You might think they do, but musicians don't owe you a damn thing. Now I'm not speaking of those shallow showbiz shills with all their kowtowing and condescension, but about artists who brilliantly marry words and melody together.
You know how it is: you fall in love with a particular artist's sound. You love it, you identify, you relate; it's your "jam." Then said artist decides to evolve, to change without your permission. But before tossing them aside, realize it's not the musician's fault as they follow their elusive muse.
Steve Pizzuto's friendly mug is synonymous with Rochester ska darling 5Head, a band that plays with the energy and danger of a marching band on water skis. It's a precarious teeter-totter of a snappy backbeat, and the brass blast furnace from its hellacious horn section. The band re-formed a couple of years ago after a lengthy hiatus.
It was during that down time that Pizzuto began rooting around in unexplored caverns in his brain and began writing from a deeper, more intimate place. This wasn't an extension of 5Head but rather a new band with its own identity and its own sound. That band, The Beaumonts, has two releases out, "Safety in Solitude" and 'Letting Go of the Dial" and is currently in the studio at Blue On Blue Recordings working on "Lanterna Blue" scheduled to land sometime this fall.
Pizzuto was candid when he stopped down to City to discuss The Beaumonts, how it's not 5Head, and how you can love both. Here's what we said. An edited transcript of that conversation follows.
City: The Beaumonts started ...
Steve Pizzuto: After 5Head croaked, I was bored so I started going in the studio with musicians from other bands that I knew. After a while I began missing that itch for playing out. I remember watching Amy Winehouse's "Live From London" DVD about 100 times in a row. Her backing band was just staggering — the whole lineup, the keys, the horns, the arrangements, everything. I said, "That's it, I can't wait any longer." So I grabbed Mark Phillips from Cherry Gun, and Dave Goldstein — a bass player I met through Justin Lloyd — and with me on guitar, we became this trio.
That scratched the itch?
But it still wasn't enough. After a while it was like, "I need horns." So I got Justin Lloyd on trumpet, Charlie Freida on saxophone, and Evan Dobbins on trombone.
What was the plan?
We slowly picked a direction — that is still evolving. As a three piece, we were trying to fill out the sound and I think it was a little more guitar-oriented in that regard. I turned up the guitar good and loud making sure it was front and center. But once the horns came on board — I just love that sound — I sort of laid back and let them take over.
Just like 5Head?
No, because I was writing stuff so differently. I was just writing stuff that was coming out. People compare those two bands; I don't really get it. They both sound so different.
How did it start? Was the material tested by 5Head first?
There are a couple of tunes I wrote for 5Head and they were like, "Wow, we've never heard anything like this." That was the seeds of The Beaumonts. They were songs that were a little Brazilian jazz-influenced that they liked, but it was definitely a different flavor and I wanted to follow it further down the road than just give it a ska hook.
When you sit down to write a song, how long until you know whether you'll be having a baby 5Head or a baby Beaumont?
A lot of it has to do with the rhythmic structure. 5Head has a fairly narrow rhythmic structure, and with The Beaumonts, the sky's the limit. You can do anything.
Sort of like being without a parachute or seatbelt.
Yeah, but 5Head is the crazy one, a non-stop party. With The Beaumonts, I sing about people getting divorced, childhood things, loss, realizing your own mortality.
So in reality, the Beaumonts didn't come from 5Head.
No. We just shook the Etch A Sketch clean and went for it.
What was the 5Head fan base reaction?
Ninety percent of them were like, "What are you doing?" Which was immediately depressing and a little enraging. When I'm out, the people that know me, know I tend to be off the wall and yet here's this thoughtful, introspective material. And they're like, "Where's the bounce? Where's the fun? You can't dance to this." Yeah, but it still has merit. There's some cool shit there.
You have two sets of fans now?
I know one dude that loves both of them and that's about it.
Which is your personal favorite?
It depends on my mood. There's nothing like a 5Head show, but The Beaumonts is really special to me in a completely different way.
What's your third band going to sound like?