Today’s Feature: October 18th & 19th – Stealing Jane

October 18, 2007 at 10:49 am (Today's Feature)

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Every so often, a true good-time band comes around and changes the face of the all-day party concert. You’ve been to at least one of these events- The Jimmy Buffett shows, the Dave Matthews gigs, the concerts you show up at least 12 hours early for in some rented RV or bus to eat, drink and be merry.

As hard as it may be to believe, some folks out there have never been to one of these performances. The worst part is, these people probably have no idea what they’re missing out on…and time may be running out. What if Jimmy and Dave retire? What then? What about future generations?!? Who will supply the party? Fortunately, the next band you’ll want to show up half a day early to see is already making its mark: Stealing Jane.

These masters of “Groove Rock,” or “Jazz influenced Rock,” or “Fourth Wave Ska” are hard to describe, but are nonetheless incredibly talented. Their sound is made up of a fusion of influences from each member of the band (which includes a three-piece horn section!) that turns out melodies that stand tall on their own. The best way to understand the music of Stealing Jane is to get to know each of these individual artists:

– Bryce Larsen (lead vocals and rhythm guitar)- A ska kid influenced by Maroon 5, Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Elvis Costello, The Police, and Dave Matthews.

– Will Tully (drums)- High on Travis Barker.

– Matt Giordano (lead guitar)- Grew up on hip hop, and eventually moved on to Dave Matthews and acoustic rock, blues and jazz.

– Brian Bunce (bass) – Another ska kid who listens to modern rock.

– Pat Iannelli (saxophone)- Will always be into the hardcore and metal music, but continues to find inspiration in today’s pop and yesterday’s jazz.

– Dave Calzone (trombone)- Loves the classic rock and old school metal more than anything.

– Andrew Mericle (trumpet)- Has always been into modern hard rock.

While Dave Matthews like images are probably already on stage in your head, listen to how the guys describe their own performance, “It is like an explosion of energy…We love to put together powerhouse sets that will knock the crowd off their feet.” They’ve already shared the stage with acts such as Spin Doctors, George Clinton, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and The Wailers, and it won’t be long before they’re packing outdoor arenas and stadiums for unforgettable live sets. They’ve just released their EP, “Say Something,” and now can’t wait to get out and connect with their audience. Pass along a message to the band; they’ll likely respond. They put it this way, “it’s all thanks to you that we get to keep making music instead of getting real jobs.” Now, dive into their XXQ’s.

XXQs: Stealing Jane

PEV: How and when did Stealing Jane first from as a band?

BRYCE: I have always been a songwriter – some people pick up an instrument and learn how to play it, I just wanted to write songs. By the end of high school, I had quite a few tunes written, and I wasn’t sure what to do with them. I am a pretty quiet guy, and I would have never thought about starting a band, but my class president suggested that I get a group together for the SGO’s Battle of the Bands in 2001. So the class president and I started playing together. The first person that actually joined the group, which was then named “HyJinX”, was Brian Bunce. Bunce suggested Matt Giordano as an addition to the group – he not only had great guitar abilities, but he also owned a drum set, which was a huge plus for us. None of us played drums, so we had to decide who was going to learn. Matt decided to take the plunge. Pat Iannelli joined next, even though he was much younger than us. He had maturity about him and a business sense that has kept this band going. Over the past six years we have gone through a few bassists, and other band members who have played a wide variety of instruments. We did find a drummer, and Matt was able to go back to the guitar. We found Andrew Mericle, who plays the trumpet. In February 2007 we decided to wipe the slate clean and change the name of the band to “Stealing Jane”. We just released our six song EP, and I guess the rest is history.

PEV: Where and when was the first live Stealing Jane performance?

BRYCE: Our first live performance was our high school Battle of the Bands in May 2001. It was held in our cafeteria – and we sounded terrible! We lost, but we had the time of our lives.

PEV: Growing up, who were you listening to that helped shape your sound?

