Interview - Bonneville
A band known for its groovy R&B and retro-soul style is called Bonneville. Their collection of works is a reflection of their Southern creative upbringing, their love of preserving this era's musical heritage, and their never-ending quest to rekindle people's enjoyment and revelry of vintage soul rhythms via their own distinctive style fusion.
They return with the lead single from their second album, Flying Machine, which is titled "Undercover Woman."
We sat down with Bonneville to discuss their music and much more. Here's what they had to say:
Hey Bonneville, welcome to FLEX! Congratulations on your new single ‘Undercover Woman’. What inspired this particular track?
Jeff had a tuning on his guitar from Led Zeppelin’s rain song and it had a sorta mysterious vibe. We started tossing around the idea of a mysterious woman we all encountered. She seems interested but doesn’t fully emotionally connect. Maybe she’s been hurt too many times. We all have but revealing our honesty usually pays off in the end. - Wes McGee Yeah, I was just drinking coffee and hanging with the guys the morning before our rehearsal. We had a nice lake rental in Muscle Shoals where we had gathered for a few days to rehearse our live set. It was inspiring being able to spend time with our bandmates. They are very capable musicians and great guys. I always feel like I want to contribute. So I just started messing with a funky riff and then the rest of the gang started immediately contributing to a general idea. It took off, and we were all excited about it. It only took about 10 or 15 minutes before we got the general layout in. After that, we were off and running with the hook and verses. - Jeff Hayashi
Do you have to be in a certain mood to write?
Yes, I’d say I do. If it’s a writing session with others, I want people to be safe to throw out whatever is on their mind and trust the creative space we are in. Egos can be the killer of the creative process. - Wes McGee For me, not really. I just write when the inspiration hits. It doesn't matter what time of day. Oftentimes, it happens in the middle of the night (I’m famous for 3am inspirational writing sessions). Normally, on the songs we end up cutting anyway, I get hit with a specific melody that moves me and won’t leave me alone. When they rouse me out of bed, I feel like I have to give those tunes a real shot and strike while the iron is hot. If I give in to sleep, the idea will be gone come sunrise. - Jeff Hayashi How was the recording and writing process?
The record was cut live for a Royer demo session. I’d say I prefer cutting live. It really captures the spontaneous energy a band has playing together. I think we did it in 3 or 4 takes because we had been rehearsing for a live performance and had it licked. - Wes McGee It was a stone groove, man… we had the whole 13-piece band up in Studio B at Fame. I have always wanted to track a full song live, and what a great place to have that first experience. Using the Royer ribbon mics on everything was expected to present a challenge (since they pick up sound both front and back) but our engineer, Wes Sheffield, and producer, Starita, are pretty much geniuses. So, they made it run without a hitch, and man, did it sound smooth! One of the best recording experiences of my life. - Jeff Hayashi For viewers who don’t know Bonneville, how would you describe your sound?
I’d say we have a wide range from 70’s funk to Jamiroquai style R&B. Our music centers around a more soulful sound. - Wes McGee I’d have to agree with Wes, though there are elements of classic southern rock, 60’s R&B and soul, and definitely the fuzzy funk sound of the 70’s. There‘s definitely a post-disco/neo-soul vibe on our second record. I have too many influences to count but some of the primary ones are Donald Fagan and Walter Becker, Jimmy Page, Carlos Santana, David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler, and of course, Duane Allman. - Jeff Hayashi What are some of those activities that you engage yourself in when you aren’t writing or recording in the studio? I’m an actor, acting teacher, filmmaker, and woodworker. - Wes McGee I run a boutique commercial insurance agency. I really enjoy helping the business community protect their assets and navigate them through uncertainty, plus I have made some lifelong friends and learned so much from my clients. I am also a husband and father of two perfect children and love spending as much time as possible watching them grow. - Jeff Hayashi