Inca Maya

Inca Maya

BandRockFunk

Inca Maya is a hybrid of all things 70's. Imagine if Zeppelin and Steely Dan went on a double date with The Allman Brothers and Earth, Wind, & Fire. Throw in some newer sounds like moe. and Jamiroquai and you're almost there.

Biography

In listening to the self-titled, debut album by the Jacksonville rock band Inca Maya, it is easy to be stunned by the sheer skill and flair with which they play. Razor sharp, pyrotechnic guitar co-mingles with funk beats and traces of world beat and reggae; ethereal and vibey verses mix with anthemic choruses and fiery rockers mix with heartfelt ballads. And the quality of the songs is brought into sharp focus by the impassioned singing. But when one understands the genesis of Inca Maya, the skill with which they play no longer occurs as such a surprise - even if the music they play sounds so good that it can occasionally occur as shocking.

Led by guitarist, lead vocalist and songwriter Matt Grondin, Inca Maya descends from southern rock royalty. Matt's mom was married to Lynyrd Skynyrd vocalist Ronnie Van Zant and after his death in a plane crash in 1977, she married Matt's father, one of the founding drummers of the very successful 80's southern rock band, .38 Special. Grondin says, "Some of my earliest memories are of being at concerts, watching my dad play behind his riser." His mom opened the "Freebird Live" venue in Jacksonville when Matt was a teenager, where he cut his teeth, sitting in with many groups. "It definitely opened doors for me," says Matt, before adding with a laugh, "There's a part of me that loves southern rock music, but I tend to lean more towards the improvisational nature of bands like The Allman Brothers rather than super arranged stuff of Skynyrd most times."

Grondin began writing his own material around the time he graduated from high school. Always his own sharpest critic, he says, "I wasn't very good for a long time - I really had to work on becoming a good writer." But in meeting drummer Michael "The Sultan" Cansler, a nickname given by none other than Col. Bruce Hampton himself, Grondin found his partner in the truest sense of the word; someone committed to the same musical ideas who would eventually become the group's primary lyricist. The two worked together for years, experimenting and refining their style, and with the addition of Shane Platten on bass, began taking Inca Maya to live audiences in 2007, quickly developing a fanbase in the southeast and playing shows and festivals in the region, including the Wanee Festival, the Magnolia Festival, and the Talleyrand Festival. Throughout it all, Grondin developed a reputation as an amazing lead guitarist, sitting in with Gov't Mule, moe., Galactic, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, JJ Grey & Mofro, members of The Allman Brothers Band, and many more.

Inca Maya, the band's debut album, self-recorded and produced by Grondin, showcases both the rock and funk aspects of their music. "We want grooves you can dance to, but also really aggressive guitars," says Grondin. And from the first notes of "Where You Are," the album's opener, you can hear the ambition and sense of purpose with which the band writes and records; an ethereal, Middle-Eastern soundscape gives way to a thunderous guitar riff and a pounding drum beat from The Sultan that is almost Bonham-esque in its dedication to both power and groove. Grondin's solo toward the end provokes wonder and thoughts of, "Did I just hear someone play that incredibly?" "Let It Roll" underlines the band's funk influence, but Matt's guitar playing remains mesmerizing throughout. "Highway" is simply overwhelming in its power and passion - built on a guitar riff that is both familiar feeling and completely its own, the song is relentless in taking the listener through peak after peak of virtuoso playing from the entire band. "Ghosts" offers a respite from the intensity - but provides a thrillingly beautiful and melodic chorus, punctuated by some gorgeous piano and acoustic guitar and showcases some of Matt's best singing on the album. For each moment on the album, there are a dozen others that beg to be cited.

In a music world where true skill has often been replaced by the ability to push a button on Pro Tools, music with this kind of skill is precious indeed. With their debut album, Inca Maya has declared that they are a band that plays music at a higher level - and they demand the immediate attention of those who love music for music's sake. Grondin declares, "Our aim is to be in it for the long run. We want to be a touring act with longevity, and we're going to keep making albums that continually challenge our own skill as musicians." On the road throughout the southeast this fall, Inca Maya is a band not just to be on the lookout for - they are a band to be reckoned with, and overwhelmed by.

Discography

Inca Maya (2008)