Friday, August 29, 2008
Rhett Thurman McGahee: Music and Metals
You might know her as the powerhouse singer for local Led Zeppelin tribute band Custard Pie but Rhett McGahee also shows off her rock*star qualities through the metal furniture she designs and fabricates out of her studio in the basement of her Asheville home.
ASA: How did Custard Pie come about? RM: David Connor Jones and I were known to break Zep tunes late night at parties, and people were always telling us we should do something with it. He would play the guitar, and I would sing. After a while, we took their suggestions and approached Woody Wood and Jamie Sterling to join us in a Zeppelin Tribute. None of us really had any expectations of anything but having fun, but people were apparently very much in need of some Led Zeppelin. We had a great crowd at our first show, and after that, the fan base seemed to grow pretty fast.
ASA: Did you have any idea that the masses were so starved for Zeppelin?? RM: We were blown away by the response. We were really just having fun. We all love Led Zeppelin, and enjoyed getting together and playing around with their music. We were thrilled and honored by the response.
ASA: How did you learn to sing like Robert Plant?
RM: I have never tried to actually sing like Robert Pant. None of us are trying to be them, but just play their tunes the way we would do them. I guess my voice just kinda sounds like him when I sing that genre in that vocal register. Weird, huh? When my brother first heard us, he said it was crazy how it was definitely my voice, but at the same time it did sound like Robert Plant.
ASA: Do you try to channel him when you're singing?
RM: No, not really. I guess the closest I get to "channeling" him is that the music of Led Zeppelin in general is very moving to me. I feel it's a part of who I am because I was so into them through so many formative years.
ASA: Have you ever worn the same outfit or accessory twice when performing?
RM: Accessories, yes. I love my angel wing necklace. They're my "Swan Song" wings. I think I've only repeated 2 outfits though, and it was simply because I had worn it first in a different city.
ASA: How did you deal when over 3,000 people showed up for you're Downtown After 5 gig??
RM: That was insane and fabulous. It was freaky for the first few moments, but once we got our groove on, and the crowd was getting into it, it felt fine.
ASA: Have you ever worn the same thing twice when you're in your metal studio?
RM: Oh yeah. I have to wear my play clothes when I'm working. It's a very dirty process. Very.
ASA: What's your favorite tool to work with?
RM: I love my clamps. I have this new right angle clamp that is massive and super heavy duty. I also really love my self adjusting clamps. They make my work experience much more pleasant and efficient.
ASA: Favorite metal?
RM: I primarily work with steel, but I started off making jewelry. I don't know if I have a favorite, but I love the contrast between different colored metals. When I made jewelry, I brought in as much color as possible, working with different types/colors of gold when my budget allowed for it, and with copper, silver, and brass when it did not.
ASA: Can you talk about your designs a little? What trends are you into?
RM: I try to evolve a little with each new design. I lean toward the geometric side of an art neuvo aesthetic, but I have been pushing my work into a more organic realm in the last few years, and I dig it. I also have a subconscious tendency toward symmetry in my design for some reason, although I really love and prefer asymmetry consciously. I have fought the symmetry and won. I like clean lines and contrast, so mixing wood and metal, and incorporating different patinas is fun for me. I used to work with a lot of found objects, and often they would dictate my design, but I do more custom work than anything now, and that usually calls for new steel.
You can see more of Rhett's metal designs on her website: www.rhettstudio.com
To learn more about Custard Pie visit their myspacelle here.