Drop the needle and dig on Maybird and enjoy the trip. This relatively new Rochester outfit is a carefully constructed wash of singer-songwriter insight and pop-psychedelia. It's the sound of the beautiful and the weird sharing a slow dance — or a joint, perhaps. It's romantic and it's epic.
Consequently, Maybird sounds like a band with no chronological home. You could conceivably see its music popping up in any of the last five or so decades to haunt a scene or screw up a genre's self-worth.
Springing from a prodigious pile of current and past projects, Maybird — guitarist Sam "Overhand Sam" Snyder, Josh Netsky on vocals and guitar, Adam Netsky on drums, bassist Mike Schuler, and Kurt Johnson bringing in pedal steel, lap steel, and guitar — came together after Josh Netsky asked Johnson to cover for the Josh Netsky Band's regular six-string slinger, Snyder. Snyder made the gig after all, but Johnson stuck around.
"So on the gig we just decided to figure out how to make it work," Snyder says. The result turned on a light bulb in Josh's head.
"It was great," Josh says. "It worked out that way and it was just like, 'Why not always have Kurt play?'"
Before ultimately forming into Maybird, the band performed under the Josh Netsky Band, but kind of like a Josh Netsky Band Part II.
"The songs that are on the first Maybird album ["Down & Under" released October 2013] were developed while we were still the Josh Netsky Band," Josh says. "But they've changed quite a bit. So the Maybird entity is like a totally different thing from what the Josh Netsky Band was. The stuff we're writing now is more a classic psychedelic rock sound, it's very laid back."
But Maybird isn't trying; the band is easy-going — the band abides.
"It's just what's happening," Josh says. "I think we're moving towards psychedelic rock, it's partially because that's what we feel best playing now. We have the best time playing those songs."
Snyder sheds some light on the music's trippy allure and pull. "As we've been working the tunes, we've been getting further and further out into the psychedelic plane," he says.
But who puts on the brakes? How do they know when to stop?
"Once the tune shows up," Snyder says simply. "Lately we've been working on a lot of new songs that have been lending themselves to these far out landscapes."
Part of this trip's destination falls on the shoulders of both guitarists. Johnson has dialed back his lap and pedal steel contributions in lieu of juggling guitar patterns and textures and riffs with Snyder. It's now two lead guitars. And along with the sonic density comes energy and intensity.
"It's going in an upbeat direction," Josh says. "More of a guitar-driven direction."
However, according to Josh, the same things that bless the group and inspire them can sometimes be a bit of a curse. "The easiest thing is that it takes a matter of minutes to get ideas flowing," he says. "The toughest thing is to get the ideas to stop flowing."
Before getting doused in idea-overload, Johnson says the nucleus of each tune has to be good.
"I think Josh writes really great tunes," he says. "The songs, first and foremost are good."
And the song's influences, though solid, are from all over the map. The history these veteran scenesters sport — as members of bands like Thunder Body, Md Woods, Auld Lang Syne, My Plastic Sun, the Josh Netsky Band, Moho Collective, Poetry for Thieves, etc. — is staggering.
"I think it's safe to say that in the whole collaborative process we each bring in a lot of our own influences," Snyder says. "So it's not like there's any one, clear cut thing. I don't think I've ever worked with any other group of musicians that have such eclectic taste in music and somehow made it work."
But as with all eclectic derivatives in art, it doesn't necessarily work for everyone.
"I've had people come up to me who did not get it," Johnson says. "Just did not get it. Some people are just very narrow in their field of listening and they don't understand things outside of it."
Snyder enjoys confounding this type of listener.
"I think that's part of it too," he says. "We want to push the listener, — 'You haven't heard this yet because we don't strive to sound like anything else.'"
"One of the first shows we played as Maybird was in a house in Boston in front of a bunch of people we didn't know," Josh adds. "Every song seemed to hit with everybody pretty well because we were crammed in a room together. However, sometimes when we play at a larger venue, our set has these vast jumps from pretty hard-hitting rock songs to very laid-back, lazier, delicate sounds. I've definitely seen crowds dwindle."
As Maybird reveals its music to itself as well as others, the band plans on spending more time in the studio, relying on its magic.
"We're going to spend less time writing in the studio and more time experimenting there," Snyder says, even if this spelunking renders two facets of the band: a live Maybird and a studio Maybird.
"There are some times that it's perfect, Josh says. "But personally, I don't like seeing a band and hear them sound just like a record."
Rochester musician Tommy Brunett keeps whiskey in the glasses and rock 'n' roll in the gut