Words & Photos || Chelsea Erin Wright
Revibe: A four piece emitting a mix of funk, jazz, electronica, psychedelic rock and various other sounds-consists of Lewis Gillies on keyboard, samples, guitar & vocals, Sam Pratt on drums, percussion & vocals, Chad Bigelow on bass & vocals, and Dave Luongo on guitar & saxophone. This group is well beyond their years musically-having only been together for 3 years-carrying a tight-knit connection throughout their live shows, as well as a thorough composition within their newly released full-length album ‘Stitched In Fiction’ (July 2015). I had the pleasure of interviewing Chad Bigelow and learned quite a bit about the journey of Revibe, including how their album came together.
Chelsea Erin Wright: How did Revibe come together?
Chad Bigelow: It took a few years for Revibe to come together…I met Dave, the guitarist when we got to U.V.M. We were doing theater together…eventually he was learning guitar, and he really wanted to play with me because I was playing in another band back home, every now and then I would commute back. I was into the idea of learning and playing songs together, but he really wanted to improvise and just jam…and I was really hesitant and kind of scared, because I didn’t feel like I knew my way around the bass well enough. It took him a really long time, but he finally convinced me to just try it a few times with him, and from there…I was like this is kind of fun and cool to have this freedom to go wherever you want to. I had never really listened to jam music, until I met Dave and we started jamming like that…from there, we just kept playing more and more, and then it became clear that we really wanted to play music together. Lewis, who he grew up with in Maine moved up to Vermont the year after he finished school in Florida, to start a band with Dave and myself. So I met Lew, basically knew we were going to be in a band together already. And the three of us started jamming together, putting on drum loops and stuff like that and just going…getting together a couple of nights a week, super low key-not strict, just completely open, fun jamming. We all got jobs at Wings Over Burlington…Lewis and I were drivers, and Sam was a driver there as well…and we were looking everywhere, tried out several drummers, nothing was really clicking or working, and then Sam mentioned one day that he played drums…that we should get together and jam sometime, so we went over and as soon as we had our first jam with him I was like this is right. We just kept getting together, and finally it blossomed into the group. I don’t know if you noticed, but there’s a second drummer on the album…Trevor. Sam for personal reasons left the band, right around the time when we were playing our first gigs. And we put an ad out on Craigslist and found Trevor…then we played with him as a four piece. Sam started to come back and jam with us a few times on percussion, then he joined the band as our percussionist rather than a drummer. He was interested in trying out the kit with the other drummer…we tried that a few times, and then eventually we evolved into a two-drummer band, and that’s the way it was for a year. Then Trevor had a child with his wife, and his life was going in a different direction so he decided to part. We played our final show with Trevor last December, recorded the album with him in the winter and then he guested on drums during our release party at Nectar’s. And now the four of us – Sam, Lewis, Dave & I, are Revibe.
Chelsea: Awesome. How did you come up with the name, and what does it mean to you?
Chad: The name…we tossed around so many names, for so long while we were leading up to our first gig. We were throwing names back and forth, nothing was sticking…and one day, Lewis woke up, and upon waking was like “Revibe”. He brought that to us, and it resonated with us, and it was the first name that had really resonated with all of us so we decided upon it. It wasn’t really born out of us all talking about what the music means and that word, it was just an epiphany that happened and it felt right so we decided to go with it. And as far as what it means to me…I know the energy and the fulfillment that I feel when I’m playing music…energy is the only word I’m coming up with, to describe what fills me when I’m playing music, and the connection that I have with the people whom I’m playing with. And the people that you’re playing for, provide so much energy also…it’s like this big give and take, at an ideal show the people that are there taking part in it are as much a part of the experience as the band is. It’s like a full picture, you can’t have one without the other for that whole experience. I can have a great experience just playing with the guys, not even playing shows…just playing at home or whatever…but bringing it to people that you don’t even know, and revitalizing and revibing each other with that…whatever you’re bringing to the table, whether it be the energy you’re sending to the band, or the music that you’re playing, the dance that you’re doing…everyone is revibing each other. It’s such a back and forth, it’s undeniable.
Chelsea: Cool, I thought about it a bit and I had wondered what the story was behind it. That makes complete sense and is what I had envisioned. What is your personal musical inspiration, as well as the band as a whole? I hear so much in your music…there’s a lot going on.
