Our local spotlight for the month of July is artist Motormeter. The band is a duo composed of Stephen Dusenberry (drums, samples, synthesizers) and Adam Fagelson (frankenbass). The group has played with some well known artist including Peter Cetera, George Clinton, Steve Miller, George Benson, Maynard Ferguson, Foghat and Molly Hatchett. Both members were kind enough to answer our normal range of questions including how they met, create music, and thoughts on Pittsburgh. If you like what you hear, the band will be playing at the Altar Bar next Saturday, July 7th (show begins at 8p).
How did the band come together? Were you all friends that went to school? or?
Adam: Stephen and I met at the NAMM show in Anaheim several years back
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Stephen: The short answer would most likely be Return To Forever meets The Who at a Jeff Beck concert….however, we read a review that has us sounding like Primus and Frank Zappa so I suppose you can throw that in the blender too. With only 2 of us, we sort of draw on a lot of different influences.
Are you all originally from the Pittsburgh area? Families here as well?
Adam: No I am from Vermont but Stephen is from Pittsburgh
Do you all create music full time or is this more of a part time venture? Do you have day jobs?
Stephen: For the moment music is what we do full time unless you guys are hiring
How do you create your music? What is the song writing process?
Adam: A lot of times I’ll come up with a part and Stephen will come up with a rhythm and we definitely arrange things together. It is certainly writing songs by committee.
Stephen: The writing process comes to us rather quickly. I like to think we are a very efficient team. Normally we don’t agonize on parts of songs or ideas….if it doesn’t come to us organically, we toss it aside. Also, golfing helps….we are avid golfers to we tend to come up with some pretty interesting ideas while waiting to tee off.
What are your goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish? Are you trying to get signed to a label?
Adam: I really believe getting signed isn’t what it was 20 years ago. The goal is for us to get as much exposure as we can whether it be from a label that supports what we do, or even through social media. It isn’t like it was in the past where you had to rely on a label for everything.
Stephen: To piggy back on what Adam said, I think our goals are to sort of find our niche, which we are starting to do. We have played to a variety of different audiences and have gained support by being honest with what we do. Playing in a progressive/fusion band, we realize it isn’t going to be for everyone. However, we have been fortunate enough to have gained support from t he diverse crowds we have played in front of and we hope to continue that.
What advice would you give to local acts trying to make it?
Stephen: My advice would be to play the type of music that makes you happy and realize that you aren’t going to please everyone. There are enough places around here with karaoke night’s that you don’t need to compete with.
Have you all toured nationally? Or do you usually stay more regionally?
Adam: Separately Stephen and I have had the opportunity to tour quite a bit. Prior to forming Motometer we were both hired guns for different artists. We have started to play a bit more out of state and are planning our first tour of the Carolina’s soon
Being in the Pgh area, do you find it more difficult to try and succeed?
Stephen: It’s not that I find it more difficult….but I believe each city has its own set of challenges…I just believe the city has changed a bit since I first started playing here in the 90’s. Back then, you had more support from radio stations and media wearas now you are sort of on your own in terms of promotion and things like that. There was a time when you would hear local bands in rotation on the major stations here in the area but with local stations being part of larger entities, the program directors of sort of handcuffed as to what they are required to play. That being said, I do believe success is out there if you are willing to work hard for it.
What are some of the obstacles you face trying to create some 'success' in Pgh?
Adam: Unfortunately I think some of the obstacles tend to be a lack of community as a whole. I see a lot of support from the punk/metal bands who really work together to create their own scene which is great. However, by and large I see far too much bickering and senseless competition from some bands. We all have the same goals and I think as a whole, musicians in Pittsburgh need to work together to bring more life to the city.
What are the positive benefits of being in the area?
Stephen: I think one of the positive things is that you have a fair chance to prove yourself here. For example, I know some bands in LA who are literally paying to play places like the Whiskey and other spots on the strip. In that sense, I think you have more a chance to naturally build an audience since there are a few places here who are willing to give brand new bands a chance to play.
Is there a venue you have enjoyed playing more than others in the area?
Adam: I enjoy all venues for different reasons. Some have better chicken sandwiches than others …
Stephen: Exactly! And others have a better bourbon selection. We aren’t very picky….we just love to perform.