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Space Junk

By Ann Marie Trietley:
We are all eager to place things into categories. I mean, is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable, anyway? When it comes to music, the question “What genre do you like?” is asked somewhere every second.  A typical answer could be, “Oh, some drum n bass, house, maybe some jazz.” But what if a band was able to blend many genres seamlessly into one? I mean, is Pluto a planet or just a rock? 
Speaking of which, Space Junk, a Buffalo-based band which has been going strong for the past four years, doesn’t fall into any exact category. Instead, they have a flair for unique instrumental combinations and improvisation. 
Back in 2008, Kevin Rogers (drums), Matt Fantini (guitar), and Will Thompson (bass) all met while attending SUNY Fredonia. After college, Thompson and Rogers decided to move to Buffalo, where Fantini is originially from, and occupied a house in the University District, jam-packed with about 10-plus residents. 
On the day of their Buffalo Rising interview, the band mates, along with some other pals, are sipping sake and pinot grigio, 
prepping for a night on the town. The members of Space Junk are social creatures, night owls, party animals … call them what you will, but they are also extremely focused on their craft and always make time for jamming together.
 As the trio sits around a warm and inviting dining room, with a framed print of Robert Motherwell’s “Elegy to the Spanish Republic” staring down from a wall, they begin to reminisce on their humble beginning and impending projects. 
“The early days were no holds barred,” Fantini said. “We started playing songs that Kevin had written for his project with Will, and that was the foundation which Space Junk was built upon.”
The early songs of Space Junk had an instrumental, EDM (electronic dance music) sound, and bordered between a dub, house and trance feel. 
 “That’s how we started to develop our improvisation,” Fantini continues, smoothing his scruffy chin. “We take the concept of jazz, but we try to focus on not having one single person taking a solo, as they do in jazz.  Instead, we all try to really take the guitar, bass, and drums as a rhythm section and try to move as one single unit.” 
Thompson concurs, some curly wisps of hair escaping from beneath his hat. 
“It’s a collective thing where everybody is sharing the space,” Thompson said, “making sure there’s room for each person to have equal song space. At the core of it, we are good friends.”
The musical connection between the three band mates is indisputable, and also shared with their band manager Kevin Ron, who brews beer on the side specially for Space Junk. 
Fantini just wrapped up writing their latest song, “Yesterday.” He says inspiration comes to him “at the most random times,” and he balances his creative bursts of inspiration with his 9-to-5 in Ingram Micro’s sales department. In fact, finding a balance between the trio’s schedules can be an arduous task sometimes. Thompson cooks for a living and Rogers works retail at the outlet mall. 
“We all work different jobs at different hours,” said Rogers, “and at the end of the day, most of it is work so that we can play music [at the end of the week].”
“We work to fund our craft,” Fantini said. 
Drawing together varied sources of inspiration, all three agree their sound, for the most part, can be described as “jam-tronica.” Fantini’s defining album is Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention’s live album from the 1970’s called “Roxy & Elsewhere”; Rogers fell in love with underground trance tracks from the early 2000s; and Thompson fondly remembers attending Moe and Disco Biscuits shows . 
“There’s a journey that you get to go on with these groups, ” Thompson said. “When I saw them, I was like’ Wow, you can make someone go on a crazy experience and they haven’t moved an inch, and they’re having the time of their life?’ That’s when I decided it was something I wanted to do.” 
As far as future plans, Fantini says he would like to work on a straight-up 70’s disco song, as if “three white boys were playing disco.” Also, Nick Orlando just recently joined Space Junk on the keyboards. The group is trying to get onto some summer festival circuits, and have already confirmed an appearance at Upstate Boogie. 
Check out Space Junk on Feb. 8 at Mr. Goodbar (1110 Elmwood Ave.) with Funktional Flow, and Feb. 16 with Loki at the Ukrainian Center for the Arts (562 Genesee St.). 
Photo: (from left) Fantini, Thompson, and Rogers enjoy a view of Delaware Ave. from Fantini’s downtown balcony. 

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

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