They performed on the same stage as Los Lobos, and they appeared as the fictional Yellow Jacket Boys vocal group in the hit comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, and now The Mighty Echoes are bringing their harmonic vocal doowop to Culver. City. We spoke to baritone Harvey Shield to find out what they’re talking about …
CULVER CITY NEWS: WHEN DID YOU START PLAYING AND WRITING, AND WHEN DID YOU START TAKING IT SERIOUS?
Harvey Shield: Personally, I started in 1961 and I had already played, recorded and written my first song by the time I left school at 18 in 1965. It’s hard to believe it goes back any further. 50 years old. At that time, I was the drummer for episode 6, with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover who would later become Deep Purple. We were a harmony band too, but today singing with Charlie, Jon and Jon as Mighty Echoes is even more satisfying in its simplicity and completeness. I’ve always taken music seriously and it’s always been fun to do.
WHO ARE YOUR MAIN INFLUENCES?
Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and Snooks Eaglin, but for the Mighty Echoes it would have to be the Persuasions and Dion & the Belmonts.
DESCRIBE YOUR OWN STYLE …
We are a rock & roll band without instruments, specializing in songs from the doowop era and band harmony sound from the 50s and 60s.
WHERE ARE YOU BASED?
We trained at the Olio, a former venue in Silverlake in 1986. We have always been based in Echo Park, hence our name. LA has an incredibly diverse music scene, seven days a week.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST GIG TO DATE? AND THE WORST ?
Los Lobos opening at Regent Downtown last year was very cool. Like any musician, experience those moments when everything clicks; our voices, the ambiance, the sound, the feel, etc. That’s what it’s about. We also loved playing the Yellow Jacket Boys with Danny Devito in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. When we started out, we played private concerts where no one listened. We have described ourselves as the “doowop mats”. They were the worst.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ALBUMS / SINGLES AVAILABLE?
We recorded five albums. I really like our Christmas album, “Doowop Around the Christmas Tree”, on Memphis International Records.
HAVE YOU EVER PLAYED BOULEVARD MUSIC?
Yes. I think this will be our fourth time. Gary Mandell called me a few years ago and invited us to play there. It must have gone well because here we are again.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM ALL?
Boulevard Music has a great sound system, so hopefully you’ll hear some great vocal harmonies. You get a big sound for just four guys. We’re going to do a lot of doowop classics and add some other really cool songs. Apart from music people also tell us that we are quite funny.
WHAT HAVE YOU PLANNED FOR THE FUTURE AFTER THE SHOW?
We’re hoping to release a new album next year, and I’d just like to keep singing for as long as humanly possible.
The Mighty Echoes plays at 8 p.m. on Saturday, December 2 at Boulevard Music; 4316 Sepulveda Boulevard, Culver City; 310-398-2583; $ 20.