List your band members. What instruments do they play:
This has been the hardest question for us to answer. We are more of an artist collective with a focus on music. Depending on the show, we can have 4 members or many more. We’ve also been known to work with many visual artists, dancers, sound designers and video projection artists.
What’s nice is we’re very flexible in that most members of the musical group are proficient on more than one instrument. More often than not, this is what we’re playing for this project:
Rocco DellaNeve – vocals, keyboards, Moog
Zuri Appleby – vocals, bass
Deshawn “D-Ray”Jackson- dums
Kevin Urso- guitar, vocals
“Beat Master” Wes- Ableton live, aux percussion
Acid Muzak: masks, synths, theremin, FX, tambourine, energy
Where are you from originally? If not from Buffalo, why are you here?
Rocco: Zuri, D-Ray and myself are all from buffalo. Kevin went to Fredonia with me and Wes comes from Texas. We’re here to create a show that Buffalo (soon the world) has never seen before. We really want to build a community of artists that are about celebrating the present we share together. Good friends, good music that lifts the lot up in the process. Acid Muzak is buffalo born and raised, so much so that it is said that blue cheese runs through his veins.
What’s it like to perform in front of a crowd? Give me three words.
Rocco: addicting, invigorating, inspiring
Acid Muzak: excited, anxious, enamored
Zuri: free, exposed, motivated
When and why did you start playing?
Rocco: I started playing piano at around age 7. Fortunately, I like many others in my extended family were taught by my uncle Paul. He charged us $7 for lessons. Otherwise, I almost surely wouldn’t have been able to afford them.
Zuri: I started playing guitar in 3rd grade and transitioned to bass in freshman year of HS. I started bass because my dad played it and was around to show me what he knew. I would have played piano but my mom was too busy to teach me. But I started music initially because my parents are both musicians and started me in the church choir. But I later realized I loved it and had to pursue it on my own.
Acid Muzak: When I was eleven my Aunt was going to take the piano from my Grandmother’s house and move it with her in new jersey. This was unacceptable to me and I protested. My grandparent’s solution was simple. The piano could stay if I learned to play it. They purchased a new piano for my aunt at a local shop in new jersey to replace the one she had learned on. It was around this time (1984) that I received my first synthesizer, a Korg DW-6000 (now a dinosaur of Digital Synthesis) as a means to practice piano. The Dawn of MTV exposed me to synthesizers used in many different ways by many different bands. Videos for Van Halen, Emerson Lake and Palmer, as well as The Cars put a sound in my ear that I still feel an itch for today.
What was the first tune that you remember “really” playing well?
Rocco: Ha! The Curly Shuffle. I really liked old school television. I knew about the stooges before I knew about the ninja turtles (although I was obsessed with them as well).
Acid Muzak: I do not feel I have any tunes that I play particularly well. Most pieces are learned for a specific engagement and forgotten at least twice as fast as they were learned.
Zuri: La Bamba on electric guitar! 8 yrs. old. I thought I was the sh**. And carol of the bells on piano. Same age.
Did music come naturally to you? Or were you driven to learn and play/sing? What sparked the passion?
Rocco: Music did come natural to me. I had to be pushed by my mother at one point, though. I’m very thankful that she made me sit at the piano for a set amount of time each day, when all I wanted to do was go out in the street and play hockey with all the other kids. I remember fondly some days when I’d stubbornly lie on the piano bench upside down playing whatever just waiting for the egg timer to finish.
Acid Muzak: I feel I am naturally musical, or at the very least naturally drawn to music. However, everything I do is a labored effort. Meaning that a lot of time and thought goes into finding efficiencies and new ways to look at things. Breaking down complex ideas into manageable modules of music. But if you want a spark? The first was Van Halen “Jump” the sound of the Oberheim OBX ripping through that track flipped a switch in my brain labeled. “I want to do that!”
Zuri: Music comes very naturally to me although there were some aspects of it that did not come as easily as others. But once I realized that music was something that needed to be practiced to improve I was more than motivated to practice as much as I needed to see myself getting better. The spark came from listening to Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey when I was younger. I was in love with their voices and music and wanted to be a singer more than anything else.
Are any of you schooled in music? From where?
Rocco: Yes, I have a degree in Sound Recording Technology and voice from Fredonia University. Kevin has his music teaching degree (which helps us in rehearsals-you should see how music nerdy we can be with harmonies and other arrangements). He also has his Masters in Jazz performance (he’s also a beast on piano if ya didn’t know). Zuri was in the Marine Band (she’s bada$$).
Zuri: I went to the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts in HS and studied music theory, song composition, ear training, numerous choirs, jazz ensembles, big band, orchestra, and basically all music performance classes. Later I went to the United States Armed Forces School of Music once I was in the Marine Corps which is essentially 4 yrs worth of college for a musician complied into 7 months.
Acid Muzak: I attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for their Music Video Business program. Basically it was an audio production or sound recording technology technical degree. I followed that up with an attempt at a B.A. in Music Theory and Composition from UB. I did everything but write a thesis paper which is a Long story that I am still paying loans on!
Which famous musician(s) do you admire?
