The Way Live Should Be

Your source for show and CD reviews, festival previews, and interviews with your favorite artists playing around New England and beyond!

Category Archives: Interviews

Lady Essence: “Right Now” Album Review and Interview

Lady Essence released her first solo album, Right Now, this past August. Essence is channeling the creative aspects of rap, and addressing a lot of relevant social and political issues while delivering strong insight into herself as a person and an artist. Don’t get caught up on the arrangement of her chromosomes or you’ll be missin’ the point.

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Grant Street Orchestra’s Debut Album “Passionately Late” CD Release Party Oct. 14th at The Big Easy!

Grant Street Orchestra, a funk infused hip-hop group straight out of Portland, ME, have their first album “Passionately Late” coming out Friday October 14th! After spending many hours working on this album, Passionately Late shaped up into a great CD with with some great reminiscent style tunes and lots of feel-good funk to dance to.

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Taking A Look At Portland’s Music Community With Lauren Wayne

Lauren Wayne, a Portland local, has been working in the music industry for almost a decade. She is now the General Manager, Talent Buyer, and Marketing Director for our beloved State Theatre and a part of the team that is running the Portland Music Foundation. We were lucky enough to get to chat with her for a bit about The State Theatre, the Portland Music Foundation, and the music community in Portland in general.

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Preview: Great Bay Music Festival in Dover, NH! Aug 18-21

Great Bay Music Festival  is THE festival in NH that you should be attending. They are bringing a killer line up to a beautiful venue, while raising money for a great cause. Festivals like this in NH are rare!

Great Bay Music festival is actually a fundraiser to raise money for the nonprofit Great Bay Wilderness and Music Camp to be held on the farm in the future. They would like to start this camp to teach people about music, very important environmental issues, hiking, low impact camping, conservation, kayaking, climbing and more. We support this!!

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The Bella Terra Interviews: Thoughts on the Festival Phenomenon

The Way Live Should Be had the opportunity to interview a few bands and get their feedback on the festival phenomenon and their upcoming Bella Terra festival performances. The bands that spoke with us include Start Making Sense, Dopapod, and Sophistafunk; they had some really interesting insight into their music and what we can expect at Bella Terra this year!

We were lucky enough to speak with Jonathan Braun, lead singer and guitarist of the Talking Heads cover band Start Making Sense. Being HUGE fans of the Talking Heads, we had some pretty specific questions for Jon;

WLSB: What led you to start a Talking Heads cover band? How did it all come to be?

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Some Words with Adam Gold of Sophistafunk!

 

 


On March 3 of this year the members of The Way Live Should Be (WLSB) went to see Dumpstaphunk at Port City Music Hall in Portland. The show was amazing, but it was the opening band that night that really caught our attention, largely because we had never heard of them before. Their name is Sophistafunk, from Syracuse, NY, and the core members consist of; Jack Brown – vocals, lyrics; Adam Gold – keys, bass, vocals and Emanuel Washington – drums. They describe their sound as, “Combining hip hop & spoken-word with the sounds of live funk, soul, & dance music, the trio SOPHISTAFUNK has invented its own style of cross-genre music”. We would agree! From the seriously talented percussive skills of Washington, to the pick-up-my-Moog and dance around the stage antics of Gold, and the enlightened, brilliant lyrics of Brown… these guys really caught our attention. Imagine our excitement to hear they would be playing The Way Life Should Be Festival (no relation) in Brooks, ME this coming June! A well traveled, really funkin’ fun band from New York, back again? We had to hear what they thought about Maine from their last trip!

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Interview with Skerik of The Dead Kenny G’s

After my interview with Skerik, I rushed right home and put on Bewildered Herd, the first, and currently only, Dead Kenny G’s album. The Dead Kenny G’s are Skerik (tenor sax and keyboard), Mike Dillon (percussion and Vibraphone), and Brad Houser (bass and baritone sax). With Skerik’s words echoing around my skull, the music seemed transformed from just ordinary awesomeness to an album not truly heard before. It seemed much more revolutionary; full of punk intellectuality, vibrance, and even good old fashioned fun. These guys aren’t just doing something different, they’re doing it well. They utilize music’s traditional role of activism, communication, and solidarity, but translate it into a radical, post-post modern sound. Their new album, Operation Long Leash (wait until you hear the story behind the name!), comes out March 15, 2011 and is set to be an even more mind blowing, substance-oozing experience. More on that below, but first, some basics:

Interview with The Rustic Overtones!

