Sunday, January 31, 2010

Entrevista: The Park

This may come as somewhat of a shock {ha!}, but I have seen my fair share of bands play. I've heard some that I've enjoyed and I've also heard some that made me wish I could switch my hearing on and off at will. Every now and then, I hear a band that's teeming with such indisputably raw and audacious talent, that its effect on me is both inspiring and humbling and it reminds me why I have chosen to document music as I do. On a Wednesday night in 2009, shortly after I moved to San Francisco, I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting a band called The Park. Though you can frequently find them rocking a stage in front of a packed arena, or backing up an artist on tour, on this night, The Park played in a tiny bar called Royale in San Francisco's North Beach Neighborhood. Long before entering Royale, I was greeted by intoxicating musical libations being offered up into the atmosphere. As I got closer to the door, the sound became more distinct and it seemed to weave itself in and around me, drawing me in like only music can. I entered to find The Park's jam session in full was absolutely amazing. The whole night I was on the edge of my seat...I mean these guys had to be a superhuman mutant band or something....they were that good...I was that entertained. I knew from the moment I walked in that this was no ordinary night and this absolutely was not an ordinary band. These guys were PROFESSIONALS in every sense of the word. This was The Park and this music was rock-you-down-to-your-soul REAL. Known for their versatility and ability to make everything they touch turn to musical gold, The Park has backed everyone from freestyle rappers who sit in on the Wednesday night sessions to Bay Area legends such as Darondo to British soulstress Alice Russell, with whom the band regularly tours. They are respected musicians, in the Bay Area and beyond. I'm {very} proud to bring you this interview with one of the hardest working and crit-diculously gifted bands I've ever heard. Ladies and gentlemen....The Park!

WANLS: Introduce me to the band members and whether they play/sing/etc.

THE PARK: The Core - Josh Lippi {bass}; Ben Schwier {keys}; Derek Taylor {drums}
The Special Sauce - Anthony Coleman II {trumpet}; Brian Switzer {trumpet}; Wiatt Grant {sax}; Steve Wyreman {guitar}; Ross Grant {guitar}; Nate Mercereau {guitar}; DJs/MCs: Johnny Venetti, Whooligan, Gedeon, Wonway

WANLS: Throw your sets up! Where do you live and why do you love it?

THE PARK: We love living in San Francisco, because of the food!

WANLS: What are your musical influences?


WANLS: How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?

THE PARK: soulfunkjazzcountrycritrock

WANLS: Do you have or are you signed to a record label?

THE PARK: We are independent artists. We have been signed with projects in the past but now we only deal with the labels of the artists we are working with. There isn't much need for a label right now with the kind of thing we are doing. We have label interest and when the time comes with a deal that makes sense we would consider it.

WANLS: What are some of your most memorable shows?

THE PARK: The PST closing. {Sierra Says: PST was a loooong running party/club night in San Francisco that featured TONS of amazing live shows and some of the best DJ's from the Bay Area and beyond.} We got a chance to back up some of our favorite Bay artists like Martin Luther, Zion I, Res, Boots Riley, Trackademicks, Jesse Boykins III, Silk E...great family event.

Also, selling out the Troubador in LA with Alice Russell, the first show with Darondo...worrying if he was even going to make it down the staircase to the stage (because he was frail and a little buzzed), and then watching him do the splits on stage with the ease of James Brown in his twenties.

WANLS: Who writes your music?

THE PARK: Most of our work is a collaboration. Josh and I have our own writing style and usually provide most of the harmonic framework and D is equally involved in creating the feel and arranging. Our strengths as writers/arrangers/producers lie in taking an idea or motif and then building and expanding on it as a group. It's kind of a telepathy we share from the years of playing together. All of our individual strengths play off of each other.
Derek adds: "Like whales."

WANLS: What direction do you see the band going in 2010? Any specific plans?

THE PARK: Taking over the world one gig, studio session, and tour at a time...

WANLS: Your fantasy show or tour line up?

THE PARK: The Park Presents Tour (similar to La Pena shows/all our fam/circa Okayplayer '99 Maritime Hall San Francisco).
Ben adds: The Park at Staples Center backing MJ.
Derek adds: D'angelo backed by The Park.

WANLS: Describe what its like to experience your live shows.

THE PARK: Love bursts.

WANLS: Fill in the blank: If it hadn't been for ___, we would have ___.

THE PARK: If it hadn't been for Papalote's, we would have been hungry.

WANLS: What's the #1 priority for your band right now? (Ben)

THE PARK: Keep working. Keep moving. Keep loving.

WANLS: Where can we find you on the web?


WANLS: Fill in the blank: People would never guess that ___.

THE PARK: People would never guess that our drugs of choice are dark chocolate and health drinks.

WANLS: Best thing about being in your band?

THE PARK: We have/do experience the craziest spectrum of life. We have played dog shows as well as festivals with 20,000 people and room service. One day we are drinking goose and champagne in New York; the next day we are squeezing into one car with all of our gear on the way to hold down our local session in North Beach. It's part of the process and we just try and enjoy the ride.

WANLS: Fill in the blank: One day they're probably gonna name a ___ after our band.

THE PARK: One day they're probably gonna name a burrito after our band.

WANLS: Last and most importantly, if you were stranded on a desert island with your bandmates, who would go cannibal first?

THE PARK: We were stuck on an island in Vancouver once. Derek will eat anything.

Now park yourself in front of the computer and crit The Park on the interweb:

Official Website

Photo Cred: Amanda Lopez and Rehes Creative