November 30, 2006

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Soakin’ in the sound
Band blends funk, rock and jam
By Bill Copeland news@hippopress.com

Soak makes an appropriate name for this Manchester-based rock-jam band.

The four members have soaked up various influences over the years and now they lay down something that drives like rock, beats like funk and improvises like jam.

Bass guitarist and vocalist Chris Smith has always been attracted to this kind of music.

“As long as I can remember, I’ve been involved with that kind of music,” he said. “Led Zeppelin II is what made me start playing bass guitar in the first place. Ever since I was 13 I’ve been into that music.”

Drummer Troy Dutton comes into it from the jam band perspective.

“I like jam bands. I’m a huge Phish and Dave Matthews fan. I played in some hard core bands and some emo bands. But this is definitely my preferred style,” Dutton said.

Guitarist Jason Behling started three prior bands that evolved into Soak. Behling was inspired by seeing The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd and Phish.

“I really appreciated the improvisation of live music playing,” Behling said. “Pink Floyd is less of a jam band, but they do have the ability to jam between songs.”

Smith honed his skills be learning the bass approach from the bombastic stylists like John Paul Jones, The Led Zep low end who stretched electric bass beyond its limitations.

“His playing style was a major influence for me when I started playing,” Smith said. “So was Jack Bruce, Geddy Lee, Cliff Burton from Metallica. I liked their approach to the instrument. They weren’t just necessarily keeping a standard rhythm. They were actually playing the instrument a little bit more like the lead instrument. It really challenged me.”

Troy Dutton has bifurcated influences, Carter Buford of Dave Matthews Band and Travis Barker from Blink 182.

“They’re both extremely creative in what they do,” Dutton said. “They’re both very finesse drummers.”

Soak has released four CDs of original music with different line-ups. 

“The band’s been around since ’99,” Smith said. “But the current line-up has been together since May of this year. I’ve been a part of the band since August of 2005.  Once I joined ... we started doing all original material. ... With  the new line-up, we’re just finishing up the full-length CD Burnt Newell Breakdown. That’s going to be about 15 tracks.”

Going into a studio to record, Soak envisions some songs before jamming out.

“A lot of it is road-tested stuff, stuff that we played live,” Smith said. “On the other hand, there were a couple of tracks that we wrote for this record that we just did on the spot. They have a little bit of an improvisational quality.”

When it’s time for Soak to play live, they know where to find pockets of improvisation.

“We do try to bring it out into a tight jam in the parts that warrant that, going off from a chorus part or from a bridge part,” Dutton said. “But we try to keep them controlled and timed.”

See Soak
What: Soak
When: Friday, Dec. 8, in Milford; Thursday, Dec. 14, in Manchester.
Where: Milford show is at Shenanigans, 586 Nashua St., where routes 101 and 101A intersect, 566-8093; Manchester show is at The Shaskeen, 909 Elm St., 625-0246.
For more info: Go to www.soakmusic.com.


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