Train Company
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Train Company

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Band Rock Blues

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"This sounds like the band laid down the track live, which is refreshing, and I also like the singer’s voice – I feel he really believes what he is singing about…” -Allan Wells, Comino Productions Inc.

- Hitquarters.com


"I love the lead singer's voice. I think it totally fits the style... Every instrument seems to have its place… Train Company seem to have something really good going on. The song (Clementine) is beautiful, and the lead singer brings it into another level."- Ronald Soelkner, Hitquarters.com - Hitquarters.com


"These guys have a whole new sound!...The lead singer has a voice that is sultry and just unusual enough to be interesting - he makes you want to listen twice. There is something truly unique about these guys and their music!" -iTunes Review - iTunes


Train Company was the first act of three, behind 28 North and Blues Traveler, this past Thursday night at Chicago’s House Of Blues. Many artists might not like it when they are the ones chosen to be the first band on the bill – not Train Company. As their lead signer John Zozzaro explained, they “sincerely appreciate the opportunity (and task), of setting the mood for the night, of lifting the tone.”

Well, mission accomplished, set the mood they did. Train Company played a brand of rock that is highly influenced by the blues and jazz. That is a vague description at best, and is one that could be applied to many bands. Yet Train Company’s uniqueness lies in how they amalgamate these genres into their style of rock in such a seamless manner.

Train Company is comprised of 5 Chicagoans, containing one keyboardist and one saxophonist. The additions of these instruments allows them the ability to have the aforesaid blues and jazz undertones present in their music (more times blues than jazz, they are from Chicago), without ever overtly stepping into blues or jazz. On stage it was apparent that as a band, they can really ‘walk together in step’. They are emotionally in sync, all the subtle ebbs and flows are executed in synchronization. This can be accomplished through relentless practicing, sure, but their musical-emotion-congruity came off as a natural occurrence - a product of the musicians really enjoying their music and playing with each other.

On this night it was the songs Leaving and Change in which one could really hear them at their best. Leaving had a fantastic sauntering bass line that was placed within what is a highly energetic blues-rock song; it created for a song with a rock n’ roll drive –yet with a bluesy philosophy. It was also deceptively dynamic as towards the end it even took on a slight jam band groove. Change had more of a funky, slightly R & B flavor to its blues-rock base. There were ear-catching harmonies and a classy, well-executed crescendo.

For this author though, their talent shone through best on their song, Conquistador, which is a smooth and subdued blues number with great sax highlights. And while the rhythm was simple and all 5 musicians were playing, it still held onto a pleasant minimalist sound. And then near the end as the energy picked up momentarily a Hendrix blues riff was discreetly brought into the song, played with briefly, and let go before most people could notice it. It felt like a short-lived inside joke that only the most thorough of rock fans in the audience perceived, and undoubtedly enjoyed.

In their own words Train Company’s philosophy is to play a “new kind of old,” they “like to play the same story, but told a different way.” But there in lies the art of skillfully playing blues-rock; it’s not about being revolutionary, it’s about infusing your unique emotions, outlook or story into established musical frameworks. This is what Train Company understands, and in doing so they definitely set the right mood for the evening, just as they wanted to.

By Sean Brna - Chicago.com/Music


"...Train Company took the stage next, and they were dressed nicely. This, combined with the member on saxophone, helped me to preconceive them as a swingin’ smooth jazz outfit. That thought was blown away (as my mind was) when their set delivered confidently. They’re a classy rock band that blends a lot of influences and funnels them into a passionate (and sweaty) performance, but what really sold them for me was their attention to detail. Their songwriting doesn’t end at the lyrics and structure; the songs were filled with surprises and flourishes that could hold the attention of the most disinterested listener. From the drums dramatically dropping out for a verse to the singer’s notes stretching into savage yells to tasteful vocal harmonies to another song ending with a squall of wah-pedaled distortion, Train Company never missed a moment to command attention." - Paul Rice, Chicago.com/Music


By Wicked • January 15, 2010

The first time I heard Train Company was about 7am one morning while driving in the cold and pouring rain. The windshield wipers and blurry red brake lights in front of me, combined with the silky saxophone whispers jumping from my speakers, reminded me of walking out of a smokey downtown club, flipping up my collar against the cold night air, and strolling down the boulevard to my next haunt. That was a pleasant distraction from rainy Atlanta traffic and an introduction to an interesting new band, Train Company.

Working their way around the Chicago music scene, Train Company is headed by the unique and memorable vocals of John Zozzaro and the perfect accompaniment of Mark Alletag’s sax. Not to be outdone, Train Company is rounded out by Mike DeWitte on Bass and Rob Lejman on drums. Their sound is more of a upbeat rock/jazz infusion with the sax and flute in more of a support role. The sax is used very similar to older O.A.R stuff but that isn’t to say the music from the two bands is similar. Train Company’s sound is more of a quicker burst of energy than the jam type feel of an O.A.R song. This is definitely evident when you notice half of the songs on their self titled debut are under 2 minutes and 50 seconds long.

