XXQs: The Amish Outlaws
PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?
Big Daddy Abel: I think our sound is a fun lively mix of popular songs that people love to sing along to while dancing the night away. I don't know if we actually have a specific genre to be "locked" into because we play so many different kinds of music during our shows.
PEV: Four out of the original six of the members of The Amish Outlaws were born and raised in Lancaster, PA and had a strict Amish upbringing; no electricity from land lines, no alcohol and no musical instruments. So how did you jump into music? What was the one thing that made want to be musicians?
Ezekiel: I left the Amish life and went into The World at 16. I heard "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "The Wall" and became obsessed with music and immediately wanted to listen to it around the clock. Eventually I decided I wanted to play it. As Frank Zappa said, "Music is the best!" That is what made me want to be a musician!
PEV: What exactly is Rumpsringa and how it affected your lives?
Ezekiel: It means "running around" and it is when you get to go out and experience The World free of the limitations of Amish life and decide if you want to join Church and be baptized or not. It opened me up to things I could not close once I had experienced them, so decided not to join Church and live Amish. It was the single most defining thing in my life.
PEV: Tell us what it was like trying to break into the music scene as the Amish Outlaws. Did people have a preconceived notion of you?
Ezekiel: We spent a few years playing shows wherever we could, but once it took off, we took off fast and it has been a dizzying, fun, unforgettable experience. We played anywhere and everywhere, going from Maryland to Connecticut between gigs with horrible routing, doing up to 13 nights in a row, lots of doubles, and playing our butts off to get our feet in the door. Our feet stink, so now that they're in there, you're all stuck with us. A lot of people expect us to play country music, probably because of the outfits. Boy, they were surprised!
PEV: What can fans expect from a live The Amish Outlaws show?
Big Daddy Abel: To be thoroughly entertain, have lots of fun and be pleasantly surprised.
Ishmael: The unexpected.
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?
Big Daddy Abel: Did I leave the stove on?
Jakob: Will this Stoli and soda last me the whole set or should I have gotten a backup...?
Ishmael: Nothing, my mind actually goes blank.
PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?
Big Daddy Abel: I think any song that we can have fun with is the first requisite for choosing a song. Second would be if it's kind of cool in some way. The best ideas from songs come from when we have long car rides on the way to/from a show and something catches our attention.
Jakob: Time Life cd collection infomercials at 3 AM.
Ishmael: We just try and keep it different from every other cover band.
PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out do you ever look back at your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?
Big Daddy Abel: I look back now, because you asked the question. I don't often look back at HOW I got to "here". But now that I am... I think I would have followed along more willingly on that path rather than have "fought" with the "detours" that I felt "popped up" in my path.
Jakob: I often think about it, it really reminds me of how much of a privilege it is to be doing something that I love . Starting the band is one of the only instances in my life where the old cliche of "work hard and you will be successful" has actually come to be. Plus this is the 2nd longest I have ever held a job!!!
Ishmael: I have no idea how this happened.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of The Amish Outlaws?
Big Daddy Abel: That we are all botanists from Lithuania. That would surprise me too because I am actually not from Lithuania, nor do I botan.
Jakob: We all wear man thongs under the outfits.
Ishmael: We like to eat more than anything else, aside from play music.
PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a big part of your lives?
Big Daddy Abel: Probably when I auditioned on trumpet for Doc Severinsen back when he ran the Tonight Show Band. That or when I started playing guitar.
Jakob: Around 5 years old my older sister would play the vinyl version of Pink Floyd "The Wall" over and over and over. I remember thinking even at 5 years old that the chick that says "Wanna take a bath?" had a sexy voice. I think I got a little mini chub too.
Ishmael: When I played my first gig at 13.
PEV: What do you want people to understand about the Amish culture that they may be mislead about?
Ezekiel: That we're hipper than you think!
PEV: How is life on the road for you in the music world? Best and worst parts?
Big Daddy Abel: Life on the road for me is nice. The best parts are the audiences and seeing the smiles on their faces and hearing from them after a show that they had a great time. Some of the places along the way that we've found really good food is quite a plus as well. Worst parts would be anyone who chooses to snap my suspenders or assumes that we are indestructible. Also any Housekeeping personnel that is loud when cleaning right outside or next to the room we are trying to sleep in.
Jakob: The Best part is definitely the food ,and the ball busting that ensues non stop. Also the privilege of having Hez as my roommate. The worst part are these friggin’ gas prices. OY VEY!
Ishmael: Travel is tough. The best part is getting to the show, the worst part is leaving the show.
Ezekiel: The worst part is missing our families and friends back home. The best part is all the friends and family we have made on the road.
PEV: Is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?
Big Daddy Abel: EVERYWHERE!
Jakob: I wish I could travel around my block and play on back of a flatbed truck. Go around the block maybe 3 or 4 times then go home, maybe grill up some shlongs for everyone.
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play at your hometown?
Big Daddy Abel: I think they may have finally given in to the fact that I don't have a "real" job like they kept urging me to get for so long. I have not played in my hometown.
Ezekiel: They wish I had joined Church and was less worldly. I still get some guilt trips, but they are happy that I am happy. I have yet to play my home town.
PEV: What can we find each of you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
Big Daddy Abel: PlayStation 3! Bioshock, Bulletproof, Angry Birds and Populous currently have my attention there.
Ezekiel: Family, friends, food, video games, and more and more and more music!
PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration? Why?
Big Daddy Abel: Past would be vocalist Ray Gillen who was lead singer of Badlands, Black Sabbath and other bands, because his voice, to me, is INCREDIBLE! Current would be Prince, because he is amazing.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
Big Daddy Abel: I think Mumford and Sons would be someone to watch/ Lily Allen has been around a little while, but I think she's going to stick around. Katy Perry will probably continue to grow. I am curious to see what will become of the kid on American Idol right now that is singing all the hard rock stuff, James Durbin.
Jakob: The Amish Outlaws.
PEV: If you weren’t playing music now what do you think each of you would be your career?
Big Daddy Abel: I would probably still be involved with acting in TV and movies. I still do it, but not as much as I did before joining the band.
Jakob: Spending my fortune.
PEV: So, what is next for The Amish Outlaws?
Big Daddy Abel: A summer full of shows!
Jakob: Hopefully playing Donald Trump's inaugural ball.
All photo credit to Alexander A. Carde' at www.plarawkstar.com