Two Back to the Future fans are sitting in a car looking for a band name.
One says to the other, “We’ve just gotta find a band name that really cooks.”
And in a perfect alignment of space and time that Doc Brown would be proud of, together they shout, “That’s it!”
So goes the story of how Josh and Pete Band, two friends who’ve been using their comedic and musical talents to spin out rock opera albums since high school, landed on the Marvin Berry-inspired monicker, The Really Cooks. The two have been tag-teaming their singing and song-writing talents since the eighth grade, in a John Lennon-meets-Paul McCartney mash-up of talent – minus the Teddy Boy jackets and plus a few odd costumes.
Their debut album featured 23 songs, an eight track multi-track, and a cast of characters inspired by comics drawn in the backs of classrooms. Perhaps it was the weight of all those numbers that made the duo decide it was time to pick up a bass player and a drummer.
A walk through the park and a chance encounter with an old friend later, and Josh found that bass player in King Alon. Drummer Dr. Lemonade was acquired through a rigorous double-audition process which included not only playing for the band – but partying with them.
“We had to see if the dynamic is there. A lot of times people pass the first part, because they’re really well trained or a really good drummer, but then we would invite them back and just be our silly, eccentric selves,” Josh Band explained. “If people didn’t get the wackiness, or they wanted to take things more seriously, we had to find someone who would be part of that delicate balance of professionalism with hilarity.”
A brief but failed stint with a manager, a former monkey trainer from Hollywood, left them $1,000 poorer, but richer by a few costumes for monkeys. With a king costume for the bass player, the lineup was officially complete – the rest of the band featuring a lemon and two chefs.
Tell me a bit about the band and what you’re working on now.
Josh Band: We’re going into a studio on May 10, and we’re recording something completely different than we’ve ever done. We’re like a 60s rock and roll band. We’re doing this new song that’s called “Spring Break.” It’s only one chord, we jam out the entire time, and the bridge is, “Whatcha think you’re doing nerd?” That’s it.
If you had to name 60s bands that influence you, who would they be?
We’re influenced by 60s and 90s bands.
So you just inverted the number.
One of us was upside down when we saw what music we should play.
I would say the band from the 60s that really influenced us, obviously The Beatles, The Beach Boys because of the harmonies, when we were growing up we listened heavily to Pink Floyd. As I got into college I listened more and more to really obscure progressive rock bands. I got into Yes. Now I listen to a lot of soul and funk. As a piano player, Billy joel, Elton john , Ben Folds, those were the three people I imitated when I was growing up.
I write heavily with piano, but most of the time if I can’t play it on guitar it’s not worth writing. Because I’m not good at guitar, it limits me to writing simpler melodies, which is a good thing because you want song structures to be simple but complicated in composition. You want people to be able to hum a melody and have it stick in their heads, but have it compositionally interesting so it sticks out as a different thing from anyone else’s. It’s a balance between productiveness and hysteria. Organized chaos.
This is a good time for us. We’re producing a lot. We have a new Soundcloud called JP Preliminary, which is all the songs we’re putting out right now.
So is this your primary occupation?
We don’t even know if we want it to be our primary occupation. I didn’t take music in college because I didn’t want to ruin it for myself. I took audio and radio production. Because it’s the same thing. It’s being around it but not it. I would love to actually get into studio recording at some point and be producing. I love that and could do it for hours, I’d definitely be willing to get paid for that. I used to want to be a rock star, but now I would like to be a musician and see where that takes me.
Do you have any shows coming up?
We do have some shows coming up. We’re probably going to play Milkboy at some point. I’m friends with the owner. We’ve been back and forth talking about getting a date going, probably some time in July. Me and Pete are also going to Scotland and England for a wedding. We’re playing at a benefit concert for Nancy’s House. And then Art for the Cash Poor.
Once we get “Spring Break” going we’ll try to play that a little bit more. We go through phases where we’re completely live band and then completely recording band. We’re in recording phase right now. When you’re in that mentality it’s completely different, it’s kind of like being on a film set vs. post-production. I love playing live but if I could choose one I would choose recording. There’s only so much you can do live with four people rather than the 64 tracks of vocals we usually put on our songs. It gets intense.
How much time would you say goes into one song?
One song takes about two or three months to put together, because of all the fills and mixing and recording, all the vocals, getting everything pitch corrected. Now that we know how to mix ourselves on computer software, we would just use studio time for recording.
You’ve done Art for the Cash Poor before. What did you think of the event?
We’ve been seeing it grow and grow and grow. When we started it was just getting off it’s feet. We did it and it was great and fun, an outdoor concert with good sound and good bands. They know how to put it on.
What are you looking forward to most about playing this year?
It’s been a while since we’ve played an outdoor festival. And I really like outdoor festivals a lot more than bar gigs. Because with bar gigs there’s this sense of pressure for people to be buying things at the bar. There’s this closed-in space. You have to be 21 to get in. You have to pay for the bands. With festivals, people are there because they’re there. You don’t feel guilty about people coming out because there’s so much to do. You’re part of something bigger. We’re part of this community event.
A lot of times people are in music to make money and have certain expectations. We literally do it to have fun.
The Really Cooks will be playing Art for the Cash Poor 15 on Sunday, June 15, 3 pm at Crane Arts. Click here for further details on the weekend, or buy tickets to the preview party benefiting AIDS Fund, June 13, 5:30 – 9 pm.