Interview: Get to Know Folk Rock Quartet Dave DiPrimo Band and Hear New Album ‘Reflections’

Dave DiPrimo Band has just released Reflections, their sophomore full-length album. NYS Music met up with members of the folk rock quartet at Java’s Cafe, where just two months ago they played to a packed house during the Rochester Fringe Festival. Their saxophonist was unable to attend, but Michael Slattery, the photographer who did the artwork for the album cover, was available for the interview.

Dave DiPrimo Band at Java’s Cafe during the 2017 Rochester Fringe Festival        Photo: Joseph DiPrimo

Paula Cummings: Dave, you started as a singer/songwriter. What made you want to start a band?

Dave DiPrimo: Being a singer/songwriter, there’s only so much you can do. Your songs come to fruition, but they never turn out the way you expect them to. They’re kind of empty. It was also kinda lonely, always doing one thing, just you on stage. There’s no one to turn around and make faces at when you say stupid stuff. No drummer to make fun of you or tell you to stop blabbering when you’re talking too long. Playing with a full band makes the songs sound better and fuller – their musicianship and the instrumentation they provide. It’s more fun to play with people, especially good people. And these guys, you know, they’re okay. (Laughter)

PC: Who are the other members of the band, and what do you play?

Reid Hoffmeier: I’m Reid and I drum for the Dave DiPrimo Band.

Ian Benz: My name is Ian and I play bass. Me and Dave went to Boy Scouts 6 years ago. That’s where we met. Six months later, I started playing in Ivy’s Panic Room. He knew that I’ve been playing bass for a while. He contacted me. And this has been working out pretty well.

DD: Karis Gregory plays saxophone and lead guitar on some songs. I go to Nazareth College with him. In previous iterations of this band, he filled in for certain shows. When the band was changing, I brought him on full time.

PC: That leads to my next question. You’re all in college. How do you balance the demands of being students and musicians?

DD: Very carefully! We try to practice as much as we’re available. This has been a busy time of year. We haven’t been playing too many shows, as we’ve been finishing the album. It can be a lot to try to organize practice and shows with school, but we’ve been doing okay so far. We haven’t had any VH1 Behind The Music meltdown moments.

RH: This is one of the few things I do for fun outside of college and work, so whenever we have something that pops up, I just cut everything else and make this a priority. It’s hard juggling three jobs essentially, but having a job you care about and is entertaining to do, with a bunch of friends, you make it number one.

IB: It’s not that bad. Weekends usually work out, and there’s only a couple weekends left in the semester. I’m cramming it in, but it’s totally worth it.

PC: You were featured on the Rochester Indie Musician Spotlight, where you had the distinction of being the youngest artist on the series. What was that like?

DD: It was pretty cool. It was an interesting experience to have the cameras there. Dan Gross, the host, is A) a talented professional and B) just a really great guy, so we were happy to be on the show with him. That was before we had Ian with us. We got Ian two months after that. It was a cool jumping point to have our first show together as a taped session. We also did a little recording at WITR, too. We did a live EP with them. Those kinds of sessions, where it’s not just a show but there’s something permanent left over, that’s cool. We signed the (WITR) wall near Joywave and a lot of bands who have done stuff there. We took up an obnoxious amount of space.

RH: Dead center above the door, so walking in and out you always see it.

WITR Studio        Photo: Bailey Gribben

PC: Tell me about the album. What is the overall theme?

DD: I feel like every time I write an album, it starts as a story with a start and finish. And I feel like by the time it’s done and in the right order, it’s not anymore. It’s kind of little vignettes. It’s called Reflections. Everything I wrote is not about things currently going on in my life, for the most part. They’re all sort of nostalgia and looking back. For example, on the last track on the album, “Glory Days,” there’s a line referencing this past New Year’s Eve when we had a fun time at one of our live shows. There’s a joke that’s made about that evening.

PC: You guys are young, but have this old soul vibe going on.

RH: We’re just more mature than everyone else!

DD: We’re old and cool and wise… Our music has so many influences. As a songwriter, I’m inspired by soul, alternative, punk and rock, and some emo stuff. All these different genres look back and reflect on the past. I feel like there are not too many folk songs looking towards a bright future. It’s all dwelling on stuff.

PC: When and where was it recorded?

RH: I don’t remember the date. It was over the summer, but we did it in one day. It was exhausting. I didn’t get home until midnight.

DD: It was at The Green Room in Ontario. Matt Ramerman, our engineer, is the owner of The Green Room. We did the session there. A month or two later, I went back. He had moved his studio from Ontario to Rochester. I went back and added some keys and worked on mixing some more.

PC: How did this recording experience differ from the first album?

DD: Even as we were listening to the rough mix in the studio for Reflections, it just felt like it was going to be a more satisfying product.

RH: We put a lot of effort and hours into it. Not just in the studio, in the weeks leading up to the recording: the practice, the ideas back and forth. We had already played these songs a number of times, but we just kept nitpicking – “I want to change this, let’s run it through.” We listened to it for the first time a couple weeks ago. It was a lot of fun.

DD: Ian, Reid and Karis put so much effort into the album, and into practice – making sure they were on and ready. I think at most we only needed three or four takes.

PC: I like the album artwork.

Michael Slattery: One day, I got out of work and I saw these clouds from a distance. I went home and got my camera; I went chasing the clouds. I took a nice picture and that’s the picture that’s on the back of the CD. And as I was driving home, I looked into my side mirror. I saw the cloud again and I thought it would be cool to take a picture of the cloud back through the mirror.

DD: I love Mike’s photos. I think it fits the mood really well. And I really like my brother Joe’s photo on the inside of the four silhouettes.

Reflections was released on November 25. It’s available to stream on their website and Spotify, and purchase on CD Baby,  iTunes and Google Play. Follow Dave DiPrimo Band on Facebook and Twitter for upcoming performances and news.

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