GREAT TIME came to us. That's right, we learned of GREAT TIME and their music through a submission by their lead singer Jill Ryan and boy are we glad that we did. Upon listening to the first song "One.Thirty.Seven", we immediately stopped what we were doing and listened to the rest of their album (titled GREAT ALBUM). The sound was that unique, that fresh, that fun. After talking with GREAT TIME through Instagram we decided it was a no brainer to highlight them for an Artist Spotlight feature.
1. How did you come to pursue music, how long have you been at it?
"Great question. We've been doing music individually for a long, long time back like three years old is when Donnie and Zach got started and me in like, fifth grade or whatever. But we came together when we were in college in New York City, Donnie, the drummer went to Manhattan School of Music. And Zack and I were at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. So we all studied jazz. I actually studied jazz saxophone. That was my major, not voice and then yeah, I mean, they kind of had the band first. And I was like, I remember them inviting me to a show, like in college, they were like, 'Hey, come to the show. It's like, my new band'. And I was like, 'Yeah, I don't want to go' and I didn't go and I don't know, a year later, something we started jamming and then it sort of just like worked, we just immediately, coming up with grooves and beats and songs. Like, just really natural kind of vibes we were getting. And then we Yeah, we had some other members. And it just kind of boiled down to this, this core trio. So we just ever since college and been going strong. And we've been out of college for like three years now. So okay. Yeah, so total, it's been like five years as the current group."
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
"Well, there's definitely multiple processes will each kind of mentioned one. So one thing that we used to do a lot more was we would just set up all the mics here in the studio and hit record and jam for hours. And then later that week, or later that year, even we would go back through the old recordings and be like, 'Oh, we really like this, like, let's let's sample it into a song or let's rewrite it into a song'. And that was sort of the most kind of organic way, I guess, where we would write from nothing with no preconceived anything.
Yes, sometimes someone brings in a riff. So another thing that we do is like, a lot of times, one of us will have an idea on a certain instrument like piano, or bass or guitar, and we'll kind of just be like, sitting with this one riff. And then we kind of come together and yeah, all the instruments and pieces are based around that specific riff. And like, tonal center, and then from there, we just expand and we arrange it and I'm usually kind of more on the melodic harmonic lyrical side of things, and, but we, we have our roles you Donnie plays, drums that plays bass, but at the end of the day, we are like, playing multiple different things. And Donnie will play synth and, and bass and, you know, piano, or Zach will play guitar, or piano or drums or whatever, I'll play guitar or piano. So started just switches around a lot.
And then there's another side where it starts in the computer. And we either you know, either from an idea that we record or like, we start with a sample or something, and that can be group based, or just like a person on their own, just because of the nature of making something on the computer, you can really like produce the thing you know, you can, you can shape things to be how you want them to be. So, yeah, sometimes the song will start in that way, where, you know, one of us will make something to the point where it's pretty clear that direction, and then we'll all get in on it, and continue growing it or arranging it, some songs start that way, and stay the same for a while. And then we come back to them with a different mindset, or, you know, the different time a year or whatever, and add a new section. So yeah, there's a lot of different ways on I'm sure there are ways that we haven't explored that we want to, we recently got a one a recording session at a different studio. And since we live in a studio, we are trying to think of ways to go into someone else's studio with a mindset that would yield the most the most possible results. So maybe we go in with an idea of a song or we go in looking to get samples or something like that. But since we have experience doing creative things, different ways, you know, I think that kind of will make the songs for us sometimes, you know, just the process itself yields a very specific vibe. So the jamming songs, they have a really organic feeling, sometimes we'll keep the same track that we recorded, and we won't re-record anything and we'll use, you know, some original tracks from the jam and then add on top of that, so, yeah, they all kind of yield a slightly different feeling."
