Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ten Questions with Backbone

by Will Cooper

To outsiders Cambridge, Ohio seems like quiet place. Who would think that amongst the sparsely populated city and Appalachian Plateau rages the sound of distorted guitars or the beat of pummeling drums? I mean, Cambridge is certainly not New York City, Los Angeles or anywhere else that is synonymous with exciting new music. However, just underneath the surface lies a burgeoning community of young and old musicians creating riotous sounds out of love and passion. One of these groups is Backbone, a veteran rock band channeling the same formula that led bands such as Nickleback to the top of the Billboard Charts.

I discovered Backbone the way many young people find new music today: the Internet. After spending hours scrolling through a myriad of Southeastern Ohio rap, metal and indie; I was taken back by the familiarity of Backbone’s sound. Immediately after hearing the first chord, I could imagine them hopping around on stage in some small bar in Cambridge to a sleepy crowd of regulars sipping on Coors draft beer.

Backbone is a three-piece outfit comprised of Mark Rossiter, vocals and guitar; Denny “Coondog” Coon, vocals and bass; and Dave “Smack” Eibel, vocals and dums. The members became close friends while growing up in Cambridge and attending at Meadowbrook High School. Since then, they have played off and on while simultaneously starting families and maintaining “real” jobs. Since their inception they have released one full-length album and they consistently perform in and out of state spreading their music listener by listener.

Interested by their local prominence within Cambridge and their ability to deal with the dregs of the real world while still performing in a band, I decided to talk with Backbone’s low end chief, Denny Coon, via email about the past, present and future of his band.

  1. Backbone met in high school. What were your first impressions of each other and how did you move from just being friends to being band mates?

    Actually, Mark and Dave were neighbors. Mark and I were the same age and spent our time trying to impress the same girls. We picked up guitars around 5th grade. Mark’s mom was always singing and playing piano and my dad played guitar, so the progression was natural. Dave used to bang on cans and boxes. Eventually, he got his first drum set.

  1. How did the band come up with the name Backbone and the album title?

    I’m not really sure where the name came from. The band was called Black Saddle before I rejoined. Black Saddle played country and put out a country CD called “Nowhere to Ride”, so the name “Still Nowhere” was rather fitting. Wait until you hear the name of the new one. You are sure to love it.

  1. Your first album, “Still Nowhere”, sounds very well produced. Can you discuss your recording process touching on where it was recorded, how long it took and some of the methods you used?

    This was recorded in the “Man Cave” studio, which is actually Marks basement. It was recorded analog then digitally put onto to a CD during the final mix. The finished product was sent to a company to be mastered. It was very painstaking process. Mark probably spent close to 4 months mixing all the tracks and comparing volumes and effects to some of our favorite CDs.

  1. How are songs created? Does the band write together or do you create your own parts separately?

    Mark generally comes up with the ideas, and Dave and I are at liberty to do whatever we want with our parts. We start with an idea and arrange it collectively.

  1. I understand that all members of the band have fulltime jobs. How hard is it balancing professional and real-world responsibilities with performing in a band?

    It is very busy at times. We went from booking every weekend to trying to every other weekend now. Dave and I are bosses where we work and Mark runs his own company, so it is important to us all to have the time to spend with our families and children.

  1. Has there been a shift in your sound since you finished “Still Nowhere”?

    Yes, I believe there actually has. The songs we have written for the next CD seem to be a little heavier. But we don’t really write anything to fit a certain style. As you can tell from the “Still Nowhere”, we can’t really be labeled any specific style. We just work with the songs and do what feels natural. If it turns out to be a polka, which will never happen, and we like it then that’s what we go with.

  1. What is the best venue to perform at in the Zanesville/Cambridge area?

    We play so many, but if I had to pick one it would have to be Shakers nightclub. It is set up like an actual venue. Eric, the owner books a lot of national acts and gives us opportunities to open for them.

  1. Your songs are very riff driven. Can you name some of the guitar players of the past that have influenced the crunchy distortion used on your songs?

    Mark is a George Lynch and AC/DC freak. I’m not sure he is trying to mimic their tones in any way, but the influence definitely shows.

  1. How often does the band play outside of Ohio? What is the reception like?

    As of late, we are trying to stay closer to home to work on the new CD. We don’t like to sit in the basement in the summer. When we do play out of state the reception has been really good. I think our originals speak for themselves and they are all songs people can relate to. A good song is a good song no matter where you play it.

  1. Do you plan to record a new album?

    We are in the works and have quite a few songs written for the new CD. We will be going digital on this one. Much like the other CD, we only want to present songs we believe in. No filler. However, we haven’t set a date or put pressure on ourselves. We are excited to get on it.

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