Chad: There’s a lot of different inspirations on the table. For me personally, I started playing bass in a ska band, and there was no improvising. It was all written music, and we would go and play our songs. The big part of it is having a great time, and getting people moving…it’s energy. I’m just going to keep saying this word…but it’s so much more about the performance and what you’re giving to people, and the fun that you’re having. I consider my self more of a performer than a bassist, if that makes any sense…because performing has been a passion for me for a long time, singing, acting and what not…so my musical inspirations beyond that, I’ve listened to a lot of Lotus. I’ve really gotten into them since Dave and I started jamming together, and they’ve become my favorite band at this point because I’m so inspired by their ability to improvise. And I loveThe Doors, lyrically, they have inspired me a lot. Back when I was listening to a lot of Ska, Street Light Manifesto…they have rather deep lyrics for the type of music that it is, it’s very intricate. There’s a host of others, it’s hard to pin down one because when I’m hit with a musical idea it’s not necessarily going to be a certain genre, which is one of the things that I really like about the people that I play with. We all have different interests in things that we want to explore musically, and we really try not to limit ourselves to a certain sound. Our jamming kind of takes on its own sound…like sort of funky, and it gets psychedelic some times. But yeah, progressive rock…Dave has listened to and is inspired by a lot of Jazz, and Lotus is a big one for him as well. He loves The String Cheese Incident. Sam’s really into progressive rock, like Snarky Puppy. He likes the very intricate, mathematical sort of drumming…very precise, he loves the intricacies of it. I love connecting with him on that. And Lewis, grew up listening to a lot of The Band, Bob Dylan, and a fair amount of Hip-Hop. I think out of all of us, he finds lyrics to be what speaks to him the most musically. Hip-Hop is so much about the words…when he finds groups that are really saying something. As with any genre of music, there’s a lot that isn’t really talking about much at all…but there’s a lot that can be really profound. There are a lot of inspirations on the table…post-rock, electronic….in ‘Fruit of The Doom‘, there’s this sort of Rage Against The Machine, hard and heavy feel to it. It’s kind of all over the place, so just taking in whatever is out there that hits and inspires.
Chelsea: Your singing style specifically reminds me of The Talking Heads. When I was listening to the album I made that connection and thought it was interesting.
Chad: I do also really like The Talking Heads. At the show that you were at, at The Rusty Nail, we performed ‘Moon Rocks‘. It’s a song that I usually have to belt pretty loud to hit the notes that he goes for, and he has quite a knack for pushing really hard and hitting these really high pitches, yet doesn’t sound like he’s yelling. He’s got this really signature sound.
Chelsea: Yeah, absolutely.
Chad: Yeah, when we learned that song we kind of realized that although the music sounds very…to an certain extent, simple-like there’s not a lot going on-there’s a whole lot going on…it’s unreal. I never listened closely enough before we started learning a few of their tunes…I learned that there are so many subtle layers that exist. We were trying to learn all of these parts and realized that we don’t have the instrumentation to do this…so we have to prioritize. But yeah, I like them a lot.
Chelsea: They are incredible, thanks for sharing that. Can you tell me a bit about your recently released album, “Stitched In Fiction”?
Chad: We weren’t planning on recording an album this past winter. My friend Ben who I played in the Ska band with is one of my oldest friends…he was going to school for audio/video technology. For his final project, he could either record a movie or record an album. Another part of it was the business side, choosing what to charge them…scheduling the time, making the hours. The school is in Rhode Island…so he called me and was like “This is a long shot, but I’d like to record an album as my final project, and I would love to do it with you guys”. We hadn’t planned on doing something so big yet, and I didn’t know how the guys were going to feel about it…so I got together with them, talked about it, then we talked to Ben. We had a phone conference, and by the end of that call we decided to record the album. We went down to Rhode Island four weekends in a row in January. We went down, set up all of the stuff, recorded for 4-5 hour sessions each day and then packed it all up and went home, then did it again. It was pretty taxing…we would work our jobs during the week, and then go right back down again over the weekend. We recorded all of the vocal tracks with Ben, and when we got to the end of our allotted time we did an Indiegogo campaign to finish the album because we were a little short on funds, and we had a $1,500 goal. We advertised on Facebook that we were trying to finish up the album, that we’d really appreciate the help…and we hit our goal within two days. We were blown away, it was unreal. We had all the perks and everything, like a free album, a free show of your choice which somebody actually redeemed for our Halloween show tonight…there were other reach ones…everybody that donated at least $35 got a Haiku at our release party. We wound up raising a little over $3,000 so we decided that we were going to use that money to create a full-length album instead of a 5 song E.P. or L.P. So we booked time at the studio in Charlotte, VT and recorded the last 5 tracks…then had it mixed and mastered with Ben back down in Connecticut. We were sending stuff back and forth, listening and then sending critiques and everything for awhile…finally got it done. We commissioned an artist in Huntington to do the front and back covers-her name is Daryl Storrs…we saw a piece of hers in Frog Hollow which is a gallery that sells all sorts of local art. We got in touch with her, and she was excited to work with a local artist…she had never done anything music-related before. All of the album artwork was done by volunteers who we reached out to…some of them had done posters for us in the past, or taken photos for us, or were just friends who we knew that were artists. We put forth the songs, let them choose one…and draw or paint whatever they wanted to do, whatever the song said to them. We had eight volunteers, and two were done by myself and Lewis. All of the artist’s were so willing to do it for nothing, just to be a part of it with us. It was wonderful, and it really spoke to the big aspect of the small community we have now, which is really beautiful. I have hopes that we will continue to cultivate that, I have made so many friendships and made so many powerful connections to a lot of the people that I meet through the music. The more people are involved, it makes us all feel really good…it becomes bigger. It’s not just us, it’s like a larger mind. So yeah, we released the album…there was a lot of little things that we saw that we could have perfected, but then we listened to it a final time, let it go and didn’t listen to it for awhile. And yeah, the name…Stitched in fiction is one of the lyrics from the song ‘Peel‘, “You’ve gotta peel off the layers that are stitched in fiction”.
