If you keep up with the New York City rock scene, you are most likely familiar with the trio, Earl Greyhound. Consisting of Matt Whyte (vocals, guitar), Kamara Thomas (bass, keyboards, vocals) and Ricc Sheridan (drums), the band's exposure should take flight beyond the region in years to come. Heavily influenced by the hard blues of classic rock's glory years and indie rock's current musical revolution, Greyhound can easily convert the eclectic listener with their recent album release, "Suspicious Package."
With their songwriting firmly in place, Earl Greyhound really excel onstage. No special effects or novelties are needed to keep the audience entertained. Earl Greyhound drive their show beautifully, like an organic old school jam.
Goldmine caught up with bassist, Kamara Thomas, after an appearance at one of New York's premiere annual music events, the Siren Festival at Coney Island.
There are a lot of influences from many different eras and many different rock genres in your music. Can you elaborate on the band's songwriting process?
Kamara Thomas: The three of us all have very different ranges of influence, with some cross-over. So we'll each bring very different sensibilities to the table while the songs are being developed. And songs will come in a variety of ways. Matt and I will write ideas or whole songs on our own and bring to the band to work out kinks and develop into something distinctly EG. Even when we bring a whole song in, everyone ends up putting their stamp on it in some way.
The duets between you and Matt bring a unique aspect to your sound. Will this continue in your songwriting?
Thomas: The duetting is the main reason Matt and I began working together. We sang songs for one another one night and really admired each other's songwriting and singing, which again have different approaches and sensibilities. We knew that we could make something unique together that wouldn't necessarily be possible working alone. So I expect that aspect of our songwriting will only expand with time. For myself, it's become really fun to write songs knowing that I've got another voice to work with and express with — it opens up a lot of possibilities.
Allmusic once described you as "psychedelic stoner rock." How do you feel about that term? Since you are so diverse in style, do tags piss you off?
Thomas: Tags don't piss us off — mostly. Journalists and people need to describe what they're hearing to each other in terms that can be communicated, we understand that. That said, anytime we hear these generic descriptions that suggest we're a retro band we take it to understand that the journalist wasn't really listening to what we're up to or doesn't have the ears to recognize all the various nuances that are going into the music. We're rockers, yes, and we're dealing with a long lineage of rock music, but there is still a great deal to say within this genre, and we intend to say it — for the here and now.
Are you satisfied with the outcome of "Suspicious Package," both creatively and financially?
Thomas: Very satisfied creatively, definitely. Financially, I can say that it feels good to own our music, to be working our own business, to be finding ways of getting the music out there to a larger audience, to be responsible for how the music reaches people. The days of the musician-entrepreneur are now in full force, and any entrepreneur knows that patience and perseverance are necessary to a financial payoff.
How do you feel it differs from the other releases?
Thomas: In some ways it feels like a debut album, since it's the first album that Ricc played on and that we developed with him. The songwriting has grown, our voices have gotten a lot stronger and more confident. And we have plenty more to say, this album is just the jumping off point.
Why did you decide to start your own record label, Hawk Race Records? That must require a demanding amount of time?
Thomas: What's actually funny about starting your own record label these days is that all you need is a name. As far as I can tell, a record label is an entity that releases, distributes, sells and promotes music. At the moment Earl Greyhound and Hawk Race are essentially the same thing, but giving the record label a distinctness right off the bat gives us the option of releasing other artists if we're ever in a position to do so in the future.
How would you describe the New York City music scene?
Thomas: The NYC music scene is actually very VERY diverse. Much more diverse than what gets reported. When I read the popular blogs and press about the NYC music scene, it comes off as very homogeneous, when really there's a ton going on that doesn't get its day in the sun. In fact, there's so much going on that I get overwhelmed — I actually think I might need more trees and less of a music scene!
You just played the Siren Festival in Brooklyn. How was the experience?
Thomas: R.A.D. I remember being at the first couple Siren Festivals and dreaming of the day that I'd be up there rocking Brooklyn — before there was an Earl Greyhound. It was a great full-circle experience for me.
You have played with a variety of bands. What has been your best experience?
Thomas: We've had such a great time with all the bands we've played with, I must say. And we've gotten to play with a big variety — each band we've toured with has taught us something invaluable. My favorite to date has got to be getting to open for Chris Cornell. He's really one of the best voices in rock, and he's such a masterful artist to watch.
What's next for the band?
Thomas: We go on our first European tour this fall, and then we're working on another North American tour before the year's out. Then onto the next album, which we're excited about getting our teeth into.
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