Note: The below story was written by Andrea Dulanto. We would love to add a few links to places you might be able to find her on the Internet … but we have no idea who she is and The Internet isn’t necessarily helping. Either way, this Q&A appeared in today’s edition of 72 Hours.
Alternative rock band Luscious Purr will play an all-ages show at Dublin Roasters in Frederick on Saturday. The band’s co-founders, Tracy Salka, an English teacher, and Melissa Yourich, a computer technician, met online in 2007.
“Tracy was hesitant to date me because we are so different,” Yourich said. Eventually, they formed a connection, even if they weren’t working on music yet. In 2009, they started living together in Hagerstown and began writing songs. The band name followed, inspired by Yourich’s description of their tabby cat’s “luscious purr.”
When Salka was younger, she sang for bands like Ellylamb in Frederick. But Yourich had never been in a band until she played drums for Luscious Purr. Driven to write music, Yourich learned how to play guitar. Luscious Purr now includes Wayne Palmer on bass, Brother Art Castro on drums and Paul Brockey on lead guitar.
From the energetic folk rock of “Bare Bones” to a rhythmic elegy for Amy Winehouse in “Never Sing Again” to the pop-punk bawdy humor of “Hillary,” Luscious Purr explores eclectic styles. And Salka and Yourich’s relationship has stayed strong. They were married in 2013.
We interviewed them via email about their musical influences, their songwriting process, and why they love playing in Frederick.
Your musical influences include Siouxsie and the Banshees, Aretha Franklin, The Indigo Girls, Jack White. How have these influences shown up in your music?
Salka: I grew up listening to punk. I was especially attracted to the more melodic vocal style of Siouxsie. Some of our harder original songs are definitely influenced by her and her band. Mel and I both love Jack White. We regularly perform a couple of his songs as covers. I love the emotionality of his voice. When I was very young, I loved Motown and used to emulate all of the things that Aretha Franklin did with her voice. As for the Indigo Girls, what lesbians our age don’t love them?
How have you developed as songwriters?
Salka: My first songs, especially when I was much younger, were “clever,” rather than heartfelt, and not as good. The songs we’ve written together have increased in complexity as Mel’s guitar skill level has increased.
Yourich: It’s a highly emotional process. The riff often feels like … a time in my life, a place, a person, an experience. For example, “Darker Clouds.” My original riff reminded me of sadness in a coal town. … The song is about my mother and her struggles as a child and wife of an alcoholic. … I sometimes cry while performing this song as I did while writing it. Tracy added the melody that really nailed the feeling of it for me.
When did you decide to work together? What are some of the challenges and rewards of being in a band with your partner?
Yourich: We never “decided” to work together. It just had to happen if we wanted to try this new adventure. … Tracy sings much better than I do, and she is better at writing melodies. It’s kind of like the cigarette and the match. Without both, there is no smoke.
We’ve finally overcome most of our challenges. That’s what experience and love has done for us. If I present Tracy with facts that support my argument, she will concede and vice-versa, so it’s not all emotional anymore. But that was learned. In the beginning, it was all emotional.
How do you balance the need to create music with other responsibilities?
Salka: I’m a high school English teacher by day. Although I have lots of time for music during the summer, during the school year, it’s difficult to find time for anything else except for grading and planning.
Yourich: If I could, I’d spend every second on music. That’s not realistic, though. Tracy and I have learned to accept our often messy house in order to prioritize our music.
What have you learned from working on your first CD?
Yourich: My background in IT made learning Protools (computer program for recording music) fairly easy. I’m still developing my ear. We’ve also learned that hardly anyone records whole CDs anymore, so we are releasing our finished songs one by one.
What do you like about playing at Dublin Roasters and about playing in Frederick?
Yourich: We love playing in Frederick, especially Dublin Roasters. First of all, everyone there is friendly and professional. Secondly, it’s not a bar. The atmosphere is more welcoming, especially for some of our younger fans. Serina, the owner of Dublin Roasters, has been extremely supportive of the local music scene.
Salka: We are from Hagerstown. The most frustrating thing about playing there is lots of the venues only want blues music and/or classic rock covers. Quite a few venues don’t even have live music during football season. I find it fairly mind-blowing that people would rather go out to watch football rather than hear live music! The scene in Frederick is much cooler.