General B & The Wiz: New Drummer, New Music, & Horror Stories From The Road
Adventurous Twin Cities-based blues rock quintet General B and The Wiz return to Winona this week for a “Halloween Spook ‘n Roll” costume dance party at Ed’s (no name) Bar with soul band Ali and The Scoundrels. I checked in with guitarist Seth Duin ahead of Friday’s ghoulish event to get up to speed on what the band has been up to lately, their ever-evolving sound, what keeps them coming back to Winona, and their top three “horror stories” from the road.
The Interview Part:
[We] only talked like zombies during the show through a series of “uggghgghgh’s.” Turns out that’s not a good tactic for promoting your band
It’s been nearly a year since your Lie Until You Prove It EP was released. What’s next? The EP’s production was superb in my opinion; do you plan to return to Crazy Beast studio?
Hard to believe it has almost been a year! The record was fun to create, and was a welcomed challenge as we started to find our niche in the Twin Cities. Crazy Beast was a wonderful experience, working with Ben Durrant who has a rich history in the business. We’ve talked with him about potential recording in the future, but are also exploring some new spaces to record– we don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves and get too comfortable in one spot. I’d say that we like to keep on our toes, entertaining as many options as possible.
These last 5 months have been one huge transition for us, as we recently welcomed Kyle Holder to the band as our new drummer! In June, Erik Wadman relocated to Eugene, Oregon where he is studying sustainable architecture– we are super proud of the lad and miss him dearly, but are super excited about the new music we’ve been creating with Kyle. Kyle’s added a fun new element to our catalog, and we’ve been writing and hammering out new songs for the past few months. It’s been a great opportunity to redefine ourselves. We are essentially a brand new band, but still have the same “General B” attitude and spirit.
We’re now at a point where we’ll be investigating some studios and producers for this new music– we’re sitting on around 20 new song ideas and will be “road-testing” a few of them in this upcoming run of shows. Hopefully you can spot a few of the new ones at the Halloween show and let us know what you think!
How important to your overall sound or message are the various sonic and stylistic differences found within your entire song catalog? Do you feel like your sound is now established, or do you feel that it continues to evolve? Is there any tension within the band toward a certain style or another?
I think that it’s so important that musicians and bands make it a point to constantly elaborate on their sound. Think if The Beatles had never veered from Love Me Do, or if Radiohead only ever released albums like Pablo Honey?
We’ve never necessarily “settled” on a sound– we just like to play what comes out of us. Sometimes it’s quirky, sometimes raucous, sometimes it could be bluegrass or a psychedelic rock anthem. The only times that there is a certain tension present in the writing room, it’s a healthy type of tension where we discuss pieces of a song that might not jive well together. In the past, we’ve had issues with getting caught up with small details in a song– it’s hard to know when to stop adding new elements to a piece of art. We’ll often find ourselves playing some of our oldest songs from our first record and adding new hooks in small places, but we’ve really challenged ourselves in this last year to find beauty in simplicity. Overall we want to keep creating music that our spectators, friends, and fans can really connect to, and provide a good experience for them.
In the spirit of the Halloween season, I have to ask if you have any band “horror stories” from the road?
In no particular order:
We had one late night drive where no gas stations were open and we all had to go to the bathroom. As we began to relieve ourselves on the side of the road, a cop pulled up and asked what we were doing. My 3AM mind shouted “Taking a wiz!!” The cop was not amused, checked our plates, and directed us to a public restroom a few miles down the road. Good guy.
Getting chased out of a hotel by a very large, scary, and angry man [at an undisclosed location] was terrifying. Apparently we weren’t supposed to have 5 people in one room. Never going back there again. PRO TIP: Always read reviews of a hotel before staying.
We played a show for the Omaha Zombie Pub Crawl once and only talked like zombies during the show through a series of “uggghgghgh’s.” Turns out that’s not a good tactic for promoting your band.
Any surprises in store for the Halloween show at Ed’s? Which member has worn the best costumes in the past?
We will try our hand at a group costume for the first time. At past Halloween gigs we’ve really dropped the ball on this, though Quincy did make a very convincing Phantom of the Opera, and Kevin and Kai make a very cuddly Calvin & Hobbes. We’ll also be judging a very arbitrary version of a costume contest.
You’re prolific performers in general, but from your regular gigs at Ed’s to your appearances at MWMF, you’re no strangers to Winona in particular. What keeps you coming back??
Winona captured us from the first time we visited, in the winter of 2012. We were still in college at the time and were asked to open for Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps at Ed’s (no name) Bar. We were used to being an opening band for some higher profile artists at that point, but rarely did we play a venue where a community showed up with an equal amount of interest to an opening college band from Iowa.
We met some fantastic individuals at that show, sold some T-Shirts, and met Ed…there’s just some sort of endearing and wild spirit about the place that keeps us wanting to come back– and every time we’ve been back since we have met some lovely new friends. A couple even proposed at a show we played with The 4onthefloor, and ended up hiring us as their wedding band! I’d say that the friendly connections we’ve made, the supportive music community, and the natural beauty that Winona provides has made it one of our favorite tour stops.
Upcoming local gigs:
Who: General B and the Wiz with Ali and the Scoundrels
What: “Halloween Spook ‘n Roll” costume dance par-tay
When: Friday, October 31st at 9:30pm
Where: Ed’s (no name) Bar