While the band often plays shows in and around Brooklyn, as well as up and down the east coast, they are also dedicated to making a career out of art and reaching out to and expanding their audience.
The psychedelic blues and brass rock band formed about a year ago while guitarist and lead singer Gregory Ferreira was recording his second solo album at his Bushwick recording studio, Live By The Sword.
Today they are preparing to release their first album, new music video and also some of their artwork at a Manhattan art gallery.
I met up with Ferreira and slide-guitarist Rudy Temiz over the weekend at their Williamsburg art stand setup on Bedford Avenue between 5th and 6th Streets to talk about their music, art and future of the band.
Where are you guys from originally?
Gregory: I was born and raised in Boston.
Rudy: I lived around here my whole life. I lived around here and Manhattan, but before this I grew up in Jersey.
When did you guys first come to Brooklyn?
Gregory: I had a couple of uneventful visits where I stayed with a friend for a day or two. When I first came here I had a girlfriend who was a modern dancer, so I used to come to see her do her thing out here. It was a hard long distance relationship, but the more I kept coming here, the more I realized I wanted to be here and not in Boston.
Rudy: I moved here almost three years ago. I had an apartment in the city, had a job. I sold my apartment, left the work and decided to focus on my music and art.
Had you always been artists of some kind?
Gregory: I was always an artist, even as a kid. I grew up working as a body piercer, doing recordings for people and always in a band since I was like eight or nine years old. I come from a musical family.
Do you guys use this art to promote the band at all?
Rudy: We usually take email addresses of people interested in the art and we tell them we’re musicians too.
Gregory: Part of the beauty of being out here is just how many people you can reach in a day. After a while everybody knows you because you’re posted up in the same spot and you get Brooklyn famous. It becomes like, “Oh, we know those guys with the crazy beards and the maps.” I think it’s a newer development that they know we’re in a band.
Do you ever feel like you’re living a double life, selling art and being in a band?
Gregory: It’s all the same.
Rudy: We’re always creating art. Even the art we create, we create it like a band. Doing visual art, it’s a pretty lonely experience, you’re by yourself. The way we do this is we do it together, so it makes it more interesting and it makes it more enjoyable too.
So you do this as a band?
Rudy: We’re both here and running around to different places. Our sax player right now is in the Chelsea Market selling our maps and sometimes our drummer will be here selling them too. It also helps that we have a flexible schedule to work on our music.
Gregory: For me the beauty of it, is that the art that we make is about to fund art we’re about to make, so we get to spend all of our time doing art, whether it’s art meets commerce or whatever, we’re still doing art and we’re going to play art. For me, it’s the ideal situation. For me, the double life is if I was a waiter and I played guitar at night.
So you don’t have to have typical day jobs?
Rudy: This is our day job. The best part is we meet people who want to have collaborations and gallery showings.
Do you have any gallery shows coming up?
Rudy: We have a gallery in Belgium right now that’s showing our art all over Europe. The other cool thing is we now have some high profile showings in New York. We’re going to be doing an exhibit at C24 Gallery (512 W. 24th St.) in Chelsea, and we got the exposure from the street.
Gregory: That’s from the accessibility, in always hitting the same angle all the time and from always being out here.
Rudy: We have a collective. We have the visual artists in our collective, along with fashion photographers and a filmmaker, and when we put it all together it becomes an entire multimedia-type of experience where you can touch it, feel it, watch it and it becomes bigger than the sums of its parts.
With selling your art as a band, how often do you get to practice your music?
Rudy: All the time.
Gregory: It’s like a lifestyle thing. Practice is scheduled, but we’re always doing some kind of playing.
Who writes the songs?
Gregory: I write the songs. The band to me is a lot like visual art too. I write stuff and I have the people in place to add the nice flavors.
Rudy: I find a lot of similarities in the visual art and the music, in terms of how layered they both are. There are a lot of complexities, especially while we work with a lot of different dimensions on the visual art side, and I find it to be the same with the music side. It has its complexities, it’s very layered but they’re both very accessible.
Gregory: It’s like an orchestra; it hits you all at once.
How do you guys record the new album?
Gregory: Well. I have a studio – I have the distinction of being the music guy – called Live By The Sword in Bushwick, right off the Montrose L-stop. What we did for this record, basically I would come in with a skeleton of a song and then we would have jam sessions that would last all day until we had an arrangement that everybody could live with and the sounds were picked. It was kind of magical because we would mess around all day, not knowing if anything was going to happen.
So you would make a song every day?
Gregory: We basically lived together. Everyday, they would come over to my place and I would say, “Here’s the idea.” I would lay down some stuff, I would play some stuff, we would jam and I would set up everything and record.
Rudy: He lured us in with tacos. He’s a really good cook.
Gregory: There was basically no band, I would just invite musicians I would like to come over and make a record very casually. We would have some tacos and jam for like nine hours. And you have to realize, that you just can’t do that anywhere. I grew up in Boston and your band could never play in your loft for that many hours without somebody trying to kill you or the police coming. So since I have the studio we can sit around and flush out an idea for a long period of time and we’re not paying hourly. Taking control of the recording experience is very important to me.
What was your first exposure to music when you were a kid?
Gregory: My father is a drummer, and a singer and a trumpet player, a real song-and-dance man. So, the minute I was born, pretty much, that’s what I was going to do.
Rudy: My cultural background is Armenian, my parents would both sing, there were jam sessions at the house, more traditional Armenian instruments or Middle Eastern instruments. It was always around and my father had a huge record collection. I actually grew up in a hi-fi store. That’s what he did for a living so I got to be around big music heads and start learning from a young age. He took me to the shop when I was like four years old.
What kind of music did you listen to?
Rudy: Everything from rock-n-roll, jazz, classical and everything we grew up with.
Gregory: I grew up with mostly Portuguese music, mariachi music and big band. That’s what was going on in my house. My mother is Portuguese, but she came by way of Venezuela so she picked up along the way, a lot of different kinds of Spanish music that we would listen to in the house. Never rock and roll really. My sister is also a soul singer, so there really was just no rockers in my family.
Why did you start playing rock music?
Gregory: I stumbled upon Jimi Hendrix and it was over. But it was actually Cheech and Chong, but they were doing a parody of Jimi Hendrix, and I kept singing the song to my uncle, and he was like, “do you know who that is? It’s a song from this guy.” He handed me the record, and being like, this dude’s from outer space.
Check out The Bushwick Hotel on October 15 at 10:30 p.m. at the Bowery Electric for their CMJ 2013 showcase. The band is also holding their gallery opening and a screening of their new music video on October 17 at C24 Gallery in Manhattan.