Thinking Man's Musician: Charlie Overbey Goes Honky-Tonk With the Broken Arrows, Performing at Pappy and Harriet'sWritten by Brian Blueskye
Charlie Overbey has had a lot of musical irons in the figurative fire.
He was the frontman of the cowpunk band Custom Made Scare before he set out on his own with The Valentine Killers. He’s since reinvented himself with his new band the Broken Arrows—which he’ll be bringing to Pappy and Harriet’s on Valentine’s Day, when the band will open for The Supersuckers.
During a recent phone interview from Los Angeles, he discussed the recent EP by Charlie Overbey and the Broken Arrows, The California Kid.
“The theme of the record reflected a strange time in my life,” Overbey said. “I was going through a lot of heavy shit. My father had just passed away; I had just gotten sober, and I was into my first year of that. I was going through a divorce and all kinds of other craziness. I wanted to make a heavy and depressing kind of record, and I went in to start doing it. The first day we started tracking, I figured that I just didn’t feel right about it and turned it around to make an album that was upbeat and still personal.
“I went into it putting everything out there, and some of the songs are pretty deep and personal, and some are about my youth. I try to write from a place of reality and stuff that’s going to make people think and feel rather than a place of, ‘Hey, let’s party!’”
The California Kid has a deep honky-tonk and ’70s country feel. It’s quite different from what Overbey has done in the past with Custom Made Scare and the Valentine Killers. The songs have pedal-steel guitar and a California country sound. Back in December, Overbey played The Hood Bar and Pizza, opening for Wayne “The Train” Hancock; he fit right in.
“It’s absolutely different. I would say it’s a very heavy, rootsy kind of record for me,” Overbey said. “My influences are vast, from rock to punk to singer-songwriter kind of stuff. I like it all; a good song is a good song.
“With this record, I went deep back into things I grew up hearing. As I get older, I find myself realizing that the Johnny Cash and stuff my old man listened to had a lot of influence on me. The stuff in the ’70s like the Allman Brothers, Jackson Browne and all kinds of good stuff like that, had massive influence on me that I never realized I was there. I always wrote these kinds of songs and kept them on the backburner and decided when I was old enough, I would maybe put some of these songs out. When I did The California Kid, I thought that maybe I was old enough now to make a record that’s not punk rock and not big guitar rock and still have some guitars and incorporate some pedal steel melodies. I just wanted to make a good EP—and it came out that way.”
Looking back at the fast-and-crazy cowpunk material he once wrote, Overbey doesn’t feel this is a massive departure.
“Custom Made Scare was basically cowpunk,” he said. “A lot of people said it was a mix between Hank Williams and cranked-up Ted Nugent, which was a bit weird but kind of does fit that. Not that I’m a huge Ted Nugent fan, but the guy wrote some great songs. … I think it’s all timing of what’s going on in your life and what you’re doing. As a writer, you grow and evolve, and you’re constantly changing and reinventing yourself.”
There are some fantastic guest appearances on The California Kid. Zander Schloss, of The Circle Jerks and the semi-local Sean and Zander, makes an appearance, as does Steve Soto of the Adolescents, and pedal-steel guitarist Jordan Shapiro. The late Lemmy Kilmister’s son, Paul Kilmister, produced some of the tracks, and Grammy-winning producer Ted Hutt did much of the mixing.
A new album is currently in the works, and Overbey said he will have Hutt produce the record with a different approach.
“I think it’s probably going to be a little more raw,” Overbey said. “We’re going to track this new record live and go for a real live vibe. It’s going to be a bit more guitar-heavy and not so slick. The California Kid was done with basic live tracks and overdubs. When you do it that way, it turns out to be more slick and produced-sounding than a live rock band. … When the band plays live, it’s great. If you listen to the EP, and you see the band live, the vibe is a lot different. The EP sounds more like a slick kind of ’70s album to where if you see (the songs performed) live, it’s a far different animal. … The thing I’m most excited about is giving a lot of the creative process up to Ted, and going with what Ted really thinks is best for the record.”
Overbey is no stranger to playing with The Supersuckers. In fact, he’s one of frontman Eddie Spaghetti’s closest friends in the industry.
“We’re really excited about these dates,” he said. “The new Supersuckers record is awesome, and they’ve come back to doing another country record. I love the Supersuckers country stuff as much as I love their rock stuff. I’m really looking forward to seeing the Supersuckers do the country and rock thing, and I think it’s a perfect mix.”
Last year, Eddie Spaghetti was diagnosed with Stage 3 oropharynx cancer, but has gone into remission after surgery and radiation treatments.
“I think cancer is always a pretty grim situation. He is in great spirits and in good shape, and all of his surgeries went well,” Overbey said of Eddie Spaghetti. “I think he’s going to come out of this thing on top of it. It’s a tough thing when you have a friend who gets sick, and your hopes are always high, but I think the odds of Eddie staying on top of making rock records for a long time are very high in his favor.”
Charlie Overbey and the Broken Arrows will perform with The Supersuckers at 8:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 14, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $20. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.