Meet Archie Powell & The Exports (if you're not already intimately familiar with them, that is). This Chicago band ranks unbelievably high on the likability scale, having taken over our playlists of almost every sort. We're equally inclined to listed to these dude rockers while working (to fight boredom), road-tripping (to fight tiredness), or even working out (to fight hating life).
Elbo Room, 2871 North Lincoln Avenue (between Diversey Parkway & George Street); 773) 549-5549.
What do you look forward to most about playing in Chicago?
"Obviously, Chicago is our hometown and we get to have all our friends come out to make it a party. We're on the road a lot and our main goal is just to meet someone solid in each city. We've met a lot of amazing people in Chicago and we love each and every one of them for coming out and supporting us when we play. We try and pay them back by doing something special so we've had people on stage to sing, busted a pinata for Archie's birthday, and blasted confetti all over from a homemade PVC piping confetti cannon. We like pageantry."
How would you describe your style as a band?
"We're dudes. We play rock n' roll music so our style is pretty straightforward. T-shirts and jeans, plaids and flannels, maybe a cardigan from time to time, or when Archie is feeling saucy he will rock a blazer with a wool tie. We don't stand out in a crowd much but we can be dapper when we want to be (ladies, take us on a date and you'll see... eh?)."
Do you have any go-to outfits when you perform?
"There are no real "go-to" outfits, but there are a couple of special rules. Since our first video for "Enough About Me" – where the Art Director Laura made RJ wear a tank top – we've kind of made the rule that RJ can't wear sleeves when he plays. So a birthday gift to him was a grocery bag full of thrifted tees with the sleeves pre-cut so he had something new to wear on every day of the tour. He wears a size small, so if anyone wants to make his day, bring him a cool shirt to wear while he drums Also, if you're lucky enough to catch us during a holiday show, you will find us all in the infamous matching red union suits/onesies. Viewers beware: you may learn more about The Exports than you care to know when we wear those."
What is the coolest clothing find you've ever come across on tour?
"We don't get much time to shop on tour, but we do like to go on city walks when we can. Honestly, we come across most of our finds at thrift stores, whether it be a random shop in the town or a good old Salvation Army. Ryan recently found some fresh plaid which would normally cost $40 anywhere else for $5 at Goodwill in Boston. I think the coolest find would be that we all got some free swag from a Narragansett Beer tent at the Providence Seafood Festival. Their slogan is "Hi-Neighbor!" and we all got tees with that printed on the front (our van, Rick MorVANis, also got a bumper sticker). We were all pretty stoked."
Who is the best/worst driver in the band?
"Everyone has strengths and weaknesses behind the wheel, but we work them out to our advantage. Driving Rick is not an easy task. Sometimes we have to drive through the night to make it to faraway venues, or if we don't have a place to crash for the evening, so we take shifts. Archie and I are better at late night drives. We put DJ Ryan in charge of the tunes to keep the energy up until he passes out. He and RJ sleep, and then, since they're the early risers, they get some coffee from a truck stop and take the wheel."
Photo: By Lucy Hewett.