“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” ~Nietzsche
People look to music for all kinds of things. To make them happy, to lift their spirits, to give them something to dance to and to sing along with. A casual listener, might find that music is a nice diversion. It’s something to entertain them at parties or on evening commutes. They listen, but they might not always hear what is there beyond the obvious.
For the more serious listener music can become a source of inspiration, of motivation and happiness. They know music has more to offer than something flowing through the headphones on your morning jog, if you choose to embrace it. Still, the true strength, the true power of music may evade them.
For the true music lover, music is like a roller coaster ride. The intricate ups and downs of a certain song can take them from full of joy to the depths of despair in the span of a few chord changes. Music can be a great haven or a great escape. They know that whatever you are running from, running to, or running with, music is the soundtrack that goes along for the ride. Music is in their soul. Unfortunately, not everyone’s soul can write a lyric, or carry a tune, or strum a guitar…
Enter, the musician. The musician knows beyond a shadow of a doubt the power of music. More often than not, they’ve been to the dark places with it, the places where the soul of an artist often goes. And they’ve stood with it in the light. Whether they play purely for themselves, or to please crowds of people, musicians know that music brings people together, awakens the spirit, and heals the soul. Music is a universal truth. They get it. And they want us to get it too. Musicians, quite simply, hear the story the music has to tell. And they have a story to tell of their very own…
So who tells the stories of the storytellers?
**Join us all week as we talk with some of our favorite local musicians and bands about their influences, aspirations, and so much more…stay tuned.***
Backstage Pass…Brodi Valos
WHAT GENRE OF MUSIC ARE YOU CURRENTLY PLAYING?
IS THAT WHAT YOUVE ALWAYS PLAYED OR THE ONLY STYLE YOU LIKE TO PLAY?
“No, I love all types of music. I like to combine different elements, especially with my band mates. ‘Cause my voice has such a heavy country twang sound especially for this area. So I end up playing with guys that aren’t that style cause there’s not a lot of great country players up here. Not to say there aren’t great country players, there just isn’t an abundance. There’s a lot of really great musicians that are available looking for something new to do and somehow I connect with them. Then I have to figure out how to incorporate, to jibe. My style of writing and arranging has always been based off of country, rock and roll, blues, basic progressions and story telling. In some way, I’ve always written country music. I just haven’t always produced it or stylized it that way, but now I do it with all the stuff that I do. Before I did metal, dance, now I’ll incorporate those elements, they’ll be in my songs but they’re not the “genre” I’m subscribed to.”
WHAT DID YOU LISTEN TO AS YOU WERE LEARNING TO PLAY? WHAT SPOKE TO YOU?
“I grew up in a house where there was a lot of Ray Charles, Kenny Rogers being played. What really influenced me, I’d say, for country music, was the first time I heard “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”. I remember being really little, like 7, and I just spent all my time trying to learn all the words and sing it. Eventually I did. I always say I learned how to “rap” before I learned how to sing. I learned how to rap from Charlie Daniels.”
DO YOU EVER PLAY THAT?
“Yeah, with Dirt Road Anthem. Fiddle and the whole nine yards.”
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DREAM VENUE?
“My dream venue isn’t there anymore, so I’d have to pick another one. It would’ve been the Empire Rock Club. ‘Cause when I was about 14-16, at the tail end of it, I used to sneak in there. Nights I wasn’t supposed to be there. I grew facial hair early as a kid, at 16 I had a full beard, so I used to sneak in. So, in my greatest, wildest fantasy, I would want to play there. Since that’s not possible, I would say Red Rocks, Colorado. Just because of where it is and the sonic aspect of it. I’ve never been there but I’ve heard amazing things. Just the pictures alone are incredible.”
DO YOU FIND THAT YOU DEAL WITH EGOS A LOT IN THIS BUSINESS?
“Oh yeah. My own to start with. That’s the hardest one. I try to keep it in check with as much intellect as I can. Sometimes I actually have to boost my own too. But I do deal with egos a lot. Sometimes that’s why people wind up becoming artists because they need that acknowledgement somewhere in their life. Sometimes it’s a long period of time of not a high level of success, so you become sort of jaded and it gets intertwined with an ego. Sometimes playing with a guy playing with an ego is the greatest thing, cause he’s all ego and he’s just totally out there wagging it like a maniac and that’s exactly what you need. But then the problem dealing with the ego or super ego, sometimes you’re not dealing with a person’s real shit and they’re covering up for stuff -and music (creating and playing) can be very vulnerable. So me, with Dirt Road Anthem, that’s not me calling the shots. They’ll tell me “that’s not what we want, we want this”, and I have to keep my ego completely to the side and just be professional and give them what they want. But not all musicians are like that. I’ve lost some really good members because our egos, or whatever you wanna call it. We couldn’t be in the same room together. A lot of alpha male dominance. And being a lead singer, I’m always getting the attention whether I want it or not. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. I hold no grudges. I appreciate all the guys I’ve played with, no matter how it ended. We always have that connection of the music we made together.”