BRYCE: I would have to say my number one was the Beach Boys. They aren’t really on my play list anymore, but they definitely were a huge influence on me growing up. When I really started writing songs, I was all about Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, and other ska bands from the 1990’s. Guster has been a huge influence in my vocal arranging, and of course Maroon 5, and Dave Matthews have influenced the groove sound. As for the band as a whole, Matt brings a lot of old blues, new rock, and pop influences to the table. Pat has influences from the Jazz greats, but can still rock out to a hard metal track. Dave comes up with some very fundamental lines in songs – and I think that comes from Metallica and Journey. Andrew has a lot of inspiration from the grunge and rock groups of the early 90’s. Bunce is always on top of the current music scene, and whatever modern rock is doing, that is where he draws his inspiration.

PEV: Speaking of “your sound”, you are described as bringing a brand of “rock, pop, and R&B” or better yet, “groove rock”. How is the Stealing Jane sound different from any other music out there today?

PAT: I would have to say what makes us different is the amount of influences we have in the band, and the fact that everyone in the band brings something to the table from their backgrounds. We have a collective effort on everything. We also have a three-piece horn section, which is rare to find in a band like ours today. Everyone in Stealing Jane plays other instruments besides what we technically play in the band. When writing, this really brings out the best in every member, and most creativity. We also always write with our live show in mind, it is something that we have been perfecting for a long time.

PEV: There is a saying, “What’s in a name?” So I have to ask, what is the story behind the name Stealing Jane?

PAT: Basically I was tired of our old name HyJinX. Bryce and I were discussing how excited we were about the things coming up for us as a band in the following months, we had our new EP being released, touring, and much more, and we wanted a fresh start. As a band, this was a hard decision. Everyone had their own opinions. We all had agreed on Camp Hero, however deep down I didn’t like it, and then we found out that we might have some legal issues with it. Matt suggested Stealing Jane, and the rest is history. The meaning behind it is that before Maroon 5’s “Songs About Jane” album came out, we didn’t really have a common ground about the music we liked, and made together. We all had agreed that “Songs About Jane” was one of the best albums of all time, and we all embraced the pop sound of it. It brought us together musically and made our sound much more focused.

PEV: Being a seven-man unit, describe your creative collaboration styles. With seven people, is there ever too many ideas going around?

PAT: Like any band, when it comes to playing together and writing music, when we are all in good moods and have fresh, level heads it is amazing. If we are pissed about gigs not going great, or worried about financial and business matters, it can be like pulling teeth. None of us are good at faking things or hiding emotion. Often there are so many opinions that it takes more time to try everyone’s ideas out, but that is a benefit to us. We never want to pass up a new idea, and with seven guys, we have a lot to work with.

PEV: You’ve shared the stage with acts like Spin Doctors, Tower Of Power, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Zox (Side One Dummy Records), Badfish, Crash Romeo (Trust Kill Records), The Wailers, and The Killing Moon (Fearless Records), just to name a few. Is there one artist today that you would like to collaborate with that you have not done so yet?

MATT: There are so many artists and bands that I personally cannot wait to share the stage with, and collaborate with. There are too many to name just one, however I would have to say that my overall goal would be to play with Dave Matthews Band. They have been my biggest inspiration for this band from day one.

PEV: You have toured and played everywhere, what has been your favorite city to perform in and why?

ANDREW: That is a really hard question, we have played so many different cities and each city is great because of it’s own uniqueness. I guess I would have to say Bennington, Vermont. It is a small quaint town, and what makes it great is they have one of the best Chinese food joints I have ever been to. And on top of that, if you’re looking for a great candy shop and independent coffee shop they are within walking distance. I usually hit up all three before a show. We also have an amazing fan base there.

PEV: What is life on the road like for Stealing Jane? What are the best and the worst parts?

DAVE: In one word: incredible. The best part of being on the road is the experience. We have seen things in a few weeks on the road that some people won’t get to see in a lifetime. We get to see so much of the country, meet people from all different walks of life, and their love for music brings them all together. Being on the road also creates a stronger relationship between all of us in the band. We are like brothers. The worst part about it is being away from loved ones for long periods of time. Despite having each other, it can get lonely sometimes.

PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success?

MATT: My friends and family who have seen us from the beginning are shocked, excited, and proud of us. We started out by making this noise, literally, and playing local trash holes, to making an album and playing major clubs on the east coast with national bands. Our friends and family are amazed!

PEV: Where will Stealing Jane be in 20 years?

