Interview by Scott Preston
Sitting somewhere between indie and prog-rock, Charlie Hustle is a band with a somewhat familiar sound that has been made all their own in the last year and a half. The quartet’s first LP, Speed the Pony, was released May 29 during their album release party at The Mad Frog.
Lead singer Tyler Kottman’s vocals are reminiscent of Cedric Bixler-Zavala from The Mars Volta (TMV), while the band’s instrumentation is funky enough to make you think Modest Mouse was covering The Talking Heads. Mark Berwanger’s incessant drumbeats seamlessly structure the overlapping guitar riffs and bass lines, making a cohesive whole of their musical endeavor. (Written by Sean Peters of The News Record)
Cincy Groove: How did everyone in the band meet? bands first show?
Charlie Hustle: We have all been friends since childhood, playing music together in various combinations. We were all living in Clifton when we finally put the 4 of us together as Charlie Hustle. A college basement jam session sort of start. Our first show was in Clifton at the Rohs St. Cafe.
Cincy Groove:What was the recording writing process like for Speed The Pony? where was it recorded?
Charlie Hustle: The recording process for Speed the Pony was very experimental. It was all done in-house. Tyler has an Electronic Media degree from UC and Rut had acquired some recording equipment thanks to a solid summer job a few years back so we weren’t completely clueless. We recorded at the Blue House in Clifton, where Rut and Tyler lived at the time. We had friends come in and help out. We were really open to any ideas. Our friend Rob Barnes of Slow Claw (Nashville band) came in and helped a lot. It was definitely a building experience.
The writing process has been a mix of methods. More often than not Tyler writes the core of a song and the rest of us interpret his ideas the best we can. Gibson and Rut have written songs as well for Charlie Hustle. And our favorite or most unique method might be starting with the music to jam on and finding a melody after the fact.
Cincy Groove:Are you working on new material for a 2nd cd?
Charlie Hustle: We have already put together 8 or so songs that we are going to record in the near future with our friend Ben Jones (The Western). We are constantly writing in our free time and we want to share that with everyone. Tell us what you think. We love writing and creating music and there is no greater feeling than when people get behind what you love. We haven’t decided how to release the new recordings yet, but it will be available online at the very least.
Cincy Groove:Did you have fun making the “Toiler” video? who filmed it?
Charlie Hustle: The “Toiler” video was awesome. We hooked up with a friend, Pat Meier, who has a Fine Arts degree from UC’s DAAP. He is a great visionary in many facets of the arts and we knew working with him on a video was a guaranteed success. Pat had rented a warehouse space in Camp Washington for a month to put on a Symbiotic Galleries art show (which was incredible). We had been toying with the video idea for awhile but lacked direction. The opportunity came to shoot in this warehouse space and we jumped on it. We started shooting one very hot night in the middle of summer and over the course of the next 8 hours came up with enough footage for Pat to work with. We wrapped up around 6am the next morning and a few months later had this great finished product. Definitely one of the most intense experiences we have been able to put together so far as Charlie Hustle.
Cincy Groove:What have been some of the highlights for the band over the past year?
Charlie Hustle: We played at The Mad Frog, a regular Clifton spot for local bands, one night last year and to our surprise TV on the Radio showed up. They had just played at Bogarts down the street and were wandering around the town after. They came into Mad Frog, us not knowing until after the show, and then came to an after party at Gibson’s place where we had the chance to hang out with them. They only had good things to say about us and the feeling was obviously mutual. What a great band. We partied that night to The Fugees – The Score.
We also had the chance to be apart of Midpoint Music Festival this past fall which was very exciting for us, Midpoint being one of the best independent music festivals in the country and taking place in our home town, Cincinnati. That led to our invitation to the CEA’s (Cincinnati Entertainment Awards) BRINK New Music Showcase at Southgate House. That was a lot of fun. Our video release show at Mainstay Rock Bar downtown was a huge success for us. We overall put out our first release, 10 songs, and keep playing shows when given the chance. We have gained some exposure in the past year, doing what we love to do. We look forward to seeing what 2010 has in store.
Cincy Groove:Who are some of the bands influence’s?
Charlie Hustle: All over the place. Gibson loves MJ. Rut grew up listening to classic rock. Tyler gives anything a chance, and Mark likes Mars Volta. We really listen to a solid mix of genres and artists but at the end of the day we like to call it rock n’ roll.
Cincy Groove:If there was one band Charlie Hustle could open for, who would it be?
Charlie Hustle: Minus the Bear or Radiohead
Cincy Groove:Who are some of your favorite local bands?
Charlie Hustle: We have been trying to get out to more local shows and support the cause. Some favorites would include State Song, Harliquins, The Western, Arms Exploding, Koala Fires, You You’re Awesome, and The Never Setting Suns.
Cincy Groove:What are some of your interests outside of music?
Charlie Hustle: Outside of the music it is the normal grind. Work, eat, play, sleep.
Cincy Groove:What’s ahead for the band in 2010?
Charlie Hustle: Some of our goals for this upcoming year include writing and recording as much music as possible. We are constantly seeking opportunities to play for new faces and fresh ears, and that may include some out of town shows. At some point, you realize what really matters to you and we are endlessly enthusiastic about sharing our love for music with others.