If you play in a band here in Buffalo, and have an upcoming gig at a venue(s) in the city, consider sending Buffalo Rising an email requesting to be emailed a Q&A interview that we can then post, along with concert dates. It’s a fun and easy way to get your name in front of another audience that is interested in learning about the local music scene.
The requirements are:
-You must have a public show coming up in the city of Buffalo, as our focus is the urban landscape
-You must have a photo of the band
-Solo acts are also welcome
-Video is a plus
-CD/Album/poster art is welcome
-Links to Social Media sites are a bonus
-Ability to take accept both praise and/or criticism is a must
It is up to the discretion of Buffalo Rising whether or not to publish the interviews depending on nature of content submitted, or lack thereof.
Please send requests here. Include “Buffalo Bands” in the subject box of the email.
First up for Buffalo Bands is Free Henry!:
Pat Mannella *Plays the Drums
Bob Buckley *Lead Singer and Rhythm guitarist
Derek Presti *Bassist
Alex Foote *Lead Guitarist Backup Singer
Where are you from originally?
Pat Mannella: North Buffalo
When and why did you start playing?
Pat Mannella: I started playing drums in 4th Grade. I was 10 yrs old. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to play drums or sax, but I really liked banging on things so I picked drums. I’ve been addicted ever since.
Which instruments do you play?
Pat Mannella: Drums
What was the first tune(s) you learned?
Pat Mannella: The 1st song I learned on a full drum kit was in 7th Grade. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. Great tune.
Is your family musical?
Pat Mannella: Not really, we joke that they are tone deaf.
Above photo left to right:
When and how did your current band originally form? Or are you solo?
Pat Mannella: I am in Free Henry!. Free Henry! formed 10yrs ago, I joined 4 yrs ago. I met the guys through the music scene and we fit like a glove.
How did the name of the band come about?
Bob Buckley: One of our first rehearsal spaces was in a basement in Tonawanda and Henry is a mounted wetlands rodent that sat atop the room looking down at us while we wrote/performed/practiced. As we realized that this music we were playing was making us feel an overwhelming freedom and joy, we also realized that Henry was forever restricted to his concrete slab. Then we thought about trying to free Henry from his restraints with our music. It was a good foundation for a band to base their exsistence on – accomplishing the impossible!
Which famous musicians do you admire and why?
Bob Buckley: I’d have to say Paul McCartney simply do to the fact of how long he has been making music and especially when you pair that with the quality of entertainment that he still puts out in his performances.
Who was your first music teacher? Most instrumental?
Bob Buckley: My first teacher was Steve Crounse at Kenmore Music many many moons ago. He taught me to stick with it through the frustration and to take responsibility for my work.
Describe your first instrument?
Bob Buckley: It was a $35 Kay Acoustic that the salesman called a living room guitar. One that can just be set aside and picked up at my liesure, not deserving of a case. I still have it to this day, my brother Matt actually refurbished it and gave it back to me as a birthday gift just last year. Pretty awesome. The things I learned on this guitar ended up taking me all over this country.
My favorite place to play and sing?
Bob Buckley: In Buffalo would have to be Artpark’s Gorge. It’s unmatched in beauty and in the connection to the natural world, which has always been paramount to Free Henry!s essence and dynamic.
Where would you most like to play/sing in Buffalo?
Bob Buckley: We have essentially played everywhere fathomable in Buffalo so I would say the place I would most like to return to would be the mainstage at the Town Ballroom. Other than that, we just like to encourage new venues to take shape locally and be ever expanding!
Who are your favorite musicians? Groups?
Derek Presti: Each of us listen to different kinds of music, it’s advantageous to have diversity from all different styles and eras of music. We’ve learned a lot from the classic rock bands… Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Jimi Henrdrix.
Have you been in competitions? Any awards?
Derek Presti: Yes, we’ve done of a few battle of the bands. Last year we won the Niagara Falls Hard Rock Cafe London Calling contest. We were given the opportunity to perform in Boston, MA and were entered to a chance to perform in London. In 2011, we won Artpark’s inaugural, Rock the Park contest. This allowed us to be the first band from Western New York to headline a concert at the Artpark Amphitheater. Add in a few Buffalo Artvoice awards of the past few years, and you’ve got the whole Free Henry! resume.
Do you perform in public venues? Concerts, radio, TV?
Derek Presti: We have been playing shows, mostly in Western New York, since 2005. It’s been a great opportunity to perform at all different kinds of venues. Here in Buffalo we were featured on NPR’s WBFO for a live concert they hosted for us when we released our record “Summers On Neptune”. Buffalo State’s WBNY radio has also been playing our music for a few years.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Derek Presti: Our songs tend to have ties to relationships, the power of our Universe, social issues, or just enjoying times with friends. Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time. You just have to be willing to embrace it. Other art forms and artists certinally inspire us
Do you tour?
Derek Presti: Currently, we’re just playing shows locally. We have toured occasionally around the Northeast.
How often and for how long do you practice?
Derek Presti: It depends what we’re currently working on. For example, when we were heavily writing and preparing for our record “Ethereal Gust”, we were practicing at least 4 times a week for about 3 hours. Some days even twice a day. We felt this was necessary to improve our craft and become that much better as a band. Our Free Henry! schedule has always been a committed and sacred time for the four of us.
Where do you practice?
Alex Foote: In our heads!
Do you play/sing covers?
Alex Foote: We play some covers, ranging from Eric Clapton to Foo Fighters to The Beatles to Poisen…but mainly all originals. We try and focus on fueling that creative energy.
Do you play/sing original music? If so, who writes the music and the lyrics?
Alex Foote: Well it’s kind of a continuous cycle, but our latest album, Ethereal Gust, was mainly written by Bob Buckley and Alex Foote. Kind of split 50/50. Derek Presti, our bass player also wrote the lyrics and music for one tune on that record.
Do you teach music?
Alex Foote: Nope, none of us.
If you could play/sing for one famous person, who would that be?
Alex Foote: Barack Obama of course.
What are your strengths?
Alex Foote: Our weaknesses.
What are your weaknesses?
Alex Foote: Our strengths.
Where is the furthest from Buffalo that you have played?
Alex Foote: South Riding, Virginia.
Where and when are your upcoming shows?
Free Henry! is scheduled to play next Friday April 5 at Hardware in Allentown and then the following weekend, on Saturday April 13, at Trattoria Aroma (corner of Bryant and Ashland).
Photos: Erica Eichelkraut
Artwork in lead photo: Chuck Tingley