Their first release from Train Company’s self titled debut is “A New Kind of Home” and it really sets the tone for the beginning of the album. A quick stepping cymbal really sets the pace and continues on through “Lovely Lady” and “Do You Really Wanna Know” but then we slow down a little for one of my favorites from the album, “Clementine”. Every album needs a song about a girl and this one showcases Alletag on the sax and is the perfect lead in to one of Zozzaro’s songs from his days, finding his own sound, in New York. That song, “Forest”, is one of the other songs on Train Company that slows the percussion down a little and really lets the Jazz vibe breathe. Part of the credit for this has to go to Train Company’s producer on this album, Patrick DeWitte. Producers don’t always get mentioned in album reviews, but the quality of this debut, self released album cannot be ignored. Pleased trust me on that, I have heard a lot of shit over the years.

One of the last songs on Train Company is “I’ll Keep Walkin’” and it kinda sums up my impression of this new Chicago band. Not in the way of I’ll keep walkin on by them, but in the way that this group of early 20 somethings has managed to put out a pretty good album, they are going to keep on and there ain’t no stopping them.

Click the link below to hear Train Company’s new single, “A New Kind of Home”. - Wickedplaylist.com


This song should be the soundtrack for every forlorn figure that walks, leaning into the wind, through the icy streets of Chicago, coat barely keeping the burn of the freezing air at bay, elbow crooked where a significant other should attach itself. - Tune The Proletariat


Upon first listen you’ll think what the fuck? This isn’t stoner. Yeah, you’re right. It’s not. Not that it couldn’t be..

Seriously, this four piece from Chicago, IL play quite a different type of rock. There’s some blues elements but also a lot of jazz inspired sounds as well. Their music is certainly not for everyone, but for everyone open minded.

In case you didn’t know, Train Company is a Chicago based rock ‘n roll band that has been hustling since 2007. They independently released their debut studio album Train Company in 2009, and digitally released their self-recorded single “The Otherside” in July 2010 for free download on their website. Riding the high of a sold-out show with Blues Traveler in Chicago earlier this summer, Train Company entered the studio three days later to record “a gritty rock & roll session” live to analog tape. With producer Patrick DeWitte behind the board, Train Company recruited Sam Wyatt to play keys, and female vocal group The Icicles to lay down the backing vocals. The resulting three track EP titled Change will be released at Lincoln Hall on September 3rd.

This review is about their upcoming EP, Change. The first track, “Change,” is very pop/rock/jazz insired that is a track that will get you moving. “Conquistador” is the second song. It’s a slow paced avant guard track. Towards the end it incorporates some organ and guitar amongst the saxophone and background girls singing along. The EP closes out with the track “Still Can Feel The Heat” has less jazz elements and more rock elements. Anyone familiar with Baby Woodrose will definitely appreciate this track.

As I said, this band isn’t for everyone. If you’re open minded about your music or just want to hear something close yet so far from the stoner/doom spectrum, then you must check out the band’s Myspace page and get the new EP when it hits on September 3rd. - The Soda Shop


It has the progressiveness of jazz, John Frusciante-styled guitar, the soul of a hot summer's night, and the heavenly beauty of Jeff Buckley. It's a storm building inside itself. When you make it through the pain, the other side is so bittersweet -- you're relieved but tangled in the vines of the past. Sometimes change is what you fear, but sometimes it's also the last bit of faith you have to hold on to. Here's a song recorded in a basement, perfectly capturing a mood. - Mixtape Muse - The Hype Machine


debut reviewed in Illinois Entertainer

There’s a nostalgic feel to the melodic love songs on Train Company’s self-titled debut that brings to mind smoke-filled lounges in the early 1960s. John Zozzaro is a classic crooner who frequently harmonizes with bassist/vocalist Mike DeWitte, and Mark Alletag adds a jazz flavor via saxophone, clarinet, and flute...Train Company offers plenty to like, especially the romantic “Do You Really Want To Know?” and “Forest.”
– Terrence Flamm, Illinois Entertainer - Illinois Entertainer


"Meet Train Company, a band consisting of 4 friends hailing from St. Charles, IL. Their self-titled debut will hit stores on June 1, 2009, and it's bound to generate some interest because of its fresh take on some tried and true musical styles.

Train Company is a wonderful mix of jazz, blues and good old fashioned rock 'n roll. The combination of these genres may seem odd at first, but after a few songs, you'll see that what Train Company put together is more than just unique; it's an enjoyable listen as well.

