Upside Groove Coalition
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Upside Groove Coalition

Band Rock Funk


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Upside Groove Coalition: A Premium Blend of Musical Style"

Crashing the national music scene not only takes talent, but often a whole lot of luck (exceptions: you look like either Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake or you perform like John Mayer, a watered down facsimile of a watered down Dave Matthews). For most bands, developing a local following is difficult enough. Translating that local support into national exposure can be nearly impossible, but the Milwaukee-based Upside Groove Coalition appears poised to try to make that transition.

Upside Groove Coalition has been performing gigs throughout the state and filming a music video at the Rave in support of their first album, Funky Estofado. On a recent Tuesday, the band brought their eclectic mixture of rock, jazz, blues, latin, and ska to Onopa Brew Pub. While occasionally sharing the stage with spoken word performers, Upside Groove Coalition displayed the musical chops that just may attract a larger market.

Lead singer Ritchie Howell, a former MC on Bourbon Street, has clearly mastered the art of engaging an audience. Hopping around the stage, occasionally in tandem with saxophonist Matt Ostlund, Howell’s clear, distinctive voice enlivened several tracks from Funky Estofado, especially “Room 410” and “Bread and Butter.” Howell and his band mates also put their own creative spin on a handful of covers, including the Rolling Stones’ “Waiting on a Friend” and The Band’s “The Weight.”

Ostlund’s sax play, wild mane, and equally wild body contortions capture the spirit of the band. His style is an integral part of the band’s sound. In many ways, Ostlund’s saxophone work functions similarly to that of Derek Huston of The Iguanas, providing Upside Groove Coalition’s latin feel.

Ostlund and bassist Steve Tycz appear to communicate effortlessly on stage. This is important as many Upside Groove Coalition songs begin with a Tycz bass line with Ostlund, guitarist Sean Berry, and drummer Brian Bruendl soon injecting their own distinctive flavor. While the play of Berry and Bruendl is often understated, each provides an essential element of Upside’s funky sound.

Many bands that bring together so many diverse musical styles tend to treat live shows as extended jam sessions. While Upside Groove Coalition deviates from the traditional three-minute song in favor of more textured, layered, and complex arrangements, they wisely eschew the extended solo performance. This is not to suggest that the members are incapable of grabbing the spotlight, but Upside Groove Coalition focuses instead on their cohesiveness as a group.

Bringing all their musical influences and interests together creates a dynamic sound. Tycz notes that having band members with diverse musical backgrounds allows Upside Groove Coalition to “end up in musical places that each of us wouldn’t have imagined on our own…Pretty soon there’s this great musical stew of ideas going on, and you kind of wonder—how did we get here?”

Listening to Upside Groove Coalition, it is clear that the music is given time to evolve. With a confident attitude, infectious style, and a little luck, Upside Groove Coalition just might have what it takes to propel them onto the national scene.

Funky Estofado is on sale at music stores throughout Milwaukee. Check for information about the band, upcoming performances, photographs, and more.

- Riverwest Currents - Volume 2 - Issue 9 - September 2003

"UGC's sound is mix of many tastes"

By Molly Snyder Edler
Upside Groove Coalition bassist, Steve Tycz, describes his band's music as "modern rock flavored with funk, jazz and soul," but after listening to their demo CD, it seems samba and New Orleans-style blues are undeniable influences as well. This mega-mixture of genres, and interesting choices for cover songs, are what make UGC unique and potentially a band that will spark from the ashes of unknown local groups.

Although the covers are not on the new CD, called Funky Estofado, they are still in rotation for live shows. Most impressive is UGC's funkified, slow version of The Cure's "Close to Me," that showcases the talents of the entire band, especially saxophonist Matt Ostlund. Although Robert Smith's signature delivery seems strikingly absent whenever a Cure song is covered, lead vocalist Richie Howell's New Orleans-style voice takes the song to a completely new place -- one that is definitely hotter than the melancholy Smith's version.

Other members of the band include founding members Brian Bruendl on drums and Sean Berry on guitar (Howell and Ostlund joined later) and guest musicians often sit in during shows, including esteemed violinist Tom Hansen.

Upside Grove Coalition will release their first CD this weekend at the Milwaukee Ale House and recently, OMC caught up with Tycz and tapped him for more information about his new band.

OMC: Is this your first CD with UGC?

ST: This is our full-length debut.

OMC: Where was it recorded? Who produced it?

ST: We recorded at Al & Willy's Engine Room (Alan Williams & Willy Porter's new studio). Alan engineered it. It was produced by Brian Bruendl, Alan Williams and I.

OMC: What other bands have you been in? How is UGC different?

ST: Brian and I came most recently from the ashes of True Heart Susie, a Milwaukee-based progressive rock band. THS was centered around one songwriter, and UGC tries to be a more collaborative effort. Sean was last in the Crowning. Matt still plays with meringue and salsa bands in the area and Richie sang with a few projects in New Orleans.

OMC: Is Milwaukee a good place for your type of band?

ST: I think we're a good band for a place like Milwaukee because we're happy to play for the audience. We can play clubs where all-original music is expected, or festivals and clubs where it's traditional to play covers, while being at home in each. It's great for us too, because we're not playing the same set night after night and it keeps the music fresh for us.

There are a lot of groups who would rather sit in the basement because they don't want to play any covers. There are a few bands in town who are savvy enough to be able to do what they love, and finance their original art by doing it. We try to take what other musicians have done, build on it and make it our own. Whether that means samba beats for Radiohead or Meters-style funk for Jane's Addiction.

