This weekend I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview a very cool band that came to play right here in Boone all the way from Boston, Massachusetts! Spiritual Rez is a “funk dance experience” according to their website, and they lived up to that, bringing an upbeat reggae jam session to warm up our cold mountains.
Before the show I had the chance to speak with some of the band members, lead singer Toft Willingham and bassist Jesse Shaternick, two of the original co-founders of the band. They generously answered my questions, and we got to joke around a good bit. This was my first time interviewing any kind of band, and they made it extremely comfortable for me, even joking about me experiencing and Almost Famous kind of moment (for those of you who don’t know, Almost Famous is a movie about a high-school kid who gets the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine about an up-and-coming rock band as he and Katie Hudson accompany them on their concert tour).
That being said, just about everything that could have gone wrong happened to me, but the band put on an amazing show and the interview went really awesome. My camera probably belongs to a junkyard now, but thats another story. On to the interview!!
Q1. Where does the name Spiritual Rez come from?
Toft: (laughter) “That would be your first question! Well I think it means something different to everyone, you know most people just ask what the Rez means and aren’t as worried about the spiritual aspect, but it’s a culmination of all our different spiritual ties that make up the band, a culmination of all of us put into music. And the Rez is our resistance, reservoir, reservation, reverberation, whatever all rolled into one.”
Q2. How did you all get involved in music?
Toft: “How did we get involved with music? Well all of us in different ways, I got involved through my family, I had musical parents and started playing in church and school, and really liked it, then decided to move on to pursue it in college, where I met these guys.”
– Toft attended Berklee College of Music where he met Jesse and Ian, the co-founders of the band.
Jesse: “I fell in love with music when I was younger. I mean started playing in high school, I was a big metal-head. I loved Metallica so I started learning how to play Metallica songs and then that led me on the path to different styles, and as I got older, started appreciating different styles of music in general and I put that towards what I do today.
– Taking a moment to switch direction and keep things light, we moved on to the third question, which I’m pretty sure all of the guys got a kick out of.
Q3. If Spiritual Rez were a type of drink, what would it be?
Toft: Actually there is a real Spiritual Rez drink, it’s at Captain Hiram’s in Sebastian, Florida, and I think it’s some variety of rum concoction that’s a little fruity, but it will definitely kick your ass.
Q4. Which decade do you think had the best music?
Toft: ”The 40’s, 40’s on 4 is the greatest radio station of all time.”
– Which explains some of the big band/jazz feel that the band brings out, with their amazing sax player Clay Lyons and Quinn Carson rocking it on the trombone. Jesse had some trouble with the question…
Jesse: ”Shit, I mean, best in terms of like what I think is the best?”
Me: “Yeah, of course!”
Jesse: ”I guess its all opinion, but I think all the decades before computers started fixing music. I always feel like those are the people who were the best musicians of all time because they sang into a microphone and it sounded good and still sounds good today, to me those where the best decades, I can’t think of a specific one, I like them all too much, just any decade before auto tune.”
– Spiritual Rez is one of those bands that sounds amazing live. Toft has quite the vocal range.
Q5. How do you deal with pre-show jitters?
Jesse: “I try to find some space to stretch, maybe do some yoga, just find some kind of space where you can get centered and mentally prepared, you know? Just away from all the people. But if I don’t have that, I just do it, I just get on stage and get in the mode. I mean we’ve been doing it for so long, you just kind of get on stage and do it.”
– Toft agrees.
Toft: ”Because I’ve played so many shows, I don’t usually get a tremendous amount of pre-show jitters, but I also kinda feel like I use them to my advantage because they give me an adrenalin rush and makes me wanna kick ass more. So I wouldn’t call it jitters as much as just a little adrenalin boost right before we play.”
Me: ”So how many shows do you think you guys have played?”
Toft: ”Oh, I don’t know.”
Me: ”Cause you guys have been together for what, about 10 years?”
Toft: ”The core of us has been together for 10 years, yeah, but over the course of that I have no idea how many shows we’ve played. I would say seriously close to the thousand number, but don’t quote me on that.”
– too bad, Toft you just got quoted.
Question 6 was two parted, so I kind of cheated on the whole only 7 questions thing.
