Sweet tea, whiskey, peaches and water balloon fights come to mind when one thinks of the endearing Abby Wren. With a voice as smooth as it is soulful, the saccharine spit fire has been charming folks of all creeds into grooving and shaking with her as the front woman of Secondhand Swagger (formerly Abby Wren and What it is). Miss Wren graced BANG! for this week's Q&A, lending insight into the world of Atlanta's pickled belle.
BANG! Your voice has an incredibly soulful tone to it, did you have that at age 6 or did experiences meld that for you?
Abby Wren I came out of the womb belting, “Hallelujah” in perfect pitch. Ha! Seriously though, I have gotten better over the years as my confidence and experience has increased. I knew I had something at a very young age.
BANG! It seems that every band has its own special way of coming together, how did Secondhand Swagger come about?
Abby Wren Our drummer, Scotty, and I started messing around in his basement…wait that sounds creepy. He and I started out creating funny songs just to take a break from our other serious structured projects, then our sound began to take shape as we continued a consistent practice schedule. I knew that Scotty and I would work well together because of his sense of humor and amazing skills. We found our awesome Sax player, Dane, on Craigslist. Guitar players have come and gone amicably; now we are stuck with Jason Beard, and that is awesome because he brings home the bacon. Larry Thomas, our smooth bass player, adds so much flavor and soul...it just ties it all together just right. We call ourselves “Secondhand Swagger” because we all LOVE thrift stores and we believe that you can still get your swagger on by rocking out some vintage finds.
BANG! There’s a very fluid, funky, joyous feeling to the music. How do you capture that so well?
Abby Wren We just do what feels natural. When we are rehearsing, there is a fun, ego-free feeling that comes about and it seems to come out more upbeat than anything else. I am sure that we could write some sad songs very well but when we get together, it just seems fun.
BANG! You have said that you love to collaborate and get outside ideas. What do you appreciate about another contributor?
Abby Wren I feel like as artists we get stuck in our own sounds, habits, and emotions. I feel like having an outside source that can make suggestions or add something to the creative process, could benefit a lot of us in general.
BANG! There’s a very down-to-earth quality to the music and to you, specifically. What serves as your anchor?
Abby Wren I have been humbled by many things and many people due to my empathetic nature. I feel things and see things on a very deep and emotional level. I never want to be the kind of artist that is a slave to music nor do I want to forget where I came from. I am a realist and I know that the ego can carry you to dark places. I would rather stay in the light as much as possible. To sum it up. I like to “keep it real”.
BANG! Besides your career as a hairstylist, what do you think you’d be doing or have always wanted to do instead of being a musician?
Abby Wren I have ALWAYS dreamed of being a voice actor for cartoons. I am obsessed with the process of animation combined with finding the perfect voice for the character. I have made voices with everything living or nonliving since I was a little girl.
BANG! I understand you love everything vintage from cars to clothes, hence “Secondhand Swagger”. Do you intentionally make music with a throwback sound or is that just how it comes out?
Abby Wren I think it just comes out that way naturally.
BANG! When Abby Wren is having a bad day or in the pits, who does she listen to get her out of that slump?
Abby Wren I listen to 60’s surf rock or Reggae music to lift my spirits.
BANG! Being the only woman in the band, do you think you smooth out some of the edges? What kind of balance is there, or is that kind of thing a non-issue?
Abby Wren We are all equal members. I never try to pull the “girl card” or put myself in a situation that could be defined as inappropriate. I drink whiskey, and tell the same dirty jokes as the boys. I love that I can put on a dress and red lipstick and play a show with my band and feel nothing but support and love from the guys.
BANG! What’s in the future for Secondhand Swagger? What can we look forward to? What do you want to charge toward?
Abby Wren We eventually want to get into huge music festivals around the U.S. We would also like to tap into the film and commercial market. Most importantly, we will keep challenging ourselves with new sounds and ideas. Keep on keepin’ on.
Keep in the know with all of Secondhand Swagger's adventures and triumphs at https://www.facebook.com/SecondHandSwagger. Make it out to one of their shows, grab yourself a drink and just try not to get to moving. It's impossible.