Justin Henricks is taking on a new role as a band leader. The Hart School graduate and Averill Park native will release Bedtime Blazer this May, the first EP for his new project Wurliday. As he leads his first band, Henricks finds himself poised for the next step in a career that has thus far found him as a key player best known for his guitar work in Beau Sasser’s Escape Plan, Way Down and The Chronicles. Henricks has played guitar all his life and considers Hartford to be a second home, thanks in part to the music scene that includes Arch Street Music Hall, West End Blend and Boo-yah Funk Night, while back home in Albany, Justin hosted funk night at City Beer Hall in 2016. NYS Music sat down to discuss with Henricks the shift from band member to band leader, performing with Beau Sasser and putting together the Wurliday EP.
Pete Mason: Tell me about Wurliday and how the group came together.
Justin Henricks: Had this idea circulating in my mind for almost a year, and I’ve been taking my time to let it come to fruition in terms of getting the songs written and making this EP that is coming out. I’ve always wanted, its been long due, having my own project that I have creative control over. I spent a lot of time working with Beau (Sasser), and the Escape Plan and The Chronicles. I’ve learned a lot as a sideman and I’m ready to take on my own project. I figured the best way to do so would be to release something, sort of build the groundwork of the band and the internet presence and everything, before the band actually starts. Almost like a Steely Dan approach I was able to get some incredible musicians and friends together to play on these tunes. Everyone was really supportive and showed me a lot of love during the process. Trying to create something that will go for a while. Really starting to think of the future of this project and create a home base for myself, creatively and band speaking.
PM: Where did you record the album?
JH: We recorded at Alan Evans’ studio Iron Wax in Millers Falls, MA. The album’s cast is nothing short of all-star. He was a pleasure to work with, he was a great engineer, gave his two cents when needed, and really worked with us to make sure we were getting all the sounds we’re trying to hear. I felt like we had two days of initial tracking and got a lot of overdubs done in the first two days. We brought the sessions back to our house with Bryan (Brundige) at his studio, Grandma’s Studio, in The Attic. Between him and I, he helped a lot in terms of lending gear and his engineering skills. We were able to bang out all the vocals
PM: Who sings on the EP?
JH: Arielle O’Keefe, her stage name is Girl Blue. She actually co-wrote the record with me, we worked on all the vocals together, she’s extremely great to work with, hoping to move forward with her and play some shows together. She’s singing on three of the tracks and Jennifer Hartswick (TAB) is on the fourth track, and Tyrone Hartzog (The Chronicles) is featured. In my opinion, he’s my favorite male vocal voice to record, it comes through in the recording so well, something about the timbre and the tone about that dude’s voice that sits real well. He’s like Donnie Hathaway. Between that I also went to Paulie Philippone (West End Blend), he helped me a lot with this record. He’s playing all the keys and synth. We took a trip down to his house, it’s called the Funk House, West End Blend Studio in Hartford. We had a couple fun keyboard days where we went over synthesizers.