The Pieces debut album is the greatest slice of summer pop this year since the Blondes released "Summer Strut". With descriptions of the band ranging from hip hop soul band with pop lyrics through to country the band exude all those elements of a classic band. Front man Vess Ruhtenberg, bass player and vocalist Heidi Gluck and drummer Devon Ashley are inseparable and essential elements of the Pieces sound and it's chemistry which inspired ex-Lemonhead Evan Dando to take them out on the road on his European tour. Designer Magazine caught up with Vess to talk about the bands humble beginnings and how they aspire to the dizzy heights of Queen.
Q: The Pieces are a relatively new band in Britain with this Evan Dando support being the first time people would have had a chance to hear you. If you could just tell us how you guys got together?
A: I was on tour with a guy called in Nash Kato and I met Heidi on that tour in North Dakota and persuaded her to go to Indiana to start a band. About a year later we hooked up with Devon. We started putting out little limited edition EPs around town...were talking very ltd edition of about 30 and then going and selling them at the record stores. A local label decided they were going to do big things and were looking for a band that could do the same, so after talking us into doing we made this awesome album. We'd seen Evan in New York about 8 months ago and he'd come up on stage with us and sung a song with us so about the same time we were making the album he called us an invited us on tour with him. You're really witnessing our humble beginnings.
Q: There is something really simplistic about the Pieces which is almost undefinable. Would you say this simplicity is the essence of the Pieces sound?
A: Obviously it's a 3 piece and a 3 piece has to make do, but were not necessarily overbearingly loud maybe for a moment or too but not throughout...and it's got a certain subtlety to it. Some people come right up and are like you guys sound really country and other people might come up and say you're like a hip hop soul band with pop lyrics. Everyone's idea of what we sound like is completely different which I take as a compliment because I don't want to be a pop band or a country influence alternative band. I don't want to be any of those things, I kind of want to be a little bit of all of them.
I think the most important thing is we really have a high standard songs. We really think that songs need to be great or else they should not be played. If we weren't writing great songs then we'd break up and we'd be happy to because I think that is a bands duty. If you're not good know it and don't play.
Q: When I saw you guys supporting Evan Dando, I couldn't have thought of a more perfect support band. There are a lot of similarities between you guys aren't there?
A: Well it's funny because I agree although you wouldn't necessarily say we sound like the Lemonheads. There is something about it that makes sense and I'm glad you see that so it's not just an illusion on my part.
Q: After seeing you guys live and then listening to the album. There's almost an extra dimension added with the keyboards.
A: When you're playing live you can wiggle your ass or you can wink or have a good hair day to entertain people. But on record all these things are removed. Sometime I'll have favourite band that I see and they have so much charisma and you listen to their album and you're just not flying out of your seat.
There's something about recording and adding textures, you can kind of put on play that you convey some of the things you can convey life. In real life when you're walking down a dark corridor and you're worried that somebody is going to jump out on you. In real life this scary music doesn't come on, but when that comes on in a movie it adds something to it. So by adding strings to a really good chorus or cheesy horns you're conveying something other than just turning the volume up.
Q: A lot of new bands you'd ask about their influences, but I think with the Pieces you have a classic sound rather than one specific influence. How do you see it?
A: If anything there is a Queen influence on the record. Not in the sense that we wanted to sound like Queen, but maybe in sense of trying to make a record that was entertaining in the way Queen did. When it rock it rocks enormously large and when it's pretty it's just unfathomably pretty and doesn't get caught up in just being rock & roll.
The Pieces self-titled album is out now on Benchmark Records
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