interview with The Same Coin

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Have any of you played in other bands? Yes, all of us have played in at least one other band.  Our drummer, Tyler, and bassist, Kenny, were both in (separate) metal bands a few years ago.  I played in a jazz fusion band and acoustic jazz combos while studying music at the University of Oregon, and our guitar player Joey was in a classic/hard rock cover band while he was living in Tokyo, Japan.
How is it that you started playing music? While we could each give you our individual musical histories, the short answer is we've always been around music and involved in it in some way.  I think we've all had ups and downs musically, but the stars were aligned to make this band happen.
What are your names? / Who plays what? / How old are you? My name is Adam Zukaitis, I'm 33, and I play keyboard.  Our guitar player is named Joey Serrapede, he will be 33 next month (October 11th).  Our drummer is named Tyler Spragg and he's 25, and our bassist is named Kenny Smith, and he's 24.
Have you had other previous members? We have not, this is our original lineup.
Did you make music even when you were young? Yes.  I took piano lessons briefly as a child and was involved in school bands and choirs.  I believe most of us participated in school music programs.
Where are you from?
Joey and I are from Bend, Oregon.  Tyler was born in Maryland, but moved to Salem, Oregon as a teenager.  I believe Kenny grew up in Salem, Oregon as well.
What year did the band form? We formed earlier this year, February 2017
What's your style of genre? We categorize ourselves as a jazz funk band, dance band, party band.
What inspires you? Many things.  The bottom line is that we write and play music that we would like to listen to, and would like to go see live.  We love connecting with audiences and playing high energy live shows and sharing that energy with the crowd is a big inspiration.
How often and where do you reherse? We rehearse as a full band once a week on Saturdays, and try to sneak in a rhythm sectional (keys/bass/drums) midweek.
How have you developed since you started with the music? I can only speak for myself personally, but development is continuous and ongoing.  This project, specifically, has lead me to study and familiarize myself with music and styles that I had never dug into from a compositional or stylistic point of view.
Do you have other interests of work outside the band?
Yes, we all have interests outside of music.  Joey is an avid tennis player and Street Fighter (arcade game) player.  I am an outdoor fanatic who loves to hike, camp, rock climb, ski and trail run.  Kenny also loves the outdoors and traveling, and Tyler is a very business minded individual finishing his Bachelor's Degree.
Are you looking for a booking agency, and what are your thoughts around that? We are not looking for a booking agency at the moment.  As the leader of the band, and at this point it the band's lifespan, we are trying to retain as much control as we can over the trajectory of the band.  We are very much a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) band and try to do as much as we can ourselves.
Are you looking for a label, and what are your thoughts around that? We are not looking for a label.  The answer to the previous question applies here too.  Also, when we get to the point of needing a label, we will likely start our own.
What made you decide to make this music? While we all love playing the jazz fusion and funk music we play in The Same Coin, it was also a strategic move.  Our hometown of Bend, Oregon has a growing and flourishing music scene.  That being said, the scene is saturated with just a couple styles and sounds (lots of bluegrass, folk, and blues).  We saw an opportunity to fill a void of high energy instrumental music that people can dance to.  And that move seems to be paying off, as we have made a name for ourselves in just six short months of being a band.
What are your songs about? As an instrumental band, our songs aren't really "about" anything in a lyrical sense.  However, that is not to say there is no meaning behind our tunes.  I studied classical composition in college, analyzing Bach Fugues, arranging Debussy piano works for orchestras, and composing my own music in the styles of Haydn, Beethoven, Wagner, and Stravinsky.  I am a very modest composer and still use other's masterpieces as templates and inspiration for my own tunes.  So the meaning behind the original music I write for this band speaks to the influence and education (directly or indirectly) I have received from the amazing musicians that have come before me.  In a way, almost everything I write at this stage in my development is a tribute to my musical idols.  For this band, artists like Herbie Hancock, Larry Graham, Bootsy Collins, James Brown, Bernie Worrell, Michael League, Cory Henry, Jack Stratton, Mononeon, Louise Cole, I could go on and on and on.  So, if our songs have any meaning, it's my indebtedness to the people that have influenced and inspired me. 
Who does the composing and writes the lyrics?
I do the vast majority of composing for the band.  We are starting to compose more as a band, but at this point all of our original material was composed by me.  None of our songs have lyrics.
Do you compose in a certain environment? I tend to compose at home on my keyboard.  However, ideas come at all times, and I have many voice memos on my phone of musical ideas I've had while away from the keyboard.
Have you done any covers live?
Yes.  At this point our repertoire is roughly 35% originals and 65% covers.  Our covers range from Herbie Hancock and The Meters, to Duke Ellington to Green Day (we do a very deconstructed cover of "Basket Case").
What language do you sing in? The little singing we do is in English.
What are the least and most people to attend one of your gigs? The most people we've had attend a show was probably 75-100 people.  The least is probably 10ish or so.
What ages are most of your concert attendants? Most of our shows are in bars and clubs that are 21+.  However, we have played all ages shows that have been attended by kids as young as 5.  We like to think our music is accessible to any age range, and we've had folks in the 60's and 70's show up and listen to our entire set.  In general though, I'd say the majority of our audiences are between 21-35.
Do you always play the same songs live, or do you vary?
We vary wildly depending on the venue, how much time we have to play, and whether we're the only band or sharing the bill with other bands.  We've played 40 minute sets of mostly originals, and we've filled three hour times slots that more or less exhaust our current repertoire.
Do you have a regular place you play live often?
