Interview with Joe Hettinga from Strange Arrangement – Band performs with The Skeetones at The Mad Frog 2/24

strange arrangement
Strange Arrangement

Interview by Scott Preston

In just a few brief years, Strange Arrangement has routinely filled larger venues throughout the MidWest as their ever evolving sound steadily gains more and more notoriety. Drawing on influences from the likes of Phish, Herbie Hancock, Umphreys McGee, and Wilco, a Strange Arrangement show will take an audience through several different musical genres touching upon jazz, funk, rockabilly, soul, and progressive and psychedelic rock. Opening for National Touring Acts such as Future Rock, Outformation, The New Mastersounds, and Umphreys McGee as well as performing at large festivals like Summer Camp, Hookahville, Hoxeyville, and North Coast Music Festival Strange Arrangement’s original brand of dance friendly progressive funk has music fans taking notice. The relationship Strange Arrangement shares with its ever growing audience is based around the idea of creating a moment in time where one can laugh, dance, sing, and connect with the band and its music.

In January, 2011, Strange Arrangement will release its second full length album “Polygraph” recorded and mixed at IV Labs Studios in Chicago, by Manny Sanchez (Umphreys McGee, Smashing Pumpkins, North Mississippi All Stars). The album marks a new chapter for Strange Arrangement and represents what the band has accomplished both professionally and personally since their release of “Side x Side”. An extensive tour in support of “Polygraph” will find Strange Arrangement playing larger clubs, theaters, and festivals throughout the MidWest in 2011 and on.

Cincy Groove: How did Strange Arrangement get together?

Joe: We originally got together in high school. We probably only had 10-12 songs at the time and were performing at places likes coffee houses. We ended up breaking up after college, because a couple guys went to Colorado and I went to school in Michigan. So there was about a 6 year break. We really thought we wouldn’t be playing together again because of where we lived and we were all in like 6 different bands. The guitarist called me to do a studio session down in Nashville in 2005. I really enjoyed his tunes and had a good time in the studio. He ended up moving back to Chicago, the bass player moved back to Chicago and we started the band up all over again.

Cincy Groove: It has to feel pretty good to get your second album, Polygraph, released, especially after the long break.

Joe: It feels like a huge accomplishment. When we got back together we really wanted to take the band and the music seriously. The second record is proof of what we have been doing the past couple years. We love the first record also but this is really the next obvious step for our music.

Cincy Groove: Did the second record come together any easier than the first one?

Joe: So much easier. The first one we recorded ourselves out at this cabin in the woods. We set everything up ourselves, tracked the cd, and mixed it. Mixing took about 5 months because we were also still learning the software. For the second record we went into the studio and recorded for 2 days and were done. We pretty much just recorded every song live in the studio. We used the same producer/engineer that Umphreys McGee uses and it only took him a week to mix the record. He is absolutely amazing, I couldn’t believe how fast he pulled it off. What is really cool is that he owns the studio and records everything to 2 inch tape first. It made the record sound a lot warmer than the first one. We have already started talking to him about working on the next record.

Something else we are doing with this record is working with Home Grown Music Network. We were just reading up on everything they are going to do for us and its very exciting. They are going to help us out tremendously with distribution and radio air play.

Cincy Groove: What were some highlights for the band in 2010?

Joe: Definitely the festivals we had the chance to play. We played Summer Camp, Northcoast Festival here in Chicago, Hoxeyville up in Michigan, Rootwire in Ohio. Other than that, we had a great show when we played the House of Blues here in Chicago. That was one of the best nights for us, the sound was great, the lights, the crowd. We asked a guy we work with here in Chicago to bring out the biggest lighting rig he has ever set up to the show. It was an all around great time.

Cincy Groove: Do you play instruments other than piano? What did you first start on?

Joe: I started on drums and then moved onto guitar. My dad taught me a lot of guitar and my mom was also a piano teacher. We had a grand piano in the house and I tried taking lessons with her and it lasted about 3 weeks (laughing). From that point on I took a total of 6 month of lessons up until college. Then I studied with a professor of piano performance teacher for 5 years.

Cincy Groove: What bands has Strange Arrangement played with in the past?

Joe: Most notably Umphrey’s McGee which has happened a couple times. UV Hippo is a band we play with quite often. We played our New Years Eve show with them, we just did 2 shows with them in Muncie, IN. They are great guys and I sit in with them every time we share a gig.

Thursday, February 24, 2011
The Mad Frog
Address: 6923 Plainfield Rd., Cincinnati, OH
Time: Show at 9:00pm
Details: Supporting Skeetones with The Cliftones Opening
Tickets: $5, 18+

Friday, February 25, 2011
Scarlet and Grey
Address: 2203 N. High St., Columbus, OH
Time: Show at 9:00pm
Details: Supporting Skeetones and Elemental Groove Theory Opening
Tickets: TBA

Saturday, February 26, 2011
Lafayette Theater
Address: 600 Main St., Lafayette, IN
Time: Doors at 7:30pm, Show at 8:30pm
Details: Opening for Digital Tape Machine With Skeetones Supporting
Tickets: All Ages, $10 in advance, $12 day of show

Thursday, March 3, 2011
Official Umphrey’s After Party
Majestic Theater
Address: 115 King Street, Madison, WI
Time: Doors at 10:00pm, Show at 11:00pm
Details: Opening for Digital Tape Machine With Dextrous Roy Supporting
Tickets: All Ages, $10

Friday, March 4, 2011
“Polygraph” CD Release Show
Double Door
Address: 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL
Time: Show at 8:00pm
Details: With Bumpus and Rough Cut Supporting
Tickets: $10, 21+

Saturday, March 5, 2011
The Social Experience
Address: 3040 S. Lafountain St., Kokomo, IN
Time: Show at 9:00pm
Details: None
Tickets: TBA

Thursday, March 17, 2011
Address: 2151 Lawrence St., Denver, CO
Time: Show at 12:00am Friday, March 18th
Details: Late Night with Paul and Dave from Greensky Bluegrass
Tickets: $10, 18+

Friday, March 18, 2011
Address: 2151 Lawrence St., Denver, CO
Time: Show at 9:00pm
Details: With DeadPhish Orchestra
Tickets: $10, 18+

Sunday, March 20, 2011
Address: 320 S. Main St.., Breckenridge, CO
Time: TBA
Details: With DeadPhish Orchestra
Tickets: TBA

Friday, March 25, 2011
Vaudeville Mews
Address: 212 4th St., Des Moines, IA
Time: Show at 10:00pm
Details: With Aquamarine Dream Machine Supporting
Tickets: TBA

Saturday, March 26, 2011
Square Fest
Address: Charleston Square, Charleston, IL
Time: Show at 8:30pm
Details: TBA
Tickets: TBA

Thursday, April 7, 2011
Up and Under
Address: 1216 E. Brady St.., Milwaukee, WI
Time: Show at 9:00pm
Details: TBA
Tickets: TBA

Saturday, April 30, 2011
Address: 3855 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL
Time: TBA
Details: Co-Headlining with The Bridge
Tickets: $10, 21+