Q6. Part A: What do you like most about being on tour?
Toft: ”I love being on tour in general. I’m comfortable on tour; I enjoy being in the van and having this sense like I have this purpose, going from town to town and just play, play, play, I’m not struggling to find out what I’m going to do for work, because I have a job, you know? But probably my favorite thing is just being able to go from place to place, meeting new people, getting to party with them, and seeing just a small part of every place we go.”
– Jesse has similar sentiments:
Jesse: ”Probably just traveling and seeing all of these different places, and the growth that comes from that kind of travel. You know, like every time you travel somewhere new you’re getting a piece of the puzzle, I feel like I’m getting the bigger picture and I really like that.”
Q6. Part B: When not on the road, what do you do to relax?
Jesse: “I like to spend time outdoors, hiking and being in nature, I love the forest and just having quiet time away from all of the stimulation of being on the road. You know, you’re always meeting people and always talking, and always performing so it’s kind of nice to just do nothing when not on tour, you know read a book, watch Netflix for days. Click on a series and just let it play through all 7 seasons.” (Something just about everyone can agree with.)
Toft: ”Surf, snowboard, play acoustic guitar quietly in my room, you know things like that” (laughter).
– Toft is originally from Florida, but moved to Boston to pursue his music career. The temperature in New England is pretty cold, so he took up snowboarding as an alternative to surfing, and the band actually plays at some of the ski resorts in their area pretty often.
Q7. Favorite band other than your own?
Jesse: ”So many. What got me into music was Metallica, and I always stay very faithful to them, I still listen to their albums and stuff, so I still draw from them a lot. Metallica fan to the end, man!!”
Toft: ”I don’t really have one right now but my last favorite band ever was in high school with Sublime. I really liked Sublime then, and since then I’ve really started to branch out and value different styles of music, but I wouldn’t say I have a favorite band now.”
Me: ”What about a band that you draw lots of inspiration from?”
Toft: ”You know, we draw inspiration from so many places, its hard to pin just one. I mean we listen to everything in the van, some of the guys are real into metal, some of the guys are really into classical music, some are into some really out stuff and obviously we are all really into reggae, so we combine a lot of different musical styles and when you hear the show you’ll hear that. It’s an amalgamation of styles.”
Me: ”Well I’ve heard it’s the craziest reggae dance party I’ll ever experience, according to Facebook, which has never lied to me before…”
Toft: (Laughter) “Yeah it’s a dance party but its also listenable as well, if you want to sit back and hear the lyrics you can but if you want to dance and rage and feel the groove you can do that, it fulfills pretty much everyone’s musical needs.”
After answering my questions the guys got back to setting up the stage. One of the main things the band strives to do is perform at the same level no matter what the location, so playing on the small stage at Murphy’s Restaurant and Pub here in Boone, they still rocked it out like they were on stage at a major festival. They kept the energy high well into the a.m., playing a cover of Sublime’s “Caress Me Down” that had the whole bar dancing, and also mixing in many tracks off their new record “Apocalypse Whenever,” which I was admittedly curious about, so of course I had to ask one more bonus question!
Where does the name of the new album Apocalypse Whenever come from?
I first talked to the trombonist, Quinn, about this while outside grabbing my camera (which ended up not working at all, hooray). He told me it had a lot to do with the whole 2012 end of the world hype that was going on while the album was being written, and the band felt that it shouldn’t be feared, but something we should face head on. Toft backed up Quinn’s answer once inside, and spoke of the first song they played that night, and the single from the album, “Bring it On,” which Toft basically stated is, “If the world is ending, fine, we will take it on anyway.”
Basically, this band has the musical prowess to do just about anything, and the words on everyone’s lips as I went around the bar shared the same sentiments: “this band is SO good.” Spiritual Rez put on a performance that Boone won’t soon forget, and I know personally I can’t wait to see them play again. Lastly, thanks to the band for taking the time to talk to me, I really appreciate it guys, and hope you enjoy this post!
This is the guide that I used while I was interviewing them, along with some pictures I took from the show.
- This post was written by Jordan Towery, a student at Appalachian State University.
