Thursday, January 29, 2015

RTBE Interview: Lucky Chops Band

A few weeks ago we reviewed the newest excellent release from Lucky Chops and now the bands trumpeter Josh Gawel took some time to conduct an interview with us as part of our on going RtBE Interview series. You can read it below:

RTBE: So how did Lucky Chops get started?

Lucky Chops Josh Gawel: We formed many a moon ago when we were all in high school. We were classmates at LaGuardia Arts High School in Lincoln Center and we met (no surprise) in band class. We used to play in Central Park after school, exploiting the cuteness of a kid brass band to get some nice pocket money. Eventually we all went to college and starting performing in other bands and delving into various styles of music. In 2013 we began taking the band seriously again and we used the new tools gathered in college to create the current Lucky Chops sound. We're now a six piece band consisting of Sousaphone, Drums, Tenor Sax, Bari Sax, Trombone and Trumpet. Here's to the future!

RTBE: You do a lot of playing for free especially in the subway's how has NYC influenced what you guys do? Does playing next to a rumbling train change things up musically for you?

LC: In 2014 we were admitted to the MTA's Music Under New York program, granting us legal permits each week to perform in the subway. We love the job and it brings us back to our roots performing in Central Park. Our main tenant as a band has always been to bring joy to a city that often times seems joyless. What better place to brighten up someone's day than the subway? It's great to get crowds of all sorts of people randomly gather for a dance together. That's what we're all about.

RTBE: You seem to be very comfortable putting your own spin on songs, whether it is the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" or a Michael Jackson tune, I am interested in the decision making process of whether to do a straight up cover or a "Lucky Chops" version of a tune?

LC: We love playing covers! It's a great way to connect with audiences, and a great outlet for our creativity. Since we're an all acoustic band with no lead singer, we enjoy the challenge of covering vocal songs and making them both recognizable and funky. Our covers of current top 40 pop songs are usually pretty straight forward, and they come and go with the new hits. We like to be more experimental with our covers of classics though, since they've withstood the test of time and can remain in our repertoire. We draw from a very wide range of styles and time periods to find our covers, from Ottoman Empire Arabic music to Tchaikovsky to The Spice Girls and beyond. Everything is on the table for us.

RTBE: There is a clear groove/funky element to your sound, have you collaborated with any MC's or are there any plans to delve into hip-hop?

LC: We went through a phase of collaborations with various MCs back in 2012. We wanted to go in more of a hip-hop direction and had some great shows, we even opened for Snoop! We discovered that our band vibe wasn't in fact suited for hip hop though and decided to leave that behind. We still incorporate elements of hip hop in our music, but we don't often work with MCs anymore

RTBE: As with most brass bands the city of New Orleans is all over you guys (We can not get enough of the town and 2015 Jazzfest can't come soon enough for us) what influence has it had on the band?

LC: We love NOLA and we've all been down there before. A number of us have jazz backgrounds and I particularly have studied early jazz history extensively. The sound of 1920's and early 30's jazz is a big part of my playing and I like to add those sounds to the big chops "gumbo"

RTBE: What's in the immediate future for the band?

LC: We are currently working on some really big projects that we're not at liberty to discuss... but stay tuned!!

RTBE: If you guys had a dream gig what would it be?

LC: Hmmm.... we've always wanted to live on a sailboat and play all day and night, just for ourselves. We'll see what happens with that!

Sail On Sirs! You should make it a point to catch the band live as they are a joy, we danced all night last Friday to their sounds out in Brooklyn. Thanks to Josh and the fellas for their time and the fantastic music. 

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