Andy Suzuki & The Method show off the full sound that comes from blending a unique set of instruments. Singer/Pianist/Guitarist Andy Suzuki, hand-percussionist Kozza Babumba, and electric violinist Jason Gorelick started playing together at Brown University and have continued to develop their sound, range, and fan base since their college days. Read on as we talk with Andy about the band’s new EP “The Ghost Stories,” their unique instrumentation, and the importance of putting up cover songs.
Without using the words “singer/songwriter,” “pop,“ “folk,” or “alternative,” describe your sound.
Amos Lee and Sara Bareilles meet. Imagine their half-Asian lovechild. That’s me, Andy Suzuki. Then add an electric violinist who solos like a lead guitarist and a percussionist who can drum on anything you put in front of him.
Your core instruments make an interesting trio- piano, electric violin, djembe. How did that collaboration come to be?
We started playing together very organically. I met Kozza through a mutual friend (shoutout to Karina!) at Brown University, and we had an instant connection. Once I found out that he was a percussionist, we started jamming together. A few years and many college shows later, I met Jason G at a Brown University meeting for jazz musicians. I found out that he played electric violin, and we exchanged numbers. We played our first show together as a trio a few weeks later.
When most people put a band together, they look for a bass player and a drum kit player, the essential musicians. I, on the other hand, made some friends, and we made a band, and it just so happens that my friends play the weirdest instruments ever. I really think our unique instrumentation has been an asset. It catches peoples’ ears and eyes.
I read that you mix a lot of elements/genres – blues, jam band-style, rock… Does this kind of freeform style play out in your recording sessions? Or are instrumentals written ahead of time?
The way I see it, there are two very distinct sections of our songs. There are the sections where everything is arranged ahead of time, and then there are the sections that are completely improvised. I think this combination helps us keep the song grounded, while still facilitating magical, spur-of-the-moment experiences on stage and in the studio.
You just released a new EP, The Ghost Stories. What was the inspiration for that EP?
The Ghost Stories EP is our first full-band recording. We were really excited about some new songs that we had just written, so we wanted to get them down in the studio.
As for the name of the EP, like most of the things we do, it just happened. We were leaving the studio after recording the last song, and we realized that we should probably name the project. Jason G said, “What about The Ghost Stories EP?” We just started laughing, because it fit so perfectly. The songs are all about the people, places, and things that are no longer a part of our lives, but continue to have a huge impact on us, despite their physical absence.
Did you have a marketing plan leading up the release of your EP? Strategy to get people talking/listening before it came out?
We meticulously planned our release schedule. We set the release date several months in advance, and we put firm dates on the calendar for when we would release our music video, the first single for free download, and various collaborations we did with companies (MOSCOT, DIESEL) to get people excited for the release. We tweeted and posted to Facebook incessantly as the date got closer, just so everyone knew that we were releasing something. We also did an exclusive iTunes pre-sale through Tunecore, which really helped boost sales.
How do you engage with your fans?
We use what everyone else should use: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and our email list. We try not to spread ourselves too thin across other social networks. We have a Myspace page, but like many artists, I am eagerly awaiting its impending irrelevance.
I saw that you continue to put up covers on YouTube. What results have you seen from this? Has this helped the growth of your fanbase?
If you are an artist, and your name isn’t Rihanna, you are doing yourself a disservice if you are not putting covers on YouTube. It is simply the best, easiest way to get your face in front of people who might not otherwise hear your music. We are kind of known as the “All Of The Lights” band, because of our Kanye West cover. It is by far our most popular youtube video, with well over 25,000 views. We get new fans from that video all the time. And we are actually about to start a new YouTube cover series once the spring hits.
What’s your live show like?
After shows, people always tell us, “Oh my God! You are so much better live!” I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing yet, but we definitely hear it all the time…! Playing live is our favorite thing about what we do, and that love translates to the people who watch. Our passion truly comes across in our live shows. We love interacting on stage, both with each other, and with the audience. Our in-between-song banter is a huge part of an Andy Suzuki & The Method show.
So what can we look forward to next?
We are playing an official showcase at SXSW in Austin, Texas on March 14. We are so excited, for the obvious reasons. And the less obvious reasons (never having been to Texas, burritos, etc). We are also in the process of writing songs for our next EP; an acoustic album that we feel really captures our sound. These are the first songs that are true co-writes by the entire band, and I can’t wait to put them on wax. We are looking to release this project in June, and it will be available for free download to everyone who “likes” our Facebook page! Shortly after releasing this acoustic project, we will be taking it on the road with us to festivals across the U.S. and hopefully Europe. Our manager is also working on a show in Brunei this summer…stay tuned.