Q&A: Victor & Penny’s Erin McGrane



Victor & Penny
  • Victor & Penny

Kansas City is about to have Victor & Penny all to itself. The antique-pop duo had previously divided their time between Chicago and Kansas City. Both band members (Erin McGrane and Jeff Freling) also have multiple projects that they juggle. Even with all that, the band recently returned from a West Coast tour and recorded a new album (look for it in December).

Presently, Victor & Penny are amping up for some shows this weekend. The band will open for the talented, funny singer-songwriter, Danielle Ate the Sandwich at the Living Room this Friday (November 4). 8 p.m. All-ages. $10.

We recently connected with McGrane and asked her about Victor & Penny’s first year in action, the band’s love of Danielle Ate the Sandwich, and the details of the band's record-release party.

The Pitch: It seems like Victor & Penny have had a pretty good year. Am I right about that?

McGrane: Victor & Penny have had an amazing year! And part of what makes it so special is that it's our first year (we formed in September 2010). In that time we've played almost 100 shows, toured the West Coast (July-Aug 2011) and made a record!

How has the tour been going? Are you playing multiple dates with Danielle? The pairing of your band and Danielle seems to work well.

We are doing two shows with Danielle this weekend (Nov. 4-5). The second one will be in Chicago at Schuba's. Our first date with Danielle was back in July on her home turf in Fort Collins. We all had a great time and agreed more shows together were a must. Danielle is also the first guest artist to appear in the backseat of our car for our car video series. We are definitely going to do more of those, and I very much hope to record one or two with her when we do these couple of dates this week. (Here's the video the band did with Danielle):

This is Danielle's first time to play in KC, and we really want to give her a warm welcome. KC was not originally on her national touring schedule, and I told her it should be! We persuaded her to come here before our show together in Chicago, and it all worked out perfectly. Danielle is wicked-funny and so talented — we're a little smitten with her and excited to introduce her to KC. This will be an all-ages show at the Living Room, and the seating is intimate and limited. We are encouraging people to purchase their tickets now through Brown Paper Tickets, and we do anticipate a large crowd.

You both (meaning Jeff and you) seem to have busy schedules (especially this time of year). How do you guys keep Victor & Penny going, given your other projects?

We do it by making Victor & Penny a priority, but also by being selective about the shows we take. That, along with some very careful scheduling (and a lot of Southwest Air and Amtrak rewards points) makes it all possible. Jeff is performing with the Blue Man Group in Chicago as well as Tributosaurus and several other working bands, and Erin will be appearing in the Unicorn's holiday show, The Salvation of Iggy Scrooge and a couple of short films, and also working with Alacartoona this winter. So we won't be playing many shows in November and December — we have just two on the books beyond this weekend. We know that we will be heading back out on the road in spring, so now is a good time to work and save up some money while we prepare to release our first album in December.

You recorded at Hi-Style Records this month, correct? How did that go?

It couldn't have gone better. We were fortunate to have a very talented group of people working on it with us. Jimmy Sutton, the proprietor of Hi-Style, lent his brilliant bass playing and production skills, Alex Hall was genius behind the engineering board, and our new friend Gonzalo Bergara, gypsy jazz guitar master from L.A., sat in on guitar on two songs and played like a wizard. We really feel like we captured the essence of what we do at our live shows, and we think our fans are going to love it. We're beginning to add new music to our repertoire, and Jeff has written two new songs for us — both of which appear on the album. We are also covering a Barclay Martin tune on the record as well. We've scheduled our CD-release show in KC for Friday, Dec. 9 at the R Bar in Kansas City with our friends the Latenight Callers.

Anything else going on with you guys in the near future?

We're very excited about an upcoming project where we'll be collaborating with our friend Tony Ladesich. Coincidentally, Erin just completed a short film with Tony, Two Sisters, that will be shown to the public soon. And as is always the case here, there are various opportunities being discussed for collaboration with some of KC's best and brightest. Time, rather than ideas, seems to be the only limitation to joint projects here — this is why we love it here so much. We'll be shifting our home base to KC in the next few months, and that's exciting. The big news besides the album is that we're touring the West Coast again in February.

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