Pressing Strings

I feel like it’s been a while since we’ve featured a home grown act, right? I haven’t made a Charm City or Birdland reference in months, at least. Happily, that streak has ended with the arrival of our latest feature, the Baltimore/Annapolis-based Pressing Strings, bringing warm fuzzy feelings to the local music section of my cerebral cortex. It’s a good day.

Josh Kachura, Jordan Sokel, Bob Novak and Nick Welker have been working around the state capital for a little while now, working on their third record as we speak, a collection the group s recorded and produced themselves. We asked the guys to get into their DIY approach: “It's ballsy, but it's a much more enjoyable experience considering we can take our time and make sure we are totally satisfied with what we are putting out there. It gives us a chance to approach the songs more creatively and explore different sounds and techniques with less worry that we are blowing our bank accounts on studio time.”

Wondering about the sound? They call it "Eclectic Acoustic", described as “Reggae, Blues, Rock, Hip Hop, Country, Indie, Jazz, World, Doo Wop.” Need clarification? Here it is, from the band mates: “I really can’t pinpoint a genre title to our music as a whole. You are what you eat in a musicians' sense.  Our tunes have always been channeled through acoustic guitars in the writing process or in the end output (although acoustic rock is not our official title either) and ergo, Eclectic Acoustic.” The completion of the 3rd album is priority #1, so take some time to read the XXQ’s below and prepare for its release.

XXQs: Pressing Strings

PensEyeView.com (PEV): You call your music, "Eclectic Acoustic" – and with that describe your sound as to what that details and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?

JK: Everyone who hasn't heard our tunes asks us, "what type of music do you play?" Our answer has become kind of ambiguous and vague. Reggae, Blues, Rock, Hip Hop, Country, Indie, Jazz, World, Doo Wop... I really cant pinpoint a genre title to our music as a whole. You are what you eat in a musicians' sense.  Our tunes have always been channelled through acoustic guitars in the writing process or in the end output (although acoustic rock is not our offical title either) and ergo, Eclectic Acoustic.

JS:  I usually just say that it's "roots" music because that puts a sort of organic picture in peoples minds and that's how I think of it.  

PEV: Calling Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland home, what kind of music were the members of the band into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?

JK: Baltimore/Annapolis is more representative. I remember admiring local talents like Dave Tieff and Linwood Taylor play as I was at my first job as a bus boy around on the South River near Annapolis. I would get underpaid and stay out later than I was should have been but I would get to listen to live music and that was something I will never forget. Ben Harper when I was 13ish at Constitution Hall was my most memorable show to see. Still remember the feeling when I heard his lap steel scream. He was a HUGE inspiration during the pivotal teenage years and also a musician that brings a lot of variation to the table.

JS: I remember having a pretty hilarious CD collection when I was a kid.  From what I can recollect I had stuff like Boyz II Men, Metallica, Beastie Boys, No Doubt, Bush, Hootie & the Blowfish, Spin Doctors and other early 90's mainstream acts.  I've always had a love for music but when Napster came out I really got into music.  Somehow subconsciously I had soaked up all of these great songs and melodies that I had heard during my childhood but never knew who they were by. I would type a part of a lyric in and be stoked to get all these little gems to put on my mixtapes.  I think my first concert was Hootie & the Blowfish when I was like 9.

PEV: Tell us your take on the music scene is like in your hometown and what was it liketrying to break into it?

JK:  Annapolis is smaller and more tightly knit than what we have experienced in Baltimore. To play shows it takes a lot of sales pitches and random beers at bars.

JS:  The scene is cool because we know everyone and we all appreciate what each other does musically but the down side is there is not a lot of exposure here being a small town.  It was actually pretty natural the way we broke into the scene, all you really need is one gig and if you do well word spreads so we have been lucky in that regard.  

PEV: With that, what can fans expect from a live Pressing Strings show?

JS:  A lot of improvisation and a room full of good people with great taste.

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

JS:  I hope my guitar works like it should.

PEV: Having all played music for a while and with others, how is playing with Pressing Strings different then when you have partnered or played with other artists?

JS:  Actually this is the first band I have ever been a part of.  I have jammed with people here and there just messing around but when Josh and I started playing and writing together there was an obvious chemistry.  Kind of an erie, brotherly kind of connection and Bob and Nick have become the same way to me.  It's much more fun to create with people who you genuinely like and admire.

