Artist You Should Know: Jailbreak

The Fresno BeeOctober 30, 2013 

Vince Corsaro, Arsen Roulette, Greg Kosobud and Rockin' Johnny make up the local rockabilly band Jailbreak. The band performs Friday at Audie's Olympic Tavern.

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Jailbreak plays straight-ahead rock 'n' roll, music inspired not only by the likes of Eddie Cochran and Carl Perkins, but the hundreds of lesser-known bands who have been cranking out rockabilly tunes since the late 1940s.

The band — Greg Kosobud on vocals and guitar, Arsen Roulette on guitar, Rockin' Johnny on bass and Vince Corsaro on drums — has a string of shows this month, starting Friday at Audie's Olympic Tavern with Memphis Murder Men and Jack Killed Jill. They also play Nov. 15 at Full Circle Brewing Company and Nov. 29 at the Cellar Door in Visalia.

The Bee caught up with Corsaro in advance of these shows.

The band has a sort of theme going. What's that all about?

When Greg and Arsen started the band, they wanted to do something more conceptual than what most rockabilly bands do. Calling the band Jailbreak and dressing in old-time prison garb not only makes us look like a band, drawing attention to the stage, but it fits the band's self-described brand of rockabilly "jailhouse rock 'n' roll."

There may be those who don't know what rockabilly is. How do you describe the genre?

Rockabilly blends classic country music with early rock 'n' roll. Because of the rock 'n' roll contribution, rockabilly is also informed by traditional blues and folk music (think the Ozarks and Appalachia).

Jailbreak seems more in line with Carl Perkins or early Johnny Cash than Chuck Berry or the like. Can you explain the difference?

The music is definitely rooted more in the traditional rockabilly style of Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, etc., than in the more blues-rooted Chuck Berry style. But in any live Jailbreak set you'll hear everything from "rocked up" rockabilly songs to even more upbeat "blues boppers."

Many rockabilly bands try to stay as true to the form as possible (down to the gear they use). Are you guys going for authenticity, or just trying to capture the spirit and style of the era?

We started off with a more traditional approach. We've gradually brought the energy way up, while sticking to traditional song forms, rhythm, etc. The instrumentation is mostly true to form, down to the upright bass, but we're more about capturing the spirit of rockabilly and performing it with more excitement and energy than what can be found on the early rockabilly recordings.

Rockabilly flirted with the mainstream in the '80s (Stray Cats) and '90s (Reverend Horton Heat and others), but never really caught on. Still, it has a strong underground. Tell us some about the scene.

The mainstream has seen a few great rockabilly acts since the Stray Cats and the scene blew up during the swing years at the end of the '90s, but to those outside the scene, the style can sound monotonous or dated.

Classic car clubs are the biggest benefactors of rockabilly bands nowadays; many of the clubs promote shows on a local level, or have annual parties. Big festivals like Viva Las Vegas also provide a great showcase for rockabilly bands, and keep the rockabilly scene at large happening.

Find out more by searching Jailbreak on Facebook.

Know a local band or musician more people should be familiar with? Send details to Joshua Tehee, jtehee@fresnobee.com or @joshuatehee on Twitter.

 

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