It began somewhere in Edwardsville, Illinois. Surrounded by acreage and immersed in music, Molly Simms discovered the power of singing and never turned back. Now she’s surrounded by the St. Louis city blocks that she floods with a loud, dirty kind of sound that casts spells and commands one to scream and shout and shake it all about.
Molly released Devil Ridin’ Shotgun with her band Bible Belt Sinners in 2011. She then released Revenants, her solo album as Miss Molly Simms the following year. Now, after two years in the making, Bible Belt Sinners takes their greasy rock and roll credo to new depths with Sunday Best, which’ll be unleashed onto the public this Saturday at Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room.
ACR: First and foremost, what’s the deal with this Tater Red character? I’ve heard you mention him at your shows a few times.
MS: Leo “Tater Red” Allred owns the best shop on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s called Tater Red’s Lucky Mojos. We met him there on our last tour. They have awesome souvenirs like shrunken heads and switchblade combs. Tater Red was the originator of “The Beale Street Blues Show,” a long-running radio show in Memphis. He’s the reason we wrote “Pistol Packing Preacher” (from Sunday Best).
I first saw you perform as Miss Molly Simms. When did you decide it was time for the full band?
I played solo for five years before finding a band to work with. I always wanted a band but mostly used hired guns at the bigger shows. I had Eugene Johnson and Marty Spikener backing me for the Taste of St. Louis show. I played in a duo with harmonica player Eric McSpadden for a while, and still do occasionally.
Your band, Bible Belt Sinners, blends so many styles. I’m curious, how would you describe the band’s sound?
We generally like to stick to something broad and all-encompassing like “Rock N Roll” but I’d say a more in-depth description would be a fusion of jump blues, old honky tonk, and punk rock. We get labeled as Rockabilly a lot and that’s fine by us too.
Tell us about this new record, Sunday Best.
This new album has been in the works for the past two years. The inspirations for these songs range from heartbreak to travel to the darker side of life and back again. It was recorded at Firebrand in St. Louis by Brian Scheffer.
I really like the way you sing the name Chicago in that new “Lake Michigan” song. What were you listening to when you wrote that? Do you think that sort of thing impacts your songwriting at all?
My tastes in music are constantly in flux but I have to admit that I’ve had the same cassette in my car for the past year, Elvis Costello’s My Aim is True. I would love to think that the artists I admire most impact my writing but I think it’d be a falsity to claim that their genius has rubbed off in that regard. But that’s what we do as artists, try to soak it all up like a sponge and create something that encapsulates the kind of raw power that would make you want to listen to the same cassette for a year.
The new video for “Lake Michigan” seems to paint the picture of the hard knock city lifestyle. So where was the video shot?
Actually, and I hate to admit this, but it’s probably more basic than that. The storyline of the song pretty much leaves it open-ended enough for you to fill in the blanks. We’re musicians, not screenplay writers.
The video was actually shot in various locales around St. Louis, including some scenes near the river and some scenes in Dick Pointer’s basement.
So wait, you never killed a man and left him at the bottom of Lake Michigan?
Do you think I’d admit to that? …
Your music feels right at home here in St. Louis. What would you say makes Bible Belt Sinners and Miss Molly Simms resonate so well with people here?
There’s so much talent here. So many shows. People really need to be moved and see a great show to be impressed. I think our music resonates well with folks because we have lots of energy at our live shows and we want them to be part of the show. We’re tossing back PBR right along with them and having just as much fun.
You’re releasing Sunday Best this Saturday at The Duck Room. What can folks expect at the show?
An all-girl band called Motorpanties from Springfield, Missouri will open the show. They’re traveling to town just for this. As for us, we’re going to put on one hell of a Rock N Roll show. Music will start at 9:00pm and go until at least midnight.
Tickets are $7 at The Duck Room on Saturday, where thou shalt rock and roll hard.
Music video for “Lake Michigan” directed by Daniel T. Dorsey