Chicago’s Ike Reilly has been writing punk-tinged pop songs since the beginning of the decade and brings his band – The Ike Reilly Assassination – back to Louisville for the first time since 2008 this Friday night at Jim Porter’s Good Time Emporium (Ike and band take the stage at 8pm SHARP!)
Ike sat down with Louisville.com this week to talk about (not) drinking, weed anthems, and praying Muslims. Here are the highlights of that conversation:
Your new record Hard Luck Stories is credited to Ike Reilly, but you are touring with the full band – The Ike Reilly Assassination. What is the difference?
Staggering Evening  was a record I really made WITH my band. The new one - the band is on it – but it was recorded a little differently. The main difference is that on [Ike Reilly records] there are a lot of guests.
Yeah. Hard Luck Stories features Shooter Jennings and David Lowery from Cracker. How do things like that come about?
Well, with David - Cracker recorded a couple of my songs awhile back and Lowery stored some equipment in my studio - so I made him sing on my record.
You've been doing this a long time. What has changed most about your approach to playing live?
I think about not being drunk until after the shows. I start my party with the first song. I try to make the shows more memorable for the band and the paying customer. It used to be hard for me to believe that people would invest themselves emotionally in the songs I write, so I didn’t use to take performing them very seriously. I always thought, “How could anyone think this song is any f---kin good?”
Which do you consider yourself first: a storyteller or a songwriter?
I don’t know… I guess I write songs.
Songs like "Ballad of Jack and Haley" and "Girls in the Backroom" on Hard Luck Stories - based on real incidents? Real people?
[Ballad of Jack and Haley] is based on two incidents very close to me… A lot of people think that is a weed anthem… and in a way it is … but really it’s about a father… Sometimes you make compromises for your kids and you end up losing your kids…
That is based on truth. The names are fake but it is about a guy that went down.
[Girls in the Backroom] is about a veteran that is kind of misunderstood. Again that is a composite of a bunch of people.
Your songs are full of these down and out characters. Do you consider yourself a voice for the blue collar?
I don’t know if they are blue collar or white collar, but they are definitely compromised. I don’t know if I have a voice for these people but I find their plight more interesting and compelling. How many songs can you write about people that follow the rules and are successful?
Speaking of your stories and lyrics, it's hard NOT to catch the lyrical venom you spit at religion. What is the story on this distaste?
I have no use for [religion] anymore. I was brought up hardcore catholic. I was a theology student. But recently I was walking through my hometown watching everyone come out of church and I thought, 'If everyone who puts this energy into going to church did something positive like pick up trash instead - a lot of positive things could get done.'
I’m 'anti-waste-time-praying.' I started growing plants a few years ago and I realized I can pray all I want, but if I don’t water them they are going to die. That is where I am at now.
My disdain for religion is indiscriminate, though. Catholic, Christian. I saw Muslims on the beach the other day. Five grown dudes sitting around a towel praying for an hour and a half with their kids waiting on them and I was like, “Go splash with your kids, guys. Do something useful.”
But having said that… Everyone finds things to get them through the day… and if someone is getting solace and peace from their faith, I am all for it.
Anything folks can expect when they come to the show on Friday?
Jim’s already made the promise. A good time. (laughs) I’ve had so many comments on my Facebook about that place…Don’t tell me anything. I heard about a shooting and a girl on a swing – and both of them appealed to me.
Photo courtesy of Ike Reilly.
The Ike Reilly Assassination
Friday, July 30th
Jim Porter's Good Time Emporioum
With Special Guest
Show: 7 pm (guest) 8 pm (Ike)
Tickets: $10 adv/ $12 Day of Show
Part of Porter’s NEW "Friday After-Work Concert Series."
All Friday concerts start at 7 PM sharp.
Nationals on stage time 8 PM.