Sir Charles

Lawrence songwriter Charles S. McVey spreads the gospel of "Modern Living"

Charles S. McVey doesn't seem like the sort of guy who enjoys his down time. In addition to freelance engineering at Black Lodge Studios and playing keys for Lonnie Fisher & the Funeral, McVey labors over his own recordings and maintains a busy local performance schedule. McVey enlisted drummer Erik Kessinger and bassist Max Paley to back him on his 2007 release "Modern Living," which candidly addressed matters of sexuality with pathos-packed ballads and '80s influenced alt-rock. McVey's song "Sir" has since been remixed by a handful of admirers while he records his next release and prepares for a slate of Pride Festival gigs this summer. He stopped by our podcast studios shortly after delivering cookies to The Breeders, a band that he loves almost as much as The Cure.

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The Dog and Pony Show

Sir Charles

Charles S. McVey doesn't seem like the sort of guy who enjoys his down time. In addition to freelance engineering at Black Lodge Studios and playing keys for Lonnie Fisher & the Funeral, McVey labors over his own recordings and maintains a busy local performance schedule. McVey enlisted drummer Erik ...

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You had a good story about chasing down The Cure in Hays, Kansas.

Somebody else actually chased them down for me ... I loomed at a table staring at them for quite a while before I approached them. I was very eager to meet them, but I decided to be polite and let them finish their pizza.

How is it that they ended up in Hays?

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Modern Living

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This was in 1992, so they were on tour for "Wish." They were going between Denver and St. Louis and I was living Hays, where I grew up. A friend of mine happened to be eating at Pizza Hut, and he came and collected me and took me to meet my favorite band.

I believe the way you put it earlier is that you were "one of those kids."

I didn't have the hair or the makeup, because that would have been a little extreme in Hays. But The Cure were my band, for sure, and I had the posters and I bought everything I could find.

Could you give us a little insight on your song "MySpace"?

My boyfriend and I had broken up. He moved to Portland, and we weren't speaking. So I found myself stalking him on MySpace. I realized that somebody else was doing this to somebody ... I know he was doing the same thing to me. I wrote the song and we recorded it and uploaded it on MySpace with two other songs on Valentine's Day ... It worked-he came back.

Past Event

Cal Ecker / Charles S. McVey

  • Friday, May 16, 2008, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
  • Bottleneck, 737 New Hampshire, Lawrence
  • 18+

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Could you tell us a bit about the song "Sir"?

Sure. It's a love song from the viewpoint of a submissive.

Care to expand on that?

I'm not exactly sure where I got the idea. I know I was watching a lot of "South Park" at the time and the joke was that it was Mr. Slave's love song ... I've gotten a lot of interesting responses to that song. It's very frank, and it comes across a little confrontational sometimes with people who aren't really expecting it. But my intent was sincere when I wrote it. I wanted it to come across the way I though someone in that situation would say things. "Daddy's whore" is not something I would say is part of my regular vocabulary. But it seemed to fit the song. I also felt like the dominant/submissive thing is an element of every relationship ... Your co-workers, your boss-there's always that kind of power play.

You put a lot of yourself out there in your music with lyrics about relationships and sexuality. Was it always that way for you as a songwriter? Or was it a process of becoming that way?

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Kelley Deal of The Breeders and Charles McVey.

I think it was definitely something I cultivated over a period of time. When I was younger and I played with an angry-boy rock band, I found myself writing more vague lyrics than when I started doing solo stuff. I feel like there's a real lack of out artists who write music that is also as open as they are about their sexuality. There seems to be a lot of gay artists who kind of mooch off the gay community but leave their songs vague so it can have a broader appeal. I don't waste my time with that. I look at it this way: I listen to songs written about women by men and vice-versa. Either way, I can still relate to all of those tunes. My objective is just to be honest and speak about what I know. I'm not heterosexual, so ... »

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