OMC: What are your aspirations for the band?

ST: In the short term: play lots of festival and club dates, in and out of state this summer and fall. Just keeping the band out there. In the long term we want to keep evolving as musicians and continue growing as a band. By that I mean getting our music into the hands and ears of new fans, adding new venues and festivals to our playlist, and attracting national attention.

OMC: How long have you been playing bass?

ST: Since 1984 or '85.

OMC: Did you study somewhere or are you self-taught?

ST: I think it's better from a creative standpoint to teach yourself and explore your instruments first, then seek out a teacher and other players to share philosophies and techniques with. I had already played in several bands and developed a style before taking classes with Tom McGirr.

OMC: Do you play other instruments?

ST: Sure ... drums, guitar, other things as needed. Everyone in the band plays multiple instruments.

OMC: What else do you do besides the band?

ST: Sometimes I don't think there is anything besides the band. It's been a lot of work lately, but you know, it's "good work." To help with the bills I bartend sporadically and do graphic design. I still flirt with the idea of getting another day job or taking that last class I need to graduate. Brian is a locksmith during the day, and burns the other end of the candle with his Irish rock band at night. Matt, Sean and Richie are going to school and working part-time as well.

OMC: What CDs are you listening to these days?

ST: Cake, "Comfort Eagle," Sparklehorse, "It's a Wonderful Life," Red Hot Chili Peppers, "By the Way," Queens of the Stone Age, "Songs for the Deaf."

OMC: What are your all-time favorites?

ST: There are so many for different reasons: song writing, production, energy, subtlety and emotional attachment. The most cohesive albums don't necessarily have the favorite songs, but here's a few: Radiohead, "The Bends," Smashing Pumpkins, "Gish," Beatles, "Abbey Road," Afghan Whigs, "Gent - On

"Upside Groove Coalition aiming for 'sonic glory'"

By Nick Carter

Band name
Upside Groove Coalition

Who's who

Steve Tycz, bass; Brian Bruendl, drums; Matt Ostlund, saxophone; Sean Berry, guitar; and Richie Howell, vocals. All are in their mid- to late 20s - "except for those that aren't saying," Tycz said in an interview.

When formed
2000, from the core of the local groups True Heart Susie, The Crowning and Baja Zero

Web site

Most recent album
"Funky Estofado"

They say they sound like
"The Meters - if they were weaned on metal and alternative rock."

We say they sound like
Jane's Addiction - if they'd been weaned on the Funky Meters.

Describe your look
"Off-duty porn-star chic."

Sell yourself in 20 words or less
"Free your booty and your mind, and come down and shake it with UGC."

Favorite food on the road
"Anything with monosodium glutamate."

Unofficial band beverage
"Irish Bullfight" (a shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey dropped into a half-glass of Red Bull).

What other band/musician could you take in a fight?
"Thom Yorke - that whiny little runt."

First gig
"Opening for the Greyhounds at the (now defunct) Globe East."

Worst gig
"The last time we played Caffrey's, a Marquette University-area bar that no longer books bands; we loved playing there."

Weirdest fan encounter
"This one woman, half-naked and wearing Rollerblades, hopped onstage during a gig we played in Fish Creek, in Door County, this summer."

Song you've written that you're most proud of
"Train to Forever."

Favorite cover song in your live show
" 'Waiting on a Friend,' the old Rolling Stones tune."

Biggest band achievement
"Putting out our CD."

Why do you do this?
"To achieve sonic glory."

Where do you want to be in five years?
"On a world tour - five-star hotels only."

- Milwaukee Journal Sentinal Online 10/9/03


"7 by 5 EP" - 2001
"Funky Estofado" - Full Length Cd - 2003
"Shimmer" - Single released on Interstate Music Cd Compilation - Spring 2003



Upside Groove Coalition's songs center on the hook, with compelling lyrics telling another part
of the story. High energy live shows and instrumental ability complete the picture.
Critics and fans have compared the group’s sound and energy to artists such as
Galactic, G Love and Special Sauce, Fishbone, and the Scabs.

Influenced by artists like Led Zeppelin, the Who, the Beatles, the Meters, James
Brown, Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye; and latin, jazz, ska, and many reggae musicians, Upside
Groove Coalition is a rock band flavored with funk, jazz and soul.
UGC has played some of the best in the Midwest: the Rave, Shank Hall, and
Milwaukee Ale House in Milwaukee; Great Dane, and Luther's Blues in Madison; and
festivals like Summerfest, Bastille Days and Riversplash. Individual members have
also enjoyed playing places like 7th Street Entry, Fine Line, Cabooze, the Metro, the
Double Door, and Joe’s, while performing in bands such as True Heart Susie, Billy
Seidel Band, the Crowning, Sweet Polly, and the Rusty Halos. Through their diverse
musical backgrounds, members have backed up acts like Third Eye Blind, Dada,
Soul Asylum, Reel Big Fish, Green Day, John Waite, and Hootie and the Blowfish.
Upside Groove Coalition has shared bills with Ozomatli, Leon Redbone, Strangefolk,
the Greyhounds, Wookiefoot, and Tito Jackson.
With the wide range of music hitting clubs and festivals these days, now's the time
for this funky coalition that people are hungry to move and groove to. UGC is
bringing it to your town soon. Get down with Upside Groove Coalition.