HOW DO YOU THINK YOU’D HANDLE FAME?
“It would be difficult. Not because of the people that don’t know me, but the people that have known me. And how sometimes people that have known me a while and haven’t paid any attention, all of the sudden are all in your business, up your ass. That might be difficult. If it was just someone asking for an autograph, I’d be good with that cause those people would be appreciating me cause I’m Brodi Valos. I imagine they wouldn’t be appreciating me cause they know me from way back when I was in sixth grade and now I’m Brodi Valos and famous. They think they know so much. I think sometimes, again when it comes to egos, my experience is that I’ve had people that I built lifelong friendships with that even at this ridiculously minuscule level of popularity, just in the local area, that all of the sudden are all up in my shit. Like in a weird way and injecting themselves into my life in a way that is perceived as somehow connected to me and we were never connected like that. That’s been disheartening cause I’ve lost some friends just by pursuing what I wanna do and then have those relationships transform with just a little bit of fame.
Heading a band is not all that it’s cracked up to be. It’s like a reversed mullet. It’s party in the front, business in the back. When you get down to business, things can very checks and balances. Then there’s these odd things that come in and things you never expected. I guess I was just figuring that it would hold itself at that level, then as things got bigger, those strange friendships that I had that I didn’t really acknowledge for the oddities that they were, they grew and blew up in my face to a degree. I feel guilty that I’m not friends with people anymore but I know that I can’t be ’cause what I was in the friendship for wasn’t really what the friendship was.
The fame part of like, getting up and being on a tour bus, I’m sure would be exhausting to a certain degree. I look at some of these guys and say I don’t know how they do it. Particularly somebody like Miranda Lambert, with her demanding schedule and as famous as she is, and as in demand as she is. And there’s an aspect of fans that can be scary at times. I’ve even had a couple of scary encounters that I sort of was able to duck out of. Or there was some weird shit in my inbox on Facebook that I had to sort of handle. Originally, it would be a compliment, like “Hey, saw ya, thought you were great!” And I’m not gonna be ignorant and I’ll reply. But then it becomes more and more and then they show up at a show and it’s weird. So for a woman in the business it’s gotta be harder cause there’s the crazy fear factor. As crazy as some of the women I’ve known in my life back then, men can be scarier and more dangerous at times. Just because of the male ego. But some of the crazy girls are just as dangerous on some level. But they come with a good lore.”
DO YOU FIND IT DIFFICULT TO FIND OTHER MUSICIANS TO COMPLIMENT YOUR STYLE?
“Well, I found that before I became “Brodi Valos” it was impossible. I had my music up, I was trying to find people to play with, nobody! Then I said “Ok, I’m not gonna be the singer of said band anymore. I’m just gonna be Brodi Valos.” And then, even some of the same people that I’d known for years, that I had asked to play with again and again, came out and played.”
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT WAS?
“I don’t know. Power of a brand? Maybe that’s it. Also I think I became more focused. It was no longer about what we all democratically agreed on. It was about my focus and my direction they had to funnel into that kind of a “product”. I don’t find it hard, once I get somebody into a room when I’m playing with them, I don’t find it hard to jibe with them then. I have a couple of rules: rule number one is play what you want. Rule number two is don’t step on anybody. Don’t get in anybody’s way with their sound. Don’t overplay someone. Play what you want but don’t get in anybody’s way. That goes for me too. I lead a band well, so I can queue people. There’s different non verbal queues to give everybody their space. So it’s kind of like lion taming. So if I’m in a band with four other guys, you have to lion tame three of them so that fourth guy can do his thing whether it be a guitar solo, bass, drums, whatever’s going on. That’s important. I like to play with people and I like to build them up. If somebody’s not as good as somebody else says they are, but I see something special in their playing, I’ll basically put them in a head lock until they recognize that they have that and then build it and build it for all it’s worth.
So finding people and getting people into a room used to be real difficult, now not so much. Somebody has to have the idea that they wanna succeed. And as musicians, it’s real easy to have a couple of beers (or a couple of beers times however many more) and sit around and talk about how we wanna be rock stars and how we wanna be famous, get this car, get this house, these big blown up dreams. And that can sometimes be enough to fuel a band to come together if it’s just a fantasy at that point, cause you never know what can happen, especially with the internet.”
HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED MOVING AND PLAYING YOUR MUSIC SOMEWHERE ELSE?
“I thought about moving a few times, and not to places people would normally think. Like I own land in Taos, New Mexico (where easy rider was filmed). Back in 2002, when I bought it, I could’ve sworn I’d be there by 2004 living. There’s a film, art and music community there. It’s not really close to any major place. I was also in the gulf coast area after hurricane Katrina. I went down and did volunteer work for a couple months. When I was down there, I realized that there was so little of places to play, people, musicians, so forth, that I was really blessed to be from an area that was like, the fifth largest market in the country. I didn’t know what to do with it at that point in time, I just knew that I was better off being here than I was being anywhere else. I guess because I was always country at heart, I didn’t always take being a country artist in Philadelphia seriously. I thought it was impossible. Thought I’d be better off singing in any cover band. I didn’t really know what to do. I realized that we were in such a large market, that I have no right to complain. That even if it took me thirty guitar players to find the right guitar player, I have thirty guitar players to choose from- there’s that much talent. Once things started getting rolling for me, musicians just kept coming out of the woodwork. Musicians that are in this area are dedicated, the professional ones. We can call them on the drop of the dime and they’ll come out and play.”
