Who Are The Amish Outlaws?

Brother Ezekiel on The Amish, The Amish Outlaws, & Food

Last year, we built a 150-foot-long Lebanon Bologna Sandwich at the Lebanon Area Fair. This year, we wanted to top that. Forgoing the idea of a 151-foot sandwich, we decided to consult our friends at the Fair, asking them if there was something or someone they have always wanted to host at the Fair…

Their answer? The Amish Outlaws.

A quick Google search and some interesting YouTube videos later, we surely had questions… but not one of those was a question of being entertained. Read through The Amish Outlaws’ website and you’ll be introduced to band members such as “Brother Snoop Job” and “Amos Def” and you might learn some of the band’s favorite foods— “Anything that used to be alive.”

With a wardrobe that consists of straw hats and black suspenders, the band’s Amish garb heavily contrasts with the covers they perform, but for some of them, their on-stage clothing is an homage to a former life. Band members Amos Def, Eazy Ezekiel, and Hezekiah X were raised Amish, but left the community during Rumspringa, a tradition in which Amish teenagers have a chance to live outside of their strict upbringing before choosing whether to return and be baptized into the Amish church.

Coming “Straight Outta Lancaster,” as the band says, The Amish Outlaws will be taking a short drive to Lebanon this summer for a rocking performance at the Lebanon Area Fair on Wednesday, July 24, at 8 p.m. (free with your $5 fair admission, just sayin’).  Ahead of the concert, we got the chance to ask some questions of one of the band’s founding members, Eazy Ezekiel, who spoke on the decision behind the name “The Amish Outlaws,” his favorite Lebanon Bologna fixins’, and more…

Q: I read that the band was formed back in 2002 after you began playing together for fun. How did you gain such an interest in music? 

A: I hadn’t heard much modern music while living Amish. When I left, I was exposed to more. Then, when one of the first English friends I made played Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Wall for me, it changed everything. Suddenly music had a much deeper meaning than just frivolity and I was obsessed and have been ever since.

Q: Was it a hard decision to name the band “The Amish Outlaws”? Did you have any other contending names?

A: The original name of the band was “Elephant’s Gerald.” I was mowing the lawn one day and thinking that it must be uncommon that we have some former Amish guys in a band together and thought to myself, “Why not embrace our roots and call the band ‘The Amish Outlaws’ and dress how we used to dress?” Here we are, over 20 years later!

Q: How do you choose what songs to play? Do you have a favorite song to play?

A: We throw a bunch of songs into a hat, everyone votes, and the winners are what we play. We try to play songs you wouldn’t typically expect a “cover band,” for lack of a better term, to play, though there are some standards that we do. My favorite song we have ever played was “The Ripper” by Judas Priest but it’s been a long time since we have done that one. As far as in our current repertoire, I would have to say “Chop Suey” by System of a Down. I like the heavy stuff.

Q: With all the touring you do, how do you keep each performance so exciting?

A: Lots and lots of carbs and caffeine. We appreciate that the people that come to see us are spending time from their lives, and in some cases spending their hard-earned money, to watch us. But really, money is time when it comes down to it, so both are equally valuable, so we try not to take any second they dedicate to watching us perform for granted by putting everything we have into every single show.

Q: What’s your dream venue to play (other than the Lebanon Area Fair, of course)?

A: Any place where people show up. I’ve always wanted to play at a Fuddruckers just because I love the food so much.

Q: Do you have a favorite moment or moments from touring?

A: It is hard to pick one moment—we have been blessed with so many great shows and experiences. An easier thing for me to point out as a favorite is seeing multiple generations of people at our shows. Families where parents bring their kids, grandparents who are there with grandkids, brothers and sisters… we really feel like the people that come to see us are our family and we love them as such.

Q: Being raised Amish, are there any practices or norms from your Amish upbringing that you still follow today?

A: It’s nigh impossible to really stick to any of the norms, but I do really value quiet. I love not having a cell phone on me. In fact, yesterday our pool sprung a leak while the kids were in the yard. My kids, brother-in-law, and wife called me after my darling niece refused to go in the house and find me because she “didn’t know where I was.” But I didn’t hear the phone because it was in an entirely different room. Ultimately my wife had to go on the Blink Camera intercom that we have to keep an eye on our dog to tell me the pool was spouting water everywhere like a geyser. I guess it’s not always a good thing.

Q: I’ve always understood the Amish to be placid and reserved, but you all are quite funny. Have you always been that way?

A: Looking? Yes. Smelling? Mostly in the summer months.

Q: What do you do when you’re not performing?

A: Mostly drive to the next performance. When I am home, I cook a lot, clean up after my family, try to do a lot of yoga, power eat, read when I can, and listen to lots and lots of music.

Q: If you weren’t in the band, what do you think you’d be doing?

A: Sitting home and eating and gaining a lot of weight. As far as a job goes, maybe a stunt man or grocer. Probably a grocer.

Q: With some of you being from Lancaster, have any of you ever been to Lebanon County or the Lebanon Area Fair?

A: We’ve certainly traveled through it and I am sure also stopped there to eat. We’ve performed all around Lebanon County in Harrisburg, Reading, Schuylkill, Wyomissing and Millersville—the list goes on. This is our first time playing the Lebanon Area Fair and we are very excited.

Q: I may have read an article where you mention a love of food. Any thoughts on Lebanon Bologna? Opera Fudge?

A: I am more of a meat guy than a sweets guy and LOVE Lebanon Bologna, especially with a good strong mustard and especially Seltzer’s Original!

Q: What should people expect at your show at the Lebanon Area Fair this summer?

A: Six big, sweaty, goofy guys playing all the songs other bands are too embarrassed to play and, I hope, a lot of fried foods.

Q: Where is home for The Amish Outlaws?

A: We are spread all over. Two guys in New York, two in Delaware, one in Maryland, one in New Jersey, and our crew is based out of Philadelphia.

Q: We’re celebrating our Year of the Arts in the Lebanon Valley right now by honoring all types of art such as music, theatre, and visual arts. With that, we were wondering if you could share what music means to you?

A: Everything. Besides my family, it is the most important thing to me. I guess air, water, shelter, and food have to also be on that list but I’d die without music too.

All photos by Steven Parks

Check out our other Year of the Arts features here!

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