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

JS: I guess it comes down to the ambiguity of life. I'm inspired by the fact that you never know what's to come. Every little detail that I seem to come across makes me think and somehow the output is creation after I have bottled all those thoughts up.  One thing is for sure, rhythm is my number one inspiration.

JK: Lyrics I write are largely personal experiences combined with random goodies that I soak up either in the news or in the day to day.  The progressions I write them to come from other music that inspires me and what emotionally fits what I am feeling when I go into the writing process. I think me and Jordan write differently and Bob and Nick add different notes that I didn't plan in the first steps of writing. We feed off of each other's the dynamic diversity and the energy that it creates.

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

JK: Bob is my wife's cousin's husband and we met at a family reunion.

JS: I never sang in public until I was in my 20's.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you decided that one day, you want music to be a career for you?

JK; Not for me, music happened. I remember playing one of our first original songs to some friends in the beach house Jordan and I shared in Ocean City MD before we ever played publicly. Their positive feedback pushed me at that time. I always had a guitar in my hand since I was 12.  Music and performing has become a part of my life so much so that I can’t imagine not having it. I think there have been stages where I realized that our hard work has paid off and times when I wonder what the hell I am doing but I can never turn back from where I am.

JS:  There was for me.  About halfway through college I can remember telling one of my best friends jokingly but with a straight face that I was going to be a rock star.  It sounds corny now because of the whole "rock star" thing but I was halfway serious at the time because I knew that playing music made me happy and I felt so much more strongly about it than anything else that I was doing in my life.  Rather than the image, I think I just wanted to affect people positively and make a living doing so.  Shortly after that I met Josh and we started jamming.   

PEV: Tell us about your latest release, your upcoming third album.  What can fans expect from this? How is this different from past works?

JS:  For this record we decided to record/produce it ourselves.  It's ballsy, but it's a much more enjoyable experience considering we can take our time and make sure we are totally satisfied with what we are putting out there.  It gives us a chance to approach  the songs more creatively and explore different sounds and techniques with less worry that we are blowing our bank accounts on studio time.  We are doing it in Bob's basement and the guy has more exotic instruments than we know what to do with.  The tunes have a certain flavor that I am proud of and I can't wait to share it with people.   

PEV: Whether you travel ten miles or ten states, what is it like to be able to play different places and meet new fans?

JS:  It's everything to us because it's about getting your art exposed to as many people as possible.  It's cool when people know your music but to me, at this point of the game, I would rather play to fresh ears.

PEV: Is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?

JS:  So many places I can't even begin to name them.

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

JK: Our friends were the catalyst who got us started playing and helped sustain our progression. In Annapolis or Baltimore we can count on running into familiar faces which is great.

JS:  The support from the ones we love has been a blessing.  I think they realize that playing music is more than a hobby or a job for us, it's a large part of our personalities and there has been nothing but acceptance, which is awesome. At this point playing in our home town is the norm so we enjoy it but we are hungry to roam a bit.  

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

JK: Hanging with the wife. Also, I am an obsessed surfer. The waves are really good on the east coast if you know where to find them. I regularly make trips to Atlantic City and Ocean City MD year round.  

JS:  I am an avid sleeper.  I like to do anything outdoors having to do with sports or water.  

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

JK: Too many names to bring up... David Byrne, Bob Marley?... playing a tune with Ben Harper was always a dream of mine. I have gone through and still am someone who goes through phases of music so I don't play the favorite musician game.

 JS:  Hmmm... Paul Simon comes to mind.  Black Keys would be sweet.  Brad Nowell. Yim Yames.  I could go on for days.

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

JK: There is so much good music that no one talks about. I love being the first to hear of a great band, album, or song. I remember listening to the Kings of Leon long before anyone knew who they were. I had all their stuff prior to the KOL explosion. Now their pop factor is off the charts. I find music less appealing if you don’t have to work for it and its shoved down your throat.

JS:  He's not exactly up and coming but I'm a big fan of Sean Hayes.  I haven't really heard a song of his that I don't like and he's still relatively underground despite having one of his tunes on a Subaru commercial.   

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

JK: Certified Financial Planner or Professional Loaner/Drifter in the Caribbean.

JS:  I would probably follow my father's footsteps in the alcohol/wine industry. There will always be a demand there.

PEV: So, what is next for Pressing Strings?

JS:  Just finishing this record and receiving things day by day.

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