Shotgun Wedding: Not Your Average Band
Shotgun Wedding have quite an extensive history. The group. who hail from New York, have come together through Billy Joel (you may have heard of him), either by touring or performing in the hit Broadway show, Movin’ Out. Made up of Catherine Porter, Dennis DelGaudio, Wade Preston, Andy Cichon and Chuck Burgi, the group bring a whole new level of musical intricacy to the table with their latest release City Boy has been garnering the attention of music listeners around the globe, as the group shares their amazing story of their accolades, how they have come together as Shotgun Wedding, and of course their stunning, Americana-influenced sound.
I had the chance to speak to the members of Shotgun Wedding, for an exclusive interview which you will find below.
1. How long did it take you to record South of Somewhere? What was the inspiration behind the record?
Honestly, it took us a couple of years because we’re a new band and we just kept on writing and recording. As time went on, we felt an overall improvement in what we were coming up with. We weren’t in a huge rush and we wanted to make sure we put our best foot forward. As an added bonus, we’ve got others songs in queue that didn’t make the cut, not because we didn’t like them, but because they didn’t fit in with this record. Who doesn’t love leftovers!
2. Most of you have played with Billy Joel, either through his hit show Movin’ Out or in his touring band. Can you tell us a bit more about how you all met and decided to form a band? How did you find Catherine (the odd woman out)?
Chuck and I have known one another the longest (since the fall of ’99). We auditioned for Movin’ Out in June of ’01 and met Andy that Sept. (2001) during the workshop for Movin’ Out. Andy wasn’t part of the show, but he was, and still is, Billy Joel’s bassist. He was filling in for the regular Movin’ Out bassist. It wasn’t until June of ’02 that we met Wade during rehearsals for Movin’ Out in Chicago.
Flash forward to the end of 2010. It was my idea to start a country band. Wade and I were working together and I asked him if he’d be interested? He agreed and with a different female vocalist, Hilary Gardner, the three of us began working up versions of country classics. That caught the ear of Chuck and Andy…and then we were five! Hilary wanted to pursue a different path and left the group in Sept. 2013, but by then Wade had, by chance, met Catherine on a gig in upstate NY. He asked her if she was interested, she said yes, auditioned and got the job pretty much immediately!
3. Most of you have been heavily involved with professional theater productions (Dennis, Wade, and Chuck were involved in Movin’ Out, Catherine was the lead in Broadway’s Next to Normal). Do you think this background in musical theater affects your performance style, and differentiates you from other country bands? How so?
To be honest, only Catherine has been genuinely involved in professional theater. The rest of us just stuck our toes in that water. In reality, we were all born, raised and schooled by that ultimate, shape-shifting chameleon called rock-n-roll.
4. Catherine – You have toured and performed with legendary artists such as Brian May, Queen, and Chaka Khan. Did you learn anything from those experiences that helps you now, as you take the stage with Shotgun Wedding?
Any experience an artist gets helps them to grow, whether it’s singing in front of 100,000 Guns-N-Roses and Queen fans or playing in front of 10 people in a dingy club. I’ve been privileged to do both of those and everything in between and all have helped to shape me as a performer. If you are lucky to stand on a stage with anyone, be it rock royalty or the amazing players I get to work with in Shotgun Wedding, it’s going to push you to be better. All of the artists I’ve had the pleasure of working with have, above all else, taught me to tell my unique story, work hard, be nice and don’t take no for answer. And, as far as carving your own path goes, this quote by Oscar Wilde sums up what lesson has been driven home time and time again-“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”
5. Shotgun Wedding’s sound combines elements of Americana, Country, and Folk. Is this the result of everyone’s musical tastes coming together? Or do you have an appointed musical director, who has the final say on artistic choices?
Definitely a result of everyone’s musical influences! Whoever wrote a particular song will carry more weight, but we all really believe in serving the song, not our egos. To paraphrase Keith Richards, “I don’t create anything. I’m an antenna. I just stick my finger in the air and grab onto something that’s already there.”
6. How did you write this album? Was it a collaborative effort? Did everyone bring in songs to work on, or do you have a designated songwriter?
Definitely a collaborative effort! Much more fun that way.
7. With all members involved in other music projects and tours, do you find it creatively refreshing and exciting when joining forces as Shotgun Wedding?
Absolutely! We’re all friends and we truly respect one another as people and musicians. Something special happens when we play together – this sense that something bigger is going on. I don’t mean that in a cocky way at all. We all get goosebumps on a regular basis!
8. What is the story behind your newest single, “City Boy,” from the upcoming record?
I had the main melody and chord progression laying around for years. It was the first song, with lyrics, that Wade and I wrote together. The piano figure that starts the song was originally written on guitar as a way of imitating a rolling banjo figure. The song is a country song about city life – a “day in the life” about a guy who lives and works in NYC. It tells a story like all the great country songs do.
9. What would you consider the overall theme of the upcoming record?
That you don’t have to come from the south to love country music. We’ve all got stories to tell. Country music is American music and we just call our version CityCountry. I can see a bustling city street in a rippin’ banjo tune as much as I can see a front porch in the Appalachian hills. It may seem a bit tongue in cheek, but if you think about it, we all come from South of Somewhere…
10. Do you have any plans to tour in 2016? If so, where?
Sure! We’re going to be going to Florida in mid-February and also planning a short tour of Central New York State. This year will definitely see us reaching out across this great nation of ours.
11. There aren’t many country bands in NYC. What kind of audiences do you get at your gigs? Do you think you’re quenching a thirst for country that New Yorkers don’t even know they have yet?