The main reason why this combination of styles works so well is the musicianship combined with excellent songwriting and John's voice, which is just a little off the norm. The result is intoxicating and very close to perfection.

Most of the tracks clock in under 3 minutes, which suit songs like Tree, which has a touch of ragtime, to a tee. Each of the songs on 'Train Company' could be described as old-fashioned modern. What is that, you ask? They are songs that make you think you're listening to something from yesteryear, but at the same time are brand new. That's why Train Company will appeal to the younger crowd and the younger crowd's parents and grandparents.

The beautiful 'She Will Roam' has two wonderful sax solos and a beautiful vocal designed to please the easy listening crowd. Winter stays in the jazzy vein but the lyrics have a darker touch, though that doesn't detract from the beauty of the saxophone.

The sax is the one instrument that figures in each song predominantly, and its never overpowering, it's simply there, making its presence known. With the slower jazzy numbers the sax does its best to seduce you into a romantic mood. On the faster tracks it picks you up and pulls you to your feet to get you moving. Even on tracks like 'Clementine' where the guitar takes center stage, the sax is there, subtly adding a little spice to the track.

Listening to Train Company is often like listening to another classic IL band, The Buckinghams, who dominated the charts in the 60s. When Train Company rocks out they take on the 60s rock sensibility, in other words, they make the songs short, sweet and very memorable, which is what The Buckinghams did and still do so well. 'A New Kind Of Home' is the best example of this on the album, by far. It's like listening to your favorite oldie, only it's brand new.

How can you not love a band that gives you 12 songs that really make the listener beg for more? Yes, that's how good the debut album from Train Company is, it leaves everyone on their knees begging for more music, because there's so very little music like this out there. Train Company's music can't be pigeonholed into one specific place in the music charts. It's best to use words like brilliant, good fun, fantastic and above all else, unique. These words sum it up.

If you're looking for something new and totally different from anything else out there now, give Train Company a try. You'll be pleasantly surprised by what you hear and without a doubt you'll be clamoring for more after only one listen. Let's hope 'Train Company' is the first of many albums by this band. -Andrea Guy (Mossip Music Review) - Mossip on Livejournal


"Train Company's guitarist & Lead Vocalist John Zozzaro describes Train Company's music as "Folky Blues, with Jazz overtones and a 60's pop rock element. It gives you all the reasons to call it new school but all the reasons to make you reminisce about the old days." I totally agree with that! This music swings, has a jazz-rocking mood and a bluesy twist with a taste of folk and pop. Check them out!!!

-Dr. Fusion
www.drfusion.blogspot.com/
- Dr. Fusion Blogspot


Train Company plays an old timey blend of Jazz, Swing, Blues, Country, and Rock 'n' Roll. Together, these genres come together to create the unique, vintage tone of Train Company. Train Company has a sound of musical antiquity and slow, rustic beats that preserve the sound of its earlier roots. With such a wide variety of influential genre, it is only natural that the band have a wide range of song variety. Train Company can play a fast, electric beat as in “Roadhouse Blues,” a Jimmy Hendrix Style song like “Red House,” and then slow, blues driven songs like “Conquistador.”

Train Company also makes an amazing use of multi-instrumental talent. If you like slow, smooth saxophone, deep, driven percussion, and fast guitar chords, Train Company will certainly suite your taste. Train Company also makes use of flute and clarinet, creating a more diverse sound in their songs.

Train Company has just released their debut EP, Train Company. Downloads are available on iTunes and streaming at http://www.myspace.com/traincompany



The Exclusive Train Company Interview



How long have you been playing music?

All of us have been playing music since middle and grade school. Mark is the oldest, so he wins.


If you could describe your music in any way, how would you?

Classy rock n' roll to folksy blues to indie pop and beyond, it gives you all the reasons to call it new school while reminiscing about the past.

Which earlier musicians have influenced you the most?

We all have a ton of old heroes, including rock groups like the beatles, the jimi Hendrix experience, and Chicago. We also have our individuals like John coltrane, John Entwistle, John bonham, and John Lennon.

You can currently catch us listening to groups like The Appleseed cast, Radiohead, Feist, Andrew Bird, So Many Dynamos, The Raconteurs, and Grizzly Bear. You won’t necessarily hear them in our music, but they still influence us as musicians.


How has your music evolved since you began playing?

Since we've started, we have learned a great deal from one another and have a better understanding of where everyone wants to go with the music. At our live shows, you can see how much more comfortable we are on stage together. We're not a jam band but we try to incorporate some improvisation every show and keep the live sound interesting. It's hard to sum up our evolution because we’re still growing as a band and working hard on new material. The next album will help define us better than the first one.


You have released your debut LP "Train Company." Describe the music making process in the making of "Train Company."

