An Exclusive Interview With Members of Space Bacon
Zachary Franck interviewing Chris Gironda & Jack Willard
New York City has always been a breeding place for music. One generation to the next; from rock n' roll to hip hop, and jazz to electronic - NYC is a platform for musical evolution, some artists fail and others succeed. Space Bacon is a band that will most definitely succeed. Combining ambient elements with trance-fusion and metal-core, Space Bacon has continued to play more and more shows, expanding their fan base in the tri-state area and beyond. See what keyboardist Chris Gironda and guitarist Jack Willard had to say about the band's inception, musical inspirations, and mission for the future. You might as well listen now, because you'll definitely be hearing about Space Bacon in the future.
ZF: When and where was Space Bacon started?
CG: The band officially formed in January 2013 at Fordham University in the Bronx, but the seeds were planted when Jack and I met our freshmen year.
JW: As I recall, Chris was walking down the hall and heard me playing guitar. Chris popped his head in and invited me to jam. We soon started producing electronic music in our dorm. We jammed a bit here and there, Chris on a midi keyboard and me on a shit-kicker amp, but production was our main focus.
CG: We actually first took a stab at the music world as a DJ collective called “Good Rooks”, throwing house parties. Things really got rolling as a live band when we started playing with Kevin in the Fall of 2012. We actually did our first “show” as a three piece - Kevin on drums, me on bass, Jack on Guitar - at an RPI frat house Clam Bake.
JW: Around the time we formed, there was an awakening of live music happening at Fordham. Bands seemed to be popping up all over and we stumbled into this place called the Rabbit Hole, an impromptu venue in our good friend Paul Grant’s basement. One night we saw a band there play a killer version of "No Quarter". Their front-man at the time was Tony. We loved the energy and asked Tony to join us on guitar and vocals.
CG: Around the same time I met Sam at the Biscuits New Years Run 2012. I bummed a lighter from him in the smoking section and we bullshitted about music. He mentioned he was a drummer, I said we need a drummer, the rest is sort of history. We mostly played basement shows and keg parties throughout the Winter and Spring of 2013 which was our senior year at Fordham.
ZF: Why did you guys pick the name Space Bacon?
JW: We dreamed of being written about in the Guardian one day…
CG: No but seriously, the name dates back to the Fall of 2012. Kevin was in a band called Bronx Bound at the time. Jack and I went to go see them at the local Fordham coffee shop Rodrigues. Jack and I got drunk on vodka and I recall Jack saying to Kevin, "Kev, if we ever start a band, we have to call it Space Bacon, the combination of Kevin Spacey and Kevin Bacon... and you're Kevin." It wasn't until a couple months later once the line up was secured with Kevin, Jack, Tony, Sam and I that we were trying to come up with a name. We had a list of probably a hundred different names, trying to pick something we all agreed on. Space Bacon was on there half as a joke. Once Sam heard the name he instantly loved it.
JW: There was a lot of push back, but Sam was relentless. It’s safe to say the band would be called something different if it weren’t for Sam’s persistence on the matter.
ZF: How would you describe Space Bacon's sound?
JW: So the first obvious thing you will hear is that we are an improvisational band with a dancy flavor. Every Bacon show is probably an 80/20 split between improv and composition. We try to seamlessly move between the two to create an organic living and breathing composition. Lately we have been voyaging between dark and light sounds, from thrash metal to lounge house, to ambient.
ZF: Okay Jack, from a guitarist's standpoint, what have you learned from Barber and Trey?
JW: One thing I learned from both is how to create a peak. To have patience. Build a theme, toy with it, tease it, and then drive it home. With that said, I think it's easy to get pigeonholed chasing after the Treys and Barbers of the world. You need to explore. I draw a lot of influence from film. The scores behind Twin Peaks, Breaking Bad, and The Shining have left a big impression on me. Pop music is something I tune into as well. I love hooks and melodies.
ZF: Chris, as a keyboard player, who are your biggest influences?
CG: For strictly keyboardists, Aron Magner and Jamie Shields are two big ones and obvious pioneers of the genre. Magner is just an animal, with looping, arps, etc he manages to make it sound like there's 5 of him on stage. Jamie Shields is the master of hooks, I definitely look to emulate that, especially in our jams. Pick a melody and groove out on it for a while, slowly adding to it while building to a peak. Aside from keyboardists, I also take a lot of songwriting and sound design influence from an array of producers and bands. Growing up I started listening to electronic music like Daft Punk’s Homework, Boys Noize’s Oi Oi Oi, Skream’s self-titled. Those albums definitely played a role in shaping my approach to the electronic side of production. As for bands, Radiohead and LCD Soundsystem will always be pinnacles of perfection, namely In Rainbows and Sound of Silver for me personally.
