Explore the Collaborative Spirit at the Suwannee Music Park
The AURA Music Festival will be held this weekend at the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida. AURA Fest is hosting a special collaboration with Mike Dillion on percussion, Craig Broadhead from Turkuaz, as well as Scott and Chuck from Dopapod.
Chuck Jones, Scott Zwang, Mike Dillion and Craig Broadhead (Turkuaz) will be performing as NUNCHUCK! on Friday from 8:00-9:15 in the Vibe Tent.
Tony Smith sat down to go over the festival and the side project known as NUNCHUCK! with Chuck Jones, bassist from Dopapod.
How excited are you to be coming back to The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, FL?
I’m very excited! Dopapod has done AURA, Bear Creek, and Hulaween before. Any chance we get to come down there is wonderful, but I think Aura always ends up being my favorite, just because of the line-ups and the people. I really enjoy hanging out down there.
What are some of the most memorable moments at The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park?
Our first experience down there was in 2010 and we’ll just say we weren’t denied the right to set-up in the campground and play for a couple nights. It was Bear Creek 2010, so we went down there very early in our career.
Late at night after all of the bands were done, we would just set up in the campground next to the vendors and play for an hour or two, until they shut us down. That was huge for us! I really enjoyed sitting in with Papadosio a couple of years ago at Aura. I really think we do a great job playing when were down there.
It’s a very relaxed environment and it feels good. I’m always very proud of the music we present when we’re there.
You’re teaming up with Scott Zwang, also from Dopapod, the infamous Mike Dillon, and Craig Broadhead from Turkuaz. Any you’re calling yourselves NUNCHUCK!. How did all of this happen and what can we expect from this set?
Originally Scotty from Dopapod, had unofficially set this whole thing up. He started talking to Daryl Wolff from Suwannee, saying he was bummed out that he wasn’t going to be there this year. And that turned into us coming down there.
Then we started talking about putting a band together and that went all over the place, we had a ton of different ideas. Thinking about what we wanted to do, whom we wanted to do it with, and eventually decided a psychedelic punk rock set with Craig and Mike is what we wanted to do. We purposed it to Daryl and he came back with a name NUNCHUCK!.
Even though my name is in the title, I just helped put it all together; it’s not my project.
Do you have any previous experiences with Scott Zwang, Craig Broadhead, or Mike Dillon that stand out?
Well I obviously play with Scotty all the time. Craig Broadhead from Turkuaz and myself currently live in the Hartford, CT area. We both ended up moving up here around the same time and had already been really close. We played a lot of shows as Turkuaz and Dopapod, but now we both live separated from our band members for the most part. So we’ve ended up playing lots of music together around here. If I get a gig, I always call him and because of all that, we’ve developed a really strong musical relationship and our friendship has grown stronger too. I had already told Craig that I’d call him for any projects I was assembling, and once I knew Turkuaz was already going to be there it was done. He’s such an amazing guitar player, friend and musician. Whenever you hear the credentials that are required for a good musician, he meets all of them.
Mike Dillon has done a couple tours with Dopapod and set in with us at Aura for a Dead Kennedy’s song, Holiday In Cambodia. I think Scotty and I always wanted to do a show, with Mike, and not just him sitting in. We grew up listening to a lot of harder, heavier music. And out of anyone who’s in the jam scene, he’s probably the most qualified. Because he has lived through that era playing in those genres, and been in the punk scene.
Do you plan on collaborating with any other artists at The Aura Music Festival?
Yes, AURA just made an announcement that Scott and I, along with Jennifer Hartswick, Natalie Cressman, and Mike Dillon would be the artists at large.
I think I have four or five things scheduled as of now, and hopefully can pick up some more during the weekend. So we are Artists at Large, and we make up three-fourths of NUNCHUCK.
I’ve been in touch with some bands and we’ve got a couple covers and an original scheduled. This is always fun, exciting, and nerve racking because it’s one thing to join a jam session with people, but it’s another to get up on stage with a new group of people.
As a bass player, you really have to know the songs too. I’ve come to love those situations, getting thrown in the grinder and having that nervous energy.
What is the most fun about touring and playing music festivals such as Aura?
The number one thing is the fact that we are able to make a career out of playing music, it’s totally wild, amazing, and unbelievable. Any time you’re at a place like Suwannee, you have to remember that. I’m about to fly down to Florida and play music for the weekend; it can be easy to lose sight of how amazing that is. For me, that’s a great gift to be able to do that. It’s specifically accessible, that you get to see lots of your friends who are in other bands that you might not get to see throughout the year. It’s a nice party throughout the weekend when you get to hang out with your friends, play music, and be outside. It’s everything I like to do.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
Well, both of my parents are very avid classical listeners and I just wasn’t interested at all in that growing up. So I didn’t listen to that much music until I got into 6th or 7th grade. Then I started listening to what was on the radio, and convinced my mom to buy me a bass.
Then Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater came out in 1999, and all of music that was on that sort of brought me into the skater punk genre. From the Dead Kennedys to Primus. A big thing for me was when I started taking music theory lessons and getting into jazz more and learning about that.
I went to Berkeley with Eli Windermen, the keyboardist from Dopapod. He showed me Herbie Hancock’s album Thrust, which was my first real dive into funk and I fell in love with it. It happened at the right time too. It was heavy, energetic, syncopated, and there was a lot of bass on it. It hit me. That was one of the most powerful albums for me ever.
What inspires or influences you the most now?
It’s always changing. I go through little lulls of not playing music and other periods of really falling in love with some sort of band. Right now we’ve been learning a bunch of punk music that I hadn’t paid much attention to in a few years, but I’m totally in love with that genre again and listening to it all over the place.
I’ve been listening to new artists and going back to old albums that I hadn’t heard in forever. Radiohead and Queen are probably my favorite bands of all time, so those are always in there in some shape or form. Queen was such an adventurous band.
Do you have any upcoming projects or shows that particularly excite you?
Dopapod has been getting together recently and will continue to throughout the month of March to work on new music. I think we will probably be debuting some of that on our April tour.
In May, we will be recording a new album, so we will be putting a lot into that. I really look forward to the studio too. In Hartford, I’m playing at the Arch Street Tavern with Russ Lawton from Trey Anastasio Band and Craig from Turkuaz which will be fun.