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVORITE MUSICAL EXPERIENCE?
“The first time I ever sang in front of people as a lead singer. I was in a band. This was when I was a kid. I played bass with a friend of mine (my bass player now). Both had the same bass as kids. I sang one song to a crowd of like 200 kids. We sold tickets and rented a room. I sang and that’s when I knew that was what I wanted to do.
Another one: I met a guy, while I was in the gulf during Katrina cleanup, that taught me how to play the blues. This guy called Iceman. He delivered ice to everybody from his truck. I helped him do something with his house. He was a cabinet and guitar maker. He taught me how to build my first guitar, which was actually stolen off me back in 2008. It was one of a kind. Before I met him I never thought I could be a lead guitar player, ever. I’m not saying I’m really a lead guitar player by any means, but I now play some leads. Everything was so devastated down there, and we were playing music, and it brought so much life to people. But we were playing country music. And I’m like “here I am in the bayou area in Mississippi with the people learning how to play the blues.” That’ll stay with me forever.”
OTHER THAN MUSICAL INSPIRATION, IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE THAT HELPS YOU FOCUS AND HONE IN ON YOUR CREATIVITY?
“There’s a couple of things: self improvement is a big one. I think always since I was a kid, I was always trying to improve, which leads into music. I take it as an honor that I can sing, cause I know not everybody can. That inspires me. Then there’s this: (the symbol/pendant on his chain).
In 1994 I drew this symbol (a tribal symbol for the world. It’s all the land masses formed together in such a way, if you connected them all and flattened them out.) that I have as a charm. It seriously inspired me to be more interested in everybody, in life, in the world, beyond what was in Philadelphia. I was in a bar one time and a guy said it best, he said “it’s that damn Philadelphia experiment that did something to create a black hole like a magnet and nobody can leave this fucking place.” And somehow, I realized you didn’t have to leave here to experience the whole world because the whole world is here. This symbol meant the world, everything to me. I’d meet people of different backgrounds and ethnicities and go hang with them and learn their cultures. I never understood the deep divides of other backgrounds. When I was about 20, I drew this, December 8, 1994.”
HOW DO YOU REMEMBER THAT DATE?
It was the anniversary of John Lennon’s death. How do you forget that?
So, I drew it and four months later I was totally obsessed with it. I was a 20 year old tool. Trying to get laid, drink more beer than my friends, and come up with a better ball busting joke. Have a cool car. That was all life was about. Then one night I just doodled this. And all of the sudden it just meant everything to me. I literally made myself sick.
Didn’t sleep for about 11 days. I hadn’t eaten anything significant for like 2 weeks. I ended up getting admitted to a hospital at 134 pounds (I’m 204 now, happy at about 176). So at 134, you could see cartilage in my belly button. After a time I realized why this symbol was so important to me. It was a symbol of the whole world and all the life in it. Somewhere between our nature and man’s intention, humanity and artistry meet. It’s just a symbol and a little picture. And it’s funny cause before it used to make me obsessive and get crazy and now when my normal life gets crazy I’ll just sit down and think about what it looks like and meditate (like someone might use a candle to meditate). It focuses my attention to what’s important.
I don’t hang around people that are like “everything’s peace, love, joy and cool”, ’cause it’s not. There’s some horrible people in the world. Overall though, I think people are good. When I wake up, I know no one has broken into my house and harmed me, my car’s still there. Nights when I’ve played a show and got a ride home with a roadie, and my stuff will still be on my step still the following morning cause I didn’t bring it in the night before. So how bad can people be? I mean yeah, some people do terrible shit. But overall, man is pretty cool. So this helps me recognize, no matter how significant I think I am, and we all do, that I’m still just some kid from Holmesburg who thought he was too cool for school. And in some way everybody who’s ever made a difference in the world was just some kid from wherever made fun of in a schoolyard.
By the time I was 20, I was thoroughly apathetic about nuclear war and things like that. We were at the tail end of the Cold War, and it was like “The Day After” and the Russians were gonna get us. And I’ve come to the realization through the people I met, and through this symbol, it made me wanna know what made them wanna love and get up everyday. Something inspired them to get up and love their life everyday. I’ve learned a lot. It makes me calm and not worry about some of the things going on in the world. Everything flows. I had panic attacks and night terrors when I was like 8. Worried about the world ending. I had a teacher in seventh grade that talked about flat maps and some were distorted and depending on who printed the map determined which country was the largest. And if someone could come up with a way to make an accurate flat map, that they’d be a millionaire. I think somehow that stuck in my head. It seems so trivial, but it stuck.
To check out some of Brodi Valos’ music, visit him on:
Caitlin link11/18/2014 5:01pm
so cool finding out the backgrounds of an artist!
