The Very Beginning
Sweet Ray Laurel began its formation in 2002, when bassist Kenny Potter confronted his friend and guitarist Eric "La Bohem" Boehmker at a Halloween party that Kenny's then band Jon E Law was playing that night. Knowing that his band would not continue much further, Kenny asked Eric if he would like to put together a new band. Within a week , they had started playing together and trying to find other musicians to complete the fold. After trying out a handful of singers and guitarists, they came across Jims, front man of the previously disbanded local space-punk band Prick B. Mafia, in early 2003. They met for a few practices and found an immediate chemistry.
They started writing songs as a 3-piece acoustic act with Kenny on bass, Jims on vocals and electric guitar, and Eric on acoustic. They played one show at Cincy Punk Fest '03 with this line-up, feeling incomplete without drums. After trying out a couple drummers, Jims suggested his childhood friend Dane Dickmann with whom he had played many shows while Dane was in the late local pop-punk band Uncle Pervey. The moment that he walked into Sweet Ray's practice space, they started playing and the intensity that the band was looking for was no longer a search. That day, Eric put down his acoustic guitar and started his new venture into the quick moving and effect driven blues leads that he would from then on be known for while he was in the band.
After writing a few new songs and taking songs from the former set list, they then started playing everywhere around the Cincinnati area. Their sound was constantly evolving from the beginning. Songs like "A Nomad at Home" (featured on the Bluegrass Disaster compilation) and "Jimmy's Song" showed influences that ranged from Neil Young to Bob Marley. They then stepped it up a notch when they wrote "Look Alive", "The Halo Effect", and "Radio Down" (featured on Sexy Killer Records Compilation '05 & Split EP with Silver Bridge Disaster) which showcased the band's new found explosive and passionate post-punk sound that would heat you up and cool you down a dozen times within a sometimes 7-minute experience. This is the sound that would dominate their setlists while playing every place in Cincy they could find and traveling around the midwest from '04-'08. During this time SRL was compiling random recordings for their (still unreleased) EP "Distance The Light". With their sound still evolving with more eclectic tastes ranging from aggressive soul to reggae, ska , and world music progressions, while also experimenting with different kinds of flowing harmonies, they found their EP to be an inconsistent mix of songs that would not truly capture the essence of their live show.
Addition and Subtraction
Around summer of 2008 SRL recruited longtime friend and gifted musician Matt "Mattchu" Grone to join them on keyboards and synth and take their sound into a more spacey direction and new level of intensity. The band then made a unanimous decision to record and produce a full album themselves that would project their new style in a more organized fashion than the previous effort. After completing the rest of their shows for the year, they got to work.
During the recording sessions in late 2009, Eric decided to leave the band due to creative differences. This made the band have to refocus their ambitions and start anew. They immediately decided Mattchu would take over lead guitar while still playing keyboards, sometimes literally at the same time. The band then set off to finish the album and embrace their new 4-piece lineup.
After taking a break from playing out to rejuvenate the band's new form, Sweet Ray Laurel released their self titled album and began setting up shows to promote the release. The album features old favorites in a different form like "Freight Train" and "Radio Down", plus new songs such as "Gone" and "More" that accentuate their love for progressive time signatures and multi-layered orchestrations. Their first show back was their annual Halloween party "Dress up and Dance" on Oct 31st, 2010.
Since that show, SRL has toured heavily along the East Coast, hitting up cities like Columbus, Indianapolis, Lexington, Louisville, Dayton, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City. Their music is played on radio stations and podcasts across the country, and around the world. The band continues to grow and reach new audiences each day! With the release of their new EP, Release the Lion, expected to be out digitally this summer, Sweet Ray Laurel will show fans the culmination of years of honing their sound to what is now a very eclectic and original mix of the best rock has to offer.
Sweet Ray Laurel is an adventurous band with surprises around every corner and live shows that will unite any crowd of any background. Stay tuned to see what happens next...........
Jims - Vocals/Guitar
Mattchu - Keys/Guitar/Vocals
Dane - Drums/Vocals
Kenny - Bass/Vocals
Dave - Guitar
Freight Train - Vents Music Mag Comp - Vents Infest - 2011
Self Titled CD - Released Jan. 15, 2011
Radiodown - Single - Sexy Killer Records Comp. 2006
Elanore - Single - Bluegrass Disaster Comp. 2007
Split EP with Silver Bridge Disaster - And Recordings - 2008
Sweet Ray Laurel
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So I’m a band’s name meaning curious guy. How did you guys came out with the name and what’s the mea...So I’m a band’s name meaning curious guy. How did you guys came out with the name and what’s the meaning behind it?