Train Company was a collection of songs John had written while he was in New York, excluding Clementine, On My Way, and I'll Keep Walkin' which we're written while we were preparing for the album. By the time John had returned to Saint Charles all the songs were recorded and ready to be built upon by everyone else.

“I would usually try and start with a melody and start building the song from there. I would also sit and record multiple takes of different words and ideas to see what would work after the song was recorded instrumentally. I always imagined what the other instruments would sound like over it. When I moved back and everyone added their own ideas Train Company was born.


What's your ultimate direction for you and your music?

We want to take our music in any direction we can, preferably on the road. Our music has evolved to be more blues/soul based and less pop love songs. We try to let the music speak for itself.


Is there anyone you'd like to acknowledge who's helped you get to where you are today?

There are so many people, bands, mentors and musicians that have supported and contributed to who we are. The list could literally include everyone we've interacted with over the last 10 years.

Joe Zozzaro, Patrick DeWitte, Paul Farahvar, Steve and Tom from The House Pub in Saint Charles, Kristy from Niko’s Lodge, and Bud at Guitar Center in Algonquin.


Any last words?

We just wanted to say thanks to My Crazy Music blog for the interest and support for what we do. We appreciate it!

http://www.mycrazymusicblog.com/2010/01/written-by-matthew-mendoza-train.html - My Crazy Music Blog


Discography

Digital Single (2011):
Banister

Change EP (2010):
Change
Still Can Feel The Heat
Conquistador

"The Otherside" limited single (150 copies released)
The Otherside

"Train Company" (2009)
A New Kind of Home
Lovely Lady
Do You Really Wanna Know? (featured on 93XRT, Chicago)
Clementine
Forest (Featured on P-1 Campus Invasion)
She Will Roam
Finding Ways
Winter
Tell Me Your Name
Tree
I'll Keep Walkin'
On My Way

Photos

Bio

With roots deep in the bedrock of local blues and jazz, Chicago-based Train Company (John Zozzaro, guitar/vocals; Mark Alletag, saxophone/guitar/flute/clarinet; Rob Lejman, drums; and Mike DeWitte, bass/vocals) mix rock, indie and folk with thumping lyrical heart for a new kind of old sound that draws comparisons to idols Clapton and Van Morrison as often as new classics The Black Keys and Andrew Bird. Horn sections, string arrangements and vocal trio fill out a musical cornucopia that has set toes tapping all the way from the city by the lake to Middlewest Fest and South by Southwest to college towns back east.

The band was born when Zozzaro, who fostered his songwriting skills in New York City with contemporaries that would later form Twin Sister, was blown away by Alletag’s performance at a jazz session at Northern Illinois University in 2007. Zozzaro bought Alletag, an NIU music major, a drink. Several rounds later, the pair was preparing to mix their musical worlds. Zozzaro’s former drummer, Lejman, and bassist, DeWitte, quickly completed the lineup – sewing up the band’s trademark balance of musicality and raw energy. The group chose their moniker to honor Zozzaro’s early collaborations with other NYC musicians in train car visitor boxes, which became the breeding grounds for most of the songs on the band’s debut recording.

In the handful of years since a shared love of jazz and blues brought them together, Train Company has reached “a sound and chemistry that portrays a band that has been together for over a decade” (thetravelingyeti.com) and established themselves as an opener for national acts, joining Blues Traveler at Chicago’s House of Blues in 2010, and taking the stage for a sold-out show at the same venue in 2011 with the Counting Crows.

The group followed up their 2009, self-titled debut recording – a vibrant and uplifting introduction - with 2010’s “Change EP,” revealing a band eager to bring new flavors to their inherent Chicago blues sound. Both releases came to fruition without a label and garnered critical praise, as well as an expanded following for the group, while Train Company’s music found airtime on Chicago’s 93XRT and college radio across the country. Today, Train Company maintains a hectic schedule of independently booked gigs, tours and festivals, and has gained a reputation as “a classy rock band that blends a lot of influences and funnels them into a passionate (and sweaty) performance ... delivered confidently” (Chicago.com/music).

In August, Train Company hunkered down in Chicago to record their second studio recording – their most ambitious recording project to date. Sam Wyatt, who joined the group after the “Change EP” session and also holds a music degree from NIU, contributes piano, organ and keytar known to bring the house down, while female vocal trio Busy Brynn & The Bees supply traditional soul inflections, as well as hints of rock, jazz and opera. The driving and energetic performance Train Company is known for live are exemplified in Rolling-Stones-esque horn arrangements, as well as modern interpretations akin to Spoon, while a string quartet brings a sonic balance of delicate verve to the final landscape. The resulting sound belies a group testing the boundaries of its influences and forging a new, eclectic rock and roll sound soaked with youth, raw energy and a clear love for the music.