Interview with Ryan Bunetta and Don Gordon from The Groove Prophets

the Groove Prophets
The Groove Prophets

Interview by Scott Preston

The Groove Prophets – Blues, funk, reggae, psychedelic and rock influences combine to create a band beyond classification. From the sweet mellow sounds of southern rock to the wild, chaotic psychedelic freekouts, the Groove Prophets move like a swift vessel of hope in a music world dominated by mediocrity…a rhythmic, harmonic and lyric tye-dye across a dark, bland and grey world. The only way to experience this unique creation is to dive in, to become a part of the ever-evolving universe of sound, light, and near ritualistic dance, and ultimately to become a part of the show itself- a mix of music, intoxication of the senses, and a colorful array of people that range from weird to wild. The force that drives the celebration is the Groove Prophets. Drawing from classic rock and psychedelic pioneers such as the Grateful Dead, The Doors, and the Band, as well as jam heavyweights such as Phish, Widespread Panic, Moe., and the Black Crowes, and even entering the weird realm of bands like The Mars Volta, Ween and Tool, The Groove Prophets experiment within a unique structure. There is no limit to how far the music can be taken. At the helm of this musical vehicle is the rhythm section of Jim Fultz and Brandon Pappas. With thundering drums and percussion, they shape the backbone of this unit. The powerful bass of Tony Quintus moves the band into a new funky dimension, while the triple threat attack of Josh Riley’s keys/organ/synth combo add an ethereal layer to the mix. The prolific writing/arranging/rhythm guitar playing of Don Gordon add intelligence and direction, while the face melting guitar acrobatics of Ryan Bunetta set the group afire. Join us as we see just how deep the rabbit hole goes…

Cincy Groove: How did The Groove Prophets get together?

Groove Prophets: It all started five years ago in a house in Cleveland when Don Gordon and Ryan Bunetta, two high school friends, teamed up with acoustic guitars, a few beers and a few songs. We started playing a few open mic nights around town. Along the way we enlisted the help of two music store employees, Josh Riley and Tony Quintus, who became the keyboard and bass players, respectively. After playing with a few drummers and a percussionist, the Groove Prophets lineup was solidified with Jim Fultz as the drummer and Brandon Pappas as the percussionist. Lavonna Gonzales was added as a backup vocalist. The Groove Prophets have been gigging with this lineup for about a year, most recently playing with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at the Mothership Festival at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, and in the past, sharing stages with bands such as Ekoostik Hookah, Keller Williams, Dark Star Orchestra and Buckethead.

Cincy Groove: How was it decided that Groove Prophets would be the bands name?

Groove Prophets: After a few choice names such as the Ballistic Hippies, the band decided on The Groove Prophets by throwing names in a hat. After a spelling error on the part of our first promoter, we we were known as the Groove “Profits'” for the first year, which worked out well because we still had price tags from the music store on all of our gear. We decided to set our karmic energy right by fulfilling our prophetic calling and returning to The Groove Prophets. Many hardcore fans who have been with us since the beginning still refer to us as the “Booze Prophets” for handing out Jack Daniels to fans at our shows.

Cincy Groove: What was it like putting together your debut album?

Groove Prophets: Recording “Stereochemistry” was a great experience. After many attempts at the DIY recording process, we decided to get some outside help. As Hunter Thompson said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” We searched the local studios and found our Hunter Thompson behind the boards in Dave Thornton at Studio 333. Recording with him was absolutely amazing. As opposed to a lot of bigger studios in the area, Dave was actually involved in the project. He brought stuff out of us that we didn’t know we had and in the end captured the essence of where we were at the time.

Cincy Groove: Is the band working on any other projects?

Groove Prophets: We are currently preparing material for the next album or two and going over some live video footage from a past show for possible release as a DVD.

Cincy Groove: Who are some of the groups influences?

Groove Prophets: We come from an assortment of musical backgrounds, but the most prevalent influences include Phish, The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, The Black Crowes and Widespread Panic. We even incorporate some of the weirdness of bands like Ween and The Mars Volta in some of our improv jams.

Cincy Groove: If you could pick any band to share a bill with who would it be?

Groove Prophets: Phish or The Black Crowes

Cincy Groove: What have been some highlights for the band over the history of the group?

Groove Prophets: We have had a lot of great memories from over the course of our career. Organizing, promoting and performing a show with Ekoostik Hookah was definitely a highlight. Recording our CD and the release party at Brother’s Lounge was a milestone both in achievement and personal performance. Free hotels and booze in Dayton, throwing up in venues across Ohio and Pennsylvania, ya know, the good stuff.

Cincy Groove: Do you have any favorite venues?

Groove Prophets: Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, Brother’s Lounge and soon to be The Beachland.

Cincy Groove: How do you feel the internet has affected the music industry?

Groove Prophets: Positively and negatively. With the advent of social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, bands have a chance to get out there and get people to hear their music and network with other bands and venues that they wouldn’t have found otherwise. I think there is a very strong local music scene arising from this kind of technology. On the larger scale, I think that music downloading and file sharing has taken the power out of the record labels hands and put the focus more on live events and touring. It’s not so much about making records anymore. On the other side of the coin, however, I appreciate that bands record for a variety of reasons, one of which is to make a living. I feel that all bands should allow taping and sharing at their shows, and if the consumer feels that it was a worthwhile performance, go out and buy the CD.

Cincy Groove: How was the Mothership Landing weekend at NLQP for the band?

Groove Prophets: It was an amazing weekend with a solid performance. We occasionally do performance art at festivals, and for Mothership, we were dressed as diferent forms of cops and law enforcement. We had the 70’s Vice cops, FBI agents and even Lt. Dangle from Reno 911. We built a jail cell back in the woods and were writing people citations for being sober and orderly. The prisoners then went to trial by spinning a punishment wheel, upon which were various forms of corrections…jail time, whippings, Groove Prophet tramp stamps and whipped cream bikinis for the ladies, and sometimes the gents, too. At the Beachland, we will again be spinning the wheel, this time in a game show theme with audience members participating for a chance to win CD’s, T-Shirts and the chance to get spanked by Mistress Lavonna.

Don Gordon – Rhythm Guitar, Lead Vocals, Harmony Vocals
Ryan Bunetta – Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals, Harmony Vocals
Jim Fultz – Drums
Joshua Riley – Piano, Organ, Harmony Vocals
Brandon Pappas – Congas, Rhythmic percussion
Tony Quintus – Bass
LaVonna Schlea- womanly influence and vocals
Friday, August 7, 2009
The Groove Prophets, Grooveshire
Beachland Ballroom/Tavern
15711 Waterloo Rd
Cleveland, OH – 216-383-1124

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