Bible Belt Sinners | Wearing Their Sunday Best

col BBSSB 75My songwriting process is still a mystery, even to me.

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Photo by DL Hegel

Sunday Best is the second studio album from St. Louis’s Bible Belt Sinners, and music veteran Molly Simms’ third studio album. Their sound has a draw on classic blues rock but a contemporary edge. Bible Belt Sinners consists of Andrew “Sal” Bono (lead guitar), Myles Richardson (stand-up bass), Erik “Grotto” Kozieja (drums), and Miss Molly Simms (vocals and rhythm guitar, with Ava Kozieja providing the piano on “Bad Guy.” “Lake Michigan” is the song for the video, which was filmed by Daniel T Dorsey. I was at the video shoot to interview Simms and Kozieja.

What are your major influences or inspirations for your sound for the album?

MS: Life experience is always our biggest influence, even if the events that end up in songs are given more creative license. “Lake Michigan,” for example, was written after I was in Chicago working a flea market and staying with an old friend in Hyde Park. We went to this amazing tiki bar on the North side of Chicago called Club Paradise that Donna Knott of Hullabaloo/Donnaland Vintage had told me about. Polish Elvis was performing. Things that make a strong aesthetic impression on you are worth recording in some way.

Do you have a song on the album that you think really exemplifies the feeling or message of the album?

MS: The album title comes from the song “Pistol Packing Preacher,” which originates from a story Tater Red told us in Memphis when we were on the road last April. He used to have a blues radio show and had a ton of great stories. He thought Pistol Packing Preacher would be a great band name, but we decided to honor his story in our song instead. That song mentions “Sunday best,” which is our album title. That line really stood out to us and captures what we’re trying to achieve at this point.

What was your recording process?

MS: We have recorded both albums at Firebrand studios with Brian Scheffer as our engineer. We like to cut as much live as we can, although this time we did explore some different recording techniques, such as blending a vocal mic and a harmonica mic run through an old tube amp to get a really gritty vocal sound on “Killer.” We used an old technique called vocal doubling on “Bad Guy,” where I actually recorded my vocal twice and Brian layered it to give it a fuller sound.

What is your favorite part of the recording process?

EK: My favorite part is listening to a song you’ve played dozens of times live, but actually hearing all the elements together in a recording and to be able to fine tune them and have the tools to bring each song to its full potential. It’s really rewarding to hear the final product.

Molly, this isn’t your first album. How do you think your songwriting process has evolved over time? What did you did you differently? Are there some unusual inspirations or stories related to any songs on the album?

MS: My songwriting process is still a mystery, even to me. Lyrics are of the utmost importance to me and are starting to become more important to us as a band, which means they’re letting me write more lyrically. Four of the songs on this album are songs I wrote entirely and the band arranged, and the rest of the songs on the album are co-writes, with everyone taking an active role. The biggest difference in these songs from the last studio album is, I think, each song has a story to tell and an emotion to evoke. On the last album, it was like a new relationship; we weren’t totally comfortable with each other yet, so we were only sharing what was on the surface. It was more raw rock ’n’ roll. Incidentally, this album has more to give—instrumentally, vocally, and lyrically. And as far as any stories related to the songs, we hope they speak for themselves.

How do you prepare for studio recording?

EK: Recording can be like running a marathon: It starts early in the day and goes well into the night. So we just try to be well rested and well rehearsed, and have lots of PBR on hand to get us through the day.

What’s your favorite song on the album?

EK: My favorite song on the album is “The Killer. It’s always been a fun song to play live: The energy is abundant and the vocals are amazing. Molly’s vocals are haunting and hard driven, all at the same time

What are some other projects you’re working on?

MS: I’m working on my solo project with full band, which is under my name—Miss Molly Simms Band—accompanied by the talented Kevin O’Connor of 7 Shot Screamers fame and Jamey Almond [former member of Trip Daddies and currently in Runaway Barge] on bass with Amy Hawkins occasionally on keys. We are performing mostly original songs with an alt-country twang and some old-school blues.

Any upcoming shows?

We play March 21 at Way Out Club with touring act Gold Hope Duo; March 22 is our CD release at Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room. We will be hitting the road in early April, starting in Springfield, Missouri, with our friends Black Bonnet Ballyhoo at Lindbergh’s, and then traveling to Huntsville, Alabama, to play the Copper Top. There will be stops all the way out to New York, where we will play Oasis in New Paltz. | DL Hegel

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