The band also told me to give this shout-out to all ASU Spring Breakers who are planning to be in and around the Florida Keys for break: Spiritual Rez is playing free shows at the Green Parrot in Key West the weekend of the 14-16 (last weekend of break)!! So don’t miss out on a chance to check out this awesome band.
Check out the band online: Facebook – Website – Youtube
Apocalypse Whenever Tour Dates:
3.5 – Jacksonville, FL | Underbelly
3.6 – Dunedin, FL | Dunedin Brewery
3.7 – New Smyrna Beach, FL | OM Bar & Lounge
3.8 – Jupiter, FL | Guanabanas
3.9 – Sebastian, FL | Captain Hirams
3.12 – Winter Park, FL | Odin’s Den
3.13 – Boca Raton, FL | Funky Buddha
3.14, 15, 16 – Key West, FL | Green Parrot
3.18 – Daytona Beach, FL | Ocean Deck
3.19 – Gainesville, FL | High Dive
3.20 – Atlanta, GA | Smith’s Olde Bar
3.21 – Greenville, SC | Independent Ale House
3.22 – Newport News, VA | Hoss’ Deli
3.28 – Saratoga Springs, NY | Putnam Den
3.29 – Newmarket, NH | Stone Church
3.30 – West Dover, VT | Snow Barn w/ Passafire
4.10 – Hamden, CT | The Space w/ Turkuaz
4.11 – Canton, NY | Java Barn @ St. Lawrence Univ.
4.12 – Boston, MA – The Sinclair
The wRECklESS Rail Jam is back for it’s 5th run this Saturday, March 1st, brought to you by Recess Skate & Ski Shop in Boone, NC. Each year it just keeps getting better and better. Whether your a competitive snowboarder or are just starting to stick those tricks you’ve been trying to master, then this event is for you! Anyone can sign up! Even if you’d rather stick with solid ground, this event is one to watch.
Be or see the unbelievable talent shred the slopes and flip, jump and jam through the Appalachian Ski Mountain’s Terrain Park.
The Jam format contest consists of Rails, Boxes and other fun features! The weather is supposed to be absolutely beautiful this weekend, so the slopes should be in prime condition.
Pre-registration has already closed but day of registration will be from 9:30 am – 11:30 am and the contest will begin at 12:30.
The Entry Fee is $15.00, but all entries go towards the CASH Purse! Plus they are throwing in an additional $500!
So you know what that means, lots of money up for grabs!!! There will also be tons chances to win some awesome prizes from these great sponsors: SPY, ATP, Capita, Union, Stance, Skullcandy, Dakine, Vans, SnowboarderMag, Local and Neff.
There will also be raffle and on top of all of that, you are guaranteed to have a fun time!
But wait there’s more! Red Bull will be there along with DJ Overcash to provide some extra entertainment! And SPY has been known to always have something fun up their sleeves!
Here’s a video from 2012′s wRECklESS Rail Jam:
If you’ve never been to Sunrise Grill, you’re missing out. Sunrise Grill just might be one of the best kept secrets in the High Country. Whether you’re visiting friends, on a weekend getaway, or are a resident, you have got to try Sunrise Grill in Boone, North Carolina. They’re known for their unique take on traditional breakfast dishes, but they’ve also got a killer lunch menu.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to Sunrise, so I thought I would give it a try. I found out that since I’ve eaten there, it’s come under new ownership and the inside has a fresh, new look. Sunrise was bought recently by the Hunter Family. They’ve worked hard to revamp the look, feel, and even taste of Sunrise, and to me, it’s so much better.
Since they are known more for their excellent breakfast dishes like the Nutella Stuffed French Toast and the Southern Benedict, I thought it might be good to try some of their lunch dishes first. It took me about 20 minutes to decide what I wanted because everything looked so good. Finally I settled on The Bob Marley. The Bob Marley was stacked with Grilled Jerk Chicken, peppers, onions, pineapple and provolone cheese on top of a sub roll. I’ve been trying to eat healthy so it was super easy to ask for it on wheat bread instead of the sub roll. I also wanted to try their hand-cut fries, so they let me trade the regular fries that come with it.
