Turbine will have its area debut at 10 p.m. Saturday at the Bullfrog Brewery, 229 W. Fourth St. They escape classification, but want people to expect improvisation and to come prepared to dance, dance, dance.
The band consists of Jeremy Hilliard on guitar and vocals; Ryan Rightmire on harmonica, guitar and vocals; Justin Kimmel on bass and vocals; Octavio Salman on drums. Ryan and Jeremy, the two founding members, gave the Sun-Gazette a phone interview amid their wild touring schedule.
APRIL LINE: The bio alluded to some pretty tumultuous changes over the past five years. Care to comment?
RYAN RIGHTMIRE: I guess the change is really related to the fact that Jeremy and I started out as a duo. We toured for a while, recorded an album, then we added a rhythm section. The music's changed too, but the band's really been the biggest change.
JEREMY HILLIARD: This record is more thematic. It's a very futuristic album with a very identifiable theme. Part of it for us was working with a producer. There are sonic themes, too, that tied together. I was talking to somebody the other day about it. There are very different songs, there's a mix of styles and what ties it together is some of the futuristic sounds, some of the harmonica sounds that are going on.
AL: Your sound is like the opposite of urban. Talk about being from NYC and how you all reconcile the divergence between what you play and what people (in varying degrees, I am sure) expect from you.
JH: I grew up in Virginia in the South. Hard rock was the Allman Brothers. I grew up with bluegrass and country. My love of country has grown over the years. I wasn't into Willie Nelson back then, but I am now.
RR: The Allman Brothers is hard rock. (All laugh).
AL: Would you talk a little about playing the harmonica?
RR: The percussive element probably did stem from back in the day when we had no drums. You had to keep that rhythm going, especially in a live setting. We were trying to get people to dance. For me, I try to think of what other instrument would play that part, not necessarily thinking about a harmonica solo. A lot of the time, I'm imagining what another instrument would play there. It's the last thing they'd expect me to do.
There are some times I make the harmonica sound like a harmonica, and that's fun too.
AL: Third album?
RR: This is actually our fourth album, we released a live album. We did a summer tour where we multi-track recorded everything, we played Bonnaroo, Telluride Festival, and we released the highlights of that.
JH: First one is the only duo album that we have. We still play all the songs, and they're reimagined. AT some point in the future, it'd be fun to play some of those songs with the full band. We do play them all the time.
AL: Jobs other than the band?
RR: Playing full time.
JH: October 5-nights a week.
RR: Playing a residency at Nectars in Vermont. Right now we're in Rhode Island. We play a lot in Massachussets, Vermont, Connecticut. Our last show of the summer was a boat tour, where we played on a boat going around New York City.
AL: Do you have apartments somewhere?
RR: The band got started when Jeremy and I were neighbors and I heard him playing through the wall. I still live in that apartment. Jeremy lives in Brooklyn now.
JH: We have a rehearsal space in Brooklyn now. Our band is kind of spread out around the city. We love it.
AL: What about the songwriting, how do you do that?
JH: Our favorite process is where everybody writes. Ryan and I have written the most songs, because we've been in the band longest. In an ideal situation, the creative process would be that we all four sit down and are playing something.
I would say if the drummer's happy and the bass player's happy, that's a good place to start. Sometimes, I'll just write a song, or it'll just be Ryan and I sitting around. It happens in a number of ways, but in an ideal situation, everybody's involved and adding all together.
RR: People ask, "Do you write the lyrics first or the music first?" It can happen any way.
JH: That's the other part, do you write the music first or the words first. It can go either way.
AL: How did you find the other two guys?
RR: We found them on a street corner. Actually it was Craigslist. I met everybody I know, except my parents, through Craigslist.
JH: We did it the old- fashioned way. When we were looking for drummers, we played with, it seemed like hundreds of drummers. Justin was the first bass player we auditioned and we all knew it was a perfect fit right away.
AL: Are there plans for a fifth album?
RR: [There are] plans for another 10 albums and it's just a matter of controlling ourselves and figuring out what the best next step is.
JH: We have plenty of country of songs to make an experimental, sonic, soundscape album.
RR: Yeah. It's just hard to control yourself.
JH: We're working on a studio rock album, but playing five nights a week, it's hard to find time.
RR: Blue Light City came out only a few months ago and only this week, we're doing our official press release. This album still feels fresh and exciting.
JH: You have to take that step where your songs get out to the world. Even if we're the Rolling Stones, we have to make sure that people are getting the songs out. Certainly true with a band that's up-and-coming band. You have to make sure the gears are working to get this thing out.
RR: The song "Members Only" was a song that was literally written in the studio right up until the day we recorded. So it couldn't be fresher. We didn't play it for years and years and years. I think you can hear that freshness in the song.