Local Band Feature: Rich People Food
In Boston’s independent music scene, youthful energetic talent comes together in an ambitious attempt to become the next big thing. Rich People Food, comprised of four Boston-based musicians, has made waves at local music clubs all around the city. The Suffolk Voice interviewed the band to get a glimpse behind the scenes of what life in an indie band is like, as well as to help promote their EP “Native Tongue,” which is in the final stages of production and will be released on May 27th.
Who comprises Rich People Food?
Steve Weston plays guitar and attends UMass Boston for Graduate studies. Lisa Hickox plays synths and bass and graduated from Berklee College of Music. Brendan Reza plays drums and attends Berklee College of Music. Brian Bernhard plays guitar, bass and sings lead vocals, he attends Suffolk University.
Now right off the bat, where did the name “Rich People Food” come from?
It actually was the name of a song that Lisa wrote when she was fifteen. The song didn’t stick, but the name proved interesting enough to represent the band.
How long have you guys been together?
This incarnation of the group has been together for a little over a year.
How did it get started?
Lisa and Steve initially formed the group about two and a half years ago as strangers brought together by the wonders of Craigslist. Originally, the group had a different drummer and lead singer. Over the course of the first year, Brian joined the group to replace their old vocalist, followed closely by Brendan replacing the drummer a few months later.
What are your biggest musical influences?
The Killers, Kings of Leon, The Strokes, Born Ruffians, The Violent Femmes, The Pixies, Tegan and Sara
How would you describe Rich People Food’s sound?
Some sort of combination of Indie Rock covered in synths with a bit of dancing involved, but also a little bit of dirt on everything.
How does song writing work for you?
With us, it never seems to work the same way twice. Our current set is comprised of original songs, some of which have been reworked from older versions of the same song. Others have been written by one member and finished by another, and some songs are just written by screwing around during practice.
How often do you guys practice?
It varies because of our schedules, but usually at least twice a week, if not more.
Is song writing a collaborative process for all of you?
For the most part. Usually someone will come in with a chord progression or a melody, then we all sink our teeth into it to give the song a beginning middle and end, and lastly Brian will then write melodies (if they haven’t been written already) and lyrics.
Is it important to have your own original stuff?
This is everything to us; it is why we play music. We do have a list of about 35 covers that we know so we can make some cash playing places like Lansdowne Pub near Fenway or The Harp and Bard in Dorchester, but it is purely a means to an end to keep the band financially afloat. We have worked very hard to hone in on a consistent original sound with songs that accurately represents the four of us, our influences, and our collaborative process.
So far the most rewarding experience has been recording our latest EP. It was the first time that the four of us sat down with a producer and went through the proper steps to make this EP as interesting, honest, and unique as we could. We spent two months in pre-production with our producer, Ellis Tucker (a Berklee grad), meticulously reworking the songs we already had until they were as good as we could make them. It was also our first time writing with someone outside of the band present, as two of the five tracks were written during pre-production, with Ellis giving feedback as we wrote.
We then spent the next five or so months recording, and now the songs are off in LA getting mixed and mastered. We are working with the engineer via email and have heard some tracks that are almost completed, and we could not be more excited. So even though we may not be technically done with Native Tongue, it is certainly rewarding to listen to these tracks and think about the amount of work we’ve put into it over the last seven and a half months to make it sound the way it does.
How do your gigs work? Who sets them up? How often do you have them?
We find our own gigs by emailing promoters and the booking contacts from various venues. Usually we try to strategize how often and where we play original shows, so as to not over-saturate ourselves in the very small live music community here in Boston. It also depends on what, if anything, we have to promote at that time.
Since we are getting ready to release our new EP, Native Tongue, we are trying to play two or three original shows a month to promote until its release this spring. If we had nothing to promote, we might play one original show per month. As for cover shows, we usually take them whenever we can get them, as the money from cover gigs is what gives us a band budget.
What do you all hope the future will bring for the band?
We hope the immediate future brings us an even more solid fan following in Boston, and a positive reception of our new EP Native Tongue. As for the future beyond that, a successful career is all we hope for.
What’s your ultimate goal for the band?
Ultimately, we’d want to be on top of the world. But so long as we can make a living at some point doing this, we’d be the happiest of clams.
Everyone must have incredibly busy schedules, so what is it like trying to balance work and school and life with rehearsals and shows?
It’s struggle city. This actually could be the biggest deterrent we have from being productive. Everyone in the band either works a job (or two), or attends college full time, or both. This makes scheduling shows, recording sessions and things like photo or video shoots very difficult. We’re all very busy in our own way, so we all have to make sacrifices in other areas of life in order to make the band work.
What are each of your favorite Rich People Food songs to play?
“‘Run. Riot. Run.’ is my favorite to perform. The bass line and vocal parts that I have are way too much fun to play.” – Lisa
“My favorite is ‘Run. Riot. Run.’ The song has a very infectious energy so we made it the opener for our original set. I just love watching the audience immediately latch onto the energy and start chanting the chorus along with us; it sets the course for the rest of the set.” – Brian
“‘Native Tongue,’ because the groove is really fun to play. It has a natural flow throughout it and you can really dig into the beat.” – Brendan
“I like to play ‘Carnivorous Creatures’ because it the guitar parts intertwine rhythmically to give the song a unique flavor.” – Steve
How will people be able to get Native Tongue when it drops?
On May 27th you will be able to get Native Tongue on iTunes, Spotify, our bandcamp (richpeoplefood.bandcamp.com), or if you’re feeling jaunty you can come and see us at a show to purchase a shiny hard copy with original artwork and all that gravy.
You can listen to Rich People Food and catch some of their music videos on their YouTube channel. Two songs can be found below; one showcasing their original work (“Son,” from their EP “The Fix”) and one showing their musical creativity when playing a cover (Drake’s “Just Hold on We’re Going Home”).