|VIBES | FEATURE 05.01.02
Ton o' fun
Sober rockers Born To Please
shake it up and spit it out
BY LEE SMITH
Two years ago, Born To Please
stormed through their first practices in a sweltering
space on Marietta Street near the Somber Reptile.
"When we started writing
songs, we were in no hurry to play shows," recalls
bassist Andrew Shearer.
Shearer and guitarist Santiago
Velasquez had sampled the Atlanta punk scene in a high
school outfit called Evergreen. As for singer Jeri
Waynick and drummer Justin
Freeborn, they'd never been in a band.
"We wanted Jeri and Justin to
be comfortable," laughs Velasquez. "So we thought,
'Let's play a club where no one's gonna be on a
Saturday night.' So we picked
the Somber Reptile."
At the group's first gig, the
opening band left shortly after Born To Please started
playing, and only one extremely intoxicated woman
remained. With no idea of how
an audience would react to their potent mix of rock,
punk, jazz and humor, the band decided to play a few
more times at the club.
Subsequent reaction was favorable, and soon the band
was getting better and better gigs, moving rapidly
the underground punk world to
mainstream clubs in a matter of months.
Due to the venues the band
often played, critics wrongly labeled Born To Please a
punk outfit. "If you come to see us hoping to see a
punk show, you're gonna be
disappointed," says Waynick. "We have a lot of punk
influences, but we also have a lot of metal and rock
R&B in our sound."
Then there's the fact that BTP
is considered both an Atlanta band and an Athens band.
And while the Athens scene was open to the hybrid
sound, gigs were hard to come
by there because of the group's Atlanta address. "It's
a fine line," says Shearer. "I live in Athens, and we
record and practice in Athens,
but the rest of the band lives in Atlanta. We're
straddling the fence, creatively and geographically."
In both cities, "drunk people
and kids" love Born To Please, says Shearer, thanks in
part to all-ages shows. Shearer's favorite BTP gig so
far happened last year in the
very un-rock city of Lawrenceville. "Kids were excited
to see us," he recalls. "Playing there was perfect for
because it's about halfway
between Atlanta and Athens, and we aren't really rock
'n' roll people."
That said, BTP's Upstairs
Tiger CD is self-released on their own Fuk Rok label
-- "our big 'fuck you' to the whole rock cliche," says
"We are usually the only band
on the bill who's gonna hop around on stage and have
fun," adds Shearer. "Hey, if you pay to see me, I'll
fuckin' dance around and get
BTP subscribes to a sober
approach to fun perfect for the underage fans. "We're
not a drug-using band," says Shearer. "When we get
together after practice, we
don't go get drunk. We go eat."
Their clear-eyed take on a
myriad of topics -- occasionally peppered with
profanity -- may be shocking to some. But to BTP, it's
business as usual.
"Some of our songs deal with
self-hatred, confusion, evaluation and stuff," says
But Waynick adds that the band
has "silly and outright verbally perverted songs, too.
It's us having fun. We'd be posers if we didn't have
all that stuff in our songs,
because it's how we are."
"At one of our first shows,"
says Shearer, "we went on after a hardcore band. Jeri
said, 'Born To Please is not music to mosh to, it's
music to fuck to.' I got all
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