We do not have any regular or recurring gigs, but it is something we are currently negotiating with a few venues in town.
What was your first gig like? Our first gig was a bit of a cluster fuck to be totally honest.  Joey, Tyler, and I had been rehearsing a bit the previous month, but that first gig was only the second time all four of us had played together.  We had some technical difficulties with personal equipment as well as the PA and general mix.  I suppose it was like any first gig, very much an experiment.  We learned a lot, and it's kinda funny to look back on, but we pushed through and kept getting booked and getting on stage.  All in all we did as well as could have been expected.  We had a great opportunity to play on St. Patrick's Day at a local brewery and we seized the opportunity even though we had very minimal preparation.
What was your latest gig? We just played a show last night in Salem, Oregon.  It honestly wasn't all that well attended, but those who came were good friends and family.  So it wasn't our biggest show, but we were able to relax and just have a good time.
Have you had to cancel a gig? No, and cancelling gigs is something I take very seriously.  Obviously things could happen that would absolutely force us to cancel a gig, but reputation is all you have in this industry, and bailing on gigs is a surefire way to never get hired again.
Where have you played live this year? The venues we have played at are Silver Moon Brewing, M&J Tavern, McMenamin's Old St. Francis, all in Bend, Oregon.  We have also played in Salem, Oregon at The Space Concert Club and The Triangle (last night).  We also have shows coming up in Bend in October at The Capitol and Volcanic Theater Pub.
Where do you plan to gig the comming year? We'd like to establish a recurring gig here in town, but would also like to travel more for shows.  We'd love to break into the Eugene and Portland scenes.  We also have our sights set on the various festivals that will be happening in the summer of 2018.
When did you start to sell merchandise, and what do you have for sale? We had stickers at our very first gig, and have since added beer koozies. We give these items away for free.  We are discussing doing a run of T-shirts, and will be releasing a free live album that we recorded at The Space Concert Club in Salem.  While I love having merchandise for our fans, I don't approach as a financially viable way to support the band.  I tend to see our merchandise as an investment and marketing, and don't expect to recoup any full investment at this point.
Where can people buy your merchandise? The only way to get ahold of our stuff at this point is to come to a show.
What do you think about people downloading music instead of buying records now a days?
Good and complicated question.  I could write an entire article just on my thoughts about this, but I will try to summarize.  Like any innovation, it alters the way people interact, acquire, and consume music.  There are plusses and minuses to this.  The bottom line though, is that these waves of innovation; whether it's music streaming or driverless cars, these waves are inevitable and unstoppable.  One can either resist the inevitable and get left behind, or embrace new technologies and look to exploit them  and work within them in positive ways.  Take the Vulfpeck album "Sleepify" for example (we're huge Vulfpeck fans, and our tune "The Wolf From Stratton Island" is directly influenced by them).  So, I certainly don't like every affect that this new paradigm is having on music, the industry, and its consumption by the public, but it is what it is, and I'd rather focus my energy on exploring the new ways the internet provides to engage with fans, than be bitter and resentful and hyperbolically apocalyptic about how the internet ruined music.  That's just utter bullshit, music is thriving more than it ever has and anyone whining about the internet's effects, valid as they may be, are simply conservative uncreatives.
How do you think the music industry have changed because of this? As far is "the industry" goes, I can't speak too authoritatively, as I don't see myself in the industry.  However, it is easy enough to observe how the internet, streaming, and the rest has changed how people consume music.  Without a doubt the internet further commodified music, but that in and of itself is not a bad thing.  The way I see it is there are still people who really really love music, and who still buy cds and albums and go to shows and all the rest.  The people streaming and or stealing aren't taking a whole lot away from the pie because these people use these services out of convenience.  Again, I could pontificate about these issue for an entire doctoral dissertation, and while things certainly have changed, I also think it's the "same as it ever was".
What do you think of my work? Well I'll be honest that I was unfamiliar with you before you contacted us.  But I do look forward to familiarizing myself with your work, and appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed.
How do you think and know that this interview will help you in the music business? Well, I don't really have any hard expectations as a result of this interview.  But as they say, all press is good press.  We're a very new band, so we're very flattered and excited to get some press this early in our lifespan as a band.  In the end I suppose we're just hoping that this interview might reach a wider audience than we've been able to engage up until this point, and perhaps introduce new fans to our music.
Do you have any role models or idols? Plenty.  But two contemporary role models in the music industry are Michael League of Snarky Puppy and Jack Stratton of Vulfpeck.  In addition to being utterly phenomenal musicians and composers, they are very savvy businessmen who created something from scratch.  Neither had big label support or high level inside connections, they just wrote and played great music.  They also took it upon themselves to do a lot of the daily operations and duties that traditionally were the jobs of bookers, agents, and managers.  They also publish their own music (I think) and started their own labels.  We have taken on that same DIY mentality and are more than happy to retain as much control over the band as we can.               
Is it easier to find inspiration from older bands, or bands that are more active today? I find equal inspiration in both old and new music.  I've written tunes inspired by old jazz cats like Herbie Hancock and Joe Henderson, but I've also written tunes modeled after current acts like Vulfeck and Snarky Puppy.  I've even written contrapuntal arrangements for our Green Day cover that were heavily influenced by J.S. Bach.
What have been your biggest obstacles?