The Rustic Overtones played a great show at The Stone Church in New Market, NH on Friday 9/10.

Dave Gutter was kind enough to meet with TWLSB after the show so we could ask a few questions about the band. Enjoy!

TWLSB: You guys all took a break for a while, right?

DG: Yea, we took a break for about 4 years.

TWLSB: You all kind of went your own ways, each going through individual musical growth, so was it difficult to pick back up where you left off?

DG: It wasn’t actually…it was a very natural progression getting back together. I think someone once said that it’s like riding a bike with five of your other friends. It was a really good thing, we all kind of missed it a lot. We all love the music and love the shows. It’s a real natural energy that I think we missed a lot. As soon as we got back together it was very invigorating and fun.

TWLSB: How did Nigel Hall come into the picture?

DG: Nigel is a good friend of ours. He’s actually played with us for a while, just casually jamming with us a lot. He has like 5 gigs, so it’s really difficult to nail him down for one show with us. It was a huge pleasure to have him work with us on the album. We got him out on the road with us right after the album came out, and a little bit before, but he’s definitely got a lot going on.

TWLSB: Your songs seem to have quite a range in style…is this due to a wide range of influences?

DG: Yea, it’s a huge democracy of all these influences that come from every different member. It started off as a real cluster fuck of all the influences, but it finally got to a point where we kind of honed in on which influences to use. And when we’re under those influences….well it’s just a compromise. Like, Tony listens to Slayer and Ryan listens to Charlie Parker, so you can’t really put those two together. So we took a while experimenting what styles we can put together, and we came up with some pretty unique things, and that’s kind of how our songs evolved.

TWLSB: What have you been listening to lately?

DG: I’ve been listening to a band called White Denim lately. I’ve been listening to a lot of hip-hop. There’s some Kanye West stuff that hasn’t been out on the album yet. There are these singles that’ve been leaked on the internet, real good newer stuff. I like the new OK Go record too. And The Flaming Lips.

TWLSB: Are you writing new material? How does that usually work?

DG: I usually write a lot of songs on my acoustic guitar, and I’ll bring it to the guys and they usually shape-shift the whole thing. I come with skeletons or blue prints of songs that are very open to interpretation and change. Aside from the lyrics, the whole thing can change sometimes, and I’m open to that. It’s good to have everyone from the band kind of put their stamp on it.

TWLSB: How was it starting out in Maine? Is Portland a good output?

DG: It’s challenging as far as getting out of Portland and getting to other places, but it’s a really inspirational place to live. Portland is a very beautiful, peaceful place as far as writing from your soul, and creating some really pure music. There are so many great bands there, but like some of the bands that practice in the studio next to us, they don’t even play out. It’s hard to get out in Maine.
Until recently, there was a huge lack of clubs for people to play. Even now, for like really good hip-hop, punk rock, or hard-core there’s still a lack of clubs and underage clubs. That’s the thing that’s hard about Portland; is actually getting your music out there and getting out of Portland and touring. As far as writing though, all the bands from Portland are amazing writers.

TWLSB: So how long did it take you guys to push out of Portland?

DG: We probably toured out of state when we were about 19. As soon as we could, really. You gotta try to get out of your hometown to achieve success.
TWLSB: You got out, but you still seem to stick within.
DG: Yea, we are really, really faithful and loyal to Portland, as much as we can be. We love Portland.

TWLSB: What was your most effective output though, did the record labels help most?

