The Right Now
IT has been a while since I’ve featured an artist from Chicago…
so it is great to speak with The Right Now about their music and formation. The band has been playing for ten years and will play a joint-anniversary show with 56 Hope Road (celebrating twenty years together). I ask whether there will be other gigs coming and when we might expect some new material from the band.
The Soul band are one of the hottest in Illinois and I asked what the scene is like in Chicago; if there are any new acts we should check out; if the band are coming to the U.K. this year – Brendan and Stefanie, who answer the questions, talk about life away from music and working with the Hope for a Day charity.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Brendan: It’s been great! We’ve been busy rehearsing, planning and doing interviews for the big tenth-anniversary show on Friday.
Stefanie: It’s been a great week. We are really looking forward to this ten-year anniversary show and there has been sun finally in Chicago...all good things.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
Brendan: We are The Right Now; a seven-piece Soul band from Chicago, featuring the powerhouse lead vocals of Stefanie Berecz.
You are teaming up with 56 Hope Road for a hometown show. What can you tell us about that?
Yes! We’re so excited to celebrate our tenth year together as a band. It’s been a long road as we’ve played over five-hundred shows, released three albums and spent way, way too much time together. But really this band is centered on deep friendships and love…
It’s been an incredible ride together.
Stefanie: I remember some of our first shows on the road together, included playing spots that 56 (Hope Road) would recommend to us as we were just getting started. They sort of took us under their wing and played this ‘big brother’ in the business role.
This show is going to be a celebration of the family we grew into and the music we were inspired to create over all these years.
56 Hope Road are celebrating twenty years as a band. Have you been following them a while?
Brendan: There isn’t a more appropriate band that can join us for this anniversary show. We met 56 when our guitarist, Chris Corsale, joined our band in 2008 (Chris played with 56 for years). I went to lunch with 56’s drummer, Greg Fundis, and he basically schooled me in the ways of ‘starting a real band’: how to tour, promote shows; budget correctly and so on. We learned so much from those guys and girl. They are family, so it’s truly a blessing to be able to share this special bill with them.
Hope for the Day, a charity that raises awareness of suicide, is close to your heart – you are celebrating your tenth anniversary, as a dual anniversary show, and proceeds will go to the charity. What was it about Hope for the Day that compelled you to make that decision?
Stefanie: We are celebrating our tenth-anniversary this week but this month also marked the year anniversary since I lost my best friend and incredible father to my two children, David Grinslade. This band is family and, when we experience a loss, we all come together and rally together. That is what we are trying to do through this immense loss. David was the closest person to me and it pains me every day to think he was struggling with such dark thoughts and couldn’t express the mental pain he was experiencing.
Our goal in partnering with an organization like Hope for the Day is to face the scary subject of mental-health and suicide. We want to play our part as human beings who believe in love and being there for each other. We are dedicated to making mental-health a safer thing to talk about. The choice to share our story has opened a channel to connect with fans on a deeper level and most importantly connect with those who might be struggling.
Looking back at your decade in music; how do you think you have progressed and grown?
Brendan: I only need to listen to songs I wrote in 2008, or look at pictures of our band, to really see just how much we’ve grown. The songs, now, are so much more focused in every way: lyrics, arrangements and melody. Everything just serves a more pointed purpose - and we’re really aiming higher, I think.
We’re doing a much better job of putting Stef’s voice on display and connecting with people. Oh, man; some of these photos from 2008 - I can’t believe I ever wore sandals or allowed our bassist to wear shorts. Now, it’s dapper suits…
Definitely a better look!
What do you feel is the secret to longevity? Do you feel too few modern bands have staying power?
Just keep going, no matter what. That’s the best advice I can give. No one else is going to do it for you, ultimately, and you need to find the internal drive and ambition to keep writing, touring; recording and everything else…and it pays off! I feel like, in our tenth year, we’re finally reaping the harvest of the seeds we’ve sprinkled over the past decade…
Stefanie: I would echo what Brendan said and add that you just have to align yourself with the right group of people who will continue to inspire and support you along your growth.
Will you be releasing music this year? What is in the pipeline?
