Combining influences of nintendo music, show tunes and heavy metal, Ready the Cannons burst into St. Louis’ music scene.
Charley Svoboda, Dustin Kelly, Brian Jenkins and Jason Hackett formed the group in 2006. According to Kelly, Ready the Cannons’ namesake developed when Jenkins and he were creating a practice space.
“Me and Brian were cleaning up all this old garbage that my dad had in this garage, and there was this huge wheel looking thing, like a spindle that rope goes on, and he was just like, ‘Ready the cannons,’ or something real silly,” Kelly said. “And we laughed about it for a long time. And nobody could agree on the band name, so it was an inside joke kind of thing.”
This wrecking crew of individuals has a wide variety of influences that round out their inspiration and identity as a band.
“We rock pretty hard,” Kelly said.
“Like other bands, we combine all of our different influences, but unlike most bands, our influences are really, really different. Like nintendo music. Show tunes, that’d be Brian. Classical music. Jazz. Guns n’ Roses. Pantera…it’s like my iPod on shuffle. Anything from Bach to Pantera. I guess that’s what we’re like. If you give Bach a guitar,” Hackett added.
“We’re all very stubborn in what we listen to, and none of us listen to the same thing, ever. And I think that’s why our songs sound interesting,” Svoboda concluded.
After jamming together off and on throughout high school, the group came to its current form when Kelly returned from the Navy. Around the same time, the House of Rock had an open mic night. Ready the Cannons learned a few cover songs to play at the open mic night then began to work on original pieces.
Perhaps, in part, because of the out of the ordinary stimulation for their songs, Ready the Cannons also have a different outlook on song writing. According to Hackett, the music is “purely selfish.”
“We write music that we want to hear. The perfect combinations. So, it’s kind of selfish; it’s just for us. And if other people like it, that’s awesome,” Hackett said.
As the lead vocalist, Jenkins writes all of the lyrics, though everyone contributes to the musical aspect of songwriting.
“[The song lyrics are] usually just based on a collection of emotions that I have. I’m not a story teller by any means, I usually just write pretty vague lines about the way I feel; then I try to make them more specific to a certain situation,” Jenkins said.
According to Kelly, an example of one of those situations relates to himself.
“I don’t think he’s a very emotional guy. His lyrics may not make sense to me or anyone else in the band because he doesn’t talk about it. But I know they’re really deep in his mind…I think he even told me that one of the songs is written about me when he was mad at me. He won’t ever tell me what it is, I asked him,” Kelly said.
Regardless of the motivation behind the lyrics, or the music, the versatility in their arsenal of musical knowledge allows Ready the Cannons to appeal to all types of music lovers.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people. Some people that really love death metal, and metal people, I’d almost be afraid to show our music because it’s not that heavy, but there [are] a lot of people like that that listen to it, [who] actually, really like it. Then other people who really like poppy stuff like it too. So I guess we kind of snatch everbody,” Hackett said.
“That was kind of the plan from the beginning, we just wanted everybody to like it,” Svoboda added.
One word to describe Ready the Cannons was, unanimously, ‘fun.’ They started playing for fun. Play for fun. And will continue to play for fun. Record deal or not.
“We roll as a group. This is for fun; this is because we’re friends. We’re gonna do it as long as we possibly can even if we don’t get signed. That was really never the goal, and now it’s starting to creep up through the cracks,” Jenkins said.