DG: Nope. It was getting out there and playing in front of people. The live thing is way more personal than a record. It’s so hard to reach people sometimes with a record. You know, they’re doing something else and listening to the record usually. But when it’s live, I’m the guy with the loud microphone and big lights, and you can pay attention and soak it in.
TWLSB: You guys definitely have soul to your performances too, and that energy can’t be delivered as well through a record.
DG: *Jokingly* Well, we’re lip synching, but I’m still feeling it.

TWLSB: Any local music in the Portland area you can recommend?

DG: An artist named Thommy, he’s an artist I work with that I really like. There’s a band named Brenda…Brenda is amazing. I really like Gypsy Tailwind, Grand Hotel, Plains, which is actually Dave Noyes’ band. There’s a ton of bands in Portland that I’m really into.

TWLSB: What record labels have you guys worked with?
DG: Our first major label was Arista. Then we signed with Tommy Boy, and then we signed with Velour…the labels passed us around for a while.

TWLSB: What’s the biggest show The Rustic Overtones have played?

DG: This one, The Stone Church definitely. *laughs* It’s hard to say… There was a show in Connecticut, I think it’s called The Meadows. It’s kind of an interesting story. A good friend of mine gave me some pot brownies, and they didn’t work. They were so delicious though, so everybody, even people that don’t get high ate all the pot brownies. We were like ‘ yea they don’t work anyway, so don’t worry about it.’ About 4 hours later it kicked in, and we were about to go out in front of something like 40,000 people. And well, that was our biggest show.
TWLSB: How’d it go?
DG: Oh it went great. I don’t really remember much of it, but it was definitely a good show.

TWLSB: How come you guys don’t play up in the Umaine Orono area anymore?

DG: Well they used to do Bumstock and stuff, but there’s no place to play up there really…
TWLSB: Come to The Dime! It’s an excellent place to play.
DG: Is it? That’s good to know. They asked us to play a while back but I think we were really busy at the time. Good to know, though, we’ll keep it in mind.

TWLSB: Any advice for bands starting out or young musicians?

DG: You have to get out there, play at any place any time you can when you first start out. And even though it’s hard, don’t play Sweet Home Alabama and then mix in your original stuff. Just get out there, play straight original stuff, and believe in it. Don’t feel like you have to rely on throwing Free Bird into the set. Try to really stand behind your original music when you start out, and people will eventually believe in it too.

Thanks again to Dave Gutter and The Rustic Overtones for their time and an excellent show, and Devon Mitchell for setting everything up!
We highly recommend that you all catch a live show of this local minded down to earth rockin’ band from Portland, ME.
Go to http://www.therusticovertones.com/ to check out tour dates!

Interview with Jason Hann of EOTO!

“Consisting of Michael Travis and Jason Hann, the duo mixes the organic sounds of live drums, bass and guitar through a variety of programs and gadgets to create a style of music that is more likely found in a dance club, than a live music theater. What sets EOTO apart from other artists in this emerging genre is how the music is created. While some artists may spend hours pre-mixing samples and elements of music for their live show, EOTO uses nothing pre-recorded, giving them the ability to approach each song with on-the-spot spontaneity and 100% live improvisation.”
Above was taken from EOTO’s publicity website: http: http://www.tsunamipublicity.com/epk08/EOTO/eoto_epk_08.html

“If I suspended disbelief, I could damn near believe this duo was a conduit for divine energies, holding down some seriously sacred vibes while still getting me deeper in my own embodied groove”
-Michael Garfield, Colorado Music Board CD Review, January 2010

EOTO will be gracing us with their presence at The Dime in Old Town, ME on May 9th! When we received the news, we figured it was a good idea to take a closer look at what EOTO is all about…

WLSB: So, how did you ease into the transition from the rootsy bluegrass and jamband style of String Cheese Incident into the electro-type scene?

Jason Hann: Well, it wasn’t easy, and honestly was a bit difficult and painful. String Cheese had such a huge following, and that type of following was really one of the best. When we first started playing shows as EOTO, it was for much smaller crowds. People were coming out basically because it was a String Cheese side-project, everyone was wondering what we were going to do. Myspace was still kind of a big thing at the time, so we were hoping that it would take off on there, but that didn’t really happen. We then started to focus in on really promoting to the electronic audience. It definitely took a while but we’ve gathered a larger, more diverse crowd over time. The age group we tend to attract is from 17-22.

