In Their Own Words: Joey Arcuri of Driftwood

Binghamton NY’s native four-piece Driftwood needs no introduction. However, they sure deserve one! Driftwood’s precise mix of folk, country, singer/songwriter, punk, pop, and rock has earned a grassroots following, mowing through the Upstate, NY music scene. Whether it’s with the complexity of their lyrical poetry, simplicity of the quiet melody, or the rampage of a old-timey fiddle, Driftwood continuously impresses their audience. The friendly folk family is currently working on an album with world-renown producer Simone Felice and are ready to take the world by storm.
 
NYS Music was humbled to sit down with Joey Arcuri, bassist of Driftwood. Arcuri riffed on his experience as a full time bass player for Driftwood, focusing on both the rewards and struggles of a career in music. Please enjoy “In Their Own Words,” bitesized nuggets of wisdom quoted directly from Joey Arcuri of Driftwood:
 

On Bass

Keep it simple…

When you’re young you want to play all these notes. You want to play fast and virtuous, but, what you learn as a bassist is to be tasteful and support the group. This is the most important thing with all instruments, but especially with the bass. It’s not about you. It’s about the band, song, and lyrics. Ultimately, if lyrics are happening, the band is supporting the singer; the band is supporting the story. I learned that. I came from more of a virtuosic instrumental kind of mindset and matured into supporting the music and the song as a whole…Being that rock. Half notes are bad ass…holding it down…I didn’t see that when I was younger.

I had a gig with a band once and they didn’t call me back. I wouldn’t have called myself back either. I was playing too fast and adding too many eighth notes. I was trying to do too much and not doing my roll. Often, you have to mess up to learn. I didn’t always have anyone telling me how to play a part properly. At the time, even if I did have someone, I probably wouldn’t have listened. Sometimes I didn’t get asked back, or i’d be getting looks instead of the high-five I was expecting. Not until that happened did I realize I needed to continue to learn and grow. 

On Driftwood

I grew to love bluegrass, folk, and singer/songwriter music through Driftwood. Before, I didn’t love it, I appreciated it, but, playing and feeling the music of Driftwood inspired me. I remember when we were on the road and saw Del Mccoury for the first time…that was a huge thing for me, I was like, woah!

We all write lyrics and our instrumental parts. Often at practice, someone will write a song and then present it to the group. We are all a little nervous presenting our own songs…it’s like, you feel naked, no one’s ever like ‘hey, you’ve got to hear this hot new track.’ Next, we let the parts come together naturally, and we give advice as we move on.

Ultimately, we put the song through what we call the ‘road test.’ You don’t always know things until you perform a song live for a reacting and staring audience. For instance, you can tell so much by simply the crowds clapping and overall audience feedback. Like when you get a burner of a song, and you just kill it, the audience will give you a roar. And if something is not jiving, after the song, everyone’s just like giving a pity clap or something. There is so much to live performing I’ve learned on the road. It never stops; I am constantly learning.

What makes a good show is when the people who come to see you dig it, the quality of sound, and our performance. Always, If  you have good sound and people listening to you, you’re going to kick ass and play well.

Sound can be a battle. We’ve had shows where the audience just stare or they’re not really moving their heads too much.  We can tell if it’s good sound based on how the audience is looking and moving… you can feel it if the sound’s not on. It’s such a bummer! We want to share music and have it transferred in a smooth and comfortable way, and when it does go well, it’s so gratifying.

I acknowledge I have chosen a field that isn’t always great financially like other ‘normal jobs.’ In a band, you need to all love each other… you hear the horror stories of bands that are fighting on the road. It’s so important to like who you’re making music with. I feel very fortunate. And when we’re on, I feel so blessed to be doing what we’re doing. It’s great to be a musician.

On The Future

We are preparing for creating and recording an album ten days in November. We are working with producer, Simone Felice. Simone is brothers with Ian Felice of the Felice brothers, a band he used to be a part of. Simone grew up a poet and a writer, and he has such an ear for words and lyrics. His reputation speaks for itself.

We all wrote songs of our own and sent them in as demos and Simone has chosen 12 that he believes are cohesive and our strongest.  He’s helping bring together what songs go together as a whole, creating an album that works as a beautiful masterpiece, and so, as our producer, we’re leaving him the space to create and tell us what to do.

We’re also excited for some special shows coming up. We’re playing a two night Thanksgiving weekend run at the Ransom Steele Tavern in Apalachin, NY on November 24 and 25. We’re calling it Foxfire Weekend. Foxfire is like the bioluminescence of fungi on wood…It creates these cool trippy colors that are vibrant. It’s just a cool word we found and it fits Driftwood. In addition, Driftwood is playing a two-night run at The Haunt in Ithaca, NY on December 30 and 31 for New Years Eve!