Brendan: Yes! With the political dumpster fire that’s been happening in our country, we felt that it was important to make a strong stand and record a political cover from the 1960s (perhaps the last time that this country felt so lost). We’re releasing a cover of Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth later this year. We rearranged it as an Afrobeat tune and recorded it in this crazy nineteenth-century church in central New York last October. The amazing Sergio Rios from Orgone/Killion Sound mixed it.
We also have plans for a remix 12” with Chicago’s own Star Creature. These are really dope Disco and Boogie Funk remixes of songs from last year’s Starlight.
Chicago is where you are based. How important are the city and its people? What is the scene like there in 2018?
This is the best city in the world. Aside from the obvious (pizza, hot dogs and the Cubs) there is a deep and rich musical history, especially in Soul. I think you can trace it back to Muddy Waters and draw a line to The Staple Singers, Curtis Mayfield; Chaka Khan, Donny Hathaway; Syl Johnson and on and on. (I love so much about Chicago). The music scene has great players and bands, but I think the downside is the lack of support for artists in the ‘middle’ (folks like us that aren’t starting out but aren’t Chance the Rapper).
We have a few radio stations like Vocalo, CHIRP and WLUW that support the local scene, but there isn’t a great deal of synchronicity between the promoters, clubs; fests, fans; radio, blogs and bands. It sort of seems like a free-for-all where you have to hustle and grab whatever you can. Which is very ‘Chicago’. It’s made me work my ass off to achieve what we can.
How did The Right Now get together? When did that first meeting take place?
Brendan: Stef and I met in a restaurant called Cooper’s in 2006 in a very random way. I was playing there with my previous band and the owners (Stef’s friends) asked if she could sit in. I was hesitant at first but relented. Stef sang Natural Woman and I was immediately hooked.
I decided that she should sing with my band and she eventually agreed. We’ve been writing songs and performing together ever since.
Stefanie: It’s crazy to think back on that chance meeting and now, years later, have such a remarkable story to tell. I think it hits me most when my kids start recalling memories of this band.
Do you have any gigs lined up? Where are you heading?
Brendan: We have an incredibly busy spring and summer with club shows and fests all over the Midwest and East Coast. All our tour dates are at www.therightnow.com/tour.
Can we expect to see you in the U.K. this year?
Brendan: I wish! It’s a dream of mine to tour Europe. We’re still waiting for it to all line up. This could be the year…
Stefanie: I’m itching for that opportunity. I’d like to think there are a handful of individuals who would appreciate us in the U.K.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
Brendan: I want to record most of our next record, play great shows and continue to have a blast with my friends on stage.
Stefanie: I look forward to recording new music and, maybe, a new video! I am also so excited to continue building our relationship with Hope for the Day.
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Brendan: I think selling out Lincoln Hall in 2010 for our first record release show stands out. We worked so hard on that album and promoting it. It was unbelievably satisfying to look out into that crowd and feel the love!
Stefanie: Selling out any show is always such a stand out memory for sure. I also loved our first time recording a session at Daytrotter. I remember so badly wanting that to happen early on in our career and we got that call this year!
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Brendan: I have a four-page Word doc. that I give to new artists...I should probably start charging folks for it! The biggest piece of advice I have is to follow through and do what you say you are going to do. I feel like one of the biggest reasons why we are still around is because I stick to my word and follow up with people.
Oh, also; write good songs with undeniable choruses.
IN THIS PHOTO: DeRobert & The Half-Truths
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Stefanie: I’ve been digging Charlotte Day Wilson and her new album, Stone Woman (2018)
Do you all get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Brendan: Chilling isn’t really part of my life. I have three kids and run a lesson teaching business aside from The Right Now. But, when I do (have time to chill), I love to hang with my wife, putting on records and cooking.
Stefanie: I also have two young children so we live by our calendars and, when a chill day sneaks up on us, we either are glued to the couch watching movies or we get out for something spontaneous.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Brendan: Slow Burn by Kacey Musgraves. Just a beautiful song. Reminds me of mid-'70s Soft-Rock. Hell, yeah!
Stefanie: My Momma Told Me - DeRobert & The Half-Truths.
Dee is my Soul brother! Hands down, one of the best vocalists I’ve had the pleasure to work with. This whole band is killing it out there
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