WLSB: How long have you and Travis been playing together in this style?

JH: It started a while back as basically something to do after String Cheese practice. Travis and I would set various instruments up after practice and would end up playing until 4 or 5 in the morning. It was just fun and there was no pressure. Travis then started working with looping pedals to make things more interesting. We started feeling that the electronic grooves really worked out for what we were doing, and it kind of just went from there.

WLSB: What instruments and devices are typically used up on stage?

JH: We’ll generally have bass, guitar, percussion, keys, vocals, drums, electronic percussion, and we both have laptops to control a lot of what’s going on. We also use the computer program Ableton Live.

WLSB: How does the strictly improvisational factor of your music work out? Do you practice improv?

JH: We don’t really practice anymore, mainly because we are playing so often. But there are different sounds that we’ll experiment with, and if we like it, we’ll usually work it out at home before we take it on the stage.

WLSB: Do you end songs, or is it more of a constant flow throughout the evening?

JH: The show is a lot like seeing a DJ set, so you generally get one thing into the next. At the very end of the show though, we try to slow it down a bit and ease into an ending and close out the evening.

WLSB: Does your improv style ever lead to any covers? If so, do you shy away from it or go with it?

JH: We might hint at songs sometimes, but never really do full out covers. Jump by Van Halen has come up a couple times, but that’s one of the few songs that we’ll jam on for a bit.

WLSB: Does EOTO typically do any on stage collaborations with other bands or performers?

JH: We’ve had a lot of guests up on stage with us. The guys from Umphrey’s Mcgee have sat in with us before. We’ve had anything from cello players to rappers, as well as a couple of the guys from String Cheese Incident, and the percussionist from Stomp.

WLSB: How long until you guys felt comfortable just going up and doing your thing?

JH: It was probably about a year before we took it live. But our first show was like that. There was a lot to work out, so the next couple years were spent working things out and getting a feel for all the technology we were using.

WLSB: How would you describe your relationship with Travis up on stage? Did it take a lot of work to get to this point musically?

JH: When we started off, we would kind of talk to each other and use hand signals to let the other know what we wanted to do stylistically, faster or slower tempo, or what’s next. By now we’ve played over 600+ shows, so we can usually hear what the other person’s doing and read body language pretty well.

WLSB: What are some of your current influences?

JH: SPL, DJ Tipper, Rusko, Shpongle, and Bassnectar to name a few.

WLSB: Has EOTO ever played a seated show?

JH: We did a workshop at High Sierra, and played places with seats or had people sitting on the ground, but never a full out seated show. That’s a whole other world..

WLSB: Do you tend to tap into the vibe of the audience, and does that affect the styles in which you play?

JH: It’s definitely a bit of give and take in that regard. If we feel the audience is craving the dubstep, we try to give them that. We give it some time, and then when we think the audience is comfortable with what we’re doing we tend to take the lead, going from genre to genre.

WLSB: How does EOTO keep it sounding new and different? Do you tend to naturally fall back into certain grooves with beats and sounds you each prefer?

JH: There are certain sounds that seem to keep coming up in our shows, but the nature that we’re improvising everything kind of weeds it out. There are certain themes that will come up during shows. We have a drum themed thing we like to do, and some other one’s as well.

WLSB: What do you think this type of music has to offer to the music scene as a whole?

JH: Oh, wow. Let’s see…I’d say it’s really about dancing as much as possible, as hard as you can. You don’t have to be the most urbanite, the most hippie, or any of that. It’s really light in that regard, and everyone can share the same space and just get down together. It shows what improvisational music can really be. We’re just doing our own thing and that overall experience covers a lot of ground.

Thanks again to Jason Hann for putting aside some time for us! For those who haven’t had the chance to listen to EOTO, you can check out some of their shows at http://www.livedownloads.com
Get your tickets for EOTO May 9th at The Dime Bar! It’s going to be one crazy dance party.

