No New Orleans band combines the city’s unique blend of musicianship, sense of humor and sheer eccentricity better than the Tin Men. The instrumental lineup is singular—Alex McMurray on guitar and vocals, Matt Perrine on tuba and Washboard Chaz, who sings like Tampa Red and plays his customized washboard like an early jazz drum kit. The combined sound is elastic, with approaches that range from indie rock to folk, brass band or free improvisation. And of course that sense of humor is never far from the surface. When musicians have this much fun playing together it’s hard not to have a good time listening to them.
The new album Avocado Woo-Woo is “maybe the best record I’ve ever done,” said Chaz, who has made a lot of them with different bands.
Adds McMurray, “I don’t think we’ve made the best Tin Men record yet that we can make, which is good. Each of the records is very different but I would say yeah, this is the best one. I like the songs, the playing. I can listen to it and I don’t get nauseous. Which is a good sign.
“It’s been eight years since we made our last record,” McMurray added. “We’ve really tried over that time to make a record. We’ve actually gone into the studio and sat down and had meetings, talked about what we wanted to do. So literally for eight years we’ve been trying to make a record. That’s how hard it is to get three people into the same room. Now Matt Perrine is a very busy man and Chaz Leary is a very busy man. I’m busy too. You’d be amazed. Just trying to get the three of us to have fucking lunch is like impossible. We’re distance runners, we’re not sprinters. The Tin Men will always be around.”
The title track is McMurray’s take on the vocal exercise Chaz uses before gigs.
“Before every show to warm up my voice I sing ‘I’ve been crying, whoo hoo,’ like an old blues song,” Chaz explained. “Everybody always says ‘What’s that he’s singing?” Alex came up with ‘Avocado Woo-Woo’”
This bit of silliness is characteristic of McMurray’s sense of humor, like the hilarious “Turn My Lights Back On,” a song about an Entergy worker who takes revenge for his girl friend’s infidelity on the whole city.
“That song popped out after Hurricane Isaac,” he deadpanned. “He’s gonna turn the lights out on the whole city because of their affair. I can’t help it, I’m a wiseass.”