Charlie Overbey has been writing songs for years that hit listeners with raw emotion—and he’s doing so again, with the release of new album early next year.
Area music-lovers will get two chances to see Overbey perform in the coming weeks: He’s performing Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight and others as part of the “Coachella Valley Independent Presents” series at The Hood Bar and Pizza this Saturday, Nov. 25; and he will perform with his band The Broken Arrows at Pappy and Harriet’s on Thursday, Dec. 14.
After a recent battle with pneumonia, Overbey enthusiastically discussed his upcoming new album, Broken Arrow, during a phone interview.
“I made this great new record with Ted Hutt. Ted has done tons of different things (with bands) from the Gaslight Anthem to Dropkick Murphys, and he was a founding member of Flogging Molly,” Overbey said. “He actually won a Grammy for Old Crow Medicine Show, and he recently did the Brian Fallon record. He’s a pretty hands-on guy, and he produced this new record that is due to come out in February or March.
“It’s called Broken Arrow, and it’s a very deep record and goes to places I normally wouldn’t go. I think in this day and age that you have to dig a little bit and give people music that says something and means something, and bring some harsh reality.”
Working with Ted Hutt was a positive experience, Overbey said.
“Ted is genius, really, because he lets you figure out what’s best and what’s not best without telling you somehow,” Overbey said. “I went in to make one record and ended up making a completely different record—not because Ted told me, ‘You have to make this record!’ Ted told me, ‘You have to make this record,’ without telling me that. That’s part of the magic of Ted. I have never really worked with anyone like Ted where I felt free to explore and open up. He took me out of my comfort zone and got me to put songs on this record that I wouldn’t normally be comfortable singing or playing. There are some really deep songs that I had written during times of my life that were private moments. He told me, ‘Those are the best songs, Charlie. Those are the songs that everyone can relate to.’ Anyone can write a song about drinking, partying and fucking. … But at times, you want to hear something with some depth to it. Ted brought me to a place of being OK with releasing a record of songs that say something and mean something and will have some longevity.”
Overbey has a trove of older songs that have not yet made it onto any recordings. Broken Arrow will include a few of those older songs.
“I had been doing ‘Kentucky Whiskey,’ and we ended up changing the title to ‘Trouble Likes Me Best,’ because there are so many whiskey songs,” Overbey said. “I did that song for many years but never actually recorded it. David Allan Coe told me when I was on tour with him, ‘I should have written that song!’ which to me says, ‘That’s a great fucking song!’
“There’s also another song called ‘Shame’ that I’ve been doing for years that has never made on a record. I demoed it and made a crappy video for it, but that one made it on the record. There’s another one called ‘Last Deep Breath’ that I had written 10 years ago that is a really deep one, and it’s the last song on the record. It’s such a heavy tune to me that I wasn’t comfortable ever recording it or even doing it live. Ted convinced me that’s the record I needed to make, so we made it. But there are still elements of the record that are fun and party music, and the band is a bunch of party-type dudes.”
There are some great guest appearances on Broken Arrow as well.
“I used the Mastersons, the husband-and-wife duo who are members of Steve Earle’s band, the Dukes,” Overbey said. “There’s a song called ‘47’ that I wrote about Eddie Spaghetti of the Supersuckers and his battle with cancer. When Eddie was going through that, they had to come down here (to Los Angeles) from Seattle to have his treatments and stayed at our house—him and his whole family and animals. I wrote a song while that was happening about that situation, and once Eddie was free and clear of the cancer, I called Eddie to sing on it, and it ended up being called the ‘Ballad of Eddie Spaghetti.’ It’s heavy, but it’s upbeat. I also had Miranda Lee Richards; Ted Russell Kamp, who plays with Shooter Jennings; Paul Cartwright, who plays with Father John Misty; and a few other people.”
Overbey is also the frontman for Custom Made Scare, a cowpunk band that was signed to SideOneDummy Records in the late 1990s. Overbey said fans should not expect a full-fledged reunion anytime soon.
“Custom Made Scare was an amazing time, and it had its time,” he said. “We were young, full of angst, piss and vinegar—and it was cowpunk at its best. To do it again is always fun, and we do it every three or four years as long as we’re still young enough to do it. We have talked about making another record, but I’m really comfortable and feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing at this point in my life. Climbing in a van to drive around to play punk rock again—it doesn’t really sound inviting. I like doing it every once in awhile, but sleeping on people’s floors and eating 7-Eleven hot dogs and drinking shitty beer doesn’t do anything for me these days.”
Overbey said he’s thrilled to be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s—and mentioned a new business of his that’s taking off.
“This is our first headline show at Pappy’s, which I’m really excited about, because the fucking barbecue ribs there are outstanding,” he said.
“This has been the calm before the storm. I have Lone Hawk Hats going on, too, and I’ve been making hats for the past couple of years. That is fucking exploding, and it’s so out of control that I can’t make them fast enough. I can’t begin to tell you how many cool people I’ve met just by doing that. The hat line seems to really be propelling the music more than anything ever has. I think in 2018, and I don’t want to jinx anything, but it’s going to be a pretty busy year for me as far as roadhouses and touring. I’m pretty excited to get back out and see every bitchin’ roadhouse in America again.”
Charlie Overbey will perform with Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight and others as part of the “Coachella Valley Independent Presents” series at 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 25, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or visit facebook.com/HoodBarAndPizza. He will also perform at 8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 14, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.