The Park are one of the most talented and busy bands in the Bay Area, even though they haven’t released much under their own moniker. The quartet made a name for themselves as “the Bay Area’s most sought-after rhythm section,” performing as the backing band for artists such as Darondo, Mara Hruby, Wallpaper, Alice Russell, Freddie Gibbs and many, many more.
Consisting of Ben Schwier on keys, drummer Derek Taylor, guitarist Nate Mercereau, and Josh Lippi on bass, The Park remains busy, both with their own projects and in support of other artists. Tonight, they will back Grillade at Showdown over on Sixth Street in SoMa. A Million Billion Dying Suns, a new band led by guitarist Mercecreau opens.
As they gear up for the show, members of The Park were nice enough to answer a few questions about the band, their history, and their current proejcts via email.
TBB: How did you guys get started?
The Park: Started in a tiny closet size practice room in San Francisco making whatever music we wanted to hear. Brought that to Royale in North Beach and had a successful Wednesday night session featuring all our friends and musical associates.
TBB: You guys claim to be “the Bay Area’s most sought after rhythm section” – can you explain to people what exactly that means and how you were able to claim that position?
The Park: We function as a unit, and we bring that “unit” vibe to whatever we do, people respond to that. It’s not just a random collection of badass musicians…..we know how to PLAY together and BE together. Bringing that feeling to whatever artist we work with outside of our immediate crew has took us places we never thought we’d be.
TBB: Who are you currently working with? Or if there’s too many to list, who are your main active collaborators?
The Park: Grillade (Ragen Fykes + Keelay + The Park = Grillade), Darondo, Alice Russell, Mara Hruby, Chris Turner, Jesse Boykins / Romantic Movement, Chuck Prophet, Wallpaper, Sheila E., Jennifer Hudson, NO ID, Big Sean.
TBB: Before I came to the Bay Area, I was familiar with you guys and didn’t exactly realize it was because of your work with Darondo. Could you talk about what it was like to be part of his rediscovery?
The Park: It’s amazing to be working with Darondo, legendary musician and legendary personality. It’s been wild to see how his music got popular while he was unaware, and then him getting launched back into the scene of performing and recording. We learn a lot from Darondo in terms of life perspective, and where music fits in. For a guy who’s been out of the scene for so long, he came back with so much fire it was beyond inspiring for us.
TBB: How do you decide who to work with?
The Park: It’s a feeling more than anything. Things that are natural. We don’t like to force situations or have situations be forced upon us. Nothing productive or transcendent ever comes out of a situation that begins like that.
TBB: When you work with such a variety of your artists, how does your approach to each collaboration change? How does it change with projects that only involve The Park?
The Park: We are stoked on so many different kinds of music, that we have no problem getting DEEP into the style of whatever artist we are playing with. With The Park as “The Park” we like to take all these ideas we get working with these people, their influences and things around us in general and arrange them however we see fit.
TBB: Throughout all your travels and collaborations, have you ever worked with someone that left you a bit starstruck?
The Park: On a regular basis we are starstruck by the people we work with. Sometimes onstage with Darondo we’ll remember who he is and think HOT DAMN HERE WE ARE haha. Also, when Sly Stone made a surprise visit to a birthday party we played at the now-closed Angel’s in Santa Monica, and SAT IN WITH US, leading a quick medley of his hits, was definitely a little starstruck. “What are those guys on, doodoo balls?”
TBB: You’ve toured around the world…have you had any particularly memorable gigs over the years?
The Park: Lovebox festival in London last summer was pretty amazing. One of the first times The Park was able to bring all new original music to an audience who had never heard us.
TBB: What’s next for The Park?
The Park: Riding waves, strong coffee, BBQs, couple tunes here and there.
Get full details on tonight’s Grillade show below, along with a taste of what The Park can do – three tracks featuring the band in both lead and backing roles. First up is The Park’s “Burnin’ Up” (featuring Darondo on vocals), followed by a new Grillade cover of Ten Years After’s “I’d Love to Change the World” and then Grillade backing Big K.R.I.T. on “Hometown Hero”.
The Park – “Burnin’ Up” (feat. Darondo)
Grillade – “I’d Love to Change the World”
Big K.R.I.T. – “Hometown Hero” (feat. Grillade)
Grillade, A Million Billion Dying Suns
December 4, 2012