The holiday season often brings people back to the place where they grew up. Nights out with old friends result in hours of catching up and seeing how each other is doing these days. Often these nights include some drinks and if you’re into what’s good, some live music. This weekend at the Ocean Mist in Matunuck will be encompassing this kind of atmosphere with a two night Hometown Throwdown featuring acts that have ties to South County. The first night will have Providence instrumental funk masters Slurp, Narragansett reggae rock act Dudemanbro and Westerly folk duo Owleye bring the part while the second night is going to have Providence jam dynamos Jabbawaukee, Westerly jazz-rock band Phil Adams Group and Kingston funk rock shredders Guess Method exuding some righteous grooves.
I recently had a talk with Dudemanbro’s vocalist and guitarist Kyle Bell, bassist Keith Kosut and drummer Jim Plaziack about the band’s open mic beginnings, expanding from being a trio and finally putting out a record.
Rob Duguay: Dudemanbro started out when Keith met Kyle after years of playing the same venue back to back. Which venue was it and what made you guys want to make music together?
Kyle Bell: We initially met a couple of times at a weekly open mic I was running at this place called Oceanside that used to be around in Narragansett. We liked each other’s style and swapped numbers with intent of jamming but nothing really came of it until about a year later. We both had solo acoustic gigs at the Bike Stop Café in Narragansett on alternating nights. We would swap from time to time when one of us couldn’t make our dates, but when we had big nights we decided to sit down and accompany each other. Our set lists had some overlap and we had fairly similar interests in both old and new reggae music, which is kind of rare.
At the time I had to walk away from my full-time project called Even Keel because my co-founder and friend Ben Sienko got a great opportunity to move to California and he took it. So at this point, I was kind of a hired gun for a handful of bands. I was getting super burned out from solo projects, so Keith started having me play bass and sing a lot with him on his bigger shows. Jim was introduced through some mutual friends of Keith’s. I didn’t know him at the time but I think he showed up at an acoustic gig to play a hand drum and was initially denied by Keith. It wasn’t because he didn’t like him but there were some strange rules by the restaurant we were playing at.
RD: That’s a pretty interesting background for the band’s origins. How did you three go about adopting the reggae rock style when you first started playing music?
Jim Plaziack: We all came from different backgrounds on how we got to love reggae rock music and share that love of the music together. Since we have reggae and rock interests we tend to lean towards that style and vibe.
Keith Kosut: All of us have this love for the sound of reggae rock, we have also noticed that the best part of the style of music we play is there is no age limit to our sound. Little kids love it, college kids love it and even people 60 or older have given us a lot of support and dancing. It really is about the vibe of the music and people. There’s a lot of excellent sounds and bands in the South County area, we just have a little different sound that we wanted to bring to our beach community in Narragansett.
RD: When it comes to production, what makes you guys lean toward using analog equipment rather than going the digital route?
KB: Our setup is actually pretty minimalistic with the exception of me. I think I run the most effects out of the band and we’re definitely not strictly analog. With that being said, I’m obsessed with analog rack gear and tape echo, specifically the RE-201 space echo. That thing was a breakthrough in dub and sound effects. I have the newer and simpler RE-20 just due to the fact it’s easier to control live with my feet, but I use the 201 in the studio.
I have an older modified Vox VTX that runs a massive foot controller instead of a digital pedal chain, so the effects are run entirely by the amp board. It’s a little different in the scope of effects in the fact you don’t have to set a pedal effects signal chain. They all interact on what’s on and off and my expression pedal controller actually modifies all of my effects at the same time, so it helps keep the echo timing in sync. In all fairness, it’s a mix of tube, analog, and digital preamps that are modeled to recreate the analog circuits. If I had a bottomless budget and a crew, I’d run everything 100% analog, but that’s some late 70s Pink Floyd style production level.
RD: As a trio, do you find there to be more room for improvisation than as a quartet?
KK: At this point,there is definitely room for improvisation and I think that is what makes Dudemanbro so much fun. Dennis Melucci actually has been playing with us on percussion for awhile now and we still pull various jams out and try and make it work.
JP: We’ve actually have been actively looking for the right keys player, rhythm guitar and horns player. Our sound is getting better every time we play as a trio or with others.
RD: Dudemanbro doesn’t have any recordings released yet. When can we expect that to change?
KB: We’ve only been saying we’re going to record for months now (laughs). We just locked in studio time for the beginning of the year and when I say the beginning I mean the first weekend after New Year’s. There’s no specifics on a release, but were going to do all originals for a demo and see how far we get before we consider remixes of existing reggae tunes. I guess it really comes down to how organically we work in the studio. It’s such a different beast than playing live and I think we want to keep that vibe a big part of our album sound. I could speculate with some extra time, I’d say no later than summer 2020 for a release.