When the members of SweetKiss Momma embarked on their first European tour earlier this year, they were hit with culture shock — in the best way.
None of the members of the Tacoma- and Puyallup-based Southern rock band had ever been to Europe, and the audiences they played for were unlike any they had encountered in America.
“They were soccer chanting, singing along to the songs. I don’t even know if they knew the words. They just wanted to be part of what was going on,” said founding member Jeff Hamel.
The band returned in early February and is now gearing up for local shows. First up is the Rainiers’ preseason party on Saturday at Cheney Stadium. The Kim Archer Band is also on the bill.
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Hamel and his brother Jeremy grew up in Puyallup and formed SweetKiss Momma in 2006. Since then, their Southern soul-tinged rock ’n’ roll has steadily gained fans and success.
Hamel serves as the band’s lead singer and guitarist and writes the music. Jeremy plays bass. Drummer Jimmy Hughs and guitarist Jack Parker round out the group, with occasional appearances from Hamel’s wife, Kim, on vocals and Eric Robert on keyboards.
The band’s music has been compared to iconic Southern rock bands of the 1960s and ’70s: Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers and, more recently, The Black Crowes. Southern-style is a label they didn’t seek, but don’t dispute either.
The band’s first album, 2010’s “Revival Rock,” went on to become the top-selling roots rock and Southern rock act on CD Baby. A new album should come out later this year or early next year, Hamel said.
On April 18, SweetKiss Momma will be featured on an episode of “Band In Seattle.” The CW11 TV show features local bands in studio performances. News Tribune metro columnist Matt Driscoll served as the emcee for the episode.
Hamel said the show will expose them to a new demographic: “People who sit at home and watch us would be a different audience than who come out and see us.”
On their European tour, SweetKiss Momma performed 23 shows in five countries over five weeks in January and February. It was more than double the length of any tour they’d done before. They’re working on another tour in 2016.
American roots rock is all the rage in Europe, Hamel said. The tour came about when a promoter took note of their strong online sales in Germany and Spain. In addition to those countries, they toured in Switzerland, Belgium and France.
“It’s a different world in terms of consumption of live music. They were packed venues,” Hamel said of the European shows. Radio play in Europe is more independent, less genre specific, and less top-40 than in America, he said.
“We aren’t country, we aren’t rock, we aren’t blues. It doesn’t matter over there. That bluesy American South music — they eat it up over there,” Hamel said.
SweetKiss Momma also will perform at Jazzbones on May 8.