One unified11/18/2014 10:08pm
So glad you enjoyed reading the behind the scenes as much as we did hearing about it. Keep following this week to learn about other local musicians. Thank you for visiting and commenting Caitlin.
Backstage Pass…Paul Baroli Jr. of Steal Your Face
“If you get confused listen to the music play.” ~Robert Hunter
What would you say is your band’s (Steal Your Face) best quality?
“I think it sort of starts with our philosophy and then has to do with the energy we put behind it at our shows. We’ve always gone about things with the idea that we were always going to go for it. To try to make magic with every single note, with every single line, with every single phrase. To try to make as much magic as possible and really just get people off. And I think because we’re always trying to go for it, we get to places with the music and take our audiences places that a lot of bands don’t go. I’d like to think when people come to see us that they feel that from us and they know that we want them to have a great night; that for those few hours of their week, hopefully we can take him to a place of escape and forget about the rest of the things that you know can bog people down.”
What is your dream venue to play in?
“Oh there’s a few! I mean the Grateful Dead played at the steps of the Great Pyramids in Egypt in 1978 so if there’s a dream venue I guess that’s it. So many across the country: Red Rocks comes to mind first. I’d love to play Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Crossroads in Marin County, California. There’s some festivals I’d really like to play. I’ve gone to Darkstar Jubilee, which is a festival put on by Darkstar Orchestra, the world’s number one Grateful Dead tribute band, and I always thought it would be very cool for us to get a set sometime at that festival. Kind of like, you know, here’s the present and the future of Grateful Dead music.”
Do you feel you’d handle fame well?
“I actually don’t think I would handle it well. Maybe when I was a kid I thought about fame and fortune, doing those sorts of things. But there’s a line from a Stephen Marley song that says-” I’m not in it for the fame, I’m in it for the love” and that is so true for me. I love what I do and I love that what I do affects people in a positive way and that’s why I do it.
Having a successful band and fans is something that I’ve always wanted and we’ve had a little bit of success over the last few years and we certainly have a wonderful fan base, especially here locally. We’re so grateful and they’re so supportive. Our fans are the reason why we’re doing the things that we’re doing today and why you’re talking to me right now. But I’ve seen pressures already and some of that even on our level is textbook stuff that you read about bands that have success going through. There’s burdens and there’s taxes on you and your bandmates, on your families and your inner circle and I think it just takes a lot to learn to live with it all. We’re learning to do it now on the level that we are at and I would hope that if things continue to grow for us, we will continue to learn and deal with it better every day. It’s something that we want, but it definitely comes with a price.”
Is it difficult to find other musicians to play with that compliment your style?
“It was definitely a process and there were times where it felt difficult, but I would say now, Jah put the right people together. It’s not just the four people you may see onstage some nights, but the 8 to 10 guys that Curt and I are blessed to make music with year round as part of the Steal Your Face family of musicians.”
Is there, or has there ever been, a power struggle or egos between band mates?
“Oh God yes. Life is a thing when you learn, you grow…
I’m happy and proud to say that we don’t struggle with that now. You might want to ask the other guys about my ego, but we got a great group of guys who all believe in what we’re doing and believe in that common cause. We put that stuff aside for the right reasons and I can say with confidence, I think every one of us always tries to lead with love, and when you do that you can’t go wrong.
I always try to keep things positive, but you have to learn from your mistakes. I kind of want to bring up someone that we had in the band who wasn’t a positive influence on us. In fact, this guy was an egomaniac and really could’ve taken down the whole thing from the inside. Just one of those people who manipulated us and pulled the wool over our eyes and tried to take what we were doing and make it his without the best of intentions. I’m saying this now in the hopes that maybe someone reading this interview will see that coming before it happens to them because it was a hard thing for us to get over and quite honestly, something we had to deal with for far too long.”
Do you write your own music? Do you play that at your shows?
“Yes, I have notebooks and notebooks full of songs that I’ve written, some of which I would say are probably pretty good. We do play them rarely at our shows but for the most part we stick with our repertoire which is the music of the Grateful Dead mixed in with some Bob Marley and some other classic rock and artists like Bob Dylan, of course, which the Dead covered. The reason is because those are the things I want to be heard. I started Steal Your Face because I would go to shows and I would go to festivals and I would want to hear good Grateful Dead music. I know the world needs original music but that’s what I want to hear as a fan of THIS music. I do think there will come a time where you will hear us mixing in some original music and maybe focusing on it a little more, but for now we’re so content with what we’re doing and where this music is taking us.”
What do you find is the most difficult part of the writing process?
“For me the difficulty is what happens after the initial inspiration. The songs just come, I have no control over it. I feel like Jah gives me the songs and I get the inspiration and I write them down as much as I can translate at the time. Sometimes it’s words, sometimes it’s words and music, sometimes it’s a melody, and the difficulty for me is putting that all into a song with parts of the beginning, a middle and an end, and making that inspiration a full-fledged song.”
