Mongrel Mix

If Barry Preston is right (and he makes some very valid points), then get to know his band, Mongrel Mix, right now. He, Ted Pileggi, Juju Jones and Ed Wagner are combining styles from not only different genres, but from different eras in music as well, building their very own breed of World Music. This is the kind of sound that Preston claims will be dominating the music industry in the very near future... And he might be right.
It started with Mongrel Mix's first record, "Predatory Heat". And still today, the band is making sounds that are "raw and unadulterated, American rock and roll... a fusion of Blues, Rock, Latin, Jazz, and Funk with Afro-Cuban rhythms." Preston continues on, describing some of the new tunes: "'Hope Walking Away' and 'John Le Conqueroo' explore latin rhythms, while 'Janine' is more avant-garde with its off-timing and polyrhythms fused with the pop format." Some awesome stuff. Some big things are on the horizon for Mongrel Mix, including a new EP with Grammy-winner John Seymour. Keep an eye out. There's a lot more to learn below, so keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ's.

XXQs: Mongrel Mix – Barry Preston (PEV): Performing contemporary Rock and R&B, Mongrel Mix engages audiences with a fusion of Blues, Rock, Latin, Jazz, and Funk with Afro-Cuban rhythms, how would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?

Barry G. Preston (BGP): We use Afro-Cuban and Hip Hop beats over non-standard chord progressions, within an identifiable melody.

PEV: Originally from New Jersey, you moved to Philadelphia as a child and have been playing in area bands since you were fifteen, making appearances from Boston to Florida. With that, what kind of music were the members of the band into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?

BGP: I was into British invasion music, David Bowie, Lou Reed.   My first concert was James Brown at the Uptown Theater in Philadelphia.

PEV: Tell us about your time trying to break into it?

BGP: Like so many artists, I've played every type of venue imaginable.  Dance halls, fashion shows, political rallies, outdoor festivals.   I played the Trocadero Theatre in Philly while it was still a strip club.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Mongrel Mix show?

BGP: Passionate ballads and heavy grooves.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?

BGP: Where are we going to eat afterwards?

PEV: Tell us the story behind the name of the band, Mongrel Mix.

BGP: It came from a local newspaper interview where I was asked to describe the music, and I commented that it was a mongrel mix of American musical styles.

PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?

BGP: Movies and eavesdropping.   I probably spend more time in print media than I do in music.

PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out do you ever look back at your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?

BGP: It was back breaking work, chance, mystery, hope.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Mongrel Mix?

BGP: We all come from radically different backgrounds.  If you saw us on the street you would never believe that we hang out together.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a goal for you?

BGP: Around the time I was ten or eleven, going to concerts and sitting in on local R&B sessions.   When I would hear a good song on the radio, it would put me in a state of paralysis.

PEV: Tell us about your latest release. What can fans expect from this?

BGP: On the album we wanted our sound raw and unadulterated, American rock and roll.  "Hope Walking Away" and "John Le Conqueroo" explore latin rhythms, while "Janine" is more avant-garde with its off-timing and polyrhythms fused with the pop format.  Our drummer Juju Jones is featured heavily, especially on the tracks that were done live in the studio.

PEV: With all your traveling is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?

BGP: South America. A great desire to be playing in Latin countries.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play at your hometown?

BGP: Family and friends were always supportive.   Playing in Philadelphia is like our own backyard.

PEV: What can we find each of you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

BGP: Activities ranging from cooking to martial arts, wood carving and postmodernist studies.

PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration? Why?

BGP: Quincy Jones.  Because of his grounded universal appeal and the depth of music he's done all the way back to his own jazz albums - which ended up defining the landscape of urban America in the 60s.

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

BGP: If there is, it probably isn't coming out of America.  In the next ten years, world music is going to have such an impact that you will find new music and new genres being created and moving into the mainstream American voice.

PEV: If you weren’t playing music now what do you think each of you would be your career?

BGP: Gas station attendant or attorney.

PEV: So, what is next for Mongrel Mix?

BGP: We are working on a new EP with Grammy-winner John Seymour for a national campaign as well as a documentary on the band.


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