The four-piece rockabilly band Causing Problems was founded in 2000 by singer/guitarists Andy Killion and Branden Gerbracht. “We both picked up guitar after our old ska band broke up,” says Killion, who also plays clarinet and sax. “Remember ska? Yeah, we were there when it died a third death.”
Not that Killion is entirely comfortable with the “rockabilly” label. “We’ve been all over the board, for lack of a cohesive ‘sound.’ We play a lot of rockabilly, psychobilly, and big, angry, occasionally fast riff rock. As for the best description of the band’s music...I’ve always liked the term cowpunk.”
Causing Problems has released two independent EPs (Trying New Things and Something Beautiful to Hold) and a full-length album (Huckleberry). Their song “A Box, and In It Your Picture” was the most downloaded local MP3 from SDReader.com during May. Andy Killion provided some insight.
What was the original genesis of the lyrics?
At the time, I was a junior at USD, taking an upper-division Cartesian — as in René Descartes — philosophy class, seated next to this pretty blonde girl I worked with the previous summer. The professor was mad and brilliant, dissecting Descartes’s whole “I think, therefore I am” business, then talking about perception and about how thinking doesn’t necessarily give us an accurate picture of anything, when we can’t always depend on our brains to give proper signals.... The song just kind of happened one day in my notebook during class. Around that time, there was an old box of erstwhile love letters that I would occasionally pine and pore over. Not because I missed any particular girl that they were from; I was just being a lonely emo bitch. There was a picture in it, too, so there’s that.
Is the short “relationship rap” near the end quoting anything or anyone in particular?
That was actually ad-libbed. No, seriously. Like, I had it in my brain for some time, but I think I just went in there, nothing written, and put it down in one or two takes. At the time I added it, Branden and I were in the studio doing vocals, and we never heard each other’s lyrics during practices. Branden was all kinds of confused after that session, which was awesome for both of us.
According to the song, we are our own worst enemies. Do you believe that to be true?
You know, I really don’t believe that. For the particular example I was illustrating — where the subject’s will exceeds his judgment — then, yes, that will lead to some self-inflicted damage of some sort. But, overall, I think we people are A-OK. I’m no brow-beater. Well, not anymore.