Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: The Influence

presspassA few years back Press Pass was introduced to a band from Virginia Beach, Va. that used some funky tunings and acoustic axes to bring a unique sound to the D.C. music scene. Today the men of The Influence – vocalist Matt Stephenson, drummer Collin Cogan, guitarists Will Clark and Chris Kendrick and bass man Tully – have evolved into a hard-rocking outfit on the cusp of breaking out. Before they headed out on tour to support their latest album, Falling Objects, the News-Press caught up with Stephenson and Cogan for a little Q&A.

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The Influence (Courtesy Photo)

 

A few years back Press Pass was introduced to a band from Virginia Beach, Va. that used some funky tunings and acoustic axes to bring a unique sound to the D.C. music scene. Today the men of The Influence – vocalist Matt Stephenson, drummer Collin Cogan, guitarists Will Clark and Chris Kendrick and bass man Tully – have evolved into a hard-rocking outfit on the cusp of breaking out. Before they headed out on tour to support their latest album, Falling Objects, the News-Press caught up with Stephenson and Cogan for a little Q&A.

Mike Hume: How would you describe the evolution of your music?

Colin Cogan: We started off on the open mic circuit, which meant a lot of scaled-down acoustic shows. I don’t think we ever intended on limiting ourselves to this, but the acoustic guitars were a part of the writing process. Once we started using electrics, I think the transition was awkward. But, now there are really no limits to our music. Our changing sound has helped us understand how dynamic rock music can be.

Matt Stephenson: After we recorded our first record we made a conscious effort to evolve our sound, challenge ourselves and deliver something new to our fans. We all listen to a wide variety of music, but in many ways it is bands like Radiohead and Tool that proved to us we could do anything we want from record to record.  So, we picked up electrics, added keyboards, megaphones and new effects to evolve into the sound we have now.

MH: You once garnered comparisons to Dave Matthews Band. How strange does that seem now?

CC: It’s strange, because anyone who sees us now would probably never use that comparison right off the bat. But I think there are elements of his music that creep into ours still.  For instance, a booking agency in NY described us as being “too jammy.” We don’t really jam much so we’re not really sure what the hell he’s talking about.  But then we noticed that these hippies in North Carolina were really digging our sound last week. They probably wanted us to extend our songs a little longer, but I think it just goes to show you that our music doesn’t tap into just one type of music lover.

MH: How did you approach your new album Falling Objects? Were these all new songs or have some been around for a while?

CC: We knew we had grown as musicians and that our past music could be captured better. We also knew we’d be working with a great new producer and had some great new material going into the studio. He said, “Let’s just record your best songs, new or old.” The songs on Falling Objects are what he ultimately chose.

MH: What’s your favorite track on the album to play live and why?

CC: Lately, it’s “Bleed Out.” The song is fast and tight and has lots of harmonies too. I feel like I wrote pretty awesome drum parts to that song.

MS: “Falling Objects” by far. This is the first song we have written that has had people singing along their first listen. We have been playing it now ever since we wrote it.  It is nice to hear your fans interact with a song in a big way.

MH: What do you enjoy most about the style of music you play?

CC: The groove and the harmonies. I think all of our music can get heads bobbing a bit.  But the harmonies are becoming a real signature for us. All of us sing and I think we draw in a lot of people at shows who are very excited by that element.  I think this album also showcases it a lot more than our past.

MS: We play without fear or self consciousness. On the softest side of our music our songs are delicate and the hardest side they have sharp edges. We play what we want and our fans respect us for it. In the iPod generation you can have faith that the listener does not confine themself to one genre or style.

MH: What’s next for you guys?

CC: A national tour in January. LA, Texas, Chicago, Colorado, Seattle … maybe even Canada. We’re stoked to branch out from the east coast. We just got added to the rotation on stations in Alabama, Michigan and Illinois. There’s more to come on that too.

MS: “The same thing we do every night, Pinky — try to take over the world!”

• For more on The Influence, visit theinfluence.com.