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Con Brio a smash at MOM DJs five year anniversary party

Benjamin Andrews, Jonathan Kirchner, Ziek McCarter, Andrew Laubacher, and Micah Dubreuil of Con Brio
Benjamin Andrews, Jonathan Kirchner, Ziek McCarter, Andrew Laubacher, and Micah Dubreuil of Con Brio
Courtesy of Con Brio

Anyone unfamiliar with Con Brio on their way into The Independent last Saturday night definitely emerged a fan, as the band played a riveting set in celebration of MOM's (Motown on Monday) fifth year. The soul night, which happens down the street from The Independent at Madrone Art Bar, has only grown in popularity since introducing it's salute to Motown on what used to often be sleepy Monday nights. Con Brio should definitely be seen live. They're musically tight, talented, fun to watch, and are fronted by an incredibly dynamic and gifted lead singer, Ziek McCarter, whose onstage moves had the crowd's full attention. The band laid down the kind of grooves that were just perfect for keeping the dance party going. I spoke with Benjamin Andrews (guitars), Micah Dubreuil (keyboards), Jonathan Kirchner (bass), Andrew Laubacher (drums), and Ziek McCarter (vocals), just prior to the show.

Wendy:

MOM at Madrone is such a cool party, the anniversary show'll be blast. You've been at The Independent quite a lot this year. This is your fourth show there since January, no?

Jonathan:

We opened for Diego's Umbrella in January, which was great; it was a Sunset [Promotions] show. Then we did three nights of the UnderCover Presents Sly Stone show, and we opened for Karl Denson in March. So this our sixth night, our fourth show. We really like it there; they do a great job of putting on shows.

Wendy:

And you're on the bill with two other bands plus the MOM DJs?

Jonathan:

Yeah, there's the Hitsville Soul Sisters....

Micah:

Are they a band or do they just sing with DJs?

Jonathan:

They normally sing with DJs but this night they're gonna have a back-up band.

Andrew:

The Hitsville Soul Sisters, Brass Magic, and us - Con Brio, are the three bands. There's also DJs after the bands play, so the DJs'll finish the night out - super dance party.

Wendy:

Not to classify, but that's great for you since you obviously play so much soul and soul-inspired music.

Andrew:

We do a lot of funk and soul stuff; our goal for 2014 is to try and be more psychedelic.

Micah:

It all funnels through that, but there [are] a lot of other influences; we're figuring out the label I think. A year is a long time to work together but it feels like it's been very brief. We're still defining....

Andrew:

We wanna be accurate I guess. Sometimes when someone says 'soul' they'll think the Dap Kings or the throwback stuff that's really in that era. We draw from that a lot but we definitely don't try to be like a throwback band.

Jonathan:

Ziek has collaborated with those DJs [the MOM Djs] before, right?

Ziek:

The MOM DJs have been really supportive of me as an artist up until this point; any instrumentals I have I can bring it to them at the party, which is usually packed out. I can go by there to promote shows I have with them or promote the Soul Train, or just to let people know about my music. I did their last anniversary with them. I sat in with Hot Pocket.

Wendy:

What you had said before about just being together for a year - the band Con Brio started longer ago, but with a different lineup. [To Micah, Jonathan, and Andrew] The three of you have been in Con Brio all along, but then you had a complete change when your original singer left and Ziek came on. You also added a guitar, which you didn't have before, when Benjamin joined the band.

Andrew:

It's been kinda learning a new approach to how we all work together - a new sound. It's been a really fun time to figure everything out. The Sly Stone show there was something that clicked; we're starting to feel like a unit. At least for me it was like, I get what this is now and how we all fit into it. So that's been a cool process to be a part of.

Wendy:

That Sly Stone show - I would have never guessed that you'd only been playing together for a year.

Andrew:

We've been working hard.

Wendy:

You guys just released your single, California Cowboy. Are you back in the recording studio?

Jonathan:

Yeah. We've got two more songs that are mid-process right now. They're gonna be out this summer and we've got more down the line after that.

Andrew:

We're finishing a song, releasing a song, finishing a song, releasing a song. When they're all done we'll compile them all into an album and release the album as a whole. We made a decision for at least this one to not record them all, hold on to them all, release them at a big show all at once. [We'll] just trickle them out as they finish - make videos for some and just release the audio for others, trying to think of different ways to get them out there.

Wendy:

So with the new lineup, California Cowboy was the first recorded single?

Andrew:

Yeah, we've only released California Cowboy. We did a video a while back called Temptation's Talking; that was a live video. So California Cowboy's the first studio thing that we released.

Ziek:

No, Sex Supreme.

Andrew:

You're right!

Jonathan:

We recorded a song for the Sly show and that's out on the UnderCover [Presents] website.

Wendy:

Right, through Faultline Studios.

Micah:

Who we've been working with since, actually.

Wendy:

Have you? So since that event you've been using that studio and Yosh! to record?

Micah:

Yeah. We do some stuff at home - some of the overdub stuff; Kirch has some experience there. We loved working with Yosh! and we love the studio there so we've been going back there.

Ziek:

Yosh! is the man.

Micah:

Yosh! has been great. There's been a lot of moments on a lot of the tunes, like on Sex Supreme, where we wanted something; we had some kind of vague description, and he'll just bring out the right toy at the right time. Always. It's just been a consistent kind of read minds, get it done, so it's been fun.

Wendy:

So what's on the horizon?

Ziek:

We have a music video for California Cowboy coming up.

Micah:

Part of why we've been at The Independent so much is we're trying to do a lot of working with bigger acts or acts that we really like, so it's kind of as it comes up. It keeps coming up, which is great.

Benjamin:

Because this is still a young band and we are still establishing relationships with each other and trying to figure out what our identity is, there's internal work to be done. Our priorities don't necessarily lie in playing as many shows in the city as we can; that's not really where we're at right now. We're writing new material, recording new material, working on that kind of stuff.

Andrew:

We want to make sure that when we do present ourselves we're presenting something that we all want to stand behind.

Con Brio will next appear in San Francisco at the North Beach Festival on June 14th. For more dates and further information please visit www.thebandconbrio.com