Chelsea: I’ve made an interpretation of what I think that means. That song seems to portray the truth that people wear a lot of different masks, and that people have different things-energies-attached to them throughout their experiences, and so through becoming more conscious you start to peel those layers away, and become who you really are…which essentially is source energy.
Chad: Yes. The song is all about the perversion that happens to people based on the influences of all of the negative or false things in the world, that become a part of the day to day self…and how that’s not necessarily the truth, or who you really are. And you get weighed down by those things, and it’s hard to peel them away because they become a part of your identity. But yeah, Stitched in fiction…that’s what that line means, but as far as the album goes…our live shows sometime contain story telling, we have this whole mythology that we’ve made up about “The Cratch” and the vibe…but it’s kind of like all of these dreams and stories, and little tales…and how all of the songs are different in a way, but are connected through the fact that we are the mind that brought them all out. There’s an imagine I get in my head when I think about it…it’s like the interweaving of all of these little bits of imagination and dreams.
Chelsea: That was the feeling that I gathered from it. The message that is coming through the song ‘A Dialogue With All That Exists’ is clearly rooted in consciousness, and you have put in a segment of a talk by Deepak Chopra. Based on this connection and song, I’m curious as the what the mission of Revibe is? Is it about expanding consciousness for and to other people, or simply expressing the journey of that expansion for you guys?
Chad: It’s definitely a journey for us…we’re always, and probably always will be undergoing this journey of trying to realize our full potential-to be able to open up, be very genuine and true. To be ourselves and give our full selves to the music. And wanting to have that genuine connection with other people that are listening to our music or at our shows, and hoping that those people also have those connections with one another. Whether the music brings them together, or the music resonates with them and they find that they become part of the struggle and work that we are going through to completely connect and be as open and mindful as possible. Hopefully that will help others to find other like-minded people, and to cultivate that sense of connection and mindfulness on a greater scale…because that’s something that we all believe in. Dave and I have started this tradition of going outside before the show starts…it’s very chaotic in the venue before the show starts, its very loud, there’s a lot going on…so we’ll go outside together and meditate for a few minutes to find stillness, and it brings this tremendous amount of focus and get’s rid of all of the clutter that develops from the stimulus. It definitely brings us so much more into the music. The mission is for us to all be open, to all feel these emotions together that we all experience all of the time, and to touch each other with the music, the words, the eye contact that you have with people sometimes. There’s something there and I just want to keep going for that. I guess that in a thousand words is what the mission is to me.
Chelsea: Excellent. What do you feel that you guys are channeling? I know that it is and feels like you are channeling energy, but what do you believe the source of that energy is?
Chad: There’s definitely some sort of greater consciousness that everyone is a part of. Because at the deepest level, I think that everything is one…and there are times when we’re playing that we have off nights and we just can’t quite connect…it doesn’t happen very often, but once in a while you’re just kind of playing the notes, you can’t really get there. But on the other end of it, there are things that happen…certain starts, or peaks…like with the drummer, sometimes there are these little fills and I will match up with him exactly right, then we move on and I turn around and I’m like what just happened? I played exactly what I felt, and so did he…and we didn’t plan it, but that’s how it came out. And it happens between all of us, and when it happens between all of us all at once…those moments are unbelievable. And those moments really make me believe that there is something bigger connecting us…the more we play together, little by little, it’s happening a little more. Yeah, it gets at this very essential demonstration of this truth that I’ve discovered over the years. Dave and I have a pretty spiritual connection, and he’s opened me up to a lot of this. The things that we’ve talked about, the philosophies that we’ve developed together and that we’ve expanded out to the whole band, have come out in the music as a feeling that we are one entity at times. There are times that the people that are at the show, or who approach me or any of us randomly out on the street will express that a particular song moved them deeply. It’s unbelievable to hear that something we created moved someone…it’s a really beautiful feeling that that exists. That’s what I think is happening, when it feels like it’s on, it’s because we’re just becoming the same.
