They've been performing for the past two years as The Kickbacks and amassed a huge fan base during that time. But now they've got a new name, a new producer, and a new EP they're getting ready to release featuring six original songs.
They’ve been performing for the past two years as The Kickbacks and amassed a huge fan base during that time. But now they’ve got a new name, a new producer, and a new EP they’re getting ready to release featuring six original songs.
The band will debut its eponymously-titled EP “Black Tie Stereo” at an EP Release Party on Saturday, July 5. The event will be held from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Ale Mary’s (formerly Whistle’s), located at 126 Franklin Ave. in Scranton.
Black Tie Stereo is comprised of four classically-trained musicians — lead vocalist and keyboardist Stephen Murphy, guitarist Charles Kaszuba, drummer George Pachucy, and bassist Aaron Kovalich.
They say the transformation of the band emerged from an intense period of self-examination, as they were reflecting on all they had accomplished in the past but hoping to do “something much bigger and better in the future.”
“We went through a phase where we weren’t sure what our image was or how we wanted to be taken by people,” George explained. “At the same time, we were looking to make the big jump to the next level and see where that would take us.”
The band members agreed that it was time to hit the “reset” button. For starters, they decided they were no longer a cover band but would focus instead on writing, recording and performing their own songs.
“With that, we felt it only made sense to change the name of the band,” Charles related. “We wanted a name that sounded classy and sophisticated but at the same time still had a strong emphasis on music, so that’s how we came up with Black Tie Stereo.”
“As cheesy as it sounds, we’re taking our best shot to see if we can make a career out of this,” George offered.
Working with them as producer of the new EP is Carl Canedy, who has forged a formidable career in the music business and attained legendary status for his work as drummer for The Rods and producer of such records as Anthrax’s “Fistful of Metal.”
“This has all been a work in progress,” Charles explained. “We went from producing and arranging our own material to working with Carl, and he’s the one who convinced us to do the EP.”
“He not only produced the disc, but he helped arrange the six songs that are on it as well,” Charles added. “We wouldn’t be where we are at this point without his input and influence.”
Stephen, a music composition major at Carnegie Mellon University, writes all of the band’s songs, then the other three members help shape them as the rehearsals and recordings are taking place.
“They make the songs sound as good as they do,” Stephen noted. “Our music is pop/rock with only a very slight nod to alternative.”
Charles agreed, adding, “We basically want to give our music a modern feel without losing our classical influences.”
Like Stephen, both George and Aaron will be seniors in college this upcoming semester — George at Susquehanna University and Aaron at Penn State. Charles, who’s a little older than his three bandmates, handles all of the group’s business affairs, such as bookings and finances.
They all bring an enormous amount of talent and musical experience to the band, which translates into the powerful, high-energy Black Tie Stereo experience that’s captured on the new EP and seen in their live shows.
“The kind of chemistry we have together, especially when we’re on-stage, is just amazing to me,” Stephen pointed out. “I’ve done it all when it comes to musical production, worked on stage, off stage, in pits, in groups, you name it — but I’ve never seen or been a part of anything like it.”
Stephen has been taking classical piano lessons for 17 years, currently with instructor Michael Popick. He has won numerous piano competitions and over the past eight years has served as the full-time accompanist for the NEIU 19’s “Arts Alive” program.
Aaron has been playing bass for about nine years now, ever since he was in the seventh grade. He studied jazz at Lebanon Valley College and has played in various jazz combos, and he is in his fourth year with Arts Alive.
George is a self-taught drummer who has been playing in bands for nine years. The earliest incarnation of what would become The Kickbacks, and now Black Tie Stereo, actually occurred when George became the drummer for a group called Aim & Fire and he introduced his friend Stephen into the band.
“They wanted a drummer and I brought them a keyboard player,” George recounted with a laugh.
Charles has been a guitarist for 18 years, with seven years of training under his belt, and he has been playing in different bands since he was 18.
“I finally found a great group of guys who are all really strong musicians and, like myself, are very dedicated to their craft and to the pursuit of music,” Charles offered.
That common calling and their tenacious pursuit of it resulted in the creation of one of the area’s most popular cover bands, and now it’s taking them to new heights with the release of their six-track professional EP. In the meantime, they’re continuing to write new songs, play live and prepare for the big EP Release Party coming up next month.
As Stephen put it: “We haven’t stopped.”
The EP Release Party at Ale Mary’s on July 5 will serve as the official launching pad for the next phase of the band’s career. It will all get underway that night at 9 p.m., and the first 100 people through the door will receive a free digital download card.
“This is an exciting time for us,” Charles related. “We’ve been talking about doing all of this for a long time now and to see it all coming together is really thrilling.”
“We’re very confident in our music and it means so much to us that we’re finally able to release this EP,” he added. “We’re really looking to excite our fans with this recording, and so far the response has been tremendous.”
For all the latest news on the band, including continual updates on upcoming shows as soon as they’re scheduled, be sure to check out their website at blacktiestereo.com. You can also follow the band on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and SoundCloud.
For more information or bookings, contact Charles at 570-241-5908.