Thursday, June 23, 2011

Local Spotlight - Chet Vincent & The Big Bend - July 2011

Chet Vincent & The Big Bend are our spotlight for the month of July. We realize it's still June, however, we wanted to coordinate with their cd release show happening this Friday, 6/24 at the Brillobox. The new album is titled For Everyone  and shows the band being folkier and more lyrical than their first cd. Chet himself was kind enough to answer our interview questions sharing how the band formed out of shows from Howler's and how their song writing process works. If you attend the show at Brillobox you will receive a copy of their new album with your ticket admission. Opening will be an acoustic set from Josh Verbanets and Casey Hanner and The Harlan Twins. Doors are at 9:30p and show begins at 10p. Find the new album streaming throughout the below interview.

How did the band come together? Were you all friends that went to school?

Most of us met one summer about 8 years ago, when we played a bunch of shows at Howler’s (which was a much different place back then) in our underage "first” bands. A few years went by, then Chet and Abe ran into each other again the summer after college, and thought it'd be fun to play some shows at places they were now old enough to legally go to. Not long after this, Tad, a famous character from the old days, joined the band on bass. We found Dan the way you find any pot of gold, under a rainbow.

How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?

Like a lot of bands we generally try to avoid doing this as much as possible. Some of us like the term "roots-rock," others "blues-tinged folk-rock."

Are you all originally from the Pittsburgh area? Families here as well?

We are all from Pittsburgh or the surrounding areas, except Dan who hails from Tokyo.

Do you all create music full time or is this more of a part time venture?

We hope someday it will be a full time thing. Right now we do as much as our jobs and the crazy uncertain future of the nation permits.

Do you have day jobs?

We wish it weren't the case, but unfortunately we're not big enough stars to not have to at least try to make an honest living Monday through Friday. Some people's work is more legit than others though.

How do you create your music? What is the song writing process?

About ⅔ of the songs are written singer/songwriter style by Chet, who then brings them to be arranged by the whole band. The rest are the product of a collaboration between Tad and Abe, in which Tad writes the music and Abe writes the lyrics. Then Abe sings the lyrics to Tad really awkwardly and somehow Tad instinctively knows how to make them sound sexy -- not dissimilar to that scene with the bald white guy in the movie “Ray.”

What are your goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish? Are you trying to get signed to a label?

We hope one day, after a show, we can look at all our gear on the stage and not worry about whose gonna have to pack it up, or have to stay sober enough to drive the van. The future of labels seems uncertain, but all we can do is keep working and hopefully some opportunities will present themselves.

What advice would you give to local acts trying to make it?

Be nice, stay enthusiastic -- it works better than the alternative. Go to a lot of shows because there’s good music out there.

Have you all toured nationally? Or do you usually stay more regionally?

We've been out to a few surrounding cities a couple times, like Cleveland, D.C, Baltimore, Nashville, Chicago, and New York. We're trying to expand more, and hopefully put together a real tour soon. It's tough with the day jobs and everybody’s busy schedules.

Being in the PGH area, do you find it more difficult to try and succeed?

Depends on what counts as success. It's hard to say without spending real time in other places to provide a good comparison. Its not a huge city, but that can be a plus. It's also a really affordable city, particularly considering how many good bands there are and how much is going on (though it sometimes feels like this is a secret, even to people from here). We're proud to be a part of it for sure.

What are some of the obstacles you face trying to create some 'success' in Pgh?

As mentioned earlier -- even though Pittsburgh isn't that big, it’s actually quite diverse in terms of musical taste and culture. For some reason there seems to be a huge river-based divide between the South Side and
the Lawrenceville/Bloomfield area. There's also a real divergence of the population between the sort of gentrifying art/youth culture, college students, yinzers, and people living outside the city. There's a lot going
on here that people should be excited and positive about, but it can be hard to get the word out.

What are the positive benefits of being in the area?

Great bands - very supportive scene. It's hard to imagine that anywhere else you see so many local musicians coming out to support one and other. It's also possible to get a place around here for cheap where you can make loud noise all hours of the night. Also, despite not being a huge city there's no shortage of places to play.

Is there a venue you have enjoyed playing more than others in the area?

Thunderbird, Brillobox, Howler’s.