Jody Stephens and Luther Russell almost didn't make it to Minneapolis. "We had flight delays," Stephens says. "[But after] a few phone calls, we just lucked into going to another airport and getting here just on time."
It's a small example of the kind of luck Stephens and Russell — known as Those Pretty Wrongs — have enjoyed over the course of their shared history. On tour in support of their self-titled album, Those Pretty Wrongs stopped at The Current to chat with Bill DeVille ahead of their Saturday, Feb. 25, show at the 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis.
Stephens may be best known for his time as the drummer in the legendary act Big Star, and Russell was part of the early-90s indie-rock band the Freewheelers. Russell even said he had the chance to play at Prince's former club in Minneapolis, Glam Slam, when the Freewheelers were on tour opening for Joan Jett.
Russell and Stephens first crossed paths in the early 1990s when Stephens was making his A&R rounds as part of his work at Ardent Music in Memphis, where he has now worked for 30 years. Stephens and Russell kept in touch, and a collaboration during a Big Star's Third show in Los Angeles led the two men to decide to collaborate on a new project together. "It was just awesome," Stephens says. "Luther has a lot of talent."
The two challenged themselves to write three or four songs together, but ended up writing 12. Ten of those songs appear on the duo's self-titled album, which came out on May 13, 2016. But it was playing at the Nashville venue The Basement during the 2016 Americana Fest that opened a lot of doors for Those Pretty Wrongs. "You were there," Stephens tells Bill DeVille, "which was awesome for us, and now we're here. A guy named B.T. from Australia, a promoter, was there, and we wound up playing five dates in Australia from that. Two of which we were opening for Tweedy."
For Stephens, playing in Those Pretty Wrongs is enjoyable in many ways, not least of which is getting to sing lead on songs, something he didn't do a whole lot of as a drummer. "It's perfectly comfortable," Stephens says. "I found it's a lot easier for me to talk to folks that are closer, so if I'm out front, communication is a lot easier."
Listen to the full interview and a live performance here.