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"Well, we all definitely have a lot and we all have a big overlap. And then we also all have our own kind of like fringe likes, we definitely all converged on jazz, I guess, originally, that's how we met and all that. But I can't say that's our main influence anymore. But definitely in high school. And when you're learning to play an instrument, jazz is really important, but we all we all like a lot. And I mean, I can start listing random things, but there's any hip hop, we all like Jay Dylan and all that kind of stuff and current stuff and then Jill's more into maybe the pop thing and I'm more into maybe like rock although we all like rock. Yeah, it's really just a lot and I think that's why it's so diverse also because we just like all that stuff. And the cool thing about like a trio I mean we play with two other members to other members are on the record as well but they're touring with different people Moses Sumney and just being real busy so for most of the time it's the three of us and we like John Mayer. But there's sometimes where we differ and it's funny or like maybe Donnie and Zach go harder with like they know Primus or like they know like classic rock that like I don't either I didn't grow up on maybe and meanwhile I know some of the 90s R&B. Well, that maybe they don't know as much or the current pop stuff, but it's cool all of them. And we introduce new artists to one another which is always fun and just exploring new stuff. old stuff. Good stuff."
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
"Yeah, well, we always joke because everyone in the band especially when our keyboard player and our guitars are with us, we all have Line 6 DL4 delay pedals so everybody has their deal for on stage but now these guys totally gear out Donnie I'll let him talk about his like whole custom live setup it's pretty rad the first piece of gear I think I ever bought was a Delta labs effectron and so I'm currently using that with my drums.
I got into building microphones and gear a few years back and yeah so I really like I think I've gotten to know kind of like the more classic vintage sound and so yeah I really like microphones i like that i there's some records that I can tell like were like what the overheads are or something like that because there's such a characteristic sound but yeah, I built a clone of a C 12 and I really like I really like using that basically on everything. But yeah. Zacks definitely got a lot of pedals. Yeah. I recently went on a pedal buying spree on Facebook marketplace where you hit you hit up old guys that don't know what they have. And you low ball them. And they say yes, so I like old pedals. Analog's cool. But, you know, digital's cool to whatever if it sounds cool. Sounds cool. Broken stuff. Fun. Yeah. Goodwill. Yeah. We go to Goodwill and get like paper, jams, drums. But we also have we just got some nice compressors the tweeters by Kush audio, we pretty much ran everything through those. Yeah, I'm, you know, I mean, I could list individual pedals. I like course, but you know, basic stuff. We use a lot of toys."
5. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
"We just like good music. And we just want to make more good music. And that's pretty much what I mean. I think one thing I know or notice, I mean, I love listening to up and coming artists. And, you know, just as much as I like, the classics, and something that I like about GREAT TIME. And the music that we create is that I like that we don't I know, especially for this first album, we really didn't have any particular theme. We just made songs that we enjoyed playing and like to listen to."
6. So I read you have your own studio and that was funded through Kickstarter?
"Yeah, we spent a long time doing that whole thing. So we, like, made a video and just, you know, reached out to news publications, newspapers, like from local where we all each individually grew up and just hit up people that might be interested in in donating to, to our project that, you know, our goal was to really create a space that not only we could use, but just like our, our generation and, and just, you know, musicians, local and, and beyond that needed a space to create music and like a low key really relaxed, comfortable space with us who, you know, really love music and, you know, we can be as involved or not involved in as they want to be. But yeah, we were really, really fortunate to have so much support from tons of friends and family and random people that just, like, came across our project."
7. Do you have any upcoming projects you would like fans to know about?
"We will be playing in the Philly Music Fest at World cafe live, we're opening up the festival that day for some cool names. And so that's the Philly Music Fest on September 29 at World cafe live in Philly. And we're also about to release some music videos in August and in the fall and yeah, so we have some music videos I think that's it.
We printed 500 CDs, we signed them all. But inside the CD is the liner notes.The booklet is we had our friends that are really talented visual graphic artists, designers, they created track art to each of the song. So we had 14 amazing visual artists and each of them would listen to, you know, One.Thirty.Seven and then create a piece for that. Every song has a piece of art. And it's featured in the booklet and on our social media page (we have put it in a gallery for your convenience below). But so that we tried to mix you know, just the different media's mediums together for music. They're all local kind of people from New York."
FMI on GREAT TIME visit: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2798IbnOqsxyZjUbcAz3Qs or social media on Facebook @GREATTIMEBAND, Instagram @greattimeband, or Twitter @great_time_band.
FMI on the Philly Music Fest (Saturday September 29th at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, PA) visit: https://phlmusicfest.com/.