A Conversation With Con Brio On What It Takes To Create Their Soulful Sound

first_imgCon Brio has forged a sound for all seasons. Coming out of the San Francisco Bay area like a refreshing breeze of sweet soul and funkalicious jams, they’re the perfect band for hot fun in the summer time days and cool jams for the cold winter nights. With their debut full length album, Paradise, lifting fans around the world up and out onto the dance floors and shows on two continents ahead of them, Con Brio is poised for world wide acclaim…and deservedly so. Their set at the Bonnaroo Music Festival last weekend did what all their live shows do; won them a slew of new, dedicated fans who were delighted to find there are still some bands who just want to make people move and groove.Our own Kendall Deflin and Rex Thomson caught up with Con Brio’s lead singer Ziek McCarter, guitarist Benjamin Andrews and sax man Marcus Stephens for a quick chat about their Bonnaroo set, their new video for the tune “Free & Brave,” and their upcoming tour dates across America and Europe!  Check it out!Live For Live Music: You guys just walked off the stage after blowing up That Tent for the opening set of Bonnaroo!  How did that feel, seeing all those people go crazy for what you do?Ziek McCarter: It was great!Benjamin Andrews: Yeah man, that was a lot of fun.Marcus Stephens: For real. It’s always such a dice roll. It was great to see such a warm welcome, to see so many smiling and enthusiastic people just waiting for us.ZMcC: There was a crowd before we even got started.  They were there just coming in and dancing while we tuned up. I was like “Alright…this is gonna be a good one.”L4LM: I saw that. I think you won fans over with just your sound check!MS: It definitely felt that way.ZMcC: That’s all it took.L4LM: You probably could have just stopped there. “Thank you! Good night!Con Brio: (Laughter)L4LM: Have any of you ever been to Bonnaroo before, like as an attendee?MS: I don’t think any of us have.BA: I’ve never been to a music festival as an attendee…just working.L4LM: Your sound is straight out of the soul/funk hey dey of years past. How did a bunch of young guys like you end up sounding like that? MS: The Internet. (Laughter)ZMcC: We all grew up in musical families, so it got passed down to us generationally I guess. We’re cogent…it bleeds in on us from everywhere. And it’s in our roots. A lot of great pioneers came out of the Bay area, like Sly & The Family Stone, Santana…MS: …Tower Of Power…ZMcC: Tower Of Power. All these artists circulated on our radio a lot. It took on a mythology for us.MS: I think a lot of us have roots playing older music too. Personally, some of my earliest connections with music is playing older stuff. The first time I met Zeke I was playing with a boogaloo band and he sang some Marvin Gaye with us.L4LM: How long have you guys known each other?ZMcC: I don’t know…what was that? 2011?BA: The three of us? I guess three or four years at this point, right?ZMcC: Yeah, we been together…us three…like three and a half years. BA: I just came for the free hot dogs.L4LM: Ummm…I don’t think we have hot dogs.BA: Well…see ya! (Rises and pretends to leave)L4LM: Your first full length album, Paradise, is coming out July 15th. That’s a lofty aspiration for a starting point…do you think you can live up to that sentiment?MS: I think so. I hope so.ZMcC: I don’t think we have to live up to it…I think we just have to live it.L4LM: How did you come to choose that title?ZMcC: It’s a reflection of everything we wanted to do and to create. Last year we really hit it…we toured strong. We’re doing this full time now…all of our hopes and dreams and things we wanted to manifest through music are actually happening. For myself anyway…hopefully for all of us. So that’s what we’re creating…Paradise.L4LM: That’s the best that you could hope for. Congratulations on graduating to the big leagues! Speaking of living the life, you’re getting ready to go on tour with Grace Potter…that seems like a good fit for your band and hers, stylistically at least.MS: Yeah…that’s gonna be fun.ZMcC: Next week actually.L4LM: Grace is known to sit in with bands on tour.  Are you guys planning on working together during the tour at all?ZMcC: We’re open to it. BA: We’ll work our way up to that. (Chuckles)ZMcC: We have a lot of dates together…goin’ out all the way to the fall.L4LM: So…in the midst of those runs with Grace Potter, you guys are going to get out of America and show the world what you can do, right?ZMcC: Yeah…Europe and Japan and…BA: We start off in Canada…MS: Then we head out across the pond.L4LM: Your sound is very timeless. I bet you go over well there.ZMcC: We actually went over really well there. We did a tour of Europe last year and the fans there really liked us.L4LM: Well…with a world tour already coming, where could you go possibly go next?ZMcC: We want to be the first band that plays on the moon.BA: Out the window and straight to the moon!MS: I’m with it…yeah! I think since we’ve started it’s just progressively been getting better for us. I think if we can just keep that momentum going, I think that’s all for the greater good of the band.BA: It’s like…every time we do something I feel like we’re doing a better version of it. We work hard to keep getting better…the stages keep getting bigger…the audiences get crazier…the interviews get cooler…L4LM: SOME of the interviews get cooler…BA: This is the coolest interview yet! ZMcC: This is definitely the coolest one.MS: I wouldn’t wanna put a cap on what we’re capable of accomplishing. We keep doing exponentially better y’know.L4LM: Would you guys say there is a band philosophy? Did you ever sit down and discuss what you wanted your music to be or say?ZMcC: We just wanted to make Con Brio music.L4LM: What does “Con Brio” mean?ZMcC: Con Brio means “With Spirit.” We’re trying to make music that reflects us. We’re all enthusiastic about life, generally…I’m proud to be a part of that…proud to be a part of this band.L4LM: Energy and enthusiasm are definitely hallmarks of your live performances. There were people worried about you the way you were throwing down and dancing up there…You did the splits a couple of times…that would be a bad landing not to stick during a show…MS: We’re insured. It’s cool!L4LM: Still…that’s not the kinda thing you ever want to use.  Especially for an injury to an area like that.MS: Very true. (Laughs)L4LM: I hear you guys shot a pretty cool video for the song “Free & Brave.” How was that experience?BA: You haven’t seen it yet?L4LM: Sadly no…BA: Well let’s watch it right now…you can ask us questions about it as we watch!L4LM: Where was this filmed?ZMcC: Oakland.BA: This is our first single, “Free & Brave.”L4LM: Where was this performance footage shot?MS: That’s in the 16th Street Station in Oakland. It’s an abandoned train station.L4LM: How long did this filming take?BA: About 12 hours.L4LM: Did you guys have permission to film in the station…or is this one of those “sneak in” kinda things?ZMcC: You have to rent it. People USED to squat there…L4LM: This is really gorgeous. Very well shot.ZmcC: Thanks! The whole thing was a fun collaboration. MS: We really liked the director, Frank Door, and just his vision and how efficient he was.ZMcC: He had worked with our management and we liked his work.L4LM: That was very cool. It does a good job of capturing your spirit, though obviously your live show is the total package. Well, thanks for taking a few minutes to talk with us about the Con Brio way of life. Can’t wait to see you down the road.ZMcC: Look forward to it.BA: Thanks man!BA: See you soon!last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *