Starting off your weekend with an interview with the Long Island based collective Gnarly Karma. These guys were featured on the site earlier on this week with their brand new single "Open Up (Let Yourself Go)", and have definitely found a way to enter my heart with cutting edge rhythms and tightly wound musicality that has made me an instant believer in these guys and everything that they strive to do. The guys were nice enough to find some time to sit down with MusicBoxPete for an interview as we seek to find out a little more about the guys, plus their creative process and where they see themselves moving forward. Here is the transcript from our chat:
Give us your names and roles in the band?
Mike Renert: Guitar and vocals
Billy Hanley: Sax/backup vocals
Ryan Mcadam: Bass Guitar
Jarrod Beyer: Drums
When and where did Gnarly Karma form and did you guys all know each other prior to starting the band?
Gnarly Karma formed about 2 and half years ago by Mike and Jarrod, on Long Island as a 2 piece band at first. Jarrod, Billy, and Ryan all went to school together growing up. Jarrod and Billy were in the high school band and jazz band together, and Ryan and Jarrod actually had an alternative band called "We Love Radio". Mike and Jarrod became friends through a mutual friend later on, and the two of them eventually make "Gnarly Karma".
How would you describe your sound to those who aren't familiar with you guys?
Describing our sound has always proven to be a difficult task. You can hear variety in our music (especially with our 3 upcoming tracks!) and most people tell us they can't pin point exactly what we sound like, but one we get a lot is a mix of Mumford and Sons, mixed with Dave, and Sublime. We all have such different musical backgrounds, but it comes together into unique and powerful music.
Describe the energy and nature of your live shows and what makes them so special and unique?
The energy of our shows is always at a high level. We give it our all at every show, and do everything in our power to make sure the people that come to see us feel our energy and contribute to it.
Take us behind your creative process, does each member equally contribute to writing the songs or is usually done by one person?
Most of the older material was written by Mike, which he showed to Jarrod when they first made the band. The two of them coming from two different music backgrounds altered them into what you hear now. A year later we reached out to Ryan and Billy to help give the band a bigger sound.They are not just talented, but song writers as well. So now we are all song writers, so it usually starts with one idea, whether it be a guitar riff, or a drum beat for example, and we see where it goes from there. Sometimes we will write a song beginning to end with absolutely no lyrics, and write lyrics later. Sometimes we will do the exact opposite. We all contribute on vote on everything, and that is what makes our sound crisp and precise.
Describe the recording of "Open Up (Let Yourself Go)" and what the track is about?
"Open Up (Let Yourself Go)" was written about the feeling of good vibes, and friendly coexistence of everyone.
When not making music together, what can we find you guys be doing?
When not making music, you can find us working! We all have jobs, but always make time for music, and writing new material (which we promise there will be no shortage of for a long time) Ryan and Jarrod are finishing up their college degrees at Suny Old Westbury at the moment. Mike works a 9-5 job and lives with his amazing fiance Mary. She has been very influential and supportive of our music since the start. Billy is constantly surrounded by music, as he owns his own studio that he and Mike Lazarus started up. It is called Montclair Records, and it is right here on Long Island in Saint James. This is also the studio where the 4 new songs have been recorded.
What's on tap next for you guys, planning to release an album or play some shows around Beantown in the near future?
The EP is called "Classic Breeze". The backstory how The EP got it's name is actually quite hysterical. We were stuggling at band practice one day to come up with a name and our drummer Jarod looked at the fan that we use in our practice space and he said "Classic Breeze". It says that on the center of the fan and the answer was staring us in the face all along. We all instantly knew that "Classic Breeze" was definitely the name of our EP.
When we get bigger and bigger and hopefully start touring we would definitely hit up Beantown! As a New Yorker and an athlete, obviously I grew up disliking Boston, but I learned real quick how naive I was, how cool Beantown is, and I have a lot of respect for the music that is coming out of there. It would be awesome to play a lot of shows with the band there in the near future.
Lastly, how has being in this band drawn you guys closer together as friends?
Our friendship is undeniable, and if you see us play, you can just feel the love and respect we all have for one another. We love writing music, and just kicking it with each other bsing about life and what not. If there is ever a decision that needs to be made, we make sure everybody is heard out before that decision is made, whether it be a part of a song, or a decision between two venues to play a show for example. Of course a band is a relationship, and every here and there a disagreement will happen, but for the most part, and I mean 95% of the time most part, it is all good vibes, and it is reflected through our music. Finally, thanks Musicboxpete.com for this interview, and we hope to work with you again!
Thanks once again to Gnarly Karma for taking some time out to do this interview! I've known sax player Billy Hanley for over a year now, and he's been a huge fan and supporter of my site from the get go and really loves everything this site stands for. It really is an honor to hear so much praise and adoration from him as these comments are what give me drive and determination to focus on the site each and every day. For more on Gnarly Karma, please give them a 'Like' on Facebook right over here and give their music some love over on their Soundcloud page as well at this perch here.