Three years ago, singer Kerry Pastine and guitarist Paul Shellooe wanted to start a group that sounded like a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack. The two musicians, who had long been in the blues act the Informants, aimed for a heavy, vintage sound.
“It just had to be seedy and greasy and edgy, but with really pretty soaring melodies that could hook a listener and make them want to dance, make them want to feel good, make them want to feel something,” Pastine says. “And maybe even feel a little dangerous.”
So they formed Kerry Pastine & the Crime Scene and brought on bassist Lance “Romance” Bakermeyer and drummer Mike “Mad Dog” Minnick and pulled off their vision.
“Those two together,” Pastine says of Bakermeyer and Minnick, “they are just a force to be reckoned with. It’s so rhythmic. It’s almost tribal because of that bass. Mad Dog, he’ll just come in and start clicking. He’ll hit the edge of his kick drum. He whittles his drumsticks down to toothpicks hitting that metal, because there’s so much rhythm going on in our songs.”
There’s a fierceness in the band’s energetic live shows; the four musicians clearly feed off of each other. Pastine describes their relationship as familial, almost spiritual. The musicians have more than a bond going for them; there’s also more than a combined century of performing experience among the members. Minnick has been touring with rock and punk bands like Aggression since he was a teenager, Bakermeyer has a long history with the Hillbilly Hellcats, while Shellooe says he and Pastine are rooted in vintage blues and R&B and have dabbled in rockabilly, country and surf.
With each member having nearly thirty years of playing experience under their belt, they’ve now got the band thing down to a science.
“We’ve all made every mistake you can possibly make, and now we know how to not make them,” Shellooe says.
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They run the band like a business, knowing how to streamline things, and as Shellooe says, they’re experts at maximizing efficiency. That means not taking ten guitars and a big stack on the road, but rather one guitar and a small amp. They tour the country in a black GMC Yukon SUV, which holds their gear, including Bakermeyer’s stand-up bass and Minnick’s stripped-down drum kit, which he plays standing up. Also, Shellooe says, an in-ear monitor system has helped them get the exact same mix every night, making performing easier, both live and in the studio.
Pastine says they even came up with a formula last year of staying on the road while still returning home to “try to conquer Colorado.”
“So how can we produce music, get it out there, keep giving our fans what they want while staying on the road and staying this busy?” Pastine says. “We thought, ‘Let’s come up with a five-song EP. We’ve got so many new songs that if we can release a five-song EP once a quarter, that’ll allow us to stay on the road, keep creating and keep music in their hands.”
After three albums, the Crime Scene is celebrating the release of its Bad Magic Baby EP on Friday, July 21, at the Soiled Dove Underground. Pastine says the title track, with its references to the French Riviera in the ’60s, was inspired by the 2015 film The Man from U.N.C.L.E., while “In Your Dreams” is about two fans of the band whom Shellooe says fell in love on the dance floor at one of the act’s shows.
The new EP also includes the Crime Scene’s first ballad, “Alive in Death Valley.” It was recorded in one take after getting some advice from Ty Taylor, singer of Los Angeles-based R&B band Vintage Trouble. Pastine and Shellooe had met Tayler in Las Vegas a few days before Vintage Trouble opened for the Who at the Pepsi Center in 2013.
Taylor asked Pastine to sing the song to him, and when she got to the chorus, he said, “Oh yeah, this is where you really want to kick them in the fucking teeth. Just do a fucking Motown thing. Just deliver with everything you got.” And then he sang it back to Pastine.
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At the next band practice, they put in their in-ear monitors and turned on the recorder, and Pastine thought, “Okay, this is the way [Taylor] wants us to deliver it.” They didn’t realize at the time it would be the recording that would end up on the EP.
When they ran into Taylor again, he got to hear the recorded version of the song.
“He puts his earbuds in,” Pastine says, “listens to the song, and he goes, 'Holy shit, that thing’s perfect. Don’t re-record it. That’s about as vulnerable as you can get. Use it.”
Kerry Pastine & the Crime Scene CD-release, 8 p.m. Friday, July 21, Soiled Dove Underground, $12-$15 (price includes CD).