Funk and reggae rockers The Fat Peace have been making the rounds in central New York since forming earlier this year, and will make their way to Club West Saturday.
I had a chance to speak to guitarist Alex Gideon:
Q. How did The Fat Peace get together?
A. Basically we started earlier this year down in New York City with some of our friends back around February. A few members had to leave because they graduated school, so now we're based in Syracuse and play shows upstate now.
Q. Were any of you guys from the Syracuse area?
A. I'm originally from Syracuse and my friend who I started band with is also from Syracuse. We were all at school at SUNY Purchase and figured that was the best place to start a band at time because we knew the most musicians down there. As members' obligations changed due to the nature of the business, we decided it was actually better to move upstate and start our operation here, where we knew more people through family.
Q. So the band was the reason you came back to Syracuse?
Q. Who's the personnel now?
A. The drummer is Jamie Bird, formerly of Project Weather Machine. Our bass player is Justin Ruiz, and the fourth member is our lead guitarist, Brian Darby. We all went to Jamesville-DeWitt High School. Just me and Justin were there at the start; we made the change with the guitarist and drummer when we came up here.
Q. How'd you come up with the band name?
A. To be honest, it's not easy to come up with a band name. Me and a couple of the older members just kind of put our heads together on a name we wanted to represent. We pride ourselves on good, old-fashioned reggae sometimes. We thought it might be a cool name for a festival, but when our old band was splitting up we decided the message should be sent through the band itself. Just about a good time, about the overall concept that peace could be represented more between people in general, and whatever we can do to promote that, we're happy to.
Q. How'd you guys arrive at your funk/reggae rock sound?
A. Me and my friend, who was the old guitarist, used to play in a band called King Koala, and we used to play a lot of shows around Syracuse and downstate, and the recipe for that band was very funky, a lot of reggae. And with this new band we decided we wanted to keep all those elements and bring it to a more jam-rooted band, so we could play longer shows and experiment more.
Q. Do you guys have many originals, or do you play more covers?
A. We currently have six original songs we do that range from seven to 20 minutes when play live. The rest are covers of Grateful Dead, moe., Sublime, Bob Marley.
Q. Are those bands also some of your bigger influences?
A. Yeah, I'd say it's definitely a major influence: We've seen the remaining members of Grateful Dead, the majority of the band was just at moe.down — those are definitely major influences.
Q. When you guys jam, what goes into it? Do you read the audience or each other more?
A. A bit of both. I know personally at times I'll attach on to an audience member who's really grooving and play a bit off them; other times I'll listen for what my bass or guitar player is playing and try to complement whatever riff they have going. It's a lot of trading off each other and the audience members to keep the jams always changing, and always something new.
Q. Would you say that factor makes each of your shows unique?
A. I'd say there's a pretty good chance of that. You might hear the same song twice, but you're not going to hear it the same way.
Q. What do you guys have planned for the future?
A. We actually just released our first album, titled "What's the Rush?" We're going to be touring to promote that. We're going to stop back in New York City and tour in Vermont. By next spring we hope to be back in the studio to record another album in time for the festival circuit. Long-term, we'd like to make it out to the West Coast and tour another country like South America or Spain.