Philadelphia’s The Chris Paterno Band is just beginning to hit their stride. The six-piece soul-influenced band stretches itself out on stage, creating a euphoric experience for the audience. Formed in 2015, the band will release their debut EP, The Chris Paterno Band in August. The band has gathered praise along the way, including The Gavel which proclaimed that their “music is more than just singing words and playing a guitar‐‐it’s a vivid, mind‐seizing experience”. Check out the exclusive Q&A below for some insights into the band’s origins and their plans for the summer.
Your music has quite a bit of a soul influence in it. Did any of Philadelphia’s musical history fit into your sound?
Definitely. I like to think that you can hear the Philly Soul roots in our music – The Sound of Philadelphia, The O’Jays, Patti Labelle. Acts like those knew how to evoke emotion, they knew how to be real and they knew how to get a little funky. We try to emulate those artists, while also bringing in some novel sounds/techniques to give our style a modern touch. Its hard not to be influenced by Philadelphia in general – the streets are always filled with characters and the Philly music scene is growing everyday. Its an amazing time to be a Philly musician. Working with a Philly legend like Joe Nicolo doesn’t hurt either!
The first official gig was the pre‐match bloc party at the Villanova Pavilion in front of…2000 people? And this was before the band was even official, correct?
Yes! It was a surreal moment playing in front of a crowd that large after only 4 practices with new musicians. But, I was able to bring in a lot of great talent and we really had fun with it. After that, we realized we weren’t too shabby so we decided to stick together and see what would happen. The next show we played (less than a month later), our mandolin player, Adam Monaco, brought Joe Nicolo. He offered us a deal to cut our debut EP right after our set. That was an amazing moment that I will never forget.
When did you realize that you guys might have a chemistry between you that you could really sink your teeth into?
I think we really started to groove in the early months of 2016. We brought in a few new members – Frank Rein (trombone) and Mark Hightower (bass) – that really filled out our sound. Frank writes these incredible horn lines that just take our sound to the next level and I really started to find my voice, mature as a writer and as an instrumentalist. We haven’t played a show in a while because we’ve been working hard in the studio, but I cannot wait to take the stage again and show everyone what we are working with. The guys in the group are killer.
Do you take a different approach to your live shows than you would with the studio?
Definitely. In the studio, we take things slowly and really think things through. On stage, we’re just goofy. I’m dancing around like a mad man, horns blaring, just having a fun time letting the music take over. Our horns (Mike Clark and Frank Rein) are trading solos with our mandolin player (Adam Monaco) and our bassist (Mark Hightower) and we are all locked into the now. We just let whatever we’re feeling take the stage. No two performances are ever the same and that’s what makes playing so fun.
Let’s talk a bit about your single, “Unfaithful”. What was the genesis of the song?
The chord progression for “Unfaithful” defines my playing style – percussive, and full of odd voicings. I wrote this song about a year and a half ago during a time where everything around me was falling apart – friendships were fading, a long relationship had recently ended, and my family life was struggling – I felt lost and angry. At the same time, I was looking around, observing the culture that is a college campus and seeing and hearing all these stories about infidelity and trust issues. I could see the connection between myself- feeling like so many bridges had been burnt down, losing faith in my friends, family and myself – and the term “Unfaithful.” The bridge repeats the phrase “All we built, burn it down.” That sentence really sums up that time of my life.
I see you have a few shows coming up. Any big plans for the Chris Paterno Band this summer besides the ones listed?
We’ve got a lot of shows, as you mentioned, that we are excited about including a few dates at MilkBoy Philly (5/28, 7/7) Connie’s Ric Rac in Philly (6/16) and a single-release show at Bourbon and Branch in Philly on 7/21. We’re also talking to a few festival organizers right now! More details on that to come. We’ve also got to release the rest of our self-titled debut EP, which we’re super-excited to share it. Its gotten great reviews from our moms so high expectations from the band.