Walking the line

(PHOTO BY ELLIE BOGUE)

Walking the line

Yellow Dead Bettys balance popular covers with their own originals

By Michele DeVinney
Initially formed as That Guy over a decade ago, the band that is now Yellow Dead Bettys has seen a few lineup changes. That in itself is hardly unusual for a band in its formative years, but what has remained constant has been the friendship and musical partnership of bassist Jimi Marks and guitarist Chris Liechty, who met when each joined a local supergroup of sorts, a merging of players from several different Fort Wayne bands. Recognizing a musical connection, the pair soon went off on their own, honing their straightforward rock ‘n roll sound.

Always interested in recording, they have used a variety of drummers, but one additional talent kept coming along to do vocals.

“Chris’s sister Karly would come and sing with us from time to time so in around 2006 we figured she should just join the band,” Marks said. “We told her we may as well get our money’s worth out of her!”

Once that girl joined That Guy, a name change was in order — hence Yellow Dead Bettys. But the role of drummer continued to see players come and go until one Seve William Sullivan Doyle came along just over a year ago. Marks thinks they may have finally found their fourth member.

“Steve has really fit the bill. If only I could bottle that attitude. He’s always ready, always on time, always prepared – and that hasn’t always been the case in the past. He’s really fit in with what we’re doing.”

Fitting into the group is important to Marks and Liechty, who have played together long enough to make things work with almost no effort to explain anything.

“We’ve been playing together for a long time, and we can just give each other silent cues now. We just seem to be on the same wavelength and know what we need to do. Whenever I play with Chris, it just feels like home.”

They also share a mind on the subject of recording. Yellow Dead Bettys have two CDs, the most recent, “B.P.M.,” in 2010. While they maintain a busy performance schedule — they’ll be appearing at Rock the Plaza in June and Pride Fest in July — Marks says they approach live gigs as a means to an end.

“We love the process of recording music — writing it, recording it and then going in to polish it. But you have to perform live to make the money to record and to promote yourself so you can record. Chris and I both look at it that way, that the gigs pay for the chance to record.”

Appearing not only locally but also in surrounding states like Michigan, Illinois and Ohio, Yellow Dead Bettys walk the fine line of most working bands, playing as many originals as they can while providing the venue with the covers that bring people through the door. While a necessity, they find ways to make doing covers satisfying, too.

“Even though some of them are pop songs, I figure if we’re going to do it, we may as well bring some of our own artistic expression to it, and we make it a rock song. We like to play around with the music even when it isn’t our own.”

Posted: Thu, 06/14/2012 - 1:36 pm
Last updated: Fri, 07/13/2012 - 2:33 pm