Despite a traffic jam and a late arrival, Judo Chop still managed to arrive at the Lawrenceville campus last night in style. The ’80s cover band played in the Bart Luedeke Center Theater late last night to top off SEC’s ’80s-themed week.
Before last night’s performance, the four members of Judo Chop –- guitarist and keyboardist Ben Powell, lead guitarist Matthew Berry, bassist Rob Richmond and drummer Mike Lumer – talked about their music, their love of the 1980s and the challenges of breaking into an already-crowded genre of cover bands.
Q: How did you get started? Did you guys start out as an ’80s cover band?
Ben: We didn’t start out as a cover band. We actually make original rock music together. But we’re doing the ’80s music to raise money before we come out strong with original music.
Q: What is it about music from that decade that you love so much?
Rob: It’s danceable music. It’s music anyone can enjoy regardless of what decade you’re from.
Q: Why the name Judo Chop?
Rob: It’s short, it’s an action-packed word—
Matt: [It’s from] The Karate Kid.
Q: What’s your favorite aspect of performing?
Mike: Interaction with the crowd. I hope you guys crowd-dance and sing a long. We do lots of sing-a-longs.
Q: Is there anything you find challenging about being a cover band?
Matt: Vocals. All ’80s vocalists sing high as s—.
Rob: It’s tough when you’re starting out to build your name because there’s already so many big names in the cover scene.
Ben: Eighties bands are a dime a dozen.
Q: How would you describe your sound?
Mike: Our sound is very much a shadow of our original band. We play 80 to 85 percent of these cover songs as if they were written by us today. We’ll take Billy Joel[‘s] “Uptown Girl” and we’ll play it as a punk song. All the elements will still be there and if you know the words you’ll be able to sing along accurately. We speed it up, we play with the harmonies a little bit, and it’s a little more exciting, a little bit more engaging. We find that people who weren’t exactly cognizant of the ’80s, especially college kids, can appreciate the song.
Q: Does it matter that your audience was barely alive during the 1980s, or do you think that your music prevails?
Ben: We were pretty young in the ’80s too, but the singles that we chose have transcended the decade so even kids who were born in the 1990s still seem to recognize them.