Bill Owens Five
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Bill Owens Five

Band Rock Alternative


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"What's old is new:Hoboken band Bill Owens Five plays new 'classic rock'"

As the music scene gets muddied by those vying for fans or solo careers via MySpace or YouTube, finding a band that sticks together is almost a feat within itself. Finding a band that also sounds good together - well, now, that's an accomplishment.

The Hoboken-based band Bill Owens Five isn't looking to impress listeners with the latest blend of musical genres; they're hoping to entice listeners with their version of classic rock.

Sounds simple enough, but their self-described "post classic rock" songs are anything but simple, with rich vocals and the distinct layering of sounds from this very capable five-man group.

After moving to Hoboken in 2003, guitarist Jamie DiTringo began looking for other band mates for an original rock band. After a few mismatched players, and members who weren't as serious about the music, the band evolved into the current lineup.

The Bill Owens Five (not named for any of the members) includes: DiTringo (guitar, vocals), Joe Montague (lead vocals, harmonica), Adam Weissman (keyboards), Steve Brown (bass), and Brian Weinstein (drums).

They began playing out in 2004 and have performed at local bars including the Whiskey Bar, Goldhawk, and Maxwell's, and at notable venues such as The Saint in Asbury Park and Arlene's Grocery in Manhattan.

At a recent show at Maxwell's, the band displayed considerable commitment and infectious energy. One song, "Bring Me Down," builds in intensity after starting with a few simple chords. It is sung with verve by Montague, who not only has a powerful voice but is a consummate storyteller.

Living on Foundry Street

After the group got the right mix of musicians in place, the next step was to make an album - which they chose to do with Grammy-winning producer John Seymour at Treefort Studios in Hoboken.

They began working on the album Foundry Street in December 2006 and eventually released it in April 2007 at Fontana's in NYC.

Recently, the guys took some time out of their rehearsal schedule to discuss their album, the local scene, and new projects.

"We had as many people in the place as outside the door," said Weissman about the CD release party, which was sold out. "Girls were crying. I think Foundry Street was a good culmination of what we were working on. And it was representative of where we were headed. Every song is basically different. I think it was a good reflection of what we had accomplished so far, and a springboard of what we were starting to write at that time."

"I think what Adam [Weissman] said is accurate; it is a springboard," said Weinstein. "We have these 10 songs that have cohesion, and now we can move on and write different songs because we have these as a starting point. That's how I see it."

"It's pretty amazing, because when we recorded that album, you always want to do more and always want to do better," said DiTringo. "I was pleased with it, but what we want to do now is always about the next thing."

Montague said, "Isn't that the case of pretty much any musician? Once the album is out they've already lived with it for a couple of years. By the time they've recorded it, they've moved on."

The songs on Foundry Street were three years in the making. According to DiTringo; the band is constantly working toward new material.

Don't settle

The genius of their music is the deceptively simple sounds - whether it is a few quiet notes on the piano, the mournful wail of the harmonica, the hum of guitars, or the steady percussion - that are seamlessly showcased and blended into kicking rock songs. The songs are refreshing and thrilling - like an ice cold beer in a rain storm on a hot summer night.

"I don't like it when bands just settle for their hits," said DiTringo. "Until recently, the Black Crowes were on tour. They were playing all the songs that fans know, and that's great - but to me how many times can you hear 'Hard to Handle' or 'Remedy'?"

Since the album, they have written new material for a total of about 30-plus songs and plan to release an EP some time in the fall.

Local scene

While having a well-received album would seem like a good place for any musician, in today's competitive music scene, it isn't just about the talent anymore - the bands are forced to act like booking agents and worry about the numbers at the door.

DiTringo said that the original music scene is suffering in the whole tri-state area, and added that so many places pressure bands to get a certain amount of people in the room.

"We're so used to '50 people, 40 minutes, $12 cover,' " said DiTringo about the demands made to bands by booking agents. "No one wants to go out and be cheap, but at this point, we've been playing out for four years. I'm not going to pay that much money to see my friends play out. It's just stupid."

Weinstein agreed.

"And to reiterate what Jamie [DiTringo] is saying," he said, "a couple of months ago in January - The Hudson Reporter

"Bill Owens Five-Foundry Street Review"

By Phil Rainone
I guess the running joke in the Bill Owens Five is, "Where's Bill?" Aside from their publishing called "Who is Bill," there is no one named Bill in this five piece rock band. Maybe it's a tip of the hat to The Ben Folds Five, who are actually a trio. Otherwise, the music on Foundry Street sticks to the basics, and is highly focused on melodies and lyrics.

On the opening cut "Should Be Sleeping," the band fleshes out a fresh serpentine arrangement (almost five minutes long) that is anchored by a solid rhythm section and some inventive keyboards that work well with the acoustic/electric guitars. Part funky blues, part modern rock, there's little in the band's music that can be pigeon-holed or deemed repetitive. A song like "Garden State" is a narrative that confronts their heritage head-on. They share a communal feeling with Bruce Hornsby, ending with a slow-building flourish of instruments. These arrangements are not run-of-the-mill. They're nicely balanced between intricate and delicate. These songs express contemporary fears and realities, leaving you wanting to hear the next one, and the next one, and the next.

