For the past 12 years, friends and Virginia Beach residents Matt Holloman and Joe Welch have been creating songs together under the moniker SICMAN OF VIRGINIA. Described as “heavy mellow music for the common man,” their music combines influences ranging from funk to punk, as well as everything in between. With the addition of bassist Scott Griffin, the band has rounded out their sound, and have released their most recent album Mourning Sickness, which features some high-profile support. To learn about this album, as well as the details on the rerelease of their debut EP, we caught up with Holloman and Welch to get a cut of the cheese.

Your music is described as “heavy mellow music for the common man,” but who do you consider to be the common man?

I guess the common man is everyone. In my opinion, the common man is just the regular, working people. We’ve got day jobs [too], ya know? It’s for people that are doing the same thing we are doing — people that are playing music. We take it very seriously, and we are trying to do it full time. But it doesn’t pay the bills. Not necessarily blue collar [people] though.

Can you tell me what your song “Ugottalottagumption” is about?

I don’t know if we know that. It’s one of those [songs] where I wrote the music, for the most part, and I had that basic call and response line at the beginning. Joe wrote the lyrical section at the end. I don’t know if we even sat down and discussed what the song was supposed to be about. For me, it just sounds like an old school kind of funk feel with a call and response, and I just inserted that line, “We can’t get you what you want, but you can have what I can get. It reminded me of anyone who had the gumption to go against whatever you are saying or feeling is basically how the lyrics kind of go.

Your band recently released your debut album from 2003 on cassette tapes. Why did you decide to do this?

For a lot of people, cassettes never went away. There are plenty of people that have been avid cassette collectors since its popularity [declined] due to CDs, and with vinyl coming back, people have been getting back into analog formats. So it just seemed like the thing to do. I hadn’t listened to a tape in so long, and we noticed a couple friends’ bands that were also doing the tape release. For one thing, it’s economical, and I just thought it would be cool. Our first album has a real lo-fi sound like that, and I thought just we could rerelease it for fun. It’s a cheap format, and there are quite a few big tape labels out there too. It’s actually alive and well.

Are you releasing it through a tape label?

As of right now, we are not. It’s all DIY. We paid for it, and we are selling it out of the trunks of our cars. There is no middle man whatsoever, unless someone wants to pay for it. Then we are very happy to have a middle man come in (laughs).

Did you rerecord or remaster any of the songs for the cassette tape?

No, they are straight off the original master.

Will you be releasing another album on cassette tape or vinyl?

Vinyl is something we are shooting for. It’s really expensive to reproduce, unfortunately. That has definitely been a longstanding goal of ours. We have wanted to do it on all of our albums, but it’s difficult to find the means to go about doing that. It’s just not really practical at the moment unless someone wanted to give us the money to do it. That would be great (laughs), but I think those days of record labels giving bands money to put their albums out are long gone.

That comes back to being music for the common man. If you want people to [hear your music], you basically have to get it to them yourself, and that’s what we have decided to do. We don’t have help. We are basically just going to do it on our own, whether it gets to the masses or not. That’s where music has gone these days. I just listened to an interview with Johnny Rotten, and he said music has essentially become an Internet hobby. There are small labels out there that will help you out occasionally, but you gotta have the numbers up front. You basically have to be able to do it on your own to have someone invest in you, and if you can do it on your own, then why would you need them to invest in you?

I saw on Facebook that you guys recently had the opportunity to play with WEEN, and Dave Dreiwitz was featured on a track on your album Mourning Sickness. Can you tell me about that?

Dave is on four tracks:”Blanca Y Lobo;” “Charles from the Raven,” which is the first song on the album; “Madness of Life;” and “Bleu Cheese.” We had been talking to him for several years, ever since we recorded our first album. For many years, we didn’t have a bassist, and we were just a duo on the first album. We were trying to put a band together after that based on that album. We decided to contact Dave Dreiwitz to see if he was for hire. We got his number through management, and he was the nicest guy on the planet. He returned our call and listened to our album, and he was all about it.

So we kept in touch with him, and through the years, we found a bass player. Then when we were recording this last album, he was coming through town on tour, and we asked him if he still wanted to record with us. So he came by, and it was more so our chance than his chance (laughs). We are still trying to figure out why he has taken a liking to us, but for some reason he has. He also asked us if we wanted to do some shows with him and WEEN. He’s the type of guy that does what he says he’s going to do, and he has definitely helped us out a lot.

the song “Bleu Cheese” was really just an idea with a guitar riff, and he came in and laid down several bass tracks. He just kept running through it, and we saved all the takes. On one of them, he put this really cool bass track over it, and we ended up writing the song around his part.

Does Mourning Sickness have any other musicians featured on it?

Tim McDonald plays keys on a few tracks. He was local to us for many years and played with Russell Scarborough, and then he moved away. Now, he’s a big Nashville, Tenn. country star. Before that, he was primarily known as a jazz musician. He’s working his way into the pop country scene with Hank Williams Jr. and backing up a lot of big names like that.

Do you have another album in the works yet?

We are working on it. Luckily, Joe has a studio so we just kind of record at our leisure when we feel like we need to. We should probably get together and start recording. This is the longest we have gone without recording something since the band’s inception in 2003. We have basically been recording constantly, and up until Mourning Sickness, we have exhausted everything we had.

We are looking forward to starting from a completely clean slate with this next batch of songs, and we are hoping to begin later this summer.

When is your next show?

On June 25, we will be playing at Pancho & Luigi’s in Norfolk. On June 26, we will be playing at John and Peter’s in New Hope, Pa., and on June 27, we will be at Miller’s Downtown in Charlottesville.

For more updates on SICMAN OF VIRGINIA, be sure to visit their website, “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and check out their music on Bandcamp.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Joe Fitzpatrick

As editor-in-chief, Joe is very passionate about promoting music and culture in Virginia and DC. A resident of Fairfax, Joe enjoys going to shows, checking out local breweries, and trying new foods with his girlfriend Alex.

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