EXCLUSIVE ARTIST INTERVIEW: The S-Project | PERFORMING AUGUST 25TH AT BAR NINE

The S-Project describes themselves as consisting of both original and covers arranged by Stephen Bennett in new, ethereal ways. They aim "to intended to evoke emotion and the feeling of space while giving a nod to some of the artists that have influenced his music over the years." Wow!

In anticipation of their live show with us on August 25th at 5PM, Stephen was nice enough to email us from his home base in New York to discuss their musical influences, live show experience, and what inspires them on a day-to-day basis

BAR NINE: What type of band are you?
THE S-PROJECT: We are a “Nouveau Psychedelic” group (a term I coined) playing both originals and uniquely arranged cover tunes.  Listen to our versions of  David Bowie’s “Heroes” and The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” which is blended with a Pink Floyd influence to get the picture. https://soundcloud.com/stephen-bennett-141872439/sets/surreal-dream 

BN: Tell us the brief history of your band
TSP: I, Stephen Bennett, started The S-Project with some ideas for new arrangements of songs by artists that have been influential to him over the years.  I engaged longtime musician friends Stevie Reno on Guitar, Chris Forte on Saxes and Flute and Mike White on Drums) who he felt would further bring to life and enhance the arrangements.  Stevie and I played in an original group back in the 80s called Design For Living and played in many clubs in NYC and on Long Island.  We released an EP and play one of the songs from that EP in our sets today.  Chris Forte, Mike White and I played in a jazz quartet together for about 10 years

BN: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
TSP: I personally have been strongly influenced by great rock and pop songwriters such as Lennon/McCartney and Pete Townsend, while also being strongly influenced by great songwriters of “The Great American Songbook”.   Today, I enjoy blending these influences with the works of David Bowie and others

BN: What are your dreams and goals?
TSP: While years ago we all had dreams and goals of “making it” in the music industry, today the goal is to continue to be creative, write and arrange and enjoy playing music with good friends and in nice places for people that appreciate what you do.

BN: Who writes the songs, what are they about?
TSP: In this group, I have been the principal songwriter and arranger but all members are playing a role in the final arrangements.  I have one new original song titled “You’ll Always Be With Me” which is about a spiritual journey of remembrance of someone important to you after they are gone. New material is coming out of Chris Forte as well

BN: How do you promote your band and shows?
TSP: For the most part, we promote by using our personal networks on Facebook.  I have created event pages, shared them and we all send out the invitations to our people.  We also repost event pages from the clubs that we play at (so long as it is not redundant).   Additionally, we connect with non-Facebook friends by text and email

BN: Describe your show, visual and musically
TSPVisually, we are a respectable and fashionably dressed and use high-quality instruments and gear.  Musically we strive for clean and balanced audio levels so that all instruments can be heard and it is not overbearing to the audience

BN: What do you think about downloading music online?
TSP: Basically, all I do is download music (legally) or stream music online.  I do not own a method of playing CD’s anymore

BN: What's your outlook on the record industry today?
TSP: My personal concern is that too much attention is being given to those without true talent.  Overly produced, screaming vocalists, etc… 

BN: What's your claim to fame?
TSP: My claim to fame… Hmmm.  Well as I mentioned earlier, Stevie Reno and I created a group called Design for Living back in the 80’.  We played at NYC clubs such as The Ritz (now Webster Hall), CBGBs, The Bitter End, Danceteria (was a great club), The China Club, Studio 54 (during a renaissance) and others as well as some of the largest clubs on Long Island.  We released a three song, 12” vinyl EP and got some airplay and regional recognition.  We opened up or The Ramones which was a blast.  Good times :)

BN: Tell us a story about a day in your life
TSP: Making music is not my day job so I (and the guys) work to pay our bills etc…  It’s not uncommon however, for us to be texting each other almost daily about music ideas, scheduling rehearsals or discussing availability for gigs.  Sometimes leads to group text overloads :) 

BN: What inspires you to do what you do?
TSP: Simply it’s a love of music. Nothing else

BN: What advice would you give to fellow bands?
TSP: Do this because it is what you love to do.  If you play live, play to your audiences and not your egos. You can do that at a rehearsal studio :)  And by all means, practice :)

BN: What are some of your pet peeves?
TSP: Musicians that tune up excessively on stage.  No one wants to hear that. Playing too loud. Musicians that can’t stop playing between songs

BN: How does music affect you and the world around you?
TSP: Music calms me.  When in an airport or Penn Station, I put the earbuds in and select some music to pass the time and take me away from the crowds.  While we all like various music, I think music has that same effect on people across the world. 

BN: What's new in the recording of your music?
TSP: We recently recorded a few songs which can be found on Soundcloud. We are planning to go back in the studio in September to record some additional songs

BN: What are the biggest obstacles for bands?
TSP: I think that over the years it has become very limited as to where bands can play.  Bar owners are under financial pressure and are often not able to afford live bands.  I recall one bar owner, after we played, telling us he couldn’t pay us and offered us clams on the half shell as payment. :)  When there is a cover change, many potential attendees will not go, but they are willing to pay $17 for a ticket to a mass-produced movie

BN: What's the best and worst thing about playing clubs?
TSP: We enjoy playing clubs and the energy associated with playing live.  A lot of clubs churn out bands every hour which can make for a chaotic setup and not enough time to get a good sound

BN: Tell us about your next shows and why we should be there
TSP: Our next show is at Bar Nin on Saturday August 25 from 5:00 - 7:00 PM.  We’ll be playing two sets on music.  We’re looking forward to it.  We’ll have done two shows in August here in NYC so we’ll probably not play again in NYC until October or November

Steven Padernacht