JW: The production background is something Chris and I also try to focus our improvisation around. We like to think of a jam as a live production rather a series of solos. I recently picked up an MPC and we are excited to continue exploring new soundscapes on stage.
ZF: What have been some stand-out shows from this year?
JW: I think Greenpoint Gallery was special (4/15/16). Chris and I stumbled in there a couple months ago right down the street from his place and they had bands. We hooked up with owner and ended up curating an event there with some of our friends’ from Fordham. There were lots of walk-ins who never would’ve listened to Bacon checking out posters and soundboards after the show. We even saw a baby getting down in the back!
ZF: What do you guys hope to accomplish in 2016?
CG: We set out to make 2016 a big year. So far it has been. We booked our first full tour - and gearing up for our second - hitting new markets like Vermont, New Haven, Philly, Syracuse, and Albany. We're going to continue to tour and write new music, we're on a couple festivals this year, super excited for Disc Jam. We haven't announced this yet but we are going to be dropping a four song EP in the next few weeks. And we look to hit the studio again this year to hopefully have a full length out in the Fall.
JW: Our mothers have been requesting vocals for a while and we just might oblige them by the end of this year. In addition to hitting new markets and innovating the sound, we have been making strides to build out our team. Fred Rylands has been doing a phenomenal job running sound for us on the road. We teamed up with Asheville artist Josh Levy who created original prints for us. Our friend Chase Eaione has been creating homegrown projections for a more immersive Live Bacon experience. Bacon is hiring.
ZF: Realistically, if you could open for 3 bands, who would they be?
JW: The Disco Biscuits, Kanye West, and Sheryl Crow.
ZF: Would you guys consider Garcia's to be your home venue? How special and valuable is it to have such a solid small venue in the heart of Westchester?
CG: We definitely consider Garcia’s our home base. Kevin and I are from Westchester, our former guitarist Tony was as well. Garcia’s was one of the first legit venues we played a couple years back. Since then that room has become a second home to this band. We’ve managed to grow our own little scene there, you see the same faces at every Garcia’s-Bacon show, and new ones as well. It’s invaluable to have a venue like Garcia’s in Westchester. The reincarnation of the Capitol Theatre, with the addition of Garcia’s as a place to foster and farm for local talent - it’s really done wonders to strengthen live music in the area.
JW: We’ve been blessed to have Mike Renna doing sound for us there. And Dave Lugo has done a tremendous job since he took over at Garcia’s, we are grateful to have those guys in our corner.
ZF: What are your respective favorite songs to play live?
CG: For me, Flamethrower. It's basically dance metal. It's ferocious. The halftime drop gets me every time.
JW: Lately, I'd say Scroll. At first we weren't really sure if we could call it a song. It's two chords that build progressively the whole way through. We've fleshed it out a bit more and it feels good every time. It captures the way I feel about life at the moment.
ZF: What is the name of your upcoming EP and how many tracks are on it?
CG: Four tracks. The title is pending.
ZF: What can fans expect at the Mercury Lounge on May 14th?
CG: We're actually playing a double-header on May 14th. We're also doing a day set at Captain Lawrence brewery for their 10th Anniversary party in Westchester. At the Mercury Lounge, you can expect late night dance party vibes. We're playing with Chromatropic and Horizon Wireless. If you haven't heard of Chromatropic they are an insanely talented dance fusion act and Horizon is doing live band, so Wiley from Teddy Midnight and Luke from Lespecial will be sitting in - this show is gonna be a heater, not to miss.
JW: It’s one of many great shows coming up featuring the Brooklyn Jam Syndicate. Teddy Midnight, Chromatropic, Cousin Earth, check out our musical brethren!
ZF: Where do you see Space Bacon in 3 years?
JW: Three years is a long time, I can see us being a household name by then. People will have the Dripple tattooed on their skin. Parents will hate us. Bacon will tour coast to coast and play music we never imagined would come from his band.
CG: We have big plans. We are beginning to dip our toes into the event hosting space with these Greenpoint Gallery shows. I hope to see that expand. Curating events, festivals maybe, who knows. I think it’s safe to say that in 3 years we all hope to have quit our day jobs and be doing this full time.
JW: Maybe 5 years Chris… I gotta make my nut.
ZF: If you could say one thing to new fans, what would it be?
CG: Welcome to the party bitch.
JW: Come now, because ticket prices are only going to go up.