New Music Friday: Biscuits and Gravy
Written by Rosie
Biscuits and Gravy is a band from Boston, MA, with a majestical seven members including one ghost. The name will sound odd to anyone outside of America, so we’ll clarify that Biscuits and Gravy does not imply a hobnob dunked in a steaming mug of mum’s finest Bisto, it’s more like a scone with a milky sausagey sauce on top. Or is that stranger?
Anyway, Sam, Dave, Evan, Ghost, Mark, Eric & Paul (get the joke now?) have a reputation as a great live act, with one reviewer describing ‘swarms of groupies screaming and immolating their bodies to the rising gods of rock ‘n roll’ at a show. Sadly we’re 3000 miles short of getting to see them and their flammable audience in action, but we can enjoy their debut album, Hello Weekend, which was released in June (listen here).
Now put your feet up, pop this on and have a look at our interview with the band.
You met at Boston’s Berklee College of Music – how has that influenced you as a band? Are Berklee kids a significant feature of the music scene in and around Boston?
B&G: Being at Berklee really impacted us as individual musicians. Each of us was able to hone our skills and come to understand new aspects of our unique musical interests. Berklee also keeps you at your best technically, making sure you know your basics and growing your ability from there. As a band, we’ve done our best to consolidate the two – unique musical interests and technical strength – into a sound that we think is both fresh and relatable. Berklee kids are absolutely a significant feature of the scene in Boston but there are also 300,000 other students in the area. With our audiences joining trained musicians with other young Bostonians, we’ve been fortunate to play to a broad base and learn from each experience. One thing that’s undeniable about the Berklee crowd though, is how well they connect with each other. When you add in musicians that go to other schools, it’s really apparent that Boston has its own great artistic community. We’ve been lucky to meet so many incredibly skilled musicians and bands while at school. Our experiences have definitely impacted our sound, our outreach and our appreciation of various musical tastes.
Is there a big difference between the music scene in Boston and other places, for example New York? Have you experienced that personally at all, and how?
B&G: The most obvious difference is the sheer size of New York. For every club in Boston, there are four or five similar ones in the city. It provides great opportunities to play in new venues and it also yields a ton of other bands. Boston’s scene is much smaller and more intimate but don’t let that fool you. There are some amazing artists coming out of the Boston scene. It’s exciting to watch some of these people that you’ve known at Berklee or from shows you’ve played, suddenly peak out into bigger markets. I have a feeling that within the next ten years, Boston will be mentioned with New York and LA as a top destination for rising artists. Beantown may be smaller but it can, and will, have a heavy impact on the greater musical community.
Your debut LP, Hello Weekend, has been a while in the making. How much did it change from its beginnings in a basement to its final incarnation? Is it obvious from the songs how you’ve all changed as individuals over the two years? For example, are there certain songs you can point to and say, yes, that was the summer we got a ping pong table, and that one is the month we all had to get day jobs, and so on?
B&G: The big difference from the basement to the record was us taking a step back and running with the idea that “less is more.” Greg Teves and Andrew Kline, our producers, were a huge help when it came to honing our sound and figuring out exactly what we wanted to articulate to the listeners. When we jammed in the basement, we would add in so many hits and lines that were cool for a live performance, but just too much for a record. We had to really pull back and make sure we came together as a band, not individuals. It was great that Greg and Andrew really pushed us out of our comfort zone. They made us draw a distinction between live B&G and studio B&G. They could tell you that we weren’t so sure it would work at the time but now, we couldn’t be happier with the result.
As for the songs themselves, they are essentially stories about each of us finding our way in the world. A few of them go way back to before we came together as a band. For example, our title track, “Hello Weekend,” was written while Dave worked a summer construction job in high school. “Slow and Fast,” on the other hand, was written about a house party we had at our old place in Roxbury. Each song represents some aspect of young life – you work hard, you play hard, you learn a lot. As you listen through the record, you’ll notice themes and topics that mirror occurrences in your own life. We feel like we’ve grown significantly as a band through this album and the songs really showcase that sentiment.
With such a large band it must be hard to get you all in a room at the same time, let alone coordinate some kind of songwriting process – how does that work out? Are there one or two people who take the lead or is it an entirely collaborative process?
B&G: It can definitely be tricky at times but we’ve been fortunate over the past four years that members have been living together in different houses around Boston. When we first started, we lived in a house that had David, Sam and Ghost all under one roof. Those were the days of our “basement jams.” Now, there’s a house that has David, Sam, Evan and Mike, our manager, living under one roof. Being in close proximity is definitely a huge help.
When it comes to songwriting, we’ll each bring our own ideas to rehearsals or wherever we’re hanging out at the time. From there, we try things out, take input from other members and sculpt it all together until it’s distinctly B&G. It’s very much a collaborative process: each person has their ideas and influences and that’s what keeps us fresh.
What’s the grand plan? Are you aiming for world domination, and if so, how are you going to do that?
B&G: Hah, doesn’t every band dream of world musical domination?? The grand plan at the moment is to further ourselves as musicians and as a band. We love what we do and we want to keep it up but that means constantly seeking new opportunities and working hard. Right now, we all have day jobs so sometimes keeping up with the band can be a struggle. We definitely want to get to a place where we can focus all our efforts on B&G. Then we can get going on world domination… In the meantime, we’re going to keep thriving off of the crowds and our amazing fan base. It’s all about seeing a sea of faces on the floor, dancing and having a great time. The more people we can bring that experience to, the better.
Do you think you’ll ever do a UK tour?
B&G: Absolutely! We’ve been talking to the people who book Wembley Stadium so it should be any day now… Just kidding! We’d love to but the logistics might be a little tricky given our budget. Don’t worry, we’ll keep striving for an opportunity and as soon as we get the chance, we’ll be there.
Looking forward to it.