Interviewed by Alex Rowland
Aqueous is a groove rock jam band from Buffalo, New York that brings a lot of energy to every performance. The four band members came together and put on their first show back in 2006. Since then they have evolved into one of the best up and coming bands in the country and on the festival scene. This young band is quickly rising to the top and has no intention of slowing down! Festival Squad was lucky enough to sit down and talk with them about their new live album, future shows, and how things have changed since they first came together.
*When we sat down Mike Gantzer and Dave Loss were having a conversation about having to learn a ton of new music*
Festival Squad: What’s going on?
Mike Gantzer: Tonight, I’m doing a project with the drummer and bass player from Umphrey’s McGee doing a tribute to the Green Day album Dookie. Their bassist said he ended up having to learn almost 40 songs for this weekend which is a lot of stuff to remember.
FS: That’s awesome! I’m going to have to go check that out tonight. Thank you guys for letting me sit down with you all and ask a few questions! I read something online that said you all got together in high school?
Dave Loss: Yes! Me, Mike, and Evan McPhaden all got together junior year.
FS: Where are you all from?
DL: A suburb of Buffalo, NY. We were all friends before that and went to high school together. We graduated in 2007. Then Rob Houk joined us about a year and a half ago!
MG: We were like a band back then, but we were just kids in high school. Playing Pink Floyd covers and Stevie Ray Von covers. I think that’s how every band starts!
FS: What other festivals will you be playing at?
AQ: Peach Fest, Disc Jam, Tumble Down, Mad Tea Party, Night Lights, Canyon Jam, and we’ve got a couple summer dates with Umphrey’s McGee! All Kinds of Good Stuff!
FS: You guys just recently released a new album called Elements Pt.1? Is it just a collection from different festivals or shows?
MG: Yes! I don’t know exactly how many shows our spring tour was? Maybe about 35-40 different shows, but they were already kind of mixed because we’ve been uploading all of our recordings to nugs.net. We’ve signed with them this year and we’ll release a really high quality recording of every single set we play now. So we already kind of had most of the stuff mixed to choose from and then I kind of communicated directly with some of our fans about what they liked. We have a fan page called “AQuaintances” where everyone will get on and talk about what their favorite jams were and what versions they liked. So we decided to put something out that people can get a good representation of what we’re doing for 2017. So yeah it’s a nice collection of a few tunes from the spring tour that everyone liked!
DL: I think each song is from a different show in a different city so it’s a good mix of all of the different stuff we were doing.
RH: It’s the hits of spring tour! It’s always fun to go back and look at it and see what worked and what didn’t and where we progressed from there and how things have changed and what people like! To know what our fans like is super important, if they’re not happy then we’re not happy.
MG: I think we’re going to make it a series! We definitely have a part two coming out, but I kind of like the idea of keeping it going!
FS: Any idea when part two is going to come out?
AQ: We’ll probably play a few more shows but soon!
FS: Ok Rob, you’re from about the same area of Cincinnati I grew up in. I have to ask you… Gold Star Chili or Skyline Chili…
RH: Oh… How do I answer this in the most pc way… Well, when I was really young I had a Gold Star close to my house then a Skyline was built about a mile down the road so I have a lot of love for both of them!
MG: Come on! People want the juicy answer!
RH: Ok… I like Skyline. I had a Skyline right down the street from my apartment. It was one of the cleanest and best run stores in the country. The shredded cheese on top of the coney was perfect! That’s an important factor in your coney! If it’s light and fluffy it’s right!
FS: I prefer Gold Star, but i do have a lot of love for Skyline to! Alright back to the music. Are you guys just touring in the U.S. or have you done any shows outside of the country?
DL: I think we’ve played in Canada three or four times now. Being from Buffalo it’s only a short drive to get to Canada so we’ve done a few shows in Toronto.
FS: So you guys are a groove rock jam band? What are some of your musical influences?
RH: I’m a really big Umphrey’s fan!
DL: I mean we’re in the jam band scene, but I don’t think we really consider ourselves a jam band.
RH: Yeah I think we definitely take a different approach.
DL: Yeah, It’s a lot of improv when we play.
MG: MOE, Phish, Umphrey’s. Ten years ago that’s what we were being influenced by when we started the foundations of what we wanted to be then we kind of came away from it but built on it still. Those were in our roots, but I think at this point we’ve all gotten into so many different styles of music that we try to bring influence from all kinds of different things that have nothing to do with the Jam scene sometimes, especially when it comes to songwriting. I think in the live setting it’s a lot of improv, a lot of on stage, on the fly communication.
DL: A lot of guitar solos!
MG: So yeah, I think in the beginning it was a lot of groups like that then later on it developed into all kinds of stuff. For a minute there was a lot of rock stuff like Muse, indie stuff like Radiohead.
FS: I saw that you guys covered a Pearl Jam song?
MG: Yes! We covered one. Once Rob joined the band we found out he can sing with that 90’s grunge rock voice!
RH: For me at least, if it’s good I don’t necessarily care what the style or genre is because I’m going to be influenced one way or another by it. Whether I love it or I hate it there’s always something good to be found, it’s something that someone’s put into their art.
FS: Awesome! Well thank you guys so much for sitting down with Festival Squad, I had a great time talking to you all! Looking forward to seeing you guys at a few more festivals this summer and checking out your new live album!