We were lucky enough to introduce you to Back Alley Sound earlier this year with an in-depth review of their debut album by fellow Indie Top 39 writer whiz Jeremy Bregman. Listening to their album, you get the sense that this is a group of people who, despite their hugely eclectic and varied musical influences, seriously know their own sound. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to sit back and listen to a band masterfully interweave genres and styles and in doing so, create a totally unique and seamless sound of their own. They are big fans of the late Mac Miller and you can see where they share certain musical cross overs in their blend of hip-hop and elaborate, soulful arrangements. Come and get to know these guys a little better and enjoy a glimpse into the inner workings of this Pittsburg based outfit.
Ok, so firstly I have to say a huge congratulations on releasing your album this year! What was your approach to forming this album and what does it mean to you to have it out in the world?
Thank you! “I Wanted to Be” means the world to us. We spent a long time on both the songwriting and the recordings so putting them out is very momentous for us!
Can you introduce yourselves? Who is Back Alley Sound and how did you all find each other?
We’re a six-piece outfit from Pittsburgh, PA that’s made up of Shark’s vocals, Myles on guitar, Sam on bass, Christian on keys, Jordan on drums and Coach Rob on saxophone. We have all known each other in different ways but in 2017 the stars aligned and brought us all together. We felt the magic from the very beginning so we never stopped!
Your music seamlessly blends elements of rap, jazz, soul and hip-hop. Tell us about how you finally arrived at this style? Was there an ’ah-ha’ moment where it all just clicked?
As a band we have an ultra diverse taste in music and love finding vibes in each genre. Mostly we get into the practice room and spend a lot of time exploring which is usually the spark. Then we workshop those ideas both live and in rehearsals and that’s when those “ah-ha” moments hit. Each song has them and ooooooooh it feels good!
What are your goals for the rest of 2021? Is there anything you want to achieve as a band or even on a personal level this year?
Exploring visual concepts for the album is a big focus right now. Both in video and merch. And of course preparing for live shows!! The stage is really where we thrive and we can’t wait to get back to it!
If your dreams were answered, which artist would you love to support on tour?
Mac Miller 🙁
I always love hearing about the story behind artist’s names. How did you guys decide on Back Alley Sound?
Back Alley Sound formed in a ditch effort to fill a show obligation because another band broke up. With one single rehearsal hours before, we then had a headlining show and no band name. On the spot Shark pulled “That Back Alley Sound” from lyrics in our song “Loose”. We canned the extra word and hit the ground running.
What’s the best thing about being in a band together?
The best thing about being a part of Back Alley Sound is the lack of personal boundaries and financial instability. There’s also getting to create art together and watching each other grow.
Right, this is your chance to let it all out, who has the most annoying habits out of the 6 of you?
Shark – Tum’s addiction, Myles- Can’t eat kale, Christian – Showers, Rob – is Family Guy, Sam – currently lost, Jaebs – Deaf.
Can you tell us a bit about your individual journeys into music?
Shark first heard the Beatles at the age of 2 months and could sing the lyrics within 6 months. Myles was given his first guitar as hush money by his karate teacher. With two broken legs, Myles spent that summer learning to shred to Chili Peppers records. Jaebs went to his first punk rock show in 3rd grade. In awe of the punk gods before him, he became obsessed with drums. He soon dropped out of school to pursue drums full time. Christian inherited his piano from his great grandfather who happened to be THE Johann Sebastian Bach. He plays it during every single show. Sam is actually a trained actor and doesn’t really know how to play bass. We had no idea until 6 months ago. Rob has been a sax god since he materialized on this planet 6 years ago. No one knows anything about him before that point.
Putting out this album is one of our proudest moments.Back alley sound
What’s been your happiest or most proud moment as a band so far?
There have been a lot of really incredible experiences on stage that have been defining moments for us, but putting out this album is one of our proudest moments thus far! We have been working on it for a very long time and yet it’s only the beginning for us.
What’s a song, album or artist you collectively hold up as having an influence on you or that you respect as a band?
Mac Miller is probably number one for us collectively. He is one of the few artists to come from Pittsburgh and his artistry is unmatched in its own light. The artistry means a lot to us.
If we were a fly on the wall for a Back Alley Sound rehearsal, what would we be likely to see?
Unintelligible chaos. A lot of laughing. Trashy jams and at least one spilled beer.
Any recommendations of other Pittsburg musicians we should check out?
Benji, Studio 22 list, the Pitt University Marching Band.
Make sure to connect with Back Alley Sound:
This coverage was created in collaboration with Musosoup as part of the #SustainableCurator movement.