Lead singer Joe Montague has a clear, unvarnished voice with just a hint of irony at times. The rest of Bill Owens Five - Jamie DiTringo- guitars/vocal, Adam Weissman- keyboards, Steve Brown- bass, and Brian Weinstein- drums - create songs that are as tuneful as they are intimate and genuine. There's always that thin line between trying to be pure and being tough. The music on Foundry Street is vibrant, emotional, and musically smart; there's no testing your patience. Bill Owens Five mostly earn points the old-fashioned way (especially on song's like "Beach in Ecuador," or "Yuppie Rock Star") by writing likable songs you'll be glad to revisit next month.

For much of the album, they keep things simple. "Bring Me Down" is little more than funky keyboards, tight rhythm section, slinky guitar lines, and strong vocals over a caffeinated groove. This is fun stuff that is well executed, much like the rest of their songs. Bill Owens Five sounds like the type of band that you'd enjoy listening to on CD as much as seeing their live show!
- Jersey Beat

"Check out the Jersey guys hehind "Foundry Street""

To be living there on Foundry Street?c it could be nice. Well, if the Bill Owens Five was performing at the corner bar, it would work out just fine. The Bill Owens Five, out of Hoboken, New Jersey has been setting trends in alternative rock for quite some time now, and it?fs just a matter of time before their distinctive blend is topping iPod playlists everywhere.

While Bill Owens himself doesn?ft actually exist in the band, the artists that do are currently busy supporting their debut album, the aptly named ?gFoundry Street.?h The collection is a ?gmelding of the solid roots of classic rock with improvisation that digs deep into the spirit of raunchy good times.?h From songs like ?gGarden State,?h ?gBull,?h and ?gShot at Me,?h the talented team knows how to bring a tune to life in ear grabbing fashion. Whether the heavy initiation of a drum beat or a gentle strum of guitar, each melody stands out as uniquely Bill Owens Five, ?gfrom hard rock, funk to experimental soundscapes, BO5 is always ready and willing to take chances all over the musical spectrum with the audience riding shotgun.?h
Do yourself a favor and download the album. And of course, check out a show. The Bill Owens Five takes pride in providing their audiences with pure energy and a spontaneous performance; Definitely worth the price of admission. Learn more and read the answers to the XXQ?fs.

XXQs: The Bill Owens Five
XXQs: The Bill Owens Five (PEV): How and when did you first from as a band?

Jamie: After I graduated college from the University of Connecticut in 2003 I moved back to NJ and started working. I immediately moved out of my parent?fs house to Hoboken,NJ in an effort to be close to New York City. The first thing I wanted to do after I graduated was form a band. I found/met up with Steve around September of ?e03 and we began playing music together. Steve worked with Adam and I believe Adam overheard Steve and I chatting about music on the phone and mentioned he played piano. Adam lived with Joe and we all met in at this studio in Jersey City where Steve and I used to rehearse at. We played ?gDown By the River?h for like 2 hours, longer than any Neil Young version on record. Like Spinal Tap, our drummers spontaneously combust. Brian is our 19th drummer and I hope death doesn?ft find him like the other unfortunate gentlemen. Actually, I do wish death on him. He?fs marked by the beast.

Mike: November 5th, 1955.

Steve: I first played with Jamie in a friend?fs basement and we jammed covers and worked on fragments of songs. I met Adam through a mutual job we had and he knew Joe. The original core of the band came together in a rehearsal studio in Jersey City where we jammed the song Down By The River for hours.

Brian: I found these guys on CraigsList?cjust like that Panamanian hooker I left decomposing in a bathtub in Alphabet City.

Joe: No grand evolution here. Just a group of guys that met through avenues outside of music. A couple of us went to college together. A couple of us worked together. A couple of us met online. I think most band?fs origins are much less dramatic and historic than they?fd hope them to be.

PEV: Growing up who were you listening to? Do you remember the first concert you attended?

Jamie: I always had great music playing in the house. My father is a drummer and used to be on the road with my Mom when they first got married. My Mom wasn?ft in the band but boy could she play a mean set of spoons on her knee! Always had The Beatles, Billy Joel, The Band, Hendrix and other amazing artists playing in the house along with the voices of the 80s in full effect: Anita Baker, Hall and Oates, Gloria Estefan. Inspired by the slew of artists always playing in my home, I ventured out and listened to a ton of Zeppelin, AC/DC and Black Sabbath as a young teenager, rocking out and playing the shittiest versions of their material on my first guitar. Then as I made my way to high school, my friends and I would always get extremely stoned and play choice Phish shows and dance like teenage quasi-hippie idiots in my parents living room! The first concert I remember (wasn?ft a concert but a show) was Masters of the Universe at Radio City Music Hall.

Mike: My mother, mostly

Adam: I listened a lot to my parents?f generation?fs music - songs from the 1950?fs, 60?fs, and 70?fs. My father was very into music, was, and still is, a musician himself, but really got me listening to the Beatles and the Beach Boys. My brother helped introduce me more specifically to bands like: Led Zeppelin, The Who, Cream, The Allman Brothers, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Stevie Ray Vaughn, AC/DC, and Boston.The first concert I attended was in 1987, the Rolling Stones played at Shea Stadium during their Steel Wheels Tour.

Steve: My parents were always playing classic rock growing up, specifically the Beatles and the Doors. I still love that music to this day.

Brian: Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden in Oc - Pens Eye View


Bill Owens Five: EP
Bill Owens Five: Foundry Street

Songs from Foundry Street like Bull, Cold Ride and Garden State have been circulating from a few different internet and national radio stations.



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