Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Q&A: Lead guitarist of Gravy talks upcoming performance, new album


“It’s all good and it’s all gravy.” That’s the motto behind the music of New Orleans-based funk and soul band Gravy. The quartet will take on Druid City Music Hall tomorrow night, Sept. 15, and doors open at 10 p.m. We spoke with lead guitarist and University of Alabama alumnus (and former Crimson White staff member) Stephen Kelly about musical inspirations, touring and treating every show like a party.

How long have you been playing music?

I’ve been playing guitar since I was 12. The band itself has been around in a couple different iterations over the years. It went from being something we did for fun to something we were taking pretty seriously. I would say the band and the current lineup has been around for four or five years.

What genre do you use to describe the band?

That is the hardest question. We like to think we’re kind of a funk and soul band that’s kind of pushing the envelope of what’s possible in the genre.

How did you come up with the name Gravy?

Picking names can be the absolute hardest thing in the world. We couldn’t come up with a solution and no one was sold on anything. Finally our bass player Marcus said, “Don’t worry we’re gravy,” and a lightbulb went off. It was one of those serendipitous things that all worked out.

What was it like to make the new album?

We came to the realization that we wanted to do something a little different. But not just different for us, but different for everyone. Our goal or inspiration for the record was to make something that was a cross between D’Angelo and Radiohead. Something with that funk and soul sound but also stuff with that progressive rock element to it as well. 

Who are some of your musical inspirations?

Some of my earliest memories are like my parents opening all the windows in the house when I was a kid on Saturday morning and pumping out Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin. When I got older I got into R&B, but I’m also a massive Pink Floyd fan and a massive Radiohead fan and D’Angleo fan. I’m also a fan of a lot of the jam bands out there because they were among the first in recent history to blur the lines between genres. For the longest time you were either rock pop soul or country or this or that, but no one was going out and doing a little bit of everything. Explore music. Don’t be defined by what the genre limitations might be. 

How has New Orleans funk and culture influenced your music? 

The New Orleans scene is as varied as New Orleans is itself. The music scene is an extension of that. For us it’s not so much that we made a conscious decision to absorb this influence or that, it’s that everything is around you all the time and you can’t help but soak it in.

What was the last album you listened to?

An album called ‘Hard Groove’ by Robert Hargrove the RH Factor. At its heart it’s a jazz record but there’s a lot of neo soul and hip hop production in there. There’s a lot of gray area and I like that.

What’s your favorite song to perform? 

My absolute favorite song we do is a cover of Radiohead’s “The National Anthem.” It’s one of those that every time we do it we give it 100 percent. We kind of leave it all out there every time we do that and the crowd digs it.

What’s your favorite part about touring? 

Touring around is what you make of it. On one hand you’re in a van all the time driving a lot. But on the other hand, you’re road tripping with your buddies going to new places all the time and seeing new things. Having every day be different is one of the things that fuels up the creative gas tank. If you’re sitting in one place all the time doing the same thing every day you’re limited to what you can write about. It’s all kind of a symbiotic part of the profession.

What can the audience expect from your performance?

The way we look at it is this: our job every night is to provide the soundtrack to a killer party. We take that part seriously. What people can expect is for us to go out there and give people the best soundtrack for that possible. Whether it’s songs they know and enjoy or songs they haven’t heard and are now digging – its our job to create an atmosphere for people to have fun.

Tickets for Gravy’s show tomorrow night with Backup Planet are available at Doors open at 10 p.m. and the show begins at 11 p.m.

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