By ERIC SCHELKOPF
It's been four years since Chicago band Pinto and the Bean has released any new music.
Thankfully, the wait is over. The band has a new EP, "Transit-Eons," and will perform Dec. 5 at The Gallery Cabaret, 2020 N. Oakley Ave., Chicago. The free show starts at 9 p.m.
I had the chance to talk to members Ivan Sosa and Paul Taneja about the new album.
Q - Great talking to you. Of course, you will be performing at The Gallery Cabaret on Dec. 5 to celebrate the release of your new EP, "Transit-Eons." In sitting down to make the album, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them? What would you like for people to get out of the album?
Ivan: Since our last album, we’ve been recording several songs but haven’t actually finished them, so one day, I thought, “Why don’t we make an EP?” We have some songs that are almost done. Let’s choose some and make an EP.
I think the only goal we had was a deadline; to get the EP done by the beginning of June.
I think what we would like people to get out of the EP is similar to what most other artists would want…to touch their senses through our music.
Paul: Yeah, the only goal was to just record an EP within two months. I think we both knew things would sort of fall into place from there, although we didn’t really know how.
The important thing was just to get up and make music. I would love for people to connect to these songs in some way.
It means so much to me when someone is genuinely moved by anything we create. I mean, that’s the huge reward for being an artist.
Q - I understand you made the album in only two months. How much of a challenge was that? Do you think it helped to have such a strict deadline?
Ivan: We are constantly writing new songs. We had several songs recorded, so we chose some songs we thought would be good for an EP and we “polished” them up.
It was hard work because, as most musicians know, the hardest part of making a song is not recording it, but mixing it. Yeah, it helped to have a deadline.
It seems we are more productive working under pressure.
Paul: I agree that when we set deadlines, we get SO much more accomplished. It was a challenge to record and mix this EP.
As Ivan said, mixing is tough. Especially for us, it was brand new territory, because we had always had a sound engineer/producer in the past, so we had to trust our own ears and listen to these songs over and over and over again until we thought they were good enough to put onto a record.
Q - Before making the EP, the band had been on hiatus. Did the EP provide the inspiration for the band to continue on?
Ivan: Definitely. It’s like a glass of fresh water in the middle of the Sahara. It renews yourself and gives you energy to keep walking forward.
Paul: Yes, the creation of this EP definitely gave us direction again. We had been on hiatus for so long, we became hermits writing songs in our little studio.
Completing the EP was the first step to whatever was to come next. I think all that mattered at first was that we created an EP.
And I figured the pieces would start to fall into place after that.
Q - What is the meaning of the EP's title? Is there a story behind the band's name?
Ivan: We were experimenting with changes not only on a personal level, but also as a musicians, so I suggested the idea of “transitions.” Then Paul came up with the idea of “transit-eons,” which added another meaning to the EP.
Paul: I’m not even sure why I added “eons” to it. I guess it was a play on words, and it feels like eons since we’ve been out in the scene. Our band name actually came from a contest we had when we started this project. We asked people for band names they liked and people voted, and Pinto and the Bean became our name.
Q - Your music touches on several genres of music. Who or what are your biggest music influences and how do you think they have affected your music?
Ivan: Personally, I’m a song guy. Rarely, can I say this band or that band is my biggest influence.
I’m constantly looking for new music and that’s a big influence for me. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like The Smiths, Led Zeppelin, the Police, Jane’s Addiction and Depeche Mode among many others.
Paul: I used to be able to answer this question more appropriately. I feel that I’ve been affected by various bands in different ways, and there is no one particular band that I can think of that has affected these songs in particular.
There are songs or bands we’ll listen to and we’ll find something within a song that we really like and try to find some kind of inspiration within it.
Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you see the band fitting into it?
Ivan: To be honest, sometimes I feel it’s hard for us to fit in with some of the bands in Chicago. Sometimes I feel like we are the “black sheep,” but for some reason, I like that.
It makes me feel different and special. In the end, what matters is attitude, no matter what genre of music you play, do it well, and respect and appreciate other musicians’ efforts.
Paul: Yeah, I have never really understood where we fit into the Chicago scene, even when we were performing a lot. It’s hard to know exactly what the Chicago scene is like right now since we’re still emerging back into it, but we met some really cool bands recently.
Q - What are the short-term and long-term goals of the band?
Ivan: Our short-term goal is to make another EP by spring 2016. My long-term goal is to be able to pay my bills and make music for living.
Paul: Those goals are exactly what I’d have said too.