Chelsea: Speaking of songs, Riptide is amazing. Can you explain to me how that manifested?
Chad: I didn’t write a lot of lyrics before Revibe, although I did enjoy writing…and ‘Riptide‘ is the third song that I wrote lyrics for. I was trying to find a way to guide myself through writing them, and the way that I chose to do that was by making a game out of it. The last syllable or word of each phrase, will start the next phrase.
Chelsea: Yeah, that’s so cool how you made that work…I’ve never heard a song put together in that way before.
Chad: It was a challenge, but it was so much fun playing with the words that way, and it helped to guide me through. It inspired the beginning of each phrase…finding the right word for the end, that also fit the beginning of the next was a challenge, but ultimately, I really enjoyed creating that. I hope that it creates a flow that leads in this continuous stream. I’m glad that song resonates with you…at the time of writing that song, the beginning chord progression popped into my head, and I sat down in my room and worked through it on guitar. I brought the parts to Sam, and put together the structure of the whole song. Then I brought the guitar parts to Dave, taught them to him and he’s added his own flares. Then we brought that all together, then Lew came in…and then I wrote the bass part. Then the lyrics came. It meant something personal to me, and I tried to form it in a way that would allow anyone to connect to it…it’s like an opportunity to understand personal transformation.
Chelsea: Well, when you go back to what you were saying about everything being one – when you take the personal out of the equation and think about it in a broader sense, Riptide can apply to life…figuring out the transformations and how to move through them smoothly.
Chad: That’s what I hoped for.
Chelsea: You had said something about dreams earlier – do some of the song ideas come from dreams? I know dreams are very powerful, and that realities can manifest simply from the thoughts created by them.
Chad: Definitely. Dreams are really funny things…I think that Lewis’ lyrics in particular bring dreams to mind for me. My lyrics are a little more complete idea, next complete idea, and so on-connected in a way. Lewis’ are very much stream of consciousness, and they feel very dreamlike to me…it’s all of these images, and textures and sounds, coming one after another. He has this flow that comes very quickly, it’s like a river of all of these emotions and pictures. It feels like a dream to me, when I look at his lyrics…I love them. Other than that, when we jam and improvise there are times that we’ll go really hard and get really into it. We’ll drive it really hard…we’re still learning and sometimes it feels like there’s a pressure to do that when people are excited…to keep the energy moving, but we’re getting better about learning to bring it down and rest in these more ambient and atmospheric places, and have more of an ebb and flow. People don’t need to go crazy for so long…we need that too, everyone does, because it becomes uninspired after awhile. Life is not like that. When we get into those atmospheric places, you can sit back and breathe more-I try to really let go, if I play one note every eight beats, if that feels right then I’m okay with it. I don’t feel like I’m not doing enough, because you can say a lot, with a lot less most of the time. In those moments when I really sit back and breathe with the music, it feels like a dream like state…it’s like you awaken in those sections, and as a beat will come in or you change the rhythm, bring up the energy a little bit…that’s also a feeling of awakening. And then when you bring it back down again and breathe, you feel the openness. It’s like between dreaming and awakening, an ebb and flow of that. That’s how dreaming connects to the band for me.
Chelsea: That’s beautiful. I believe that you can then take that message in whatever way it’s received or projected – being the listener or the creator – and apply it to life. To breathe with the ebbs and flows of the energy you have as an individual, and in your experience.
Chad: Yeah, it’s hard to separate yourself from the art that you make. I think that a lot of the things that I put into the music and feel about the music…all I can give to it was what I am. The music definitely relates to my perspectives on life. I’m glad that you feel that it’s applicable in that way too.
Chelsea: It definitely is, that’s why I like the music so much. Thank you so much for taking the time to share the story of Revibe with me, and I’m excited to see how the path unfolds for you guys.
Chad: My pleasure.
You can find Revibe’s album ‘Stitched In Fiction‘ on Bandcamp for free digital download or purchase of a hardcopy: www.revibevt.bandcamp.com