1.0 Who were your musical heroes growing up? This is kind of hard to narrow down, but Elvis Presley was my first musical obsession. I was about six years old when I decided I pretty much wanted to be him. But some of the other big ones would be Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Marvin Gaye.
2.0 How were you exposed to them? I grew up in a house that was constantly filled with music, if I wasn’t sitting by the piano while my dad was playing, I was listening to the radio or watching MTV (back when they still played music). Once the internet came along, I just started downloading everything I could get my hands on.
3.0 Who would be your dream duet partner? I wish I could resurrect Marvin Gaye or Donny Hathaway. But as far as an actual possibility, Stevie Wonder or Al Green. John Legend would be pretty awesome too.
4.0 You describe The Congregation as “bluesy garage soul,” is this a new genre? No, not really. I think you can hear a lot of different influences in our music, but what I love about about The Congregation, and what I think other people love about it, is that we have such a classic sound. It’s the same music my aforementioned heroes made…or at least I’d like to think it’s something close to that.
5.0 Is this synthesis just a function of all the parts or a concerted effort to be unique? When you bring eight people together with very different backgrounds, both musically and in life, you’re going to end up with a sound that encompasses a lot of different things. I think we all came in with an idea of what soul music meant to each of us, but when we put it together I don’t think any of us really anticipated what it was going to end up sounding like. I know the soul band I had in my mind didn’t sound like The Congregation, but I think what I got was something better.
6.0 Were you happy with how your debut EP Not For Sleepin‘ has been received? Definitely. Not for Sleepin’ was a passion project for me, and I was really proud of how it turned out, so it’s been great to hear the positive feedback we’ve been getting.
7.0 Are their plans to do a full length cd as a follow-up? Yes, we’ve been thinking about doing full length album since before we even finished Not for Sleepin’. We’re hoping to get back into the studio by September of this year.
8.0 Many bands first recordings are their best, do you think your new material is as strong as the tracks on Not For Sleepin’? The tracks we put on Not for Sleepin’ were great, but the next album will definitely be stronger, both on a performance level and as far as the material we will include. We’d only been together a matter of months at the time we started working our first EP, so everyone was still figuring things out. We’re all more settled in now, so no one’s holding anything back. There’s also been a lot more collaboration on the songwriting and the arrangements for our newer songs, so I think they’re more reflective of the band that we’ve become.
9.0 Do you guys play any covers live and, if so, does this help ‘set the table’ with a context for the audience? When we played our first show in January of 2010, we only had six or seven original songs, and they were all really short. So, we had to play a lot of covers just to be able to play a 45-minute set. We drew a lot of them from the catalogues of Stax and Chess Records, which did set the context for what we do in general. We don’t play covers out of necessity anymore, but we still play one or two at every show just for fun. Not for Sleepin’ includes “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by The Stooges and “Little Sister”, which is an Elvis tune, so we play those two fairly often.
10.0 If you got the call to play Letterman next Friday what Congregation tune would you guys play? We’d have a hard time picking, but would probably go with “He’s Gone”.