MATT: We are all confident that we will be in the same position we are in now, but much further along. We will be working hard, consistently making new fans on a much larger scale, making new music, and always improving our musicianship and songwriting skills. We have a drive that will keep us moving forward, and it has already brought us so much success.

PEV: What is your take on today’s music scene?

BRIAN: On the national, or headlining tours in the large venues, it’s more common now to see the punk acts, hip hop acts, and indie acts, and they are all drawing as much as the mainstream top 40 pop acts. This is beautiful to me. On a local scale, many scenes are suffering because everybody wants to be the “next big thing”. With every band having high expectations and little to no patience, bands tour around before they’ve ripened. They do not put their best foot forward, and often sound just like the “last big thing.” Today’s scene is almost completely digital and it is a double-edged sword. Yes, it is much easier for someone across the country to hear your music without you handing them an actual CD, but it is shaking up the oil and the water. What used to separate “good” bands from “bad” bands was, distribution.

PEV: Your EP “Say Something” has been getting a lot of attention on the web and radio. What can people expert from this EP?

PAT: Our hopes are that everyone picks up the EP, puts it in their CD players and just enjoys the music we have written together. We hope that listening to it makes everyone feel as good as it does for us to write the songs and perform it. Our expectations are that everyone who hears it can do this, and will love it.

PEV: What was it like to step into the recording studio to record “Say Something”?

MATT: It was absolutely exciting and relieving. We had been touring with our previous album for so long that the songs became old and misrepresented our band. Going into the studio knowing we were going to come out with a product that we would be proud to represent us off the stage was exactly what we needed to kick start the next phase of our career.

PEV: Describe to us what a live Stealing Jane performance is like.

DAVE: It is like an explosion of energy. If you’re in the crowd watching, be prepared to be as out of breath as we are. Each set is filled with energy that feeds off of the crowd. The best part about our performance is that when you see us play you feel like you are in the show. We love crowd participation, its all about the fans so when they get involved it allows for an even more fun and energetic show. We love to put together powerhouse sets that will knock the crowd off their feet, and that is what you can expect when you see us play.

PEV: You started in 2000, how has Stealing Jane changed over the years?

BRIAN: Back in 2001 when we were “HyJinX”, we were a group of high school seniors who entered into a talent show. We practiced long and hard for that show, and that quality surely hasn’t changed about us. We were a ska flavored band for a while, then we were playing three hour sets as a “house” band for many watering holes around Long Island. We would cover artists like Cream, Van Morrison, Michael Jackson, Phish, Dave Matthews band, Tower of Power and more. Then we recorded our first CD, and we started touring. We just started writing new songs with different influences, and we started perfecting our craft over the years. Now, we are a brand new band on the scene with our new name – however our style isn’t set in stone. More changes will come, but with this much experience between all of us, it is guaranteed to be an aural delight.

PEV: When you get some down time, what can we find the members of Stealing Jane doing?

BRIAN: We are usually catching up on lost sleep, practicing, playing video games, hiking, wake boarding, snowboarding, long boarding, playing darts, or going to shows. With so many members, and so many personalities, it is hard to pinpoint certain activities. I personally enjoy going to see as many bands play as possible. You never know who you will like, or who you will meet.

PEV: Who is a talented up and coming artist you think we should all look out for?

PAT: There are so many! I will start out with my favorites; Keaton Simons, Zox, The Pledge Drive, Code Anchor, Envy On The Coast, Monty Are I, Hello Mahalo, The Styrofoam Junkies, Stereo Path, Lexington Down, Tierney, Alexa Wilkinson, Self Made Soul, and that is just a few!

PEV: What is currently on your iPod or in your CD player right now?

BRIAN: I have such a random play list right now, Hanson “The Walk,” The Starting Line “Direction,” The Format “Dog Problems,” Brand New “The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me,” The RX Bandits “…. And The Battle Begins…”: and Weezer “Pinkerton”. These albums have been my summer go to list. I will listen to pretty much anything, except country.

PEV: So what is next for Stealing Jane?

PAT: Touring, touring, and more touring. That is what we really want to do right now. We spent a lot of time writing songs we are proud of and we feel people will love. We have also built up our live show, and have worked on our website, and MySpace so we can interact with fans. Now it is time to get out there and play as much as we can!

For more information on Stealing Jane, check out www.StealingJane.com

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