Steal Your Face are:
Paul Baroli Jr.- bass/vocals
Curt Eustace- lead guitar
Matt Ginsburg- drums/vocals
Dan Galvano- keyboards/vocals
Garry Engel- rhythm guitar/vocals
very well spoken! Damn hippy! One love
Keep rocking guys!!!
I can’t wait for their two day Thanksgiving Weekend run at Minglewood Saloon!
Billy Luber11/19/2014 3:42pm
Paul has inspired me and i was lucky enough to play with him a handful of times. Great musician and even more important, a great guy !
Love this man and his music! ✌
Dax Ryder11/19/2014 6:15pm
While his guitarist it’s really what makes the band, the vocalist Paul preaches one love and unity. He’s a fake, he has a chip on his shoulder and I have watched him completely disrespect people who don’t agree with his opinions. It’s pathetic and I for the people who buy In to his fake persona.
Michelle 11/19/2014 7:52pm
Thanks to everyone for your comments. While we think Paul is a great musician and an all around good guy, everyone is entitled to their personal opinion. Welcome to the internet.
That being said, we do have a policy on commenting here on One Unified. If anyone would like to review that policy going forward, it can be found on our FAQ page. Thanks!
I joined the band a little over a year ago and it’s been an amazing experience. The improvisational parts of the music is climactic with dynamic variation
If you like syf, check out Michael Marrows band as well..amazing! Bless you all
A great bunch of guys and really are a good thing for both the local music and the Deadhead community.
Backstage Pass…Billy Luber of Chowder
WHEN DID YOU START PLAYING?
“My dad bought me a guitar in 1977 when I discovered Ace Frehley and KISS. So he came home with this wooden guitar that sounded nothing like Ace Frehley. But I played it everyday and I am still playing everyday”
SO YOU WERE ENCOURAGED, AS A KID, TO PLAY?
“Very much so.”
HOW OLD WERE YOU?
“Probably 6 or 7. But I didn’t really take lessons till I was 10. I took professional lessons from the age of 10-11. I stopped ’til I was 19. So now I’ve been playing (consistently) since.”
HAVE YOU ALWAYS PLAYED IN BANDS?
“My first band, I was about 23-24 years old. I met this kid, taught him how to play guitar, and he got good real fast, and we started a band. We played for a couple of years and it was a lot of fun.”
WHAT DO YOU FEEL IS YOUR CURRENT BAND’S (Chowder) BEST QUALITY?
“I think all of us are good musicians, not to sound like an egomaniac. When I think something sounds so good, the other guys are there to let me know that it could be better. That it should be the best. I really like that. I like the work ethic. Especially Gino Pini. When I get done playing a song, and I’m like, “wow that was so great”, he’ll be like “no, you know you missed that note in the second part of that song, so let’s work on that again.” I like that. I like that he keeps me humble, keeps me working hard. That’s my favorite part about this band.”
WHAT SEPARATES YOU FROM OTHER BANDS?
“A few years ago I might have said we we retro. I guess we are retro, but now with all these bands playing top 40 and more bar friendly songs, I think we stuck to our roots. Now it’s almost like they’re retro and we’re not, sort of. I like that our music that isn’t supposed to be accepted in all these bars, is being accepted ’cause we work so hard at it and I think it’s pretty good.”
DO YOU, OR THE BAND, WRITE YOUR OWN MUSIC?
“We have a lot of originals. About half of our songs are originals. We don’t play all of them but we do continue to write. We improvise a lot, which is very fun. We record it and come up with ideas and they become songs.”
IS IT HARD TO WRITE A SONG?
“Not the way we do it, because the way we do it, is we just jam.”
SO YOU ALL WRITE TOGETHER?
“We do. Usually we come up with the music first which starts before practice when we’re just warming up and we just go off and do a ten minute jam and say “this is a good idea” and next thing you know, it’s a song.”
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE MUSICAL EXPERIENCE SO FAR (BOTH AS PART OF A BAND AND AS A FAN)?
(As a fan): “Probably, and I don’t know if it’s my favorite, but it’s my most memorable: the first concert I went to. It was in 1984, maybe ’85. It was KISS- without makeup (unfortunately). I remember getting in there and I had never been to a concert. I didn’t know what to expect. And here there’s 20,000 screaming people and out comes KISS playing “Detroit Rock City” and it kind of changed my life. That was amazing. And now I’ve been to thousands of concerts and I still feel like a little kid when I go (to concerts). I still get excited like it’s my first concert. I love live music.”
(As a band): My two FAVORITE moments (once I was in the band) was the first time we played at Dobb’s and the first time at Pennypack Park. Dobb’s, having gone there for so many shows, my favorite bands having played there, the history of that place… great bands played there (Pearl Jam, Nirvana). The first time I got on that stage and the curtain lifted up, it was the most exciting thing I ever felt in my life. Pennypack Park, there was a ton of people. When I got in this band, I aimed for that show the whole time. When we got it, it was such a great experience.”
