Check out what’s brewing out of the New York City indie underground: The Craig Alan Band. It’s a purely soulful and brand new experience brought to you by Brooklyn musicians Craig Alan, Justin Etheredge, Dan Asher, Matthew Churchill and Shane Considine. Formerly known as OTiS, Alan and Etheredge recently teamed up with Asher and Considine to create this new project that pumps out heartfelt vocals and encapsulating melodies. We met with the band to ask about their influences, creative process and plans for the future.
Check out their latest EP What Am I To You above via Soundcloud and get to know them below.
Your sound has been described as funky and soulful and rhythmically powerful, what are some of your musical influences?
Craig Alan: My musical influences range from Ray Charles, Otis Redding, The Beatles, Zeppelin, Sublime, CSNY, as well as Jim Croce and The Meters, to The Allman Brothers, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Simon & Garfunkel, RHCP, Radiohead, Weezer, Nirvana—a very broad spectrum. I grew up listening to a lot of sounds from the ‘60s and ‘70s. The music of The Craig Alan Band is a step towards that direction.
How did you guys get into music and the instruments you play?
CA: When I saw Michael J. Fox playing ‘Johnny B Goode’ in Back to the Future, that was pretty much it for me. Singing was something that I always loved to do, starting back as far as I can remember.
Justin Etheredge: I started taking piano lessons when I was seven or eight, after my mom had started taking them. But it wasn’t until after college that I discovered my passion for making music, and it wasn’t until I was 30 that I started playing in a band. OTiS was the second band I had played with, and over the years, Craig and I developed a bond. We knew that we would be playing together for a while.
For Craig and Justin, what’s the difference between the sound/influences of CA and Otis. What brought Dan and Shane to CA?
CA: OTiS was more of a funk/dance/jam collaborative, with a focus on tight grooves and crispy bass lines. As a musician, it’s been pretty cool to have experienced music with two completely different sounding projects.
JE: Although the style of music we play now differs drastically from what we played in OTiS, the one thing they share in common is soul. Soul, and not referring to the style, but to the feel. And whether the influence is Stevie Wonder or Neil Young, the soul in Craig’s voice has been the constant between the bands.
Where do you gain inspiration and motivation when writing lyrics?
CA: Everywhere. Relationships, past experiences, the Mrs., the news… Songs with sweet melodies, and simple structures. The idea behind the CA Band is to write music that speaks to everyone, because we’ve all felt loss, left home, we’ve all fallen down, gotten back up, and moved on.
Do you guys ever perform independently? How is that compared to performing together as a band?
CA: It is a much different experience to play music with yourself, than it is to play with others. Though it can be lot of fun and sometimes more intimate to perform on stage alone, I find that when you have great players, there’s nothing like playing in a band
What is your songwriting process like? Is there anything in particular that leads or controls the process?
CA: Sometimes it’s a melody line, other times it’s just an idea about a place or event. Usually written for someone or about someone. I wish I knew where the sudden inspiration for new music comes from, but I will usually write a complete song in a very small amount of time. I rarely change the music or lyrics of a tune. Once it is brought to the band, everything changes again.
What are your future plans with CA Band? What’s coming up next?
CA: We plan to keep playing at Rockwood Music Hall, as well as writing and recording. Being a new band, you really have to hustle. We are going to be heading back into the studio soon to record a new single.
SC: Future plans are to just keep on playing out and growing the fan base. Hopefully to keep writing more music and do a full-length record.
What’s been the most exciting thing to happen to you guys, whether together or individually, while playing a show?
CA: Well, I would put being chosen for this [feature] as a pretty exciting event for this band. These guys have worked hard, and we had a great time during the recording of our debut EP. It is amazing when you set out with a new project, and someone takes notice right away. Big thanks to Pepsi!
JE: Oh jeez, which story would be appropriate for this interview? Hmm…
What’s it like being an up-and-coming band in NYC? There’s a lot of competition, what goes on in the underground scene?
CA: NYC can be as tough as nails, but I rarely feel like we are competing with other bands as everyone has their own unique sound. I truly feel that if you focus on your own sound, and put your heart and soul into your music, it will either find an audience—or it won’t. To me, that has to start with the song, and end with a great performance of that song. The best come here to see what they’re made of, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and playing with some of them.