The band name came from our old guitar player Eric, who left the band shortly before the release of the self titled album. We were struggling to find an original sounding name, and Eric was at a party one night when he noticed a poster listing off various plants. One of the plants listed was “Sweet Bay Laurel”, but since Eric had put away a few beverages he thought it said “Sweet Ray Laurel”. He brought the name idea to the band the next day, and the rest is history.
How did you guys came together to create music?
The project actually started with Kenny and Eric. Eric approached Kenny after a show where Kenny was performing with one of his old projects, and suggested starting a new band. The two of them searched for a singer for a few months, until they came across Jims, who was suggested to the band by a friend. The project started off as a three piece acoustic, with the debut performance at Cincy Punk Fest in Cincinnati. The three piece continued to write, and then another friend recommended Dane for drums. Dane, much like Jims, was a perfect fit for the project. Kenny, Eric, Jims, and Dane concentrated on playing shows and writing music over the next few years, trying to discover what the band’s true sound would be. The band toured regionally, including a couple shows on the road with national band “Paperboy Jack”. SRL continued to write and record, but had difficulty trying to find the sound that they wanted. Then, shortly after the beginning of recording the self titled album, Matt was added as a keyboard player. With the album nearing completion, Eric became frustrated with the speed of production and direction of the band, and decided to leave the band. To fill the gap left by Eric’s departure, Matt switched to playing guitar and keys. The newly formed four piece of Sweet Ray Laurel has since enjoyed success, both in touring and media exposure.
What’s the message you are looking to spread with your music?
Music is open, free, and ever changing. We are constantly trying to change things up in our songs. We like to create excitement in our music, and we do so by blending different styles and sounds into our songs. Differentiation is our goal. We like to throw a lot of things out to our listeners to keep them thinking. This has created some issues with trying to figure out genre, and what bands are similar to us, but has helped in gaining interest. That is why we throw things together like post-punk and reggae, then toss in some keyboards, there are not very many bands out there doing that. It’s important to think outside of the box, find the music that is right for you, and keep searching for more of it.
So I can see you guys released an self-titled album. How was the process working in this album?
I feel like groaning when I answer this question. It was a very long process. We had a lot to learn about recording. Our first song took WAY too long, mostly because we kept trying to change and add stuff as things went on, and it ended up costing us too much time and money. This was a very long process for us, we actually have another album worth of recorded music that has not been released. We may release a song or two from the unreleased catalog, and if you do some research on the internet you may even find a song or video from that list of songs. We learned a lot from the process, and really grew as musicians. The current members really came together during the album creation. SRL was able to finally set expectations on the project, and for the first time have a true vision for the direction of our music. We have been working on a new EP, which should be out spring 2012, and that process has been much smoother, due to what we learned from recording the album.
Are there any plans for the future? New album, music video, label?
We have our new EP close to completion, titled “Release the Lion”, and it should be out this spring. We are currently in discussion about adding a live version of one of our unreleased songs to that EP. Our next step after that release is to put out a music video, maybe two. We have also started writing the next full album, and if you ever catch one of our live shows you will likely get a taste of the newer stuff. For those who can’t make the live shows, keep your eye on Youtube because there are often live video shots landing there, such as our song “Shepard” from the upcoming EP. SRL has been looking around for labels, but have yet to find one that is the right fit for us. We are definitely open to the idea of working with a label, but just want to make sure the opportunity is right for us. For now we are going to continue to play out multiple shows monthly, travel as much as we can, and keep trying to gain exposure for our music.
What are your music influences?
SRL has a blend of musical influences due to the difference in background among the members. Depending on who you ask, you are likely to get a different answer. The majority of the band has a punk rock background, Jims pulls from more of the classics (i.e. The Clash), while Dane mixes jazz beats and 90’s punk, Kenny enjoys the heavy music (Silverstein and Senses Fail), and Matt leans more toward an ambient music style, which really comes out in his keyboard lines. Some of the bands that are mentioned frequently include The Clash, Rx Bandits, The Afghan Wigs, At the Drive In, and Sublime. Our music tends to be heavily influenced by various genres of punk rock, and we like to stick some reggae in here and there to spice it up. This is because Jims frequents Jamaica, and has even done some solo performances there. We feel like the blend of styles really helps our music to stand out, even more so with some of our newer material.
What would you say has been the greatest moment as a band?
