The Above are a rock and roll group from Brooklyn, New York. Influenced by the sounds of British-era R&B, this four-piece create memorable and exciting music with a compositional sophistication that are sure to leave both bar-goers and 60s rock and roll enthusiasts tapping their feet. They have opened for the likes of Roky Erickson, The Fleshtones, Los Straightjackets, Lyres, Paul Collins and other seminal artists.
I love the whole MOD thing, the look and more importantly the music. You seem to incorporate a lot of influences from those days, from The Small Faces, Pretty Things, early Who, Kinks, and more, all great bands. So with that in mind we don’t need to ask questions, like …who are you influenced by . I saw that you got together from Craigslist , so that can be our starting point.
Can you share with us some history of your Band. Who began the , looking to form a band on craigslist adverts. what did you all talk about the 1st time everyone was together, and what was the 1st song you played together?
1. Well, David put together the original line-up from his ad on Craig’s List. That is, everyone except for the bass player. Frank wound up putting up his own ad several months later that he was looking to form or join a band. On a frustrated whim after searching awhile for a bassist to no avail, David stumbled upon it one night after a rehearsal. They met soon after, talked shop and David wound up playing him the songs that he was working on. Frank knew immediately that he had found the band he was looking for. He joined straight away and it’s been him and David making it happen ever since.
It was a similar experience when Jason joined after the band went through several line-up changes. Craig’s List, jam session, kismet! Jason walks in armed to the teeth with the both Nuggets box sets in his tool box and a more than healthy appreciation of early Stones and knocks ‘em dead! The only member who didn’t come into the fold through a Craig’s List ad was Matt. We already knew him through the scene here in New York and always admired his playing and his knowledge and interest in all the same things the rest of the band were into. We were fortunate enough that his longtime band broke up at exactly the same time that our former drummer was moving away to Texas. In what was the easiest line-up transition this band has ever experienced (and there have been some REAL difficult ones), Matt stepped in to play guitar and Jason moved behind the drums (thank goodness for versatility!).
It’s hard to remember which number we first played together,but as Matt joined up about 3 weeks before we were scheduled to go on a short tour of Canada, there were a lot of rehearsals in a short amount of time to make sure we were in gig shape for the Great White North. The tapes of those shows seem to indicate that we did a pretty good job of just that.
You have opened for some pretty cool bands, I’m always curious about those interactions, do they come up to you after and talk shop and who are the bands that you find yourselves listening to before you take the stage?
2. We’re truly honored to have shared the stage with some of the acts that we have over the last few years. And almost without exception, all have had kind and supportive things to say to us at the end of the night. The three that stand out the most have been The Fleshtones, The Woggles and The Grip Weeds. We’ve played with The Fleshtones on three separate occasions and they’ve been nothing short of fantastic to us each time. When you get asked to take over for them during a rendition of “Push Up Man”, you know they like you! After playing with both TheWoggles and The Grip Weeds, we were fortunate enough to spend some time with each band at the end of the night talking gear and touring tips over some beers. It really means a lot to have bands that we admire so much take the time to say that they enjoyed our set.
As for pre-gig preferred listening, most of the time that’s something that’s beyond our control. Either the person running the sound is playing tunes off their iPod, or there’s a DJ spinning records in between sets.Fortunately for us, we have some of the best DJ’s you can ever hope to hear right here in New York City. When these folks are doing their thing at our gigs, we’re never at a loss to hear something that’s going to amp us up before showtime.
What does success look like to The Above in 2013?
3. Success for us in 2013 looks a lot like Europe. Since the release of our “My Love” single last summer, and our “Georgia Peach” single earlier this year, we’ve had a tremendous amount of interest shown in the band from places like Germany, UK ,and Spain. In fact, it far outweighs the interest we’ve received right here in the States. So ideally, with the release of next single “Flake Out” (due sometime this spring) and our forthcoming 2nd full-length album later this year, we hope to able to cross the ocean a play some shows for those folks in the Euro Zone. We know several bands that have gone over there to play and every single one of them comes back absolutely raving about the experience,so it’s something that we hope we can soon experience too.
Other than that, we just want to continue making good music and having it reach as many people as we possibly can. Although we wear our influences on our sleeve and certainly appreciate the support of those in the garage/revival scenes, we hope that our songs can appeal to those who just like catchy songs and good rock and roll. You don’t have to wear a suit, a parka. or paisley to get down with us, even if we do!
If you could time travel to any concert , any band or bands, where would you be…
DAVID: This is a tough call. I can sit here all day and think of a multitude of great musical performances that would have been unbelievable to witness throughout history. And not just in terms of rock and roll performances, but in terms of classical and jazz performances as well.
However, for the purposes of our discussion, I would have liked to see the Yardbirds at the Marquee club in 1964 when they recorded”Five Live Yardbirds.” When I listen to this record, I can really hear the energy and power of the performance onstage. For this reason, I think it would have been really cool to be there, and witness it happening in front of me.
FRANK: I think a free pass to the Marquee Club between the years 1963 and 1969 would be more than perfect for me. But if I had to choose just one show, it would be The Who at Leeds http://open.spotify.com/track/6K7bKhh4RxxVJ6c0lUUCTG University on Feb. 14, 1970. Simply the best live rock performance ever captured on tape, and I would love to have the chance to witness it in person.
MATT: The Who at the filming of Rock and Roll Circus, because I want to eat chocolate cake in a bag with John and Yoko.
JASON: Led Zeppelin at Madison Square Garden in 1973, at the final of three shows that closed out their US tour. If I had to chose, I’d say they are my favorite band for many reasons. They have certainly captivated me longer than any other band and I think they have most informed me as a drummer and guitarist. And this show was Zep in their prime. Additionally, they had just discovered that they’d had $200,000 stolen from them–the sum of their NYC show earnings–and you can see the passion and fatigue of the tour kind of open up the band and lay them all out right there before your eyes. This is all well-documented in The Song Remains the Same. They carried nothing with them after the set had ended–they left everything on stage. I’m sure the feeling they had was other worldly. I wish I could have been there with them…AS A MEMBER!!
The music and lyrics of “What She Said” very cool stuff, love the guitar work with the harmonies, last question….How does a song like that come about for The Above if you don’t mind sharing your process with us .
DAVID: This is one of the first songs I ever wrote. Being an early composition, I basically just wanted to do something in the style of the bands that I had been obsessed with: Kinks, Stones, Who, etc,but I knew the best approach was to keep it real simple. It’s just a riffy blues progression with a twist, the IV chord lingers longer to accommodate all the poetic things I had to say. Since this was an early song,finding a topic was easy: it feels good when girls whisper things in your ear. I wasn’t trying to do anything groundbreaking, I just needed some original tunes, so I tossed this one off. For this song,just like any other, the approach for final arrangement is the same: you have those core elements of chord progression and lyrics/melody, and then you can start building upon it with things like the guitar riffs, harmonies, and other ornaments.
Basically, in those days, my writing approach was very simple: rhythm, blues, girls. Once I had a few songs like that, I could move on to challenge my songwriting craft in other ways.
Interview made by Scott Rex /2013 © Copyright 50thirdand3rd. com /2013