“I told my wife I was never gonna get in a band, unless it was in Chowder. And that actually worked out. I always liked Chowder’s music. First time I played with them was in front of 700 people at Katmandu. [I was] scared shitless. But we only played five songs and it worked out really well. That was exciting.”
HOW LONG WAS CHOWDER A BAND BEFORE YOU JOINED THEM?
“I’ve been with them almost 7 years and they’ve been a band for probably 11 or 12 years. Jason (Cowden) and Chris Griffith (former drummer) started it. They had another bass player John, who was very good but when Gino came into the band, he changed the band. Jason is an amazing player, but Gino upped the level a lot. I thought they were really good, and that’s why I told my wife that it was the only band I ever wanted to be in, and then I got to be in the band. The first song we ever played was at practice and it was “Elizabeth Reed”. They asked if I knew it and I told them I practiced that all the time. So we played “Elizabeth Reed” and I was like, “are you fucking kidding me?! This is the best band of all time!” And that’s when Gino said to me, “you missed that second part”. So I was in love instantly cause it IS a great band.
WHY WAS THE PENNYPACK PARK SHOW SO SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?
“Because it’s just special. The whole neighborhood goes there. It’s a beautiful stage. I walked on that stage as a little kid, pretending I was Ace Frehley. I’d get up there and air guitar away. I dreamed about getting on that stage one day and sure enough I got the chance. It was magical.”
WHAT’S YOUR DREAM VENUE, IF YOU COULD PLAY ANY PLACE YOU WANTED?
“It would’ve been the Spectrum, but it’s not there anymore, obviously. The Spectrum was where I had seen the Grateful Dead 25 times, I’ve seen KISS there, I’ve seen Rush. I’ve seen all my favorite bands there. So the Spectrum would’ve been number one of all time, but it’s no longer there. That’s sad.”
ANY OTHER PLACES?
“I like to play anywhere. I’d like to play every stadium in the country, but I don’t know if that’ll ever happen. It probably won’t at this point but Spectrum was number one. Always will be.”
WHO WAS YOUR BIGGEST MUSICAL INFLUENCE?
“At an early age, Ace Frehley was my world. I’d dress like him on Halloween. He made me play guitar. He changed my life. I came from more R&B when I was a kid in Norristown. I heard a lot of Michael Jackson, I loved The Jackson 5, The Commodores when they were still in their prime in the ’70’s. And then I hear Ace Frehley for the first time and that changed everything for me. That was it. After that, there’s Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Garcia. They’re all my heroes. I wanna be as devoted to music as they were, to be something special.”
WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO COME AWAY WITH AFTER SEEING A CHOWDER SHOW?
“I want them to feel as good as I do about the music. When I play something good, I get really excited. It’s like a high that no drug could give me. And I want people to be entertained. I’m there to entertain myself first, but I want to entertain people too. I want people to be happy because I want it to make me happy. If it’s not making me happy, it’s not worth it for me or them.”
HOW DO YOU THINK YOU’D HANDLE FAME?
“That’s tough to answer. I can’t control myself in a small venue, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like with thousands of screaming fans, groupies and hangers on, drugs, alcohol, partying, the hotel room…I just don’t know if I can answer that question. If I might be alive that long (with that level of fame), I’d like to say that I could maintain myself, to maintain composure, but I’m not sure that I could.”
DO YOU THINK IT’S DIFFICULT TO FIND OTHER MUSICIANS TO PLAY WITH THAT COMPLIMENT EACH OTHER WITHOUT FIGHTING OR EGOS?
“Musicians, as a whole, I think come off as egomaniacs and there is a lot in music. I’ve never been an egomaniac. I don’t think I’m as good as a lot of these people. And I’ve been lucky to play with a lot of really great musicians. The Paul Baroli’s (of Steal Your Face), and my band Chowder. I love my band. At the same time, being in a band is like being in a marriage. It’s hard enough to be married to one person, and you’re now married to say, four people. It’s not easy; you’re gonna fight, hassle each other, complain, bitch, moan, disagree, but the end result is that the rewards are amazing. It’s an amazing high if you can deal with the bullshit. If you wanna soar with the eagles, you gotta slop with the hogs. It can be rough.”
Check out Billy and the rest of the band Chowder at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/CHOWDER-BAND/117307534977058
Billy Luber: rhythm guitar and vocals
Jason Cowden: lead guitar and vocals
Gino Pini: bass and vocals
Anthony Pini: drums
Bryon Jesse11/20/2014 11:11am
I have seen these guys before. They rock like no other. Greatest jam band around…:-)..
Chowder played my charity event on November 14, 2014. They are AMAZING! Love these guys!
Backstage Pass…Red Letter Life
RED LETTER LIFE ARE:
Bruce Hubbard – Vocals/Piano
Gabriele Steriti – Guitar/Vocals
Brien Mick – Bass
Dave Goodman – Drums
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM VENUE TO PERFORM IN?
(Brien): “The Tower, that would be awesome.”
(Dave): “The Keswick would be awesome too. Probably Madison Square Garden.”
(Bruce): “Wembley stadium.”
(Gabe): “Madison Square Garden, The Tower, but I would really love to play Royal Albert Hall.”
