By ERIC SCHELKOPF
Fronted by the powerful vocals of singer Meghan Murphy, Chicago band Everybody Says Yes will bring its infectious R&B/soul sound on Dec. 5 to Wire, 6815 W. Roosevelt Road, Berwyn.
The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10, available at www.ticketweb.com.
I had the chance to talk to Murphy and songwriter John Fournier about the band.
Q - Great to talk to you. I understand you guys plan to release your second EP soon, along with a live album and video. What should people expect from the new EP? In sitting down to make your first EP, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them?
John: The new EP is an extension of the first in every way and not a departure. It is a clearer picture of the sound and concept of the band, I think.
The mix of influences (Muscle Shoals, Stax, Chicago Blues, Van Morrison and Dusty Springfield), are still in there but the more we work on the material and progress as a group, the more the sounds come together into something unique and all our own.
The thrill for me of keeping a band together and working on original material and an original group sound is how it gels over time. As everyone figures out their unique role in the group and starts to master their part in the ensemble, it just gets better every time we play.
It is a very exciting and rare thing to have and I've been around long enough to cherish it because it doesn't happen to every band. It also is vital to have a shooting star fronting the band and we have that in Meghan Murphy.
Meghan: I think the new EP will be a little tighter musically as this is our second go at recording. We’ve had a number of songs ready to go for a couple years now, so we are trying to get them out to the people in ways that are accessible.
The influences of soul, rock, R&B, and blues are all still there and we are fine tuning our unique sound of an old school throwback with a modern voice. It’s familiar, but unlike anything you’ve heard before.
I think people are really going to dig the new tunes.
Q - I understand that the two of met through mutual friends and quickly found out that you had a musical chemistry. Why do you think you fit so well together musically?
John: I think Meghan and I hear music in the same way. When I bring her a new song, we generally learn it first as a duo before we bring it to the band. I never have to coach Meghan on how the song could be interpreted, she learns it very quickly and realizes its potential by the second or third time through as she simply understands the song and my intent instantly.
It is a rare pleasure to have a partner like that when you are a songwriter and I love writing songs for Meg.
Meghan: One of the first things I noticed about John was his musical integrity. John and I met after he’d seen me in my one-woman show and he asked me if I’d be interested in singing some of his original songs.
So we met for the first time, he played me about 15 songs and I could really hear myself singing some of them right away. As for some others, he said to me “If you don’t like it, we won’t do it!”
He didn’t want to waste my time by putting on heirs or stroking his own ego. He wanted to make really good, authentic music and I was definitely down for that.
Not to mention the man can write ANYTHING, and always with his own unique style. I’ve always thought of myself more as an interpreter of a story when it comes to singing, so I think we make a great team.
Q - Everybody Says Yes has grown to a seven-piece band. How did you go about picking the other members in the band and what do you think they bring to the table?
John: All of the band members: Lee Taylor, Scott Tipping, John Abbey, Alex Beltran and Scott Stevenson are musical veterans who have been on the scene for years. They are also straight up virtuosos on their chosen instruments and have thousands of gigs under their belts.
They all have a deep understanding of what the band is all about and are able to instantly make it come alive. We are honored that they have chosen to be in this band.
Meghan: This band is crazy good. All veterans of the scene that John has either played with for years or knows simply through reputation. Lee Taylor (drums), Scott Tipping (guitar,) John Abbey (bass), Alex Beltran (sax), and Scott Stevenson (organ) are insane musicians who understand the style from the inside out.
Since John has been in this scene for much longer than I have, he was the one who gathered this superb group of fellas together. I am so honored to play with them each and every time. Like I’ve said before, “I wear the dress, they do the rest.”
Q - Meghan, I enjoyed your performance in "Rent" at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora. I understand that you will be playing the Acid Queen in "The Who's Tommy" at the Paramount Theatre. Tina Turner seemed to have been made for the role in the movie version of "Tommy." What do you hope to bring to the role?
Meghan: Well, I couldn’t possibly begin to try and “fill the shoes” of one of the greatest live entertainers of all time, but I will certainly try and withhold the standard that has been set for me. I
saw Tina when I was 15 years old, was blown away, and was instantly a life-long fan.
The rawness, the sexual prowess, the vulnerability, the pure liquid JOY she seems to be having on stage are all things I hope to bring to the role. I also plan to sing the living piss out of it.
Q - John, you won a Jeff Award for writing the words and music to "The Madam Barker Show." Do you feel you need both in your life, theatre and music?
John: Well I am a songwriter and I am happy to have my songs sung anywhere. Whether I am writing songs for theater projects or musical ensembles, it is a joy for me.
I am very fortunate to be able to write songs and ridiculously fortunate to have them heard. And winning an award for songwriting was a cool experience.
Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you see the band fitting into it?
John: I love the Chicago music scene. I grew up here so a lot of the sound of EVERYBODY SAYS YES is a distinctly Chicago sound, I think.
People in Chicago are very smart listeners and have little patience for anything too pompous or self-important. Our sound is something people can latch onto right away, we sing songs about healing and joy and in these troubled times, we can try to help lift some spirits for an hour or so.
I think Chicagoans appreciate that simple mission.
Meghan: I love the Chicago music scene because there is room for everyone. It’s inclusive, not exclusive. It takes the greatest attributes from the greatest styles of music and puts them all in a big melting pot of Awesome.
I think that’s what we are trying to do with Everybody Says Yes. I mean, it’s in our band NAME!! In a world where it’s so easy to say “no,” we are trying to spread the good word and say “Yes.”
Yes to positivity, yes to mixing the old with the new, the past with the present, and yes to feeling BETTER after you leave our show. After all, isn’t that the whole point of music??