Wow, that is a tough question. We have played a lot of packed shows, and that is always a great feeling. SRL has also been on a few radio shows, including an in studio performance on The Real Radio Show, WRCN 103.9 NYC, which is hosted by Aj Pero from Twisted Sister. However, if we had to pick one great moment it would probably be from the regional band competition we recently entered in. The competition had the first round in New York (NY), Cambridge (MA), Washington DC, and Philadelphia (PA). SRL was selected to compete in the competition, and to play the first round in Philadelphia, which was close to a 12 hour drive for us. SRL competed against bands from states across the northeast, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. There was an amazing level of talent in this competition, and to be honest we scouted the other bands in the first round prior to our arrival and had already concluded that this would be a great experience, but we had no chance of winning. Even when the judges tallied the scores, we felt we would be in the middle of the pack at best. Jims had given up and went outside for some air. While he was outside the judges announced “First place goes to Sweet Ray Laurel from Cincinnati, Ohio”. We were completely shocked, I really wish we could describe our facial expressions, but even a detailed description of the best “did that just really happen” face would not do it justice. Kenny, Dane, and Matt decided to mess with Jims since he was out during the announcement, but one of the other bands had congratulated Jims in passing outside. Jims came running in and all but tackled us. We still tried to pull off the “we came in third place” trick on him, which didn’t work, but it was truly a great experience for us. We feel very grateful to have our music recognized and appreciated, and to have finished first in that round with such great music on the lineup was a fantastic experience. We are gearing up for the final round of that competition in May at Xibus Performance Hall, Cambridge (MA). For more information on the battle of the bands you can check their website http://inthegroovebattle.com/ .
What has been the funniest moment you guys have been or took part while touring?
Another great question, and there most certainly have been some interesting events that occurred. One being Jims climbing the back side of a basketball hoop to the top, climbing over the back board, and then jumping down through the hoop outside of our hotel in Dayton, Ohio. In Chicago we were witness to some intoxicated college students getting it on right in the middle of the sidewalk, I guess they didn’t see us sitting out on the balcony above them two stories up, thanks for the free show Chicago! New York was an adventure, and we were the lucky witnesses to some street rap, which involved a homeless person, a guy who said he worked with a small hip hop label, and Jims. Perhaps the funniest moment would be on our drive in NYC from Long Island to Manhattan. We are stuck in traffic, and a car pulls off the road, lady jumps out and proceeds to relieve herself on the side of the road in front of a rather large audience. She then climbed back in her car and got right back into traffic, and this may be the best part, the people who were stopped in traffic even saved her spot. You got to love New York!
Do you guys feel you are moving on the right direction?
It took years for us to get where we are today, and if you asked us this question a few years ago we would likely have a different response, but now we do feel that we are headed in the right direction. With one album out, and an EP fast approaching release, things are riding high in SRL’s camp right now. 2011 was a great year for us, the best year we have had as a band so far. It was a year that felt like a return to music, after losing so much time with working on the first album, and reorganizing our secondary guitar parts. The band definitely feels like we are moving in the correct direction and starting to make some noise. Doing this interview is proof of that. The feeling of going down the right path has been strengthened lately, as we continue to write for the next full album. Our music is really just starting to come together. We are yet to hit our peak, and can’t wait to enjoy the ride this takes us on.
Big Med’s Playlist for the Big One | Sweet Ray Laurel – Freight Train
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‘Freight Train‘ from Sweet Ray Laurel is the perfect add to the late night portion of the Big Med Pl...‘Freight Train‘ from Sweet Ray Laurel is the perfect add to the late night portion of the Big Med Playlist for the Big One. It’s a gorgeously textured lyrical poem produced in musical long-hand.
If I close my eyes I can see the lights of the city blur as we roll down the street on a call for yet another ‘undetermined emergency’ on a Friday night.
I’m a recent Sweet Ray Laurel convert. Their swirling mix of post-punk, reggae, and psychedelic music feels vaguely gypsy-mystic to me. I love that it’s a not-too-comfortable fit. The tunes are a constant lesson in discovery as I revel in yet another layer or sound or lyric I missed the last go-round.
Enjoy the ride on SRL’s Freight Train.
Meet the band: Sweet Ray Laurel
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Inspired by a poster advertising the sweet bay laurel plant, Fort Mitchell post-punk/"explosion rock...Inspired by a poster advertising the sweet bay laurel plant, Fort Mitchell post-punk/"explosion rock" quartet Sweet Ray Laurel is looking to play their music out as much as possible.
Comprised of friends Jims on vocals/guitar, keyboardist/guitarist Matt Grone, bassist Kenny Potter and drummer Dane Dickmann, the group formed in 2004 with Grone joining three years ago. On Saturday, the guys curate their first, hopefully annual, Sweet Sounds of Cincy showcase featuring 16 genre-bending local bands performing on two stages at one of their favorite venues, Mad Hatter/Radiodown (they even wrote a song about the venue).
