INTERVIEW: Good for Nothin Band

How would you classify your music?

I call our music New Orleans Inspired, Jazz Influenced Singer-Songwriter. I’ve been a songwriter for most of my life and love to write. About 10 years ago I started digging in to the writing style of the 40s and 50s. As time went on, I had a large library of these songs that I had based in New Orleans lore, history and mythology. As The Good ForNothin’ Band came together, I found myself attracted to mostly jazz studied musicians and love the direction they pull these songs. That’s where that classification comes from. Our bass player, Evan Paydon, actually came up with it…’s says it all.

Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?

I’m a sucker for a great song….if I had to narrow it down to a few, I’d have to go with my early influences: Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty.  I spent a few years in a church choir, from 5th grade to 8th grade. I think that I’m pretty heavily influenced by the music I sang for those years.

What do you want fans to take from your music?

I’d like people to have a good time! I want people to enjoy the music and the lyrics. I think that lyrics are important and I want people to be entertained by the stories that I tell. I want fans to feel like the music makes them think, smile and want to dance.

Can you tell us a bit about your latest album? When will it be released and how does it differ from your previous work?

“Maniac World” by The Good ForNothin’ Band is a step forward for me as an artist in a lot of ways. First of all I have a fantastic band with me now after years of being a solo artist. Brendan Bull on drums, Evan Paydon on bass, Alex Massa on trumpet and Russell Ramirez on trombone have been with me now for a while. We play 2,3,4 sometimes more shows a week. This CD is the culmination of a lot of sweat and stage time with these guys. We released it in June on a tour through Florida. People seem to really love it. It’s a true rendering of what you’ll get at a live show from us. I like that! There are not fancy bells and whistles on this CD. Just some great musicians having fun and making music.

What do you love and hate about the Music Business?

There are a lot of things to hate about the music business. From shady club owners to greedy labels. The business of music has taken a real turn in the last ten years and I feel like artists and bands have a bit more control these days. Records are cheaper to make and band can release exactly what they want. It might be hard to get it out there and be heard above the noise, but we have control over our brands and music. I feel like it’s gone full circle back to the 40s and 50s where you make a record and play as many gigs as you can. These days, all you really need is a YouTube video with a million views. But you still have to go out on the road and connect your music with people. Long gone are the days of having some Dj find your band, fall in love with you and play your single over and over. But the Internet has provided an avenue for the entire world to find you….the tough part is being found in the sea of artists that exists now.

What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live?

I would have to say that two of the best shows I have ever seen were The Beastie Boys and Beck. The Beastie Boys took the stage and lifted the audience to a heightened sense of excitement that was more like a simultaneous orgasm than a concert. It was magic. I had the pleasure of seeing Beck play in Ireland at a Festival. I had no idea what to expect. His raw talent, musicality and command of the stage was palpable. I became a Beck fan that day!

For me, I love seeing and feeling the reaction of an audience to something that is born of my soul. It’s a really exhilarating feeling throw a song at people and have them appreciate it. It’s the most potent drug that I’ve tried… and I’ve tried more than my share.

Is there a song on this latest CD that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?

I think that we all love “Fishin’ For Stars” and that’s probably why we put it first on the record. I love the lyrics and the groove gets people moving every time. A lot of what we do is take gypsy, jazz and swing styles and make them more rock-ish. “Fishin'” brings a little more funk to the mix. We’ve added a few more tunes like that to our set now and everyone gets their wiggle on when we catch that groove.

How have you evolved as an artist over the last few years? What made you decide to come back into the music business?

Well, I never left the music business. So coming back was easy….I just keep on doing what I am meant to be doing. I think that if or when I quit this jam, I’ll never look back. So…I’ll just never quit. This attitude has changed me as an artist in that I only want to work with musicians who are in it for life. I’ve found that in my band. These guys are talented, dedicated and creative. It’s an honor to work with them! They have also brought out the desire in me to always improve, both as a writer and an instrumentalist. All the guys in the band set the bar very high. I am just trying to keep up. The New Orleans music scene is a lot like that. There are so many talented players playing every night that you really have to bring your A-game to the show every time. It’s a fun scene to be a part of.

If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, get drunk with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?

That’s a tough one! I’d love to sit down with John Lennon….but why not see if Paul McCartney is available. I wouldn’t mind picking Tom Petty’s brain over a cup of coffee and why not see if Paul Simon could swing by. I guess I’m more interested in seeing how these guys put together songs. What was/is their process? I’d love to get some of that insight.

So tell us what’s next?   

It’s business as usual for JON RONIGER AND THE GOOD FOR NOTHIN’ BAND. We have some touring lined up in December and March and we’re gearing up for a run to Europe in 2017. We’ll continue to play around the region on a regular basis and new songs are always on the horizon. We’re going to wait on another recording project until we see this one all the way through. I’m doing everything I can to push this music up the flag pole and into as many ears as possible. In the meantime, we can be found most nights of the week playing in New Orleans. We are the only band in town playing 100% original music…we love to play live… we’ll just keep doing it!!!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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