Meet Jacksonville's Side Hustle
With their “deeply-grooved” debut album, “Common Ground” (reviewed in this issue), and a 4-state southeast U.S. tour well underway, the funk, soul, groove, jam collective known as Side Hustle is making some big waves on the local and regional music scene. Narrow sat down with band members Anton Laplume (guitar/vox), Sean Thomas (vox/bass), Billy Begley (keys), and Aaron Plotz (drums) to see what makes the band tick.
Q: What are the influences of Side Hustle?
Anton: We all come from different backgrounds musically. I can say that my influences are constantly evolving. Sometimes inspiration comes from styles or genres I may not particularly be a fan of. I try my best to stay open minded and to push myself creatively as much as possible.
Aaron: Side Hustle is a collection of like minded individuals with different backgrounds contributing to a greater idea. We all have unique ways of approaching music but bridge the gap to create something as a collective. Personally, I love listening to good groves and strive to be able to create a rhythm that is hard not to dance too.
Billy: I am influenced by lots of different genres of music, but I really love dance music and electronica the most. Anything with a fun vibe and upbeat styles is what I try to bring to the table.
Sean: We are influenced by many genres. Ultimately we are most influenced by the bands and acts we get the luxury of sharing the stage with. There's a wealth of talent in Florida and the southeast, especially when it comes to improvisational music.
Q: How did this album come to life?
Anton: This EP is a collection of songs we all brought to the table. Some were a bit more collaborative than others but it's cool to have been able to take songs that are so different from each other, stylistically, and create a cohesive sound with them.
Aaron: Each member of the group, excluding myself, all had originals to bring to the table. We all worked together to create what is on the EP. We all tried to ensure that we were conveying the composers thoughts through our individual parts to make their idea become a reality.
Billy: We were all coming from different bands and formed together with completely different styles of music backgrounds. Each song was written individually by one of the band members, but what was so great is having seasoned musicians adding parts that really improved every song. “Promise Land” was a joint venture that we all wrote together and it really shows each of our individual style in one song.
Sean: The EP is an amalgamation of material brought to the band by everyone. I think we will get the opportunity to have more collaborative song writing on the next few recording efforts.
Q: How much do each band member contribute to the writing?
Anton: “Work With What You Got” was a song that Sean wrote and had performed with a previous band called Herd of Watts. So we kind of just followed Sean's lead on that one. Billy wrote “Freedom 35” and performed it with a previous band called Lucky Costello so that was kind of the same process. We really just took direction from Billy. “Common Ground” was one I basically had written and didn't need much altering once it was brought to the table. “Fly Back Home” was something I had written but the song came into formation once Aaron and a previous band member had started implementing their ideas and their parts. It's really come to life since performing it with this group though and I'm very happy with the final product. “Promise Land” was definitely the biggest collaborative effort on this EP. I had the skeleton to this song but it really took on a new identity once Sean, Billy, and Aaron started putting their parts on to it. The song takes you kind of on this "journey of genres" with Sean's funky and percussive bass line, Aaron's heavy but groove oriented drumming, Billy's melodic and modern synth sensibilities, and my compositional approach to writing. I feel this song best represents the musical direction the band is going in on several levels.
Aaron: We all contribute what we can, when we can. Each member has creative thoughts and as a band we all take each one into consideration and collectively decide on the idea that best fits the piece. We also never not try something, we maintain an open mind so that we each can continue to grow individually and as a group.
Billy: When we bring songs together to work on we usually jam on it a couple times and it slowly evolves into a solidified song. Some of our songs needed parts we didn’t know we even needed. And now we can’t think of them without those parts.
Sean: It depends on the song. Some songs are written by a single member and brought to a rehearsal. Other are rough ideas that we work at collaboratively to finish.
Q: What direction have you set as a band for 2019 and beyond?
Anton: I think the main focus has just been to write more and be on the road more. We're starting to really define our sound and I think that's translating in a way that's starting to resonate. I know for myself it's really gratifying to be moving in a direction of playing music that feels authentically ours. So keeping with that trend definitely seems like the right move.
Aaron: I feel we are going to continue to focus on progress. Progress in song writing, progress in taking our music as far as we can, and progress in influencing ours and others lives.
Billy: Our main goal is to blow up and then act like we don’t know nobody. Stack bricks of cash and hopefully buy a Camaro convertible and basically just kill the game and crush it. A new album and full-fledged tour would also be a part of that.
Sean: More original music. Honing in on our sound. It's just starting to come together in terms of the vision of our style.