UNRB talk roots, Summerfest and new music

UNRB+talk+roots%2C+Summerfest+and+new+music

By Chase Myers, @chasemyers_DE

As the Sunset Concert Series continues, UNRB, a seven-piece ska band from St. Petersburg, Fl., will be taking the stage at 7 p.m. Thursday at Turley Park.

The collective consists of Noel Rochford on vocals and ukulele, Nic Giordano on bass guitar, Eric Allaire on drums, Ben Datin on trumpet, Dan Smith on tenor saxophone, Andy Pilcher on trombone and Matt Weihmuller on baritone saxophone. 

The Daily Egyptian had the opportunity to catch up with Rochford before their performance at Summerfest in Milwaukee to talk origins, new horizons and more. 

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How did you guys come together as a band?

We got started at St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg, Fl., when I reconnected with Nick the bass player. He and I played in a band in high school and we found each other both studying music, so that was cool. We then became friends with Eric, the drummer. So, the three of us were studying music and we wanted to start playing our own original tunes. We were playing a lot of classical and jazz, but we wanted to be doing rock ‘n’ roll basically. I was really influenced with ska. We got horn players together and the college kids we got to play with didn’t really pan out in the long-term, so all of our horn players we have now we got off of posting ads on Craigslist. That’s how we got Ben on trumpet, who is also a sound engineer for his day job, Andy on trombone, who is an instrument repair man for his day job, so that’s convenient, and then Dave and Matt on saxophones, who don’t have to bring anything else for their day jobs because they’re just that awesome. 

With a wide variety of instrumentation, what kind of influences do members bring to the table?

As a blanket term for our music, we call it ska. It has those influences in there for sure. You can hear it, but our songwriting comes from everywhere. I love the classics, The Beatles and Billy Joel. Eric is equally well versed on drums with Avenged Sevenfold as he is with Red Hot Chili Peppers. All of our horn players have done marching band, jazz band and concert band.  They come from a very technically oriented ensemble playing mindset so it really lets them lock in together and play complicated parts, so we take that grab bag of influences, mix a couple things together and see how an individual song turns out. We go a lot of different directions. 

Are you excited to play Summerfest this year?

Yeah, we’re playing the U.S. Cellular Connection stage at 8 p.m. with direct support for Dirty Heads and its in a way the largest show we’ve ever played in terms of physical amounts of people that are going to be there. We’re excited. Just the scale of what we’re about to do tomorrow still hasn’t really sunk in. I don’t think it’s going to until we’re on stage, back stage or done with the show. I’m not sure yet.

Do you guys prefer outdoor shows or indoor shows? 

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We started playing in tiny indoor punk rock venues without proper ventilation. At our roots, we were used to just tiny, hot, sweaty and grimy rooms. That’s where we really got good at what we do.  We absolutely love big outdoor shows, especially festivals, but the most important thing for those tiny rock clubs or a huge festival is the crowd. UNRB thrives off of a crowd that is involved, because we engage the audience.  We reach out to them a lot in our music and actually, in between songs, we’ll talk to them. We’re not just going to look around at the other band members and make sure we’re ready for the next song to start playing. We’ll talk to the crowd. We want to know what they’re thinking. 

You released some new music earlier this week. How has the response been so far? 

The response has been really good.  The EP is called “Collateral Damage” and we released it last Wednesday. It’s already gotten a good chunk of local airplay on WMNF community radio in Tampa Bay, as well as 97X, the local alternative rock station. They do a local music hour and its been getting some heavy air play on there. We’ve been getting really good response on it specifically because of the strength of the recordings themselves. We get called a very good live band and we are trying to venture into being just as good of a studio band as we are a live band. “Collateral Damage” was definitely the first step in that. Every track is super crisp. You can hear every part without stepping on each other’s toes and it just sounds smooth and polished all the way through.

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