Keep in mind, local musicians Lost Between Sound will be opening downstairs from 7-9, and Lqd Chrch upstairs from 9-10 before EOTO!

Restless Groove: A Year in Retrospect

I first heard the members of Restless Groove live at Chickenfest 2009, although they were playing in a variety of different bands. For me though, their saga starts there because my experience began with that first Tommy the Cat cover I heard at Chickenfest ’09 and goes to the one I heard last Saturday at Chickefest ’10. When I first showed up at Chickenfest ’09 I did not expect to hear Primus…. especially not the best Primus I had heard played since I heard Les Claypool do it. Since that festival and since Restless started playing in fall of 2009 I have gone to over 10 of their live shows and have gotten to experience their growth as a band during that time period. The Tommy the Cat I heard last Saturday was no different, if not better, from the first, but the key difference was the fact that it was no longer my favorite song Restless Groove played. Their original music has come to captivate me more than any of their covers. It’s been incredible; hearing the changes in their sound, their tightening skill set, their increasing confidence and stage presence… I have never really gotten the privilege of being privy to that process with any another band and its been an eye opening and endlessly rewarding experience. It’s been one hell of a memorable year, and I don’t think I’m the only one who feels that way.

The members of Restless Groove, as I am sure many of you already know, are Justin Michaud (drums/vocals), Ryan Kirkpatrick (lead and rhythm guitar/vocals, Josh Bernier (bass/vocals), and Pete Gerard (lead and rhythm guitar/vocals). I interviewed most of the members in order to see what their experience of the last year was, to get some idea of their past, and lastly also of their future. This is a rough blend of all the different answers I received. Their history is an interesting one, filled with multiple band names, many different combinations of people, and a legacy of creativity…

Josh: I’ve been playing music with Justin on and off since we were in 8th grade. Him and I used to spend hours jamming in his basement. Pete and met at the beginning of my freshman year in high school. After that came Burnsteen, which is when Pete, Justin, and I started playing together along with our singer Nik, in 2004. Burnsteen lasted for about 3 years. Later, at UMO, Pete and I started jamming with Ryan and Ben Kaufman, which turned into Boheme. I was playing bass and Pete was playing drums. Pete and I had been jamming with this nasty drummer, Devin Hutchison as a side project to Boheme, and after Boheme split the three of us formed Trifekta, which I think is the core of Restless Groove. We started doing all of the Primus, Moe, and Chili Peppers covers with Devin and realized that people LOVE that driving, relentless, heavy-ass groovy shit! Devin left for Colorado after he graduated last May, so Pete and I started playing with Justin and Ryan in the fall semester of 2009 and the rest is history!

Ryan: Yeah, this is my third band… I really started playing with these guys with Boheme, who I played with for about 2 years. Im personally very influenced by Red Hot Chili Peppers especially, also RX Bandits and Incubus. We all bring a lot of influences and musical references to the table.

Justin: This past fall (September 2009) was when Restless Groove really formed and with this new band we had a completely different mindset. The other bands/combos were serious, but were mostly about fun and jamming together. We have a new mindset of having fun while being serious about the music, but our new outlook includes wanting to be successful and really get our music out there. We really planned to put a lot of work into it.

WSLB: What makes Restless Groove sound like Restless Groove?

Pete: I’ve always played and developed music by jamming and going by ear. Josh was very technically minded… he just knows an incredible amount about playing bass! He’s gotten amazing at jamming now too, and then you have Justin who is also very technically skilled, but also has a great ear. Ryan is a blend of all of these traits as well… I think its this blend of technicality and jamming that is a large part of our sound. That and the diversity of influences.

Justin: Each of us brings something different to table and our songs are a mixture of all our different ideas and influences. We each have very different styles and each song ends up sounding very unique as it is a crazy creative concoction of these four different styles. Sometimes we even take parts of a song, discard the rest and combine it into another song. It’s a very interesting process. There is a lot of melding and experimentation… we definitely don’t have a set method of writing a song and the randomness keeps it fresh.

