Thursday, September 1, 2011

Chicago band Great Divide to bring soul based sound to North Coast festival



By ERIC SCHELKOPF

Chicago band Great Divide will bring its soul based rock to the North Coast Music Festival on Sunday, Sept. 4.

The band, which formed in Ann Arbor, Mich., www.greatdivideband.com, is now calling Chicago home. Great Divide will perform from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on The Named After Groupon Stage at the festival, being held at Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph St., Chicago.

More information about the festival is available at www.northcoastfestival.com.

I had the chance to talk to Great Divide keyboard player Jeff Leibovich and the band about Great Divide's latest activities.


Q - North Coast Music Festival features an eclectic lineup of bands. How do you think Great Divide fits into the festival? Do you think the festival will provide a new audience for the band? 

Great Divide's sound combines influences from many genres of music. Just as North Coast is eclectic, so is our sound. One thing that any music festival allows is for new ears to hear our music. North Coast is a great opportunity for us as it's in our backyard here in Chicago.

Q - What was your vision for the band? Do you think the band has lived up to that vision?  

The vision for this band is to make music that people enjoy. We're not trying to recreate the wheel, just make music that we'd like to listen to. One thing we are very cognizant of is the fact that we are a song based band.

Q - How is the band dealing with the departure of Joey Gaon? Was his departure expected? How do you think his departure will change the dimension of the band? Do you already have a replacement? 

Joey's departure caught us by surprise for sure. Joey was not only a founding member of this band, but is also a good friend of all of ours. That part will not change.

We value all the input Joey had on our tunes, the direction of the band and of course, all the memories we got to share with him. As of now, Jeff Burke has stepped in as our lead guitarist. 

Jeff has a different sound than Joey, but one that still fits within Great Divide. Jeff had already been a part of the "band" as he has been helping with production and putting his input on the new album. All this does is solidify this.

Q - What made the band want to move to Chicago? What do you think of the Chicago music scene?

As a band that formed at the University of Michigan, we had already began to establish some Midwestern roots.

Combining that with the fact that I am originally from Chicago, interned at a few studios around town and had some in's with the local music scene, it seemed like a no brainer. 

As for the scene here in Chicago, we are really proud to be part of this scene. Musicians here look out for each other. All the bands we've crossed paths with have been stellar players, great people and above all, very real people. From fellow North Coast bands like The Right Now, The Coop, Midwest
Hype, Van Ghost and Loyal Divide to bands like How Far to Austin, The Down Feathers, Ben Ripani Music Co & The Hue, we feel we're in some good company.

Q - The band's music crosses into several music genres. How would you describe the band's sound? Who are the band's biggest influences?

We like to think of our sound as soul based rock. While each player has influences spanning many genres, bands and artists, I'd say Great Divide draws much of our influence from The Band, Little Feat, Bill Withers as well as modern bands like The Black Keys & Wilco to name a few.


Q - The band is working on a new album. What should people expect from the new album? Is the song "Fima" a good representation of what the new album will sound like?

The new album is something we are really excited about for many reasons. First, we've matured as a band, as songwriters and as studio musicians. 

We are also in a great spot as we have our own studio equipped with some great gear. We've got plenty of vintage and modern gear allowing us to really craft our sound. 

The fact that we're in our own studio also allows us to really hone in our tones without being "on the clock". Our new album is a little more focused and cohesive. 

While we are still working out some of the tunes, I'd say "Fima" is a pretty good representation of what the new album will sound like. We'll have plenty of that upbeat sound, but we're also going more in a direction of four-on-the-floor rock. Guess you'll have to get the album to see if you agree.

Q - What are the band's short term and long term goals? 

Our biggest goal in the short term is to get the album done and get some legs under it with a tour, proper coverage, etc. In the long term, I think I speak for the whole band when I say we'd like to take Great Divide to the level where we can all quit our day jobs and live off our music. How we get there is to be determined.