sure the ex could hear every word?
"Ha ha. Nah, he already got an earful. Most of the songs start on acoustic, then get developed. But some just feel right staying put on the acoustic. It's tempting to want to make everything loud and fast, but unless there is variety gets formulaic and fake. That's what I love about rock-there are no rules. As long as it's coming from your heart and your gut. "

You will be hitting Europe next month with live dates lined up in The Netherlands and Belgium. What can the audiences expect?
"A fist-pumping, pick-sliding, hip-grinding, sweaty, dirty rock show..."

Anything else? Fire at will.
"This is Kleveland's first European tour - and we are really excited to start in The Netherlands, because rumour has it that the Dutch love their rock (according to Allen, who was the touring bassist with the Eels in 2005-06)… So we look forward to seeing ya'll in the mosh pit!"

Live dates:
  • 02/04 Enschede FM, (radio show), Enschede, The Netherlands
  • 02/05 Metropool, Hengelo, The Netherlands
  • 02/06 7e hemel, Heerenveen, The Netherlands
  • 02/07 De Engelenbak, Doetinchem, The Netherlands
  • 02/08 Maloe Melo, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 02/09 TBA (Somewhere in Europe)
  • 02/10 Winston Kingdom, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 02/11 TBA (Somewhere in Europe)
  • 02/12 De Rots, Antwerpen, Belgium
  • 02/13 't Vereinshoes, Vaals, The Netherlands
  • 02/14 Docx, Assen, The Netherlands

» klevelandmusic.com
» myspace.com/kleveland

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