When Formula 5 set its sights on 2016, the band was about to head out on its first full tour, had a brand new keyboardist at the helm and was planning a trek into the studio.
With all of that in the rear view, the road tested band from Albany has even bigger plans for 2017, with a 25-date tour starting February 1 coming on the heels of a successful Kickstarter campaign for a new album, titled All Points North.
Making stops in Albany (Feb. 4, The Hollow Bar and Kitchen), Brooklyn (Feb. 7, Brooklym Bowl), Hudson Falls (Feb. 18, Hudson Music Hall), Rochester (Feb. 23, Heads Brewing), Buffalo (Feb. 24, Nietzsche’s, Buffalo) and Lake Placid (Feb. 25, Smoke Signals), the four-piece rock group is saturating its local market in hopes of gaining more solid footing in areas they hit last year.
“Our goal is really to solidify our fan base with this tour,” Matt Richards, keyboardist, said last week while sitting inside Overit Studios in Albany, adding some more work to the new album. “We wanna make sure we’re known not just to our friends, but to everyone in the scene. We’re also trying to get more people involved, active.”
The last part of Richards’ quote was referring to the band’s desire to put together a street team, spreading word-of-mouth info about the band, and also using social media platforms to help promote Formula 5. “The best bands have such dedicated fan bases,” Richards added. “The common goal is to spread the music and get the community out there and seeing shows.”
On Feb. 4, Formula 5 rolls into a hometown venue — The Hollow Bar and Kitchen — that Richards said is one of the band’s favorites. They play there a handful of times a year, and it serves as a reunion venue of sorts for the band’s family and friends. Ampevene is opening the show.
Richards said that while the band has a hectic schedule and cannot always personally greet those who come to see them play, they get to communicate in other ways.
“So many friends come out,” he said. “We end up knowing everyone in the crowd, but I don’t get to go around and see them all. Can’t really talk too much when we’re getting ready, but we still have dialogue with them — head nods, smiles and stuff like that. We communicate without talking.”
Richards added that the show on Feb. 18 is special because it’s guitarist Joe Davis’ birthday. The Hudson Music Hall in Hudson Falls has a capacity of around 100, and Richards said the band’s goal is to sell out the venue without an opening act. He said it would be the first time they’ve accomplished that feat.
Six shows of the tour are co-headlining dates with Mister F, a progressive jam group from the area. Formula 5 is also heading back to many of the same venues the band played in Colorado last year. Richards said the goal is to build on the “traction” they gained in the state last year.
Being the new guy in the band doesn’t show in the enthusiasm Richards — whose wide-range of influences include Steely Dan, Phish, Umphrey’s McGee, YES, former Albany jam group Ominous Seapods, Queen, Pink Floyd Dave Brubeck, Stevie Wonder, Vince Guaraldi and McCoy Tyner — has for the band, the writing process and his outspokenness. In recording All Points North, for which Richards wrote four songs and contributed to another, the band put in 55 hours in over the first week. They basically had to live at the studio. Richards and Davis live a short drive from the studio, while bassist James Woods and drummer Greg Marek are a bit farther out.
Because of that, Richards and Davis have been in the studio tirelessly in recent days putting the finishing touch on the tracks. While Richards said none of the songs are yet a finished product, they’re getting to that point.
“Each track gets to a certain spot, then we bring all the other tracks there, too,” he said. “Right now I’d say we’re at 98 percent on each one, so there’s not a ton left to do.”
As for the feel of the album, Richards said the foursome have suffered and matured a lot in the last year, contributing to the more “grown up” sound.
“It’s a makeup of less feeling good, more feeling uncertainty, loss, a darker feeling,” he said. “We have had loss in the band, van difficulties on the road, personal relationship issues. There’s still that Formula 5 that’s pure feel good, but there’s also a departure from that.”
“We tried to stay away from jams in the studio. There are some great individual solos, but we focused more on the songs here.”
While no official release date has been set, Richards said fans won’t have to wait too long to hear the finished product.
If you’re interested in assisting Formula 5’s street team, head on over to the band’s Facebook page and get in touch.