Rocco: Lyricists-Joni Mitchell blows me away. Also, the Shins, Elliot Smith and Blackalicious. Everything else-Radiohead, Brad Mehldau, Jamiroquai, Little Dragon, Robert Glasper Experiment, Squarepusher, Grizzly Bear. Personally, Jon Brion is about as close to having my dream job as one could have. I don’t know if he still does this, but for a while, every Friday he played this sick club in LA where he had all of his crazy instruments and an enormous semi circle of botique effects processors laid out on this beautiful oriental rug. He’d feature whatever incredible musician he was working with at the time or was coming through town and they’d just make art together then and there on the spot. Then he just produces the musical projects he wants and funds it all by scoring the films he wants. Awesome. Lately, I’ve been listening to Hey Marsailles. They’re pretty incredible.
Acid Muzak: John Zorn, Mike Patton, Herbie Hancock, Keith Emerson, Buckethead, Shugo Tokumaru, Pepe Deluxe, Manu Chao, FanFare Ciocarlia, The Bird and The Bee. Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Black Uhuru for good measure!
Rocco: Oh yeah! Bird and the Bee! I love them.
Zuri: My dad! Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Victor Wooten, Robert Glasper, KING, Little Dragon, Larry Graham.
Where is your favorite place to play/sing in Buffalo? Where would you most like to play/sing in Buffalo?
Rocco: Babeville is a terrific room with a great system. Town Ballroom is a always a great time. Gabby from DBGB’s does a great job accommodating you if you’re trying to put on a unique show. They really value musicians which of course is always appreciated. Pausa Art House is nice for getting real up close and personal.
Acid Muzak: My favorite place to play is in my home, in front of no one.
Zuri- I love playing in Allentown because the crowd and people there are usually looking for a good time and support good local music regularly.
What’s your day job?
Rocco: Well- I finally joined the rest of my band mates (aside from Wes) who are full-timer performers. When we’re not playing with the Forealists, we’re hired guns in almost every other area of music. We play with a lot of other groups. I teach lessons, compose and edit commercial music, perform voice-overs, record/mix at my studio (HouseOfLogicAudio.com), and run sound for other groups. Zuri teaches/plays. Kevin teaches/tunes pianos/fixes the hell out of a Rhodes, basically anything else you need too. Deshawn plays all over town too. When we need the work, we go play overseas where we can try out new stuff in front of large built-in crowds that always want to party. We’re still trying to figure out when our next stint will be, but The Forealists have been getting some great opportunities and we don’t want to stop the momentum!
Acid Muzak: Enduring this world for yet another go.
Zuri: My day job is learning and living. Teaching and being taught.
How would you describe your music style? Influences?
Rocco: I’d like to think that we are pretty unique. We have so many influences from so many genres that it’s even been difficult putting together two sets of music without taking pills to keep all the personalities at bay. We ultimately had to separate our show into two Acts:
Act one: originals and interpretations that didn’t have a four on the floor straight dance party groove.
Act two: predictably the originals/interpretations that did have said four on said floor. This way all the kids can do their Mary or whatever it is they pop these days and not get all confused by a ballad.
We draw from jazz, IDM, hip-hop, funk, soul, “pop” (whatever that is) and the great romantics-era composers for sure.
Do you play/sing covers or all originals? Ar a combination of both?
Rocco: We like to do a bit of both. This is a touchy subject. In buffalo, it’s extremely difficult (near impossible it can be argued) to make a living as a full-time musician without playing covers in the beginning at least. We like to put our own spin on covers. We space right on out on Little Dragon’s “Twice.” Sometimes either take songs that aren’t upbeat and make them dance-able Sometimes we try and play a cover just because it’s particularly challenging to pull off-for example “PYT” by MJ or “Party” by Beyonce with all them sexy harmonies.
If you could play/sing with one famous band (any time in history), what would that band be?
Rocco: The Beatles, for many obvious reasons. However, I think I’d really fit in with BIBIO, the english multi-instrumentalist. He’s a huuuuuuuge influence on me. He takes all of these musical stylings and unapologetically assembles them into one incredible work. Yeah, we can get down with that.
What are your strengths?
Rocco: I try to make every line I write a hook. I love writing interesting progressions with too many chords, but sometimes I get yelled at for it. Then I’m good at writing 4 chords that go together real sexy like with a catchy melody. Hence, our eclectic collection of songs. Zuri is the Dutchess of Bass. Deshawn can destroy a drum head like it’s his job.
Acid Muzak: When I’m not being totally unreliable, I am totally reliable. I also like to look at things from any side of the fence and try to bring to light another perspective or approach.
What are your weaknesses?
Rocco: Going on tour. We’re looking to do this immediately.
Have you recorded a CD?
Rocco: We’ve released a bunch of CD’s with a great many different projects, however we’re trying a different approach with this one. We aim to have every single mean something to someone, much like every song on an album meant something to you back when people bought them (even if you didn’t particularly like the track-it meant something). This has made us very particular with when and how we release each song. We have much more than an album’s worth of music recorded, but we like the idea of releasing some video content with each one. Here’s one!
Where and when is your next gig(s) in the city?
Thursday! October 3rd SHOWTACULAR at DBGB’s. 11pm-2am.
This one’s going to be particularly awesome. We’re pulling out all the stops for this one. Hula-hoops, balloons, lights and sounds galore!
Friday, October 18th @ Iron Works – 49 Illinois Street, Buffalo, New York 14203 | 8pm-11pm
November 1st at McGarrett’s.
Here are some quotes we like:
“We chose these physical bodies to enhance our consciousness.”
“I hate the men who prolong their lives through potion and magic art. I’d rather, when they can no longer serve the land, clear the way for youth.” -Euripides.
If you play in a group/band (or solo) 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:
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