(Brien): “There’s this town in Switzerland that has this festival (Buchserfest), an outdoor festival. We gotta make that happen.”
(Dave): “Gabe’s family lives in Switzerland and we have an opportunity to play there.”
WHEN WAS RED LETTER LIFE BORN?
(Brien): “Well, I joined the band about 7 months ago and that’s pretty much when the band became a band.”
(Bruce) “Yeah, we went through five bass players. But we started in 2008. That’s when Dave (drummer) joined the band.”
SO 3 OF YOU ARE ORIGINAL MEMBERS?
(Bruce): “We went through an acoustic phase and decided that acoustic was not working. We sat down during one of our acoustic songs…did a tap by tap with a drum machine and did it electric and were like, “wow this sounds like something good. So, what could be better than the Tascam!?”
(Dave): “I heard them on Craigslist and I loved their music and I killed the audition.”
(Bruce): “Well, the guy before him smelled like manure. And he was playing with something that wasn’t even drumsticks.”
(Gabe) “Well, he came from work. He was a landscaper!”
(Bruce): “Yeah, but it’s funnier the way I say it.”
(Dave): “I was definitely a step up from manure.”
“We were really impressed with Dave’s chops. It’s gone downhill since… No, we were really impressed with his audition.”
HOW DID BRIEN COME INTO THE BAND?
“Brien auditioned and nailed it ’cause he’s awesome. It was a little more artistic and avant-garde….but we liked what we heard. To be quite honest, he was REALLY good because every bass player we heard was good, but he was excellent, had great artistry.”
SO YOU DIDN’T HAVE A HARD TIME FINDING PEOPLE TO AUDITION?
“Shortly after we opened for Scott Weiland (former Stone Temple Pilots frontman) at the Trocadero, we put the ad out and mentioned that, and everyone showed up.”
DID YOU HAVE A DIFFICULT TIME PRIOR TO THAT, FINDING NEW MUSICIANS?
(Bruce): “No, we could always seem to find a new bass player, it was keeping them that was the issue.”
(Gabe): “There were always legitimate reasons, it seemed.”
DO YOU WRITE YOUR OWN MUSIC?
(Bruce): “Right now we’re peppering in our influences where we’ll do like 3 Beatles songs in the middle of a set. The few shows we’ve done since we started doing this, they’ve gone over really well. It has to be the right balance though. Done well, tasteful. We also do a little web series. Every month or so we go into the studio and record these influences our way, live.”
IS ONE OF YOU THE PRIMARY SONG WRITER IN THE GROUP?
(Bruce): “Originally it kind of started that way, but it’s changed a great deal as the band’s evolved. And now Gabe will have an idea, I’ll have an idea, Brien will have an idea, then Dave will have an idea and it just grows like a little seed into songs. So, everybody plays together and it goes through generations.”
(Dave): “I think it works better. As a drummer…I can think of an arrangement more when there’s a melody going on. It’s a lot easier. Sometimes it happens that way, it can start from a drum pattern. It’s very complimentary to each other.”
WHAT ARE YOUR MUSICAL INFLUENCES?
“Beatles, Led Zep, Floyd, Cream, Genesis, The Police, U2, INXS, grunge, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden… So how do they mesh? He (Bruce) usually brings The Beatles, and I (Gabe) usually bring the grunge. We mash it up together. Then that doesn’t work so we sprinkle it here and there.”
(Dave): “I think over the years, it’s gotten frustrating that you aesthetically wanna please yourself with the music. But it gets all mushy, like you may be onto something and then you’re like screw it.”
(Gabe): “I don’t ever worry about what somebody’s gonna think about it until we’re happy with it. When it’s ready to leave our little nest, that’s when I care what other people think.”
(Bruce): “Reality is, if we had all the time in the world, we could come up with ideas all the time. But a lot of them get swept under the table. We can’t record everything cause these only so much time in the day. And there’s only so many times we can get together. If we had our way, we could be full time musicians, many of these ideas would be recorded.”
(David): “We’d be on our second album.”
ARE THERE EVER ARGUMENTS BETWEEN YOU?
(Gabe): “Only in practice. That’s where we have our differences and heated discussions. All of our differences are mostly my fault.”
(Brien): “It’s passion.”
(Gabe): “It really is. And if you can recognize it for what it is, get over the temper tantrum, it usually works out for the best.”
(Dave): “And it usually blows over very quickly.”
(Gabe): “And it never leaves practice. It stays there. It’s passion, artistic, aesthetics. You want it to sound the best.”
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS RLL’S BEST QUALITY? WHAT SETS YOU APART?
(Dave): “Look at these faces.”
(Bruce): “I personally think one of the coolest things about our band is that we take the influences that made rock and roll great and we modernize it. Our influences are deeply rooted in blues rock and old rock and roll. We take that sound and all the influences that have inspired us over the years and make it sound like something new.”
WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO COME AWAY WITH FROM YOUR SHOW?
