VISITING ACT: Black Diamond Heavies 

Smack that Baby and Make It Cry: Diamond Heavies sing and play the punk-ass blues

Black Diamond Heavies Black Diamond Heavies - A Touch of Someone Else's Class
w/ Cary Ann Hearst
Thurs. Nov. 20
10 p.m.
$5
The Tin Roof
1117 Magnolia Road
(843) 571-0775
www.myspace.com/westashleytinroof
www.myspace.com/blackdiamondheavies

"Everything is Everything" — from the album A Touch of Some One Else's Class
Audio File

"Numbers" — from the album A Touch of Some One Else's Class
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Like a bleary-eyed sorostitute at a Waffle House the morning after a Kappa Sig kegger, that's how singer John Wesley Myers of the Black Diamond Heavies sounds — throat cigarette-scarred and dripping in unidentifiable fluids. On organ, Myers (a.k.a. "Reverent James Leg" — and that is "reverend" with a "t") and drummer Van Campbell beat the mother-loving crap out of their instruments like Tennessee toddlers.

Trailer trash nightmare? Better yet, fantastical rubbish-rock southern-punk-blues, the likes of which has been purported to "make the Black Keys seem like choirboys." This Thursday, the Tin Roof will host the Nashville dirty duo, who share the bill with Ms. Cary Ann Hearst. City Paper caught up with the act to get the heavy, as it were, on what they're all about.

CITY PAPER: You have what could be described as a minimally ornate set up. How is this "organized" chaos carried out live?

JOHN WESLEY MYERS: Our approach is a big sound from a small unit. We tend to set up really tight, practically on top of each other, and then hit our gear really hard. Most amps go to 10; ours go to 11.

CP: We assume that means the set will end with "Big Bottom." That said, at times your sound emerges like the ghost of a Confederate soldier come to avenge his death. What elements of your southern upbringing developed your gritty blues sound?

JWM: Southern religion, fried chicken, piece-of-shit cars, broke-ass gear, bein' poor, broke, and hungry, whiskey, haulin' ass on country roads, runnin' from the po-lice...

CP: Dukes, huh? I was thinking more Waits, as in Tom. The Tom Waits comparison is a given. Did he influence your vocal style?

JWM: You know, we get that a lot. However, I'm a little embarrassed to admit I didn't find Tom Waits' music 'til fairly later in my music career. Vocally speaking, my biggest influences are probably Howlin' Wolf, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Ray Charles ... also Iggy Pop — not that I can sing like any of them cats, but I like what they were able to do with their voices.

CP: Your sound has been described by critics as "raw as fuck yet richly coded in a vintage hue," "ass shaking trash rock," and "unadulterated 21st-century rhythm and blues." How do you describe yourselves?

JWM: Somebody once called it punk-ass blues. We like that a lot.

CP: What were you trying to achieve on your new album, A Touch of Someone Else's Class [a follow-up to last year's Every Damn Time]?

JWM: We wanted this last record to kinda be a continuation of the first one — mostly live, similar themes. But we also wanted to make it a little less lo-fi and more accessible for radio and whatnot.

CP: That's evident on tracks like "Bidin' My Time," a heartbreak love song as devastating as Tammy Faye Bakker's tears. Makes sense given your alter ego the Reverent James Leg. Can fans expect changing names, a la Prince, or is this preacher sticking around?

JWM: James "Jimmy" Leg has been an alias for a while now ... could be a split personality thing I reckon, Gemini and all that. Hell, we'll just have to see if he sticks around.

CP: From what I can gather, the last time you were in Charleston was last January. You were about to kick off a big three-month tour from Nashville to London. How was that experience, and what's been happening since?

JWM: Hell, we been all over since then. We just got back in the States from an England/Ireland/Scotland tour. We been on that side of the Atlantic three different times since Christmas ... done the West Coast a couple times this year. We've basically been on tour for about three years now — and no end in sight.

CP: Will this be your first time sharing the stage with local darling Cary Ann Hearst? Can audiences expect any collaborations with her during the set?

JWM: Yeah, this'll be the first time we've played together. We ain't talked yet about any collaboratin', but, hell, anything can happen.

CP: God and Cary Ann willing.

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