Rising Acts: Gallons to Ounces
Interview with D.C. Music Download
Gallons to Ounces’ guitarist and lead vocalist, Matt Cummings, bassist Tom Hatcher, and drummer Zach Miller have created a distinct sound that’s powerfully soulful. A fusion of different elements and funky musical styles, matched with equally exotic lyrics and melodies, is the secret sauce to the band’s growing fanbase. They are becoming a trendsetter in the D.C. area for bringing classic styles of rock and roll, jazz and blues back to this generation. With a brand new EP released earlier this month Half and Half, Gallons to Ounces spoke with DMD about their new music and how the trio came to be.
D.C. Music Download: How and when did you guys form as a band and where did you come up with your band name?
Matt Cummings: Well, Tom and I are cousins, and we have been playing music together for years since we were kids. So, it was just a natural transition when Zach and I needed a bass player a couple years ago, and he came into the fold. And we had already come up with the name Gallons to Ounces. Unfortunately, there really isn’t that great of a story, it was just something we thought sounded good and it just stuck.
DMD: Where do you usually gather songwriting inspiration? What is your usual songwriting process? Do write and arrange collaboratively?
Zach Miller: Once in a while someone will come up with an idea and bring it to the table, but most of the time it will come from a loose jam or from hanging out.
Tom Hatcher: We play a lot of music together so if we come up with something that we like, we’ll just keep playing it and go from there.
DMD: What are some of your favorite influences that have inspired you to create and write these beautiful songs?
MC: Lots of hip hop: The Roots, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, A Tribe Called Quest, and a lot of old school blues like Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton, and all the classic guitar heroes. Lots of funk and jazz too; D’Angelo and stuff like that.
DMD: The chord progressions and melodies are just awesome. What’s the recording process like for the band?
ZM: It’s organic, but at the same time once we get in the studio, there’s a lot more crafting to the song, and that’s when we see a song really come to life. We start writing lyrics and make it unique. But most of the time, how it starts out is someone will start grooving on something, or might just play a chord or a beat on the spot, and we just kind of drift that way- it might become the start of a new song.
DMD: What was your vision for your new EP, Half and Half? And how was the recording process?
MC: It had been a few years since we released an album, so ultimately we just wanted to get new music out right away. The idea came from the genres kinda being split half and half, with five songs that were more singer-songwriter-ish and modern, and five songs being funkier and more similar to our first album.
DMD: How does your new EP differ from your older material?
ZM: Well, it’s the first album of us three together, since Tom joined the band as the new bass player. We had a couple back steps but now we’re putting out these new tunes and getting the ball rolling again.
DMD: What are some techniques and rules you learned along the way in order to play a good live set?
TH: We play a lot of shows and we also play a lot together in general, so we always record live takes when we play, and it helps us play better in front of a crowd.
ZM: We definitely have learned that we not only should, but have to mold our sound to where we’re actually playing. Like, we know we’re capable of playing good music, but we used to just play loud as shit, balls to the walls, so now we’ve just kind of adjusted to what type of show we’re actually playing to that night.
DMD: What has been your best experience while playing a live show?
MC: We always have a great time at the Hard Rock Café, and this is starting to become like our home base I guess. But, we played at U Street Music Hall last year, and had an epic show at Velvet Lounge, and both places had great crowds.
TH: We also had a cool show at this place called Littlefield in Brooklyn, New York, which was pretty great.
DMD: What are your plans for 2013? Any plans for a new album in the future as well?
MC: We’ve made a couple trips out to Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut, and we’re definitely branching out to those places again this summer. And we’re already three songs into our next five song EP, which should come out this summer as well.
TH: We’re looking forward to summer!