Biscuits & Gravy: The swinging funkiness of roaring energy

My first encounter with Biscuits & Gravy was like traveling back in time to a Beatles or Rolling Stones concert, with swarms of groupies screaming and immolating their bodies to the rising gods of rock ‘n roll. This young, diversely vibrant group of seven from Boston blends into a sole volcanic ensemble on stage, bringing together a shared passion for music, groovy, deliciously funky tunes and a dazzling, galvanizing energy. Playing with multiple instruments ranging from bass to alto sax, and with enticing, warm vocals, Biscuits & Gravy  are able to set on fire any crowd . With an upcoming album (“Hello Weekend”) in the making, this high-powered, explosive group ignites the East coast scene and is getting ready to conquer it all.

Graziella Buontempo: Who are Biscuits & Gravy? How did you all meet?

Biscuits & Gravy: All members of B&G met and began playing while studying at Berklee College of Music. Everyone lives, eats and breathes music, performing with Biscuits and other groups as much as possible.

GB: How did you come up with this catchy yet unusual name?

B&G: At first, the name was a completely random name that came from David’s older brother Jon. It wasn’t something that we were going to keep but when playing one of our first shows, Dave asked the crowd if we should change our name. When people started chanting “Biscuits and Gravy,” we knew it was going to stick around.

GB: What influence does each of you have that the other ones don’t necessarily share and what are your common grounds?

B&G: Our backgrounds come from all over the place and we try and fuse them into a unique sound. Sam has a rock background, Mark has gospel, Ghost has jazz, Evan has R&B, and David dances to all the sounds combined.

GB: What comes first in your creative process: lyrics or the music?

B&G: It’s a mix really. There have been songs that the chords and form came first and lyrics were written afterwards, but there have been some where it’s the other way around. If it’s a good idea lyrically or in form, we usually pursue it.

GB: When you are in the studio recording, do you go mostly for feeling or perfection of the sound?

B&G: It was a mixture of both. The quality is extremely important but at the same time songs are about expressing one’s self and grabbing the emotion and feeling that comes with self expression. We take a mix, making sure to stay technically strong but always staying emotionally connected to the lyrical content.

GB: Where do you draw inspiration for your music?

B&G: Every day experiences, really. Whether it’s something that makes us extremely happy or just day to day issues, we draw inspiration from how we live. With our different backgrounds and experiences our songs can have a lot of different influences. At the end of the day, we make music that people living it up and working hard to get by will really understand.

(Click on the player below to listen to B&G’s first single “Serenade” from their upcoming LP “Hello Weekend!”)


GB: Do any of you have solo projects as well? Are these healthy safety valves for the band?

B&G: All of us have dabbled in other projects but at the moment, nothing serious. David has always done his own solo stuff here and there playing a mixture of B&G songs and his own originals. Sam, Evan, Eric and Paul had an instrumental funk project going for a while called “DumpTruck” but that was put on hold for a while as things got too busy with B&G. Biscuits is our main focus but we love music and play it as often as possible no matter the project.

GB: Who are some of the artists (past/present) that you admire the most?

B&G: To make a simple list we could say: Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder (pretty much the entire Motown catalogue), The Roots, D’Angelo and many many more. But we also admire any artist who’s putting in the time and effort to try and make good music.

GB: You started off in Boston, where you have a pretty huge success with swarms of groupies following every concert. Recently you have kicked off with even more tour dates in NYC at Sullivan Hall. How is moving from Boston to NYC changed you? How does the crowd respond to you?

B&G: Stretching out to the NYC scene has been a great step forward for us. We were lucky enough to already have many friends from home who had moved to the New York area and a ton of family that lives in the area as well. From them, came new fans who had never seen us before. We now have a steady fan base that attends almost every show. New York is our second home!

GB: How do you try to create a connection with the crowd?

B&G: At some point in every show David will lift his shirt just a bit to show his ripped abs, that’s when the real connection is made. Just kidding… sort of. We love to talk and hang out with our fans at every show so they feel a connection to us as people. We try and play songs that will keep the crowd in the right mood and we always make sure everyone’s invited to the after-party.

GB: What are some things that create most friction in the band?

B&G: The hardest thing that creates the most friction is just having so many people involved in the project. At the moment we juggle around 7-8 people (we’ve been featuring some new friends on percussion and horns lately). Syncing up schedules can be tricky, especially when people are in class. Luckily, it’s nothing we can’t deal with.

GB: What was the most amazing/funniest concert experience you have had while playing as a band?

B&G: When we played at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, David’s Suburban broke down while on the way to the gig. We had to get a tow truck to tow the vehicle the rest of the way but the driver showed up with his girlfriend and we couldn’t fit for the trip. Instead, Sam & Mike (our manager) sat in the Suburban on top of the tow truck as it was towed to the college. The rest of the guys took an hour long cab ride, in which the cab driver spoke no English and so David had to speak broken Spanish to him the entire way to give him directions. After a great gig, the next day the car started up, and seemed to run fine. We chose to get going and see how far we could make it. Halfway to Boston, it broke down again, however this time we had no chance of taking a cab the rest of the way and there still weren’t enough seats in the tow truck. So, while David and Sam sat in the front, Evan and Mike hid under all the gear in the back of the Suburban and got towed all the way back to Boston.

GB: What concert that you attended made you say: “I wish Biscuits & Gravy were up there!!!”

B&G: Any time we go to a festival or a big show and see tons of people excited to see an act, we say, “damn, I wish that was us.” Luckily as we keep working, we’re seeing bigger and better crowds. One day, we’ll be on all those big stages that we’ve looked up at our whole lives and some kid in the crowd will be thinking about his band, “damn I wish that was us.”

(Click on the image above to visit Biscuits & Gravy’s new website!)

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