Two Sheds lead singer Caitlin Gutenberger was everything I’d hoped she’d be. True, my expectations were based solely on the general sound of the folk songstress’s music, which is both simple and endearing. But who knew she’d be as charming as her honest and thought-provoking lyrics suggest she might be. And between a West Coast tour, which includes a visit to Muddy Waters Cafe on Friday, May 2, and a new album available via iTunes on Thursday, May 6, Gutenberger had plenty to chat about.
It should be mentioned that Two Sheds were kind of an accident. Formed in 2005 with her guitar- and bass-playing husband Johnny, Gutenberger never really considered herself a musician. She recalled her husband’s shock when he found her playing a guitar she’d received as a gift from her dad. “[Johnny] had been in bands forever, and I could play guitar : kind of. It was just my thing, and he caught me one day.”
Joined by Rusty Miller on the drums, the trio was “just looking for something to do on weeknights, really,” but soon after, Gutenberger found herself writing songs. But it wasn’t until their first gig that she realized they didn’t exactly have a name for their band. “Our name is a weird accident. I’m an old Monty Python fan,” Gutenberger explained. “And there’s this skit where they interview Arthur ‘Two Sheds’ Jackson about his band. Anyway, it’s funny; the whole interview ends up being about his name. Johnny booked us a show, so I thought I’d make a MySpace. Two Sheds was already my email address, so I just used that. I thought I’d change it, but we booked so many shows it didn’t seem smart.”
Accidents seem to be a recurring motif in Two Sheds’ sonic history. Gutenberger’s vocals, which have been compared to the likes of Mazzy Star, Chan Marshall, PJ Harvey, and Ricky Lee Jones, were admittedly never crafted that way. “I hadn’t ever heard Mazzy Star until someone said I sounded like her,” she recalled. “I hadn’t heard Chan Marshall either.” I asked her if she had ever channeled an artist or group in her songwriting. “I’m a huge Lou Reed and Velvet Underground fan,” she explained. “I may have said, ‘Hey, can we make it like that?’ while recording.”
Other musical influences include Pavement, ‘70s Neil Young, old Beck, and The Kinks. I asked her if she’d heard former Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus’s new album. “Yeah, I really like it. It’s such a wonderful gift to be goofy and serious at the same time. Not take yourself too seriously and still have fun,” she said.
On the topic of influences, I inquired as to her dream bill. “Anyone, no boundaries?” she asked. “Okay. Pavement-the original lineup with Gary Young on drums-‘70s Neil Young, and Two Sheds.”
Asking the singer whom she’d like to record with seemed like the natural follow-up. “That’s really a Johnny question. Maybe I’d say George Martin, but I’m happy with our experience in the studio in Sacramento with friends.” And Johnny’s answer? “This is a tough question. I would have to say that it would be pretty rad to have Jimmy Page produce a Two Sheds album. A 1970s Jimmy Page, that is. He produced all those Zeppelin records and they still, to this day, sound bigger and more beautiful than anything happening nowadays. Yeah, that would have to be it.”
So what does the future hold for Two Sheds? “I just want to put out a full-length record,” Caitlin Gutenberger explained. “I’d like to be able to play music, have fun, not worry about money, and be comfortable; to be known, but not known-known. I wish my cat, Buddy, would live forever. He’s cranky, but when he loves you, it’s because you earned it.”
Two Sheds will play Muddy Waters Cafe (508 E. Haley St.) on Friday, May 2, with opening act The Spires. Call 966-9328 or visit myspace.com/muddycafesb for details.