[listen] In the Lab with Black Gasoline
Tucked away in one of Wichita’s quaint older neighborhoods is a charming home on a tree-lined street. The house may be unassuming, but looks are deceiving, as this house reverberates with rock ‘n’ roll bombast. This is the practice space for Black Gasoline.
Black Gasoline is a riff-ready, 70s-fantasy-psychedelia-influenced, shake-your-butt rock band. How’s that for a label? The band has been fully entrenched in the Wichita rock scene for quite a few years now. So what’s left to learn about Black Gasoline? Plenty.
The band is Bryan Seely (lead vocals), Paul DeCeglie (lead guitar), Larry Donaldson (keys/guitar), Kendall Newby (drums) and Scott J. Mackey (bass).
I open the door to the house and hear, “Denise, c’mon downstairs.” I follow the instruction to have Kendall lead me to the room where Bryan, Larry and Paul await (Scott was not in attendance). I get out my pad and pen and begin.
Bryan, the lead singer, has started playing guitar live at their shows. But Bryan has been playing guitar for many years and had always wanted to play on stage for a while, but needed a push from the guys to actually do it. With the direction that the new material is taking, an additional guitar is necessary.
Larry, the newest addition to the group, plays keys and guitar. Larry started out using the organ as background. Soon, his contribution to the band led to exploring different territory, increasing the 70s vibe of the music and also dabbling in the psychedelic sound.
Black Gasoline is currently working on a new record and has been playing some of its new material in its live shows. I asked the guys about their process for writing, recording and performing. For them, songwriting is organic and spontaneous. One person could bring in a riff or idea, they play through it and improvise and as it filters through the entire band, the idea becomes the band’s song.
On the band’s upcoming release, listeners can look forward to more backing vocals and harmonies, guest musicians from the Wichita area lending their talents, and unexpected instruments.
The guys have taken on the task of recording the songs themselves. No compromises necessary; they’ve been together long enough to know what works and what doesn’t. I had the pleasure of listening to a couple of songs they have yet to play live, and I can confirm they do know what works.
When they’re not making music themselves, they’re listening to music, of course. I asked what was currently on their playlists.
Paul: Funkadelic, Mellowdrone, 70s underground rock, Truth and Janey
Bryan: Temptations, Lucinda Williams, Howlin’ Wolf
Kendall: Temptations, James Gang
Larry: Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, The Stereo Workers Union, The Doves, Far East Family Band (”they’re a Japanese Pink Floyd”), Black Sabbath, Deep Purple
I asked the guys for their thoughts about the Wichita music scene.
Paul: “Wichita is on a good track, and always have been on a good track. It’s the bitching that’s gotta go. People keep bitching about how much it sucks. If everyone keeps talking about how bad the town is, then the town’s gonna be bad. It’s a matter of the attitude of the people. If the attitude improves, then Wichita improves.”
Kendall: “You create your own destiny.”
Paul: “Just need to get rid of the “Wichi-chip” on its shoulder.”
So what else should Wichita know about Black Gasoline?
Larry: “The new record will be like a bomb dropped on ‘em. It’s all about the new record.”
Paul: “We appreciate the fans and hearing from the fans.”
Kendall: “We don’t all live here in this house in a hippy commune.”
Black Gasoline plays Friday, November 13, at 9:30pm at America’s Pub with LIONS (from Austin) and Wichita’s own Hell City Rollers. The new album (also available on double vinyl) should drop in early 2010. Black Gasoline can be found on the web here and here.
Photos by Denise Grays