Ryan: Our sound is definitely an orgy of all our musical influences. We all really like experimenting, like with a lot of different guitar sounds or even with different instruments. Experimentation is key to our sound.

WSLB: Where did the story behind the album come from? The saga of the Forest of Dance versus Funkcity?

Josh: The story is mostly a product of Pete’s own creativity. We knew that we wanted to do a concept album at one point or another to follow in the footsteps of Rush and Dream Theater. I think having a story tied to a whole CD gives it more meaning. When you can write 10, 12, or however many individual songs and tie it into one big picture it just brings everything to life. Pete came to practice one day and had written out a whole story line with all of the characters in it and that was pretty much the solidification of the whole concept.

Justin: Yeah, I don’t know if we intended initially on creating a concept album, but it really stemmed from the need for lyrics. I feel like many of the themes and lyrics stem from a week long canoe ride we had gone on spring of 2009… that experience had a strong influence on us. We had the outline of characters and basic storyline and then we each went our separate ways, wrote songs, and then came back to put it together in a logical way. We each actually sing the songs we wrote the lyrics for so its interesting how they have an individual nature, but arose from a collective creative framework.

Pete: It was definitely a creative brainstorm session. The lyrics are in many ways actually pretty vague, open to a lot of interpretation, but I think it’s clear they are environmentally minded.

WSLB: So would you call yourselves a progressive band?

Pete and Josh: Yes, specifically in the environmental activism sense. The lyrics highlight in many ways our feelings about activism and what we feel in terms of what is currently going on. We are both pretty avid environmentalists. This album really takes a conservationist’s standpoint on the idea of logging and/or deforestation. This album isn’t directly related to that, however, I think it’s meant to be a broader “wake up and smell the coffee” type of message to the greedy, wasteful, overindulgent, ignorant, arrogant, and selfish people out there.

Justin: Absolutely. I think it would be good idea to keep with progressive/environmental messages in future albums as well. We are naturally strong advocates and with popular culture going the way that it is we would like to keep up with that, keeping our music applicable to the real world and what’s going on.

WSLB: Do you have any reflections from this past year you would like to share, from Chickenfest to Chickenfest? Any thoughts for the year ahead?

Josh: This year has been AMAZING! Even last year with Trifekta was incredible, but everything’s just been getting exponentially more awesome since then in terms of how many AWESOME people we’ve met and friends we’ve made. Between the other bands we’ve played with, the people who’ve worked with us, and everyone who supports us, everyone has just been so incredible and has made this year kick fucking ASS for us. As far as Chickenfest goes I’m glad to see that it’s never failed since I’ve been attending, it’s such an awesome gathering of well…EVERYONE. As far as playing music there goes, I don’t think there’s any where else we could play this close to here where you feel like such a rock star, everyone is just so receptive to the music, and just SO chill!

Justin: For me it all originated on that canoe trip. Pete and Josh came to me when Devin left and we already had so much chemistry, plus we wanted Ryan as a great addition to our sound… it really just all came together. We basically started the day school started last fall and our main goal was to mix some originals with some covers and see how it was received. Once we achieved some popularity in the area we decided we wanted to record an album! Now that that has miraculously been accomplished our goal is to get it out there, expand and go from there. We have really accomplished a lot in a ridiculously short amount of time…its been one hell of a crazy ride. We got a lot of help from a lot of people we didn’t expect and a lot of support… people who climbed on board and made all the impossible seem possible. We definitely couldn’t have done it ourselves.

Pete: Yes. We struggle because we are all ridiculously busy, but the support has been incredible. We wil see where it all takes us! We hope to continue to slowly build up, get on the festival scene, play out of state… we really just love playing together and hope to perpetuate that and find other people who love it too. P.S. we are totally open to picking up a keyboardist, maybe a saxophone player, other horns… but yeah, definitely hope to start playing Portland this summer and get out into the rest of New England.

Thanks so much to Restless Groove for taking the time to talk with WSLB.
Their CD release party is tomorrow night at the Dime… they are selling their new album, which is, without a doubt, my favorite album so far this year! You would be seriously missing out if you weren’t there…. Seriously…