It’s not all about the Pelican Drop and cover bands this year. Sure that can be a lot of fun, but for the live music fans of Pensacola, it leaves a lot to be desired. The third annual Masquerave is here to fill that void. An entire night stacked with over 15 bands and D.J.’s, 3D light shows and local artists is highlighted by the live electronica powerhouse Greenhouse Lounge.
Guitarist/programmer Zach Weinert and bassist Dave McSweeney spoke to the IN about the how the band is threading old school flavor with modern technology to produce an entirely new brand of music experience.
IN: Musically, who were some of the first influences that had you thinking about making music a career?
WEINERT: Believe it or not, my mom’s record collection has a big part in what we do. We love the old school, feel-good funk of bands like Earth, Wind and Fire, Bill Withers, Rick James, George Clinton and Curtis Mayfield. We try to hone in on what the old dance party music really was. A lot of my samples come from that realm. Only the soulless don’t move at least a little bit to those artists.
MCSWEENEY: We were also all punk kids, too, though. There’s a little bit of that still in us. We are not afraid of power chords.
IN: Have those initial influences stuck around as a driving force behind the band’s sound?
WEINERT: How we play our instruments is rock, punk, and funk influenced, but as far as what I produce, it’s all electronic-based with some hip-hop flavor in there.
IN: Describe your sound for the uninitiated.
MCSWEENEY: Live electronic music. Taking a D.J. dance party and a three-piece rock band and fusing them together. We move from hip-hop to funk to dubstep and all across the board, but in the end, we’re here to make people move, plain and simple.
IN: As electronic music has gotten more popular the last couple of years, have you noticed your sound evolving in any ways?
MCSWEENEY: We cater to the crowd and what we like. All our friends are live music junkies, so we keep a pretty good pulse of what people are listening to and what really gets people pumped at any given time. When we first started we were just a reggae band. That departure was a big leap of faith, but you have to take risks like that every now and then. What’s the worst that could happen—us fail?
IN: Talk about how you guys first met and formed as a band.
WEINERT: The first time we ever talked was a simple phone call in 2009. A friend of mine knew Dave and thought we could work up some magic playing music together. Once we talked a little bit about where we wanted to go, we knew we could make it work
IN: Where’d the name come from?
MCSWEENEY: We used to practice right behind the greenhouse portion of a local hydroponic shop where there happened to be a warehouse lounge area. It became a cool little spot for us to play and hang out with our friends.
IN: Is it surprising to you that electronic dance music has gotten as big as it is?
WEINERT: Not at all. Who doesn’t love to go out and party and dance with all their friends? We’ve built our fan-base from the ground up, so it feels like everyone knows each other in some way. That family vibe makes things all the more fun.
IN: Let’s talk about your live show for a minute. How much of your shows are predetermined going into it?
WEINERT: 50/50. Some is planned and some we go off the crowd energy like a D.J. would. That’s one of the perks of having a D.J. as part of the band—being able to turn on a dime.
IN: How do you find that balance between the full-on bangers to the more melodic stuff?
MCSWEENEY: Everyone needs a little downtime. We love playing both equally. If you go 100 percent party the whole time, you’re going to wear people out. We love to have a balance when it comes to that. Our shows are roller coasters, not rocket ships.
IN: There’s a tab on your website titled “conscious intent” that talks about the band co-existing with the planet and being part of the solution. Can you expand on that a little bit?
WEINERT: It’s everyone’s job to keep the world alive. As musicians, there’s a special place in our heart for some of these incredible natural places like Red Rocks in Colorado. These are magical places that need to be taken care of.
WHAT: Masquerave 3 with Greenhouse Lounge
WHEN: 8 p.m. – 4 a.m. Monday, Dec. 31
WHERE: Gregory St. Assembly Hall, 501 E. Gregory St.
DETAILS: masquerave3.eventbrite.com; greenhouselounge.com