Girl Haggard let loose with Country and Eastern

Cowboy junkies
By CHRIS CONTI  |  August 31, 2010

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‘IT’S ALL JUST ROCK ’N’ ROLL’ Sinatra, Hunter, Allan, and Jaehnig.

An adorable, Tennessee-bred country-bumpkin whose idea of the perfect evening out begins and ends with shots and beers at the E&O Tap? What else could a man ask for? Sorry, fellas, but Girl Haggard's Mandy Allan is spoken for, and don't let the adorable blonde pigtails and southern accent fool you into assuming you could keep up anyway. Allan plays the tatted-up femme-fatale of the trailer park, a live wire with a penchant for getting sauced all over Girl Haggard's full-length debut, Country and Eastern (75orLess Records). The quartet's vintage blend of country-fried punk rock will undoubtedly have Nick-a-Nee's jumping next Saturday.

When we checked in with Girl Haggard last summer, the band had just recruited guitarist/charismatic loon Hank Sinatra Jr. and planned to record a full-length debut, building on the demos "Providence and Bourbon" and "Hungover/Pissed Off" (both appear on Country and Eastern). Mission accomplished. On the duet "Drunk, Broke and In Love," Hank and Mandy trade barbs as quarreling white-trash lovers, with Sinatra Jr firing off lines like, "You say get a job and I say shut up/Even Building 19 makes you piss in a cup." But Allan remains the star, endearing even on a chorus like "I'm drunk, I'm pissed, and I'm coked up/and still pretty sure I love you" ("Pick Up Lines"). And on "Early and Often," Allan informs her lame suitor, "You don't know nothin' about me or how to treat me right/A shot and a beer and a li'l pinball might help your chances tonight," and sounds right at home with the shout-along chorus of "Take me to the E&O!"

Earlier this week we sat down for a quick web chat with Mandy and co-founder/bassist Aaron Jaehnig:

MANDY, HOW/WHEN/WHY DID YOU END UP IN RHODE ISLAND?
I was born and raised in Hendersonville, just north of Tennessee. I moved to Los Angeles when I was 21 'cuz of this cute boy I met there. Four years later Curt and I got married, quit our jobs, sold our house, and bought an Airstream motorhome. We spent a year living on the road, traveling the country. Curt is originally from New England, and we've been here for about five years now.

WHAT EFFECT HAS HANK HAD ON THE BAND'S OVERALL SOUND?
Aaron: The addition of Hank's virtuoso guitar playing has been great. But the band as a whole has come a long way since our early '09 demos, particularly the songwriting and harmonizing.
Mandy: Hank completes us.

AARON, WHEN WE SPOKE LAST YEAR YOU SAID YOUR MAIN GOALS BEHIND FORMING GIRL HAGGARD WERE "DRINKING WHISKEY AND BEER AND HAVIN' FUN PLAYIN' ROCK 'N' ROLL." ANY MAJOR PLANS OR HEIGHTENED GOALS FOLLOWING THE ALBUM'S RELEASE?
I hope our goals never change. We are playing rock 'n' roll for rock 'n' roll's sake. I am having fun drinking whiskey and making music with my friends. If we can keep doing that, then that's enough for me.

DID Y'ALL SET OUT TO CREATE A "COUNTRY-PUNK" SOUND FROM THE VERY BEGINNING?
Aaron: The idea was to take our cues stylistically from the good ol' country singers and outlaw stuff, and just play it as loud and fast as we could. "Country and Eastern" was always the term I used to describe it, but in the end it's all just rock 'n' roll. We have expanded our sound, with a lot more vocal harmonies and '50s style early rock 'n' roll. But we're still playing it raw and loud.

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