I suppose the biggest obstacle until now has just been logistics.  We all have very busy lives outside of the band and coordinating rehearsals and clearing gigs can be complicated.  I learned quickly in the first band I played in that the drama/complications/obstacles rarely have anything to do with the music itself, but the people involved.  We all get along great and have very similar motivations for playing and wanting to be in a band.  Most of our issues are simply a result of scheduling.
What advice would you give other bands or artists?

This is a funny question to be asked, because I'm still relatively new to this, and looking for advice myself.  I suppose the advice I have for newer bands or artists is to deeply examine your motivations, goals, and intentions.  If you're playing music and starting a band to get rich, famous, pussy, status, or any of that garbage, good luck~  Not saying plenty of people haven't made a living in the industry with those motivations, but I can't relate.  I simply love music, and love to share it with people, and love the high stakes of playing the kind of music we play live.  I started this band because I missed playing improvised music that people could dance to.  My goal was to put a band together that could quickly learn the repertoire and get on stage quickly.  In that sense, this band is a great success.  Of course now that those initial goals have been met we have our sights on bigger and better things, but it is with the same pure love of music and joy in sharing it with people.  This is not to say I never get down on myself or the band, but they are always for artistic reasons, not because we had a bad turn out, didn't sell as many CDs as we'd hoped, or get a bad review from some "critic" that's never played rhythm changes.  If money, status, sex, and image are your motivations, you will be constantly disappointed, and you also put your "success" or "worth" in the hands of other people.  But if instead you're trying to create the most honest, meaningful art at the highest level you can, you will still have ups and downs and disappointment, but you become the adjudicator of your own success, and these motivations are more honest and pure from an artistic standpoint.  I could ramble about my own philosophy of artistry and aesthetics for hours, but hopefully that gives you an idea.  So in short my advice is, do it for the right reasons.
How do you get psyched for a gig? I wouldn't say we have a routine that we always do before a show, and I'm not aware of any personal rituals any of the other members have.  That being said, before our last two shows we've made it a point to have just a small meeting to kinda let all the flurry and anxiety of getting set up go, and we just try to center ourselves, find our happy place, and go play a fun show.
Do you have any new material? Yes, we are always working on new material.
What are your web sites? We don't have a stand alone website yet, but we can be found on the usual social media platforms.  Those links will all be at the bottom of this email.
How can people reach you? The best way is this email address,
What are your plans for the future?
We just want to continue to bring a high level musicianship to the stage and play music we think our little town is lacking.  We'll be releasing our free live album in the coming weeks.  We're planning to put together a music video in that time as well.  Sometime next year we're hoping to have the material and capital to get into the studio and record our debut album.  We're always working on new material, and are always looking for more opportunities to play that music for new audiences.
Do you have something to add?

Nothing to add, but I'm curious how you found out about us and what made you want to interview us.  Again, we're beyond flattered and appreciative, but this was honestly quite unexpected!

Thank you again Robex, it's nice to meet you in the digital sphere.  Please let me know if you have any further questions, or if any of my responses need further clarification.  Also keep in mind that I filled this out from my own perspective, as the founder and leader of The Same Coin.  I'm sure the other members would have plenty to add, but I wanted to reply and get you answers as soon as possible.  Tak!!

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