(Gabe): “Tonight’s kind of a different atmosphere, being a benefit (Jam for Jeff 4), but if people come out and have a good time in service of that benefit, that’s all I’m really looking to get out of it. Just have a good time. I just want to them to become fans of the music.”
(Bruce): “I like them to come away embarrassed really. I’ll go down off stage and go up to them and engage them, so I like them to be mortified.”
(Dave): “And we ARE mortified by you.” [laughter]
(Gabe): “But ya know what, Bruce is a really great front man. He really engages the audience.
(Bruce): I want the people to feel they were part of something real. A lot of people get up on stage and act like robots, just going through the motions. If I see something happening, I get engaged in it and get involved in it. I want people to go away and be like ‘that was awesome’!”
To check out Red Letter Life:
Billy Luber11/22/2014 10:37am
Just caught these guys. Great songs and great energy. Nice guys too. Cant wait to see em again !
Introduced to RLL about 18 months ago. One of my favorite bands! Their music is melodic and their lyrics deep. You really feel it. As far as love performances, Bruce is the ultimate front man! You cannot take your eyes off of him! I cannot say how many people asked me about them after Jam for Jeff. I’m pleased to call them my friends because they are really great people.
One, Unified11/22/2014 9:07pm
We also heard a lot of people raving about RLL’s performance at Jam for Jeff. Bruce’s dynamic energy definitely captivated the attention of those we spoke to. Bruce is the perfect frontman to grab them and then the band held them with great lyrics, rocking music and just an all around good time!
Backstage Pass…Dean Rubenstein of Jah People
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds…” ~Bob Marley
WHEN AND HOW DID JAH PEOPLE GET ITS START?
“In 2012, I approached Paul Baroli of Steal your Face, with the idea of starting a reggae band. So in August of that year, along with Keyboardist and vocalist, Noah Sokoloff, Drummer, Shimon Suissa, and guitarist Avi Ezra , we got together to jam. We felt the chemistry right from the very start….. We had so much fun jamming out Bob Marley songs that it just grew very quickly, in a very organic and natural way into what would be the most fun project that I’d personally ever been involved with.”
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START A REGGAE BAND?
“The music of Bob Marley has always been a huge influence for me. The message in his songs speak about love, peace, equality and freedom. His songs move and inspire me in a very unique way.”
WAS IT DIFFICULT TO FIND OTHER PEOPLE TO GET ON BOARD?
“When I suggested to Paul, Noah and Shimon that I wanted to start a Bob Marley tribute, they all were excited about the idea from the start. Given the success that Paul has had locally with Steal Your Face, and seeing the surge of tribute bands in recent years, it was clear that people enjoy and support bands that play music that that they are familiar with. We all were big fans of Marley, so it was a no-brainer for all of us.”
ARE THERE EVER ANY POWER STRUGGLES BETWEEN BAND MEMBERS?
“Jah People is unique, in that unlike most bands, there isn’t a single lead singer. We alternate singing lead, so it is a constant challenge for me, as a band leader, to find a balance when I am crafting a setlist to try to make sure that everyone gets an equal amount of songs and time in the spotlight, by singing lead during a given performance. There have been times that a band member has expressed frustration that they wanted more songs to sing lead on, but for the most part, we love and respect each other and usually get along really well.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE BAND’S BEST QUALITIES?
“What sets us a part from most tribute bands is that we don’t try to BE who we are paying tribute to, we are all uniquely talented in our own way and we do not ever play a song the same way twice because we all love to improvise and put our own unique personal stamp on each and every performance. I am still floored by how we add our own personal ingredients to make up a combined sound that naturally comes together to sound great.”
WHAT WOULD BE A DREAM VENUE FOR YOU TO PLAY?
“As a reggae band, I envision playing in some tropical and exotic place on the crystal blue water. Jamaica would be nice for obvious reasons. Realistically, a very attainable goal is to play in New York at the Brooklyn Bowl. Noah and myself have driven up there many times to see concerts and it is one of the best venues to experience a show.”
DO YOU THINK THAT YOU WOULD ALL HANDLE FAME WELL?
“I think at this stage of our lives, I couldn’t see fame changing much about how we operate, but I guess you don’t know until you are in that position.”
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY WITH JAH PEOPLE SO FAR?
“There are so many great memories thus far. We have had a lot of personnel changes within the three years that we have been together, but it has been a pleasure playing and spending time with every member that has been in the band thus far. We really enjoy each others company, so every time we are together is enjoyable. But if we were to pick one favorite memory, we would all agree that our show at Havana in New Hope was the most fun that we have had. Philadelphia rap legend, Freeway joined us on stage. I think I can speak for everyone in the band that on that night we felt like we had ‘made it’.”
The Current Lineup of Jah People are:
Dean Rubenstein – Guitar , vocals
Noah Sokoloff – Keyboards , vocals
Alesia Dessau – Vocals
Drew Walls – Drums
Josh Klein – Guitar, vocals
Mike Stankus – Bass guitar
Rick Tate – Saxophone
Tracy m noga kelly11/24/2014 11:40am
Can’t wait to see yous play. Awesome. Shit.