Saturday, June 4, 2011

Local Spotlight - Slingshot Genius - June 2011 - Pittsburgh

Slingshot Genius is our featured local spotlight for the month of June. They are a five piece that has been around the Pittsburgh area since December 2008. Singer/guitar player Scott Canavan was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. Below is the interview along with a few videos of the band. They will be playing at Excuses in the Southide on June 18th. You can find more information about them at:

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

We all happened to be at the right place at the right time, on Craigslist. It's not just a place to sell your bike or find a landscaper apparently.

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

A little bit of Tom Petty, the Foo Fighters, X and Blondie mixed together. We play mostly originals with catchy choruses and try to get to the point of the song without too much messing around.

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

Everyone except for Erika is a Pittsburgh native, more or less. We made her promise to say yinz a lot though.

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

We all have day jobs, careers, ways to pay the bills and just happen to be lucky enough to get to do this as regularly as we do. We usually do 1 or more shows a month that we can fit in between work and families.

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

For starters, we are fortunate enough to have patience with each other. That's somewhat rare with bands. The earliest material we started with came from earlier compositions of mine. Over the last year or so we've really found a nice niche of individual contributions and suggestions. Erika has written lyrics for a few of the songs where as in the past mostly my lyrics were used. But once the shell is formed Chris, Rob, Erika and Brian step up to make it a Slingshot Genius song.

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

We see it as a serious hobby. We may be getting into this a little later in our lives compared to bands that are all in their early twenties so stardom's not really on the radar. Playing great gigs with great crowds is our main focus right now. If we get lucky with some bigger chances we would certainly jump on them. Local radio play is coming our way on the X in May so that's pretty exciting.

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

You really have to know what you want and communicate that in the band. There can be 5 opinions in a band but really only one direction. Play songs you love, not what you're guessing people will love.

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

Nationally? Does the North Hills count? Yeah, for now we are pretty local.

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

Success is based so much on whether you are happy in the first place anyway. There's tons of great places to play but this isn't a gig you get into thinking you make a ton of money. Playing originals is about heart and soul and if you're not ready to deal with that it can get frustrating fast.

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

Playing originals is tough, be we know that. And if we were all a little younger, our main audience would be the college/drinking/partying people. So our obstacles are our own and we take acceptance of that. We have great fans and we're building an audience the old way-steady shows and being true to form.

What are the positive benefits of being in the area?

There are a lot of great venues in this city, both in and around town as well as in the suburbs. And things are really close so even though different parts of the city are split up for our friends to make it to shows is easy. And we couldn't exist outside of my basement without them.

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

Club Cafe has great sound, so does Diesel. A few of the promoters around Pittsburgh have taken some chances on us and we've gotten some good gigs. We have some exciting shows coming up that we really look forward to, including playing the Ribs on the River Festival in June. Who knows, maybe someone reading this will be there? Otherwise, look us up online at and have a listen to some music.

**Pic courtesty of Jennifer Caple