Sweetback Sisters Emily Miller and Zara Bode may not be blood relations, but their precise, family-style harmonies recall the best of country music from the Everlys to The Judds, as well as the spirited rockabilly energy of Wanda Jackson, one of the band’s role models. Like the artists they admire, the Sweetbacks are concerned with the traditional subjects of heartbreak, revenge, remorse and staying strong in the face of relationships gone wrong, albeit with a contemporary sensibility. “We’re a renegade retro band that mixes up country, swing and honky tonk,” explains Bode. “Sometimes what we deliver is straight out of the 50s; other times it’s BR549 meets The B52s.”
The Sisters have been touring relentlessly since they released Chicken Ain’t Chicken in 2009. Their new CD, Looking For A Fight showcases the band’s razor sharp musicianship, complex arrangements and growing confidence as songwriters. "We tried to recreate the energy we get when we connect with an audience over the course of a song,” Bode says. “The basic tracks were all done live, and we recorded most of the vocals with Emily and I crowded around one microphone. It gave the tracks a certain intimacy.”
The songs were cut onto analogue tape to capture the classic touch the band brings to the music. “We weren't looking for perfection, just takes that truly felt good and really grooved,” Miller adds. “Tape gives the songs a warm texture, and we blended old techniques and equipment with modern ones to get the sound and feel we were going for. The RCA ribbon mic we used for the vocals once belonged to the old Columbia Studios. I'd bet a dime that Miles Davis and Johnny Cash played into the very same one.”
Every track on Looking For a Fight includes a few subtle surprises - ensemble vocals a la The Sons of the Pioneers on “Cowboy Ham and Eggs,” honky tonk piano on “It Won’t Hurt When I Fall Down From This Bar Stool,” the raw passion of Bode’s vocal on Hazel Dickens’ old-time ballad “Don’t Put Her Down, You Helped Put Her There.” On Looking For a Fight, the Sisters and their talented brothers continue to forge their own sound by delivering arrangements that combine the soul of classic Nashville with an undeniably contemporary edge.