How did you guys start working together?
Roman: I'd like to think we started working together by fate, but modern technology had a little to do with it, too.
Grant: I was really bored at work one day so I placed a music ad on Craigslist. I was just looking for someone who shared the same musical vibe that I've been carrying around for a while now.
With a beatboxer, the rhythm
just comes naturally.
Roman: I'm not an avid surfer of [Craigslist], but I just happened to be looking through the musicians' classifieds. I came across a post titled "Acoustic Roots", which I'm a big fan of and not many people know this is the true name of the genre. The post read something like, "looking to make acoustic roots music…" and listed many of the same exact artists I'm influenced by. Needless to say, I responded to the post.
Grant: I think it was only two days later. It wasn't just a little paragraph explaining who he was or what he did. It was a detailed two page essay! I knew he was serious. We setup a time to record and...
Roman: ...two weeks later we met and recorded four [tracks] in one day.
Grant: The rest is history.
Image by Katrina T., taken at The Bone, Dallas
What's it like working with a beatboxer, as opposed to a drummer?
Grant: The advantages are endless. Roman's so adaptable and open to change we never encounter problems, honestly. If I hear something in my head that needs to be tweaked I explain it to him and the change is immediate. With drummers, they sometimes want to take the lead or aren't so open to change. With a beatboxer, the rhythm just comes naturally. A beatboxer can make so many different sounds using only one instrument; their mouth. There's no totting around a huge drum set or carrying all the bells and whistles to get the sounds. As far as challenges go, there are very few. Roman has great rhythm and even on the slower songs he's on point. He's very focused on the guitar, but also the play of words and how they're formed to make the song.
How does performing structured songs differ from a solo beatbox set?
Roman: It's a whole different ball game, mind state and approach. When I do a solo set, it's all freestyle; I pretty much just go with what I feel and the vibe of the crowd. Performing a choreographed song on the other hand, with a chorus and verses, you can't just change tempos or go into break downs whenever you feel like it. I try to zone out on the guitar rhythm, keep the same snare throughout and add a roll here and there, then change it up a bit in the chorus. That's not to say you don't here some funky beatbox stuff in our songs! Grant's good about leaving windows open for that and when he continues singing I back off, so the message of the song comes through.
When Roman goes off on his solo, I can't help but smile.
Grant, what did you know about beatboxing before you met Roman?
Grant: I was very aware of the beatbox scene before I met Roman. I've seen artists like Scratch and Rahzel. It was always very appealing to me. What the artist could do using only their mind, rhythm and mouth. It still, to this day, amazes me! When Roman goes off on his solo, I can't help but smile. [grins]
Tell us about your album, The Connection EP.
Grant: A lot of the songs on that album are songs that I've had for a long time and never really found anyone to record them with, until I met Roman. It just felt right with Roman. They're songs from the heart on a number of different levels. Most of all they're songs people can relate to on a wide scale. Young or old, it doesn't matter. I believe most people can relate.
Image courtesy of CopaseticBallyhoo.com
Roman: Well, it has ten original tracks of forget-your-worries, mellow, acoustic music. For me it's the kind of album you put on when your barbequing on a summer's day, having a few drinks with your friends or cruising in the car with your significant other. Artistically it's complex, but simple at the same time, if that makes sense.
Were you guys ever concerned about how people would respond to the combination of acoustic guitar, singing and beatboxing?
Grant: I wasn't. The first time I heard the recorded track I knew people would dig the sound. It's a very unique sound, not something you hear everyday. It's a great blessing to make someone smile with your music.
Roman: I never really thought about what people would think. I just knew it sounded good to my ears. What's really surprising to me is the age range that is into what we're doing. It makes the crowds at our shows look like a big family; it's a mix of moms, dads, and drunken college kids.
How do the crowds react when you go from a beautiful low key song like "Power of Love" to a hold on to your seats, guitar-beatbox instrumental like "Connection"?
Grant: It's a beautiful thing, to see people so intently focused on one song and then jamming out on the next. People react very well to the slower songs because the words really catch their ears. Same with the more up-beat songs, the guitar and beatbox just grab people's attention.
What does The Connection have planned for the future?
Grant: More Instruments! I'm focused on incorporating a number of different instruments into our sound: Weissenborn (acoustic lap slide), electric lap slide, harmonica, using different pedals, piano, keyboard, possibly violin, 12 string, more ukulele, and that's just me. I believe Roman's going to throw in some percussion, tongue box, cajón, and djembe. I think we're both into getting as much sound as we possibly can!
Roman: Well, we've already started working on a new album. We plan on adding more instruments, seeing as we're both multi-instrumentalists. You may see Grant with a Harmonica around his neck and me playing some bongos with a mic in my face...
View The Connection's MySpace
Listen to an MP3 from The Connection