Another lunch dish that I tried was the Grilled Turkey Panini. There’s just something so special when you have a warm sandwich in your hands with golden, crunchy bread and melting cheese oozing out of the edges. The Turkey Panini itself included turkey, bacon, mayo, cheese and tomatoes. A side of regular fries was also included which were also very delicious. The simplicity of the sandwich is what makes it so great. The turkey was sliced thick, the bacon was cooked to an ideal crisp and the cheese was melted just enough to hold the sandwich together. This dish is amazingly comforting and will make you feel like you’re at home as soon as you take your first bite.
Before any of you start making the assumption that I ate all this food myself, let me tell you that the Hunter family was so kind and hospitable that they made a variety of dishes for me to sample and review.
One of my favorites that I sampled was The Grayson. The Grayson is a delicious spin on stuffed french toast. With the perfect amount of cream cheese and raspberry filling. It was amazing. If the Grayson is any indication of what their other stuffed french toast is like, you won’t be disappointed.
Another one of my favorites was the Southern Benedict. Sunrise has put a sweet southern twist on the classic Eggs Benedict. They sandwich a sausage patty in between two delicious biscuit halves. The eggs are served poached on top of the sausage biscuits. After that they top it off with made from scratch, sausage gravy, giving it its southern flare. I had a bite, but because my stomach felt like it was going to burst from all the delicious food I ate, I had to exercise self control and not take another one. But oh, how I wanted to. It’s real good y’all.
Sunrise Grill has it all. For those of you trying to eat healthy, try the Sunrise Salad. Made with fresh lettuce and fruits and paired with poppy seed dressing, there’s so much flavor, you’ll feel guilty for eating it.
If you’ve never been to Sunrise Grill, or it’s been a while since you last went, I encourage you to stop by soon!
The beginning of winter marks the beginning of the snowboarding and skiing craze, and what’s not to love? Beautiful slopes, rushing winds, your adrenaline is flowing and your winter in the High Country has perfectly begun. But what if you, like many, have jello legs and find it hard to ski or snowboard? Or maybe you want something more kid-friendly or something more relaxing or just a winters break from your terrible cabin fever? Whatever your reason we have just the answers you need!
If you’re looking for something similar to skiing ice skating is the way to go. Sugar Mountain, Beech Mountain and Appalachian Ski Mountain all have ice skating rinks for you to enjoy. Ice skating is the perfect compliment to the slopes. Lace ‘em up and join friends or family for a great experience!
If you love the adrenaline rush you get from skiing or snowboarding but would much prefer to take a seat, tubing would be perfect for you! Hawksnest has the largest snow tubing park on the east coast. There are 20 lanes and between 400 – 1,000 feet to travel down, and even a conveyor lift to take you right back to the top. Snow tubing provides you with a great way to relax and still have fun. It’s also a great activity for families to enjoy together. If you want to view the snow from a different perspective Hawksnest also provides ziplining year round, even when it’s snowing!
If you can walk, you can go snowshoeing. There isn’t a long learning curve, it doesn’t require a large investment (for specialized boots, lift tickets or standing in long lines) and it doesn’t require a lot of special techniques. Snowshoeing is a low-impact sport that’s great for recuperation or non-impact strength building. Sugar Mountain is the place to go if you want to give snowshoeing a shot. Snowshoeing is most fun when there’s inches upon inches of fresh snow covering the ground, but if the weather manages to be stable and you just need to get out try taking a hike!
A lack of humidity during the winter months gives you the opportunity to chill…literally. So take a hike! Take the time to enjoy the added benefits of hiking in the winter versus in the spring or summer.
- No Bugs – Need I say more?
- Smaller Crowds – Hiking in the snow can be more peaceful than you think. The outdoors is just as beautiful clothed in a white blanket of snow as it is bountiful in the spring and summer, and with less crowding you have the ability to enjoy your surroundings without the added distractions of others.
- Increased Visibility – During the winter months the High Country becomes an entirely new environment. With less greenery in bloom you’ll see everything that has been lurking underneath. More geological formations begin to appear as well as more wildlife.
Although skiing and snowboarding are at the heart of outdoor winter sports, there are many other activities for you to enjoy and winter in the High Country is too beautiful to be missed. So go! Obtain access to winter’s hidden landscape and have fun!