Restless Groove
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Restless Groove

Orono, Maine, United States | SELF

Orono, Maine, United States | SELF
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Restless Groove has become the go-to band in the Orono area this fall. The band — which consists of longtime friends Peter Gerard on guitar, Justin Michaud on drums and Josh Bernier on bass — has been put together from the remnants of other deceased musical projects. The group shares vocal responsibilites, and along with guitarist Ryan Kirkpatrick, Restless Groove has taken a solid form and begun their reign on the local music scene.

The self-described “progressive, funk-rock-fusion jam band” combines prolific musicianship, danceable grooves and a fun-loving attitude to concoct its infectious audio brew. Influences run the gamut from metal to jazz, while their funked-up covers have included Les Claypool, Tracy Chapman and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

“There’s a little bit of something in our music for everyone to enjoy,” Michaud said.

“It’s definitely a progressive style of music,” added Bernier. “It doesn’t sound like anything you’ve ever heard.”

Hailing from Aroostook County, the members of Restless Groove were raised on metal. Their original band, Bernstein, formed when Bernier and Michaud were in high school. Along with an old vocalist, they covered hard rock and wrote original metal.

When all members made their way to the University of Maine, they formed Boheme. Boheme played on campus with moderate success, but lineups changed as members came and left throughout their education. After a brief stint as a band called Trifecta, the current members of Restless Groove came together to become the band they are now. Bernier, Michaud and Gerard have been playing together off and on for six or seven years.

Their transition from being metalheads happened slowly. The discovery of Primus’ work ignited the band’s creativity and sparked them to craft similar music.

“We all got exposed to different music, and we have a lot of influences from different bands from every genre, and I think that you can still hear some traces of metal in our music,” Michaud said. “I think it’s just going to happen no matter what.”

According to Gerard, the band’s songwriting goals became clear after they realized there was a very small market for metal — they wanted to make people dance.

“We didn’t want something where you go see a band at a bar and everybody’s just kind of like sitting there,” Gerard said. “We wanted to keep people at the bar until 1 [a.m.]”

The band currently has 10 complete original songs but will only play an average of six or eight per night. The rest is filled with a myriad of unique covers which often turn into extended jams, according to Bernier.

“We’re definitely huge into the improv thing,” Gerard said. “We’ll take a song and try and turn it into 15 or 20 minutes.”

Restless Groove learned the power of pulling out crowd-pleasers from their mistakes as Boheme, which relied almost solely on original material. They said they would like it if their originals got the same reception as their covers but realize their place as a developing band.

“We try to organize our original songs so that musicians want to hear our stuff and think it’s good, as well as the average Joe Schmoe that listens to whatever type of music,” Michaud said. “When we’re playing at a club or something, people can get up and dance and just enjoy the music for what it is, and then musicians can also watch and appreciate that there’s a lot of good musicianship behind it as well.”

The band rehearses in Brewer in the house Kirkpatrick and Bernier reside in. Kirkpatrick has set up a recording / rehearsal space in which he has immersed himself to learn the intricacies of recording, according to Bernier.

Rehearsals often entail songwriting workshops, cover song run-throughs or strictly vocal rehearsals. The band admitted some rehearsals end up with everyone sitting in front of the TV with a beer.

Last Friday, Restless Groove took the stage at the Bear Brew Pub. Their distaste for genre definition and their love for variation became apparent with songs like “Car Wash” by Rose Royce, “Deeper Underground” by Jamiroquai and “Give Me One Reason” by Tracy Chapman. Their original songs were jammed-out jazz rhythms full of solos from each musician. Gerard and Kirkpatrick displayed their talents by swapping the roles between upbeat rhythms and solo shreds.

Spectators wasted no time in showing their approval as songs concluded with cheers of approval, and eyes remained fixed upon the performers until the end of the set.

The four band members had strong command of their environment and exhibited comical stage presence. Side comments and jokes were common between songs, which showed their genuine pleasure for performing.

The band members were seemingly chilled out and down-to-earth but would assume metal stances or prop their legs on amplifiers. Their seriousness intensified as their set list progressed into more technical jams and covers.

The band played “The Awakening” by Primus, dumbfounding observers with lightning-fast bass solos mixed with drum fills and odd rhythms. They are humble musicians who don’t hesitate to step aside in order to highlight the talents of the other members in the group.

The band sees the local music scene as a great starting point — far beyond the nonexistent scene they came from in the north.

“So far, people have been appreciating our music, and we go watch other bands play,” Michaud said.

“There’s definitely not that many bands around here,” Bernier said. “There could be more.”

Michaud said they were surprised when they came to Orono, expecting more bands at a university the size of UMaine.

Gerard said the band was proud of playing at Chickenfest, which they called the highlight of the music scene each year.

Restless Groove plans to release their debut album in early January. Gerard described it as a progressive concept album that fans of Dreamtheater and Rush will enjoy.

The album, with the working title “Forest of Dance,” tells a story with an environmental twist, according to the band.

“It’s sort of like ‘FernGully’,” Bernier joked.

The band plans to head to the Portland area this summer to play, but has set its sights on festivals. According to Bernier, Restless Groove can be summed up as a festival band that makes people feel good and move around.

“We’ve all been in bands before, and I guess we could say we took it seriously,” Michaud said. “But this is the first band we’ve all been in together were we want to go somewhere with it … We’re trying to stick together, work hard and promote ourselves and really take it to the next level as far as playing music goes.” - The Maine Campus written by Kegan Zema and Billy Roy


Discography

The Forest of Dance. 2010

Photos

Bio

Restless groove is a melting pot of influences and interests, all boiled into one infectious audio brew. The band blurs the line between sounds of prog. rock, improvisational jam and blues rock, jazz, hip hop and even metal. RG strives to combine intricate guitar playing with aggressive and technical bass / drums, yet manage to create fun loving riffs and tunes that everyone can sing and dance to.
RG is very much influenced by the sounds of bands like Rush, Incubus, and Umphrey's McGee. RG is a good fit for any and all music venues, you have to just see it to believe it. (Check out HD Video links below!)