Soulful, Danceable and Real, Groovincible Plans to Get You Moving with Their New Album
If you are ever in search of a vocalist and partner in crime, you might try spotting the flyest girl in the bar and asking her to sing for you. The odds that she will deliver are slim. But it must have been Matt Klee’s lucky night, because Bianca Wright sang him a song she wrote that left an impression, and the two have been side by side musically and romantically ever since.
Three years later, Wright and Klee joined Jacob Gleason to form Groovincible in 2011 in Klee’s garage in Fair Oaks. The idea was to put Wright’s voice at the forefront of the band, with Klee on drums, Gleason on guitar and tenor sax and Wright on the mic, shared with Gleason. Prior, Gleason and Klee bonded over tacos and hours spent in the backseat of a crusty old tour van during the 2009 Hippy Feet tour with Sacramento’s well-known fusion band ZuhG. Each have been involved in other musical projects, including ZuhG, but after Wright performed as a guest singer on Free Love, ZuhG’s self-released album, the three broke away to form Groovinicible, allowing them an opportunity to write their own material.
Now, after wrapping up their self-titled debut album recorded at Pus Cavern Studios (currently available for purchase and streaming online) they are prepping for their CD release show, which is on Saturday, July 27 at Blue Lamp. They have also added on three members: Tony Marks on bass, Sam Phelps on keys and Edward Hurff on baritone sax.
If you’re limited on words, you could say Groovincible is somewhere in the funk/soul/jazz realm, with moments of rock. Their aim is to keep things grooving, interesting and danceable, hence “Groovincible.” Those are the words that Gleason offered up during a phone interview with him and Wright. But that’s just brushing the surface.
For those who like to turn on a dynamic album and listen the whole way through, Groovincible is for you. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, the band pulls something else out of their sleeve, whether its ethereal harmonies or tempo changes and distortion.
In the span of 43 minutes laid over 12 tracks, Groovincible throws one drop (the reggae groove), Klezmer, tablas (Indian drums) and distorted sax into the mix. Of the 12, only four are under five minutes in length, and two of the songs are broken up over two tracks. That’s just how Gleason writes, with at least three “parts” per song.
As he explains it, a song amounts to “whatever amount of time it takes to express the idea,” whether it’s five minutes or 30.
This album evolved out of several months of Klee and Gleason jamming in Klee’s garage. Everything was recorded. At the end of the recording sessions they cut out whatever didn’t sound good from each track, leaving behind the cream of the crop to make up the songs. Gleason actually ended up cutting out a lot of guitar, leaving “implied” guitar parts in a number of songs while layering saxophone, keys, bass and flute.
The exception was a “magical take” of “Bari Krishna,” recorded in one go. “Bari Krishna,” with the overlap of fluttering guitar and horn segments, brings to mind a chase scene in a spy film, blazing through alleys in a getaway car in Cairo or Kabul.
Other songs, such as opening track “Downtown Shindig” or “Punk Step,” could easily sound off during one of Quentin Taratino’s killing sprees.
As far as Gleason is concerned, if their songs have cinematic flavor, then they are succeeding.
Aside from “Bari Krishna,” which is instrumental, Gleason and Wright wrote the vocals over the songs, with Wright penning a lot of the hooks and choruses, and adding a soulful touch.
“A lot of people homogenize soul, R&B and hip-hop,” Wright says. “But when people are singing they’re really pushing for what they’re inspired by… My lyrical style is more soulful.”
She takes her cues from the likes of Jill Scott and Erykah Badu.
Beyond recording, Wright’s feminine energy is critical to the band, Gleason says.
As Wright sees it, she contributes both nurturing and vulnerable elements to the band, particularly during live performances.
“If I’m going to be up there on stage, then I like everything I do to be ‘real,’” Wright explains. “I like to set the vibe and be comfortable with people, looking at people, looking at who I’m singing to.”
While Wright brings the soul, it is apparent that Gleason brings the glue. Or is the glue, when it comes to the band. That includes music theory and recording.
“I live, eat and dream music,” he says.
While it’s definitely not an unusual thing to hear coming from a musician, it doesn’t feel like false advertising. He’s one of those who got an early start in music theory, coming from an upbringing where instruments and encouragement were consistently available, starting with mom breaking out the pans, to a keyboard, saxophone and eventually a guitar. By age 15 he was in his first rock band, and music has been an everyday part of life ever since.
“I sit on my ass and watch Game of Thrones once in a while,” he confesses.
Beyond that, however, time boils down to songwriting and performing.
However they manage to do it, between Gleason, Wright and Klee and those who have hopped on board since, Groovincible has developed an unmistakable sound.
“We’re just a bunch of people who make noise together,” Gleason says. “We get to play music we love with people we love.”
Whether or not Klee realized it at the time, he was doing everyone a favor when he asked Wright to sing.
Groovincible’s CD Release show is Saturday, July 27, 2013 at Blue Lamp (1400 Alhambra Blvd). Also performing will be Tao Jiriki and Brian Rogers. $10 cover includes the new Groovincible CD. Doors open at 8 p.m., show starts at 9 p.m., 21-and-over only. For more information visit Groovincible.com