For three months, Sweet Laurel has been coordinating the talent show with bands ranging from metal (the Earth Laid Bare) to reggae (Jamwave) listed on the bill.
"One of the things was, we would play a lot of local shows and you'd have the same genres of bands playing together," explains Potter. "We got the idea of why not get a bunch of different types of bands and put them on one show and see what happens. This show, we have jam bands, we have reggae bands, indie bands, metal bands. So people who are in a jam band aren't going to get the exposure to play in front of fans that are fans of those other genres, so here's the chance for them to get in front of people that they normally wouldn't get in front of."
Since they didn't want to only share the spotlight with their friends, Sweet Ray went online and sussed out local bands via sites like ReverbNation and MySpace and picked out strangers for the networking event.
"It's really hard asking friends to come to shows," says Grone. "It's a lot better to get people that you don't know because then you don't force anybody to like anything or tell you that was good. Having a bunch of different kinds of bands and having a lot of bands has made it easy to get random people you don't know so you can get honest feedback."
The band has been trying to increase its regional and national presence touring throughout Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, plus hitting Chicago and will make a stop in New York at internet station the Real Radio Show in October.
When at home, they're hard at work recording a follow-up EP to January's debut full-length, self-titled album. Tentatively titled "Release the Lion," the King Crimson- and Yes-influenced EP takes the band in a new direction.
"Our stuff is always changing, and we're always willing to try new things," said Jims. "It's what we base ourselves on is the concept that every style of music is up for grabs. That's the great thing about music is that you can do anything you want all the time. What's the point of doing it unless it's something different than what happened before or what you've done before or what you're used to doing with it."
The rest of the band agrees the EP is more focused than their debut. "The album was kind of us developing our sound, where the EP is going to be a little bit more of like, here's the direction we're going to go in," says Potter.
The band sees touring as their vacation from day jobs, or as Grone puts it, "work is a second life," so they always look forward to hitting the road.
"We like to have a lot of fun," says Potter. "We like to do the music and we like to get out there and experience the country and have fun together. It's a brotherhood."
Sweet Ray Laurel Coming to Chicago
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For Sweet Ray Laurel, the Chicago music scene holds great importance. So much so that the band refe...For Sweet Ray Laurel, the Chicago music scene holds great importance. So much so that the band references the city in their song "More" off their self-titled CD. Sweet Ray Laurel has announced a Midwest tour, which includes Chicago's Reggie's Music Joint on February 19th at 8p. The show is 21 and up with a $5 cover.
With melodic pop riffs, poetic lyrics, traveling bass, and drums and keys bordering the math rock coming out of Brooklyn, the music of Sweet Ray Laurel is a creative blend of varying roots.
The band has been together for over seven years and enjoyed touring throughout the Midwest and Southeast to a loyal fan base. After creative regrouping and the completion of their self-titled CD, the foursome has decided to expand their audience in the Midwest by targeting clubs and bars that have a progressive edge.
To preview the show and hear samples of their music, visit the band's website at www.sweetraylaurel.com.
Sweet Ray Laurel, and some new/ old tunes
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New this week we have Sweet Ray Laurel, an epic Indie blend from Cincinnati, Ohio — yes, I admit, I ...New this week we have Sweet Ray Laurel, an epic Indie blend from Cincinnati, Ohio — yes, I admit, I had to copy/paste Cincinnati because my entire life I’ve spelled it wrong. But I digress … SRL is hard for me to label, which is usually the sign of a really unique sound. I really love this band and a couple of their tracks are now on Signal 9.
Sweet Ray Laurel (Release show)
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Sweet Ray Laurel, a local Cincy area band that has been together for over seven years and enjoyed nu...Sweet Ray Laurel, a local Cincy area band that has been together for over seven years and enjoyed numerous regional touring performances as well, took a year long break after losing a band member. They spent that year regrouping and recording, and are now ready to release their self titled album. Sweet Ray Laurel is known not only for their unique mix of post punk, reggae, and psychedelic rock, but also for their exciting shows, including Laurelpalooza, a semi annual show that has been held at the Southgate house and features up to 15 bands in one night. Sharing the stage with Sweet Ray Laurel for their CD release will be veteran Cincinnati musicians The Frankl Project and Great Young Hunters, along with the talented new band Come Here Watson.
|May 24, 2013 Friday||10:00 PM||Circus||Columbus, OH, US|
|May 25, 2013 Saturday||9:00 PM||Molly Malone's||Covington, KY, US|
|May 31, 2013 Friday||9:00 PM||MOTR Pub||Cincinnati, OH, US|
|Jun 14, 2013 Friday||9:00 PM||Al's Bar||Lexington, KY, US|