Narragansett reggae rock act Dudemanbro has been evolving since last year. They’ve gone from being a trio into a six piece band which includes a horn section. With this happening, they have a ton of shows lined up this summer to showcase their fresh sound. These are exciting times for the band and their creative growth with this new lineup will continue to rise with each gig they play. They’re also drawing some pretty big crowds in various venues around the area and they recently took the stage at one of the most legendary outdoor venues in New England.
I recently had a talk with guitarist and vocalist Kyle Bell from the band about adding more members, getting back to performing in front of audiences, handling a busy schedule and working on a home studio.
Rob Duguay: How did you go about finding the other members to increase Dudemanbro’s lineup from a trio to a six piece band?
Kyle Bell: The interesting thing about that is that we all kind of had a fourth member, which was Dennis Melucci. He usually joined up with us with a bongo drum and he always offered creative input into our sound. Right before COVID-19 happened, things kind of slowed down and I was jamming some tunes out with Joey Ludwig who plays saxophone. As soon as we started collaborating, I knew that he’d be a great fit for the band so we started getting him more involved after that. On the flipside, before Proof closed in Narragansett they had a Thursday night residency hosted by Guess Method, who are some really good friends of ours.
During one of those nights, Hogan Zinn, who is now our trombone player, approached me there as well. As we’ve continued growing as a band, I’ve started amassing some contact info of some people along the way. The great thing is that as we’ve continued to grow we’re still learning and we’re finding musicians who are in the position where they want to keep on creating musically and progress in a forward direction. Both Joey and Hogan fit with our vibe right away and when we got back to practicing when it was safe to do so during the pandemic, we realized that when things open back up we couldn’t just come back as a three piece. We had to put more fuel into the fire so to speak and add some stuff to it, they started putting in the work and contributing some really cool horn parts into our originals.
From there, we just decided to do some cool renditions of songs that people haven’t heard before in the reggae style. When we mixed our talents together they really shined during our first live show and that was when we realized that we couldn’t just be a three piece. We had to incorporate these other sounds.
RD: What do you think has grown most with Dudemanbro’s sound since the additions to the lineup? Do you feel like you have more versatility when it comes to the blend of ska and reggae the band exhibits?
KB: It definitely has, I actually come from a jazz background from when I was in high school and I’ve always wanted to have a saxophone in the band. To include some horns was super nostalgic and it’s honestly been one of the biggest weights off my shoulders. When we were a trio, there was always that one song that I felt needed something else to it and there’s only so much I can do on guitar while singing. I would use loop pedals to add more guitar riffs and chords and have a backing track, but now with having the horns I can just focus on the melodies rather than worrying about adding more to the entire song. In reggae, there’s a lot more rhythm than melody so with having a couple horn players they add elements that we’ve always wished would come through.
RD: I can totally see how the horns can be a big help. You guys have a ton of shows happening this summer with the next one going down at the Narragansett Cafe in Jamestown on the 22nd. With live music coming back in full force since the COVID-19 pandemic, how has it been for you to be playing in front of normal audiences again? Are people more energetic? Do they get more involved with the music?
KB: Being down in South County has been a little bit more of an oasis versus other places that were heavily restricted during the pandemic. When COVID-19 changed everything, we played at the Rooftop at the Providence G and after that we could only live stream our set. We also did a lot of gigs with the PVD Food Truck events as well. When it came to virtual shows, from the get go we tried getting cameras set up, putting Christmas lights on the walls and all this stuff. Playing to a camera is one thing, but you’re sitting there after you finish a set and when you’re scrolling for comments on your phone the feedback is so delayed versus when you’re playing live.
We recently played a show with Badfish at Indian Ranch in Webster, Massachusetts and the response was fantastic. Having people dancing, hanging out and interacting with us is such a huge part of the live music experience. It’s so much better than playing to a lifeless camera lens.
RD: Absolutely, you’re not the only musician I’ve heard say something like that about live streaming. When it comes to having a busy schedule where you’re playing multiple shows a week, does it ever get overwhelming when it comes to having the booking and business side of the band or do you not let it affect you?
KB: It’s kind of half and half. With a lot of the booking and a lot of the things we have going on, it’s definitely a first come, first serve basis. We don’t play favorites, if someone offers us a show and we’re available then we’ll definitely go through with it. We want to make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity, there’s such a vibrant music community in Rhode Island and we’ve been well taken care of, even during the pandemic. Places like Pump House Music Works, Bon Vue, Finn’s Harborside have definitely been great to play at.
Being based in Narragansett, we also like to have time to ourselves especially during the summertime and I’m also a contractor so I’ve been booked out with my job like a son of a gun. On top of that, one of our horn players lives out in Montauk, New York so he’ll drive up in the wee hours of the night just to come play with us so the dedication has been a really big part of it. Like I said, booking has been a first come, first serve basis. The music scene is hungry right now, everyone wants to go out and see bands so with our weekend schedule there’s enough people who haven’t been able to go out who will go out to see something. The crowds have been incredible so far this summer.
RD: People have definitely been scratching that live music itch lately and a lot of places have their regulars as well so you’re always going to have some people coming in. After this summer, what are Dudemanbro’s plans? Do you plan on working on a new album?
KB: Back in November, I moved to a new location and I’m a total audiophile. I have a personal studio that I’ve been building upon for the past couple of months and I’m very into production so since we’ve added the horns we’ve talked about making a new album with them. Last year we put out the Shifting Skies EP, which we made right before COVID-19 hit, and since then our sound has changed a bit. We still want to do a proper CD release show and it’s been a while since our previous record came out, but we have a handful of new songs and some covers that we’ve done in the reggae style. We want to sit down and properly record our new lineup, I can’t give any exact dates on when we’ll have something new out but when we do it’ll be an example of what we have going now with the horns which I think is really cool.