The last time local power-pop group the Westside Daredevils took the stage for an official show was at the now-closed World Grotto back in 2008, at their CD release show for their third album, Brave New Nothing. So news that they’ll be playing at Patrick Sullivan’s in the Old City on Nov. 19 is cause for celebration, and some explanation.
“We never really stopped,” says Gray Comer, who has switched from guitars and backing vocals to drums for the band’s latest lineup. “We just had the world’s slowest and most prolonged hiatus. We’re old men now. We have grad school and actual real jobs now, so we had to reconfigure things.”
Comer’s replacing Mike Dougherty, the Devils’ long-time drummer, and John T. Baker—formerly of the French Broads, currently active with his band Econopop and as a solo artist—is taking Comer’s place in the band’s three-guitar front line, alongside Brett Cassidy, Jeff Caudill, and bassist Brandon Smith.
“We basically figured it was easier to recruit another guitar player than a drummer, so we brought John in. I wanted a different perspective—his style is different from mine, and I felt burned out on playing guitar anyway, or I felt like I’d hit a wall. It’s more exciting for me playing drums, and John’s really f--king good, so that helps.”
Comer says the band has a few new songs written with Baker and hope this show will be the first of regular local gigs, and maybe even a new album.
“We’re thinking this is the beginning of us playing out regularly again, and recording again,” he says. “I’m not sure how intense a schedule we’ll have for out-of-town shows we’ll have, because we are old and have lives now.”
Comer’s also playing drums in the current Econopop lineup with Baker, George Middlebrooks, and Bo Ratliff. Baker has just finished recording a collection of solo material, Woodgrain, with that lineup, which he expects to release by the end of October.
“The notion behind that title, and Econopop in general, is that on my last few records I’ve used a lot of weird sounds, weird transitions between songs, just a lot of studio tricks, and now I’ve stripped that all away,” Baker says. “It’s just songs.”
Econopop is playing a show at Barley’s Taproom on Friday, Oct. 8, with Stewart Pack and the Marshall Stack.