Addison Groove Project: Now, Not Never
Brendan and John Hall, B.B. King’s, New York City, 9/8/03- photo by Jon Bahr
Being a doctor is obviously a time consuming career. Have you been able to play music on the side or on your own and, if so, in what setting? If not, what are some bands you are currently listening to?
Brendan: Most of my playing these days is on an acoustic guitar with my two 5 month old twin boys as the audience. I actually got one of them to actively pluck strings on the neck recently. He will shred one day!
In terms of new music, I’ve been listening exclusively to Rockabye Baby before the kiddies’ bedtime. It’s a CD of Radiohead, Guns ‘N Roses [and a bunch of other bands] recorded with xylophones and chimes and other baby sounding things. It’s very progressive.
Besides Rob, who plays with Matisyahu and several other bands, are any of the other members of AGP currently in bands? If not, what are they up to these days?
Brendan: Dave Adams (alto sax) is currently teaching music in the Milton, MA public school system. He’s also formed a group with a bunch of Boston musicians called East Coast Soul. Ben Groppe (tenor sax) has been in the restaurant business for several years and is currently the sous-chef at Hungry Mother in Cambridge, MA. Andrew Keith (drums) is pursuing his doctorate in psychology.
I know that an Addison Groove Project reunion is something you all have talked about for a while. When did you initially start tossing around the idea for this reunion show in specific and who initiated the idea?
Brendan: Rob was the catalyst, but the idea has been on the table for at least two years now.
Rob: I think we all heard rumblings from friends and fans that there were people out there who would be excited for us to do a show. My wife, Regan, certainly nudged me more than once to email the guys and make it happen. We started working on booking it in earnest in the spring of 2011 and quickly discovered how difficult it was to make everyone’s schedule line up. Then when we found some dates, we realized that bands book way farther in advance than they used to. We had to shelve the idea for 2011, then tried again early this year and locked in the date.
Once the idea of a reunion was on the table, when did you start rehearsing for the shows? Did you each work on your own before rehearsing as a group?
Brendan: We basically put in a marathon three days of rehearsal and that was really all it took to get back on the bus. Everyone came in having reviewed parts and song specifics. Any gaps were filled in quickly. It was amazing how the muscle memory remains five years after playing together last.
Rob: Everyone is back in the Boston area now except for me. So, I made the trip up to Boston for rehearsals. We had pretty extensive marathon rehearsals preparing for the show. But luckily it all came back to us pretty quick. It’s kind of amazing actually. The muscle memory did not go away after over five years.
The Paradise seems like an obvious choice for the reunion location since you played your last show there and also recorded a live album at the venue. Was the club the first place you approached about hosting the reunion and do you have a favorite memory of playing the Paradise?
Brendan: It was a no-brainer to have the Paradise host the reunion show. It’s been a home base for AGP for so long. Two specific things that come to mind in terms of favorite memories are the full audience kazoo chorus on “Beantown” when we recorded Wicked Live II and the final bow at the last show.
Since all the members of the group have done different things since the band broke up, how have you found the group’s sound has changed stylistically? Did anyone bring in any new and unexpected influences that you can pinpoint?
Rob: Well, we’re going for a very classic AGP sound. So I wouldn’t say it has changed much stylistically… but we’ll see where the open sections take us during the shows. I’ve found that all of my time playing reggae, dub and dance music with Matisyahu has added an edge of that to my playing.
Rob, I saw on Facebook that you were the one putting AGP’s setlist together. How did you go about compiling the set? Did you try to touch on various eras of the band’s career or sort of pick up where the band left off a few years ago?
Rob: I maintained a database back in the day of our songs and setlists. So I was able to pull that up and sort the songs by the number of times played. I threw out a list of songs I was into and then that email went around with everyone adding a few. Then we cut that down into the final list. It’s going to be tight to fit them all into one show, so there’s a chance we’ll have to cut some on the fly. Hopefully not.
Have you been writing at all since the band parted ways? If so, can we expect any new songs at the Paradise show?
Brendan: I think most people have been writing here and there, but we decided to just dip into the old repertoire and make it happen again. That was enough work in itself. If we do more shows, there could certainly be some new songs coming at a later date.
AGP played a surprise mini-set at drummer Andrew Keith’s wedding a few months ago. Was that planned and what did you take away from that experience?
Brendan: We emailed about it beforehand, let Andrew pick the songs, did not rehearse at all, had a few drinks at the reception and train wrecked through a couple covers. The audience went nuts. We were encouraged that with even a little bit of preparation we could probably pull off a full reunion show.
Rob, I know you are always writing new music but do you have any songs that seem right for AGP? If not, do you guys plan to work on any new covers?
Rob: I started some material over the years that I thought would be good for AGP. Our alto sax player, Dave, has new material. And there’s always new covers we’d love to tackle. But we’re pretty much sticking to old favorites for this first show. Hopefully we get to do more and develop more new material.
AGP released a studio album right before they broke up. Are there any unreleased sessions floating around for potential release?
Rob: Mmm… I don’t think so. When we made that record, we were already living far apart and I don’t think any of us were in the same room at the same time—so there weren’t any spontaneous jams. Pretty much everything made it onto the record. However, we do have a bunch of old material that only appeared on live albums and a bunch of other songs that were never released. I’d love to revisit those plus maybe some new compositions to round out a new EP or full-length.