Artists of the Month Round Up 2015!

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Rock On Philly: It has been a while since we have talked to some of you, what’s new? Any plans for new music? Touring? Catch us up!

Nik Greeley: I’ll be releasing new music very shortly, I plan on doing a Single Release for my show with Robert Randolph & The Family Band Friday, March 11 at Ardmore Music Hall. I’m very excited because both The Operators and Swift Technique will be releasing new music, new videos, and touring in 2016. I’ve got myself a full plate, and i couldn’t be more excited!

Chris Gennett: A new record! I’ve got a bunch of new songs and I’m heading into the studio shortly after the New Year. I have a song called “Right About You” that I’m really excited about, and I believe it’s going to open up some major doors for me.

The Wayside Shakeup: Chris had a baby, that’s what’s new. But we have not let it stop us. We released an EP called Private Party, led off by a single of the same name. It’s funky. Please have a listen. While we’re not touring, we’ve continued to play gigs, including a slot upstairs at World Cafe Live in November. We’ll be playing Sprout Music Collective in West Chester on Febuary 6, some come on out for that. We’ll be playing three sets, so you can see a good cross-section of The Wayside Shakeup’s catalog. As for new music, we’re finishing up mastering a track called “Stay Up,” which has been a staple at live shows for quite some time now. The track was recorded by Reed Kendall of Philly’s own Up the Chain. He sang a little bit on there too. Look for it around the time of the Sprout show.

The Phonies: We are currently working on getting new recordings out, we want to get the old stuff and the new stuff all recorded on a new album.  We are also looking to put out some shirts, posters, and stickers with new designs.  This year is going to be a big one for the band, we are preparing for a big increase in the amount of shows we play.  We are really going to carve out a spot for ourselves in the Philly scene.  

Church Girls: We finished our album with Brian McTear at Miner St, and just released two tracks from it — Thousand Lives and Smoke Signals.  The rest of the album will be out in January.  We’re celebrating with a show at Johnny Brenda’s on Febuary 19 with Philly faves Madalean Gauze and Queen of Jeans.  Also playing through DC, Brooklyn, Pittsburgh, and a few others.

ROP: Has anything changed since we last talked to you as Rock On Philly’s Artist of the Month?

NG: I’ve gained about twenty pounds, and I had my wisdom teeth removed, other than that just having a lot of fun, 2015 was a great year!

CG: Aside from the new record, I got FM radio airplay a little while ago, XPN also wrote some nice things about me, and my fan base is growing, but other than that not too much, just writing a lot and getting ready for the studio. The writing phase of being an artist is a hermit stage. We basically fall off the grid for a while. I’ve been playing a lot of acoustic shows though, testing out new songs.

WS: We have let our hair down a bit, musically. I’ll explain. When we played the WCL gig, the touring band we were supposed to open for did not show up, so they gave us two long-ish sets. [In] the first set we stuck to the playbook, played the usual mix of old songs and new songs, the odd cover. For the second set, we channeled our inner Phish/Dead and let the jams hang out. Our song “Invitation” stretched past the twelve-minute mark. Chris D’Antonio and Eric Raible have a long history as improvisational players, so it was good to see what they can do when we went off the map and wandered into unknown territory. Now, does this mean The Wayside Shakeup has become a jam band? Nah. But if you come to a show moving forward, in addition to the usual array of our album material, you might hear us experimenting, moving into territory that will surprise you. Since that show, we’ve even surprised ourselves a few times.

PH: We have spent a lot of time playing, refining our sound.  There are so many different musical influences that come into this group, sometimes we need to take a step back and make sure that our music sounds cohesive.  Over the last few months we have really focused on what we want our sound to be and how we want to achieve that.  I’m very excited for what the future holds for the group.

CH (Church Girls): Now we have a full length album I’m really proud of.  The process helped us take a step forward as a band in developing our sound.  We worked our asses off and can’t wait to share these songs and play them live.

ROP: What are your hopes and plans for the future?

NG: Good health, good music, more traveling, more experiences, peace, and of course, more cheese.

CG: I hope the new record is going to change everything. I have some exciting news coming up soon too. Something big is happening in the spring. The biggest yet for me, but I’m not allowed to say anything yet. It has to be finalized. It is really exciting.

WS: In addition to “Stay Up,” we’ve got a fair bit of music in the can. Look for a longer release sometime in 2016. As for live shows, we’re in the throes of organizing where we’ll be playing the spring and summer. Check back in in a month or two, the calendar should have some dates on it.

PH: I personally hope that The Phonies are able to find a real niche in the Philly scene and then utilize that to propel us to touring success.

CH: I’m hoping for more Donald Trump memes.  But [seriously], everything I hope for is subsidiary of becoming a better musician and connecting deeply with more people.  Make more music, make more friends.

ROP: With the New Year approaching, how do you feel like you have grown as artists in this last year?

NG: I’m in a better place mentally then I’ve been in a long time, and my renewed sense of focus & inspiration from playing with both Swift and The Operators has helped me grow so much. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by not only great musicians, but people i consider my family. They’ve made me a better bandmate, and person.

CG: I’ve grown a lot as a songwriter. Hey Kid was my first album and my first experience in a real studio. I learned so much from all of that and really found my footing in what I want to do and the music I make.

WS: See above about the jamming. It was something we’d been talking about for a long time, so it was really exciting to make it actually happen. What was best was that it was so unexpected. We certainly didn’t plan it. We launched into the tune, and ten minutes later we found ourselves rocking out and grinning like idiots at each other. Fun times.

PH: I think we have really figured out what we want our future to look and sound like.  Our sound has developed as well as our vision for the future and I look forward to seeing our plans come to fruition.

CH: It was really our first full year as a band, and it was a great year.  We made a record and played a lot of shows.  I started taking guitar and voice lessons for the first time.  Feels like we’re growing in all the right ways.

ROP: What was the best thing that happened to you as artists this year? The most difficult?

NG: There were so many highlights this year, but if I had to pick one, I’d say it have to be playing a sold out Ardmore Music Hall opening for one of my all time favorites, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, and getting to meet him and the band. Unbelievable. The only bad thing that happened this year was getting my wisdom teeth out, everything else was amazing, and I’m extremely grateful.

CG: The best thing that happened to me this year was making a lot of organic fans. They are fans that have discovered me independently of my friends and family. They come up to me saying how much they love my stuff. It’s really amazing. Also, I met Norah Jones. I love her. I gave her a copy of Hey Kid and I was surprised I could even speak. The most difficult is watching all of these Philly venues shut down. It is really sad. I do believe that the city is in flux right now though. There’s a transformation happening and it’s going to be something really great when once it’s done. You won’t even recognize it. But that’s a whole different article for another time.

WS: The biggest challenge every year is staying focused, locking down dates for shows, finding time to rehearse and work on new material in our busy lives. Jobs and family commitments are constantly in competition with band business. But we manage to grow with each passing show, and things like being named Artist of the Month helps to keep us afloat. Being recognized in that way lets us know that maybe we’re on the right path, that this is something we should still be pursuing. And, I guess it’s always nice when another calendar year goes by and we haven’t felt the need to kill each other too much. We’re still having fun.

PH: The best thing that happened to us was probably throwing our own shows.  It’s easy to get frustrated when so many aspects of a show are out of your control.  We know what it takes to put on a well-run, cohesive show and over the past year we’ve been lucky enough to try putting on a few shows of our own and they all went over well.  The most difficult part of this past year has been finding the time to record.  We have a lot of material and a lot of members.  At certain times of the year it can be difficult to get everyone in the same room at the same time but we are always working around schedules and we’ll continue to do so to the best of our abilities.  I think we’ll all have a bit more time to record in the New Year, I think we are all ready to buckle down and get as much music recorded as we can.

CH (Mariel): Songwriting is an ugly, messy process for me filled with bad ideas and self-doubt, sprinkled with an occasional kernel of good.  In the midst, I often wonder how I’m going to get to the other side. One Sunday night in October, I was sitting in the studio.  We’d finished all the basic tracks and felt really good about the direction the songs were going in.  The sun was setting, I was drinking a beer, and literally said aloud “Life is good right now.”  I knew we’d made it to the other side.

ROP: Any exciting New Year’s Eve plans?

NG: Swift and I are traveling down to Baltimore, MD to play a wedding. First time ever for all of us playing a wedding on NYE, should be quite the celebration!

CG: I actually do not right now believe it or not. I’ve been so busy. I might just be hanging in. So, if anybody wants to party you know where to find me! [We played] a free show at Bob & Barbara’s on December 22nd with Emily Mineo, The Means., and more.

WS: Not particularly. A couple of us will be on vacation. Perhaps we’ll listen to some Wayside in the car.

PH: We do not have any New Year’s shows planned yet, if one comes up we will gladly hop on it.  But we are looking forward to a show towards the end of January (date TBA) opening for Deaf Rhino at Kung Fu Necktie.

CH: Eh.  I’m one of those a-holes who hates NYE.  If you have good plans, let me know.

ROP: In regards to music, what do you hope to accomplish by the end of 2016?

NG: I hope to make a positive impact in people’s lives & bring them happiness through music, and continue to write and perform with my bands, and keep having the time of our lives.

CG: [Radio] 104.5. That’s my short term goal. I want this new record to be complete and a huge success for me. I’d like to open up for some big acts. 2016 is also going to be the year of collaborations. I have some big plans with other local Philly artists this year.

WS: As we mentioned above, we should have a longer release out in the world by the end of the year. In terms of live sets, we couldn’t possibly predict what those may look like in a year’s time. Like we said, it’s unlikely that we’ll abandon everything we’ve done and become a jam band. But I think all of us are open to let the music carry us a little bit. Hopefully, it carries us to the radio, to television, to an opening slot for Wilco? My Morning Jacket? Dawes? Taylor Swift? The Weeknd? Are you listening out there, booking managers?! We’re ready to go.

PH: I hope to see the band get an album recorded and then have some newer material out as well.  It’s an interesting time for the band, it feels like we are really finding our sound and preparing for a big, upward push.  2016 is going to be an important year for the band, I have confidence that it’ll be a very good year for us.

CH: Make another album that’s better than the one we just made.  Keep improving the live show.  Just keep learning and growing.

Who is YOUR favorite Artist of the Month? Tell us in the comments below!

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  1. Pingback: Nominate Your Philly Favorites for Artist of the Month! - Rock On Philly

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