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SPREAD brings the show down to their roots

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SPREAD brings the show down to their roots

By Bill Lukitsch, @Bill_LukitschDE

The members of SPREAD may reside in Chicago, but Carbondale will always be home.

The four-piece psychedelic jam band was formed by three SIUC alumni in 2008. After relocating to Chicago, they have headlined some of the city’s largest and most reputable venues and appeared at the Summer Camp Music Festival six times.

But the band has not forgotten where they came from — it’s one of many reasons they still drive more than 300 miles to play in Carbondale, and why they booked a show at Hangar 9 on Saturday night.

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“I came down here to start a band,” said lead guitarist Dave Petrizzo, sitting with his bandmates at a picnic table in Hangar 9’s beer garden a few hours before show time.

So that’s what he did.

Petrizzo enrolled at SIUC in 2005 to move to Carbondale and join southern Illinois’ music scene. His ambitions started to take form when he met bassist Colin Finn at a party on the first day of fall semester in 2008. The pair bonded immediately, Petrizzo said, by sharing common musical interests and influences. Drummer Patrick Reynolds found Petrizzo through a mutual friend soon after and before long the pair became a trio. 

They started rehearsing in Reynolds’ bedroom, where the 3-piece would regularly meet to jam and hash out material.

“It was so tiny,” Finn said as he, Petrizzo and Reynolds reminisced about their beginnings.

Hangar 9 was the band’s Carnegie Hall while they were in college, and all Petrizzo wanted was to book a gig at the hottest music venue in Carbondale.

But no one knew what SPREAD was. In a sort of cart-before-the-horse approach, Petrizzo started bugging the bar’s owner Sally Carter for a gig on a fairly regular basis.

“She literally told me to stop calling her,” Petrizzo said, chuckling. 

The three students found themselves playing at local parties, and that’s when Petrizzo realized what set SPREAD apart from the rest.

“We were doing something different that we didn’t hear any of the other bands doing in town, which was a free-form approach to improv,” Petrizzo said.

The band’s following seemingly spread overnight, and the band landed its first-ever gig at Booby’s — a now-closed bar and submarine sandwich shop on the Strip.

“We were selling them out,” Petrizzo said.

Booby’s shut its doors in December 2009, but the band was not left out in the cold. They played regularly at Tres Hombres — a fitting transition for the 3-piece group — until SPREAD’s popularity became too much for the bar to handle.

Carter caught on to the band’s popularity and opened Hangar 9 to SPREAD. The bar ended up being the only venue equipped to host the band and its fans.  

“It was just getting obnoxious, so after that we just started playing Hangar and now this is the only place we play [in Carbondale],” Petrizzo said. “They’ve been great to us here and we couldn’t be happier. This is our favorite place to play.”

In 2010, Petrizzo and Reynolds returned home to the Chicago suburbs after finishing degrees in elementary education and sociology, respectively. After finishing a degree in business, Finn — a Springfield native — followed them.  It wasn’t until three years ago that the band picked up keyboardist Joe Kentos, adding another layer to their sound. Kentos has been a major influence in writing new music and aiding the band’s push to record mastered tracks for a full-length album, which the band hopes to release next April.  

“We haven’t completed it yet, but we’ve laid down a few original tracks that, eventually, we’re looking to get out,” Reynolds said.

Petrizzo said the band has always been heavily focused on live performance and putting a record together was on the back burner before now.

With a heavy emphasis on experimentation and improvisation, no SPREAD show is the same as another, and the sound they have achieved has been forged by years of experience playing together with every member coming from a wealth of experience in his instrument.

Reynolds learned from his dad, another SIU alumnus who rocked the drums on the Strip in the 70’s, and started off smacking drumsticks against a walking practice pad. Now he plays on a silver-varnished ’67 Slingerland kit.  

Kentos took lessons on the upright piano as a child, but now he stacks a Nord Electro atop his Yamaha keyboard. Finn did not pick up a bass until he was nearly 14, but has not put it down since.

Petrizzo started in second grade with a toy guitar typically found at a supermarket. He’s since graduated to playing a Paul Reed Smith. 

But Petrizzo has clung to the rackety guitars he learned on, because for him, dumping one off would be akin to giving a child up for adoption.

Like a lot of musicians, most of the guys sport day jobs. Reynolds has put his degree to use as a fifth grade schoolteacher. Finn works in digital marketing and Kentos is a manager at a Hertz rental company.

All except for Petrizzo. His one-word answer to what he’s doing for a living: “Guitar.”

As for why they play, each member has his own reason, but in some ways the answer to that question is ineffable.  

“We’d all be playing if no one was listening,” Petrizzo said.

Fulfillment, purpose and reward were a few terms thrown around, but the bandmates simply love doing what they do and bringing music to their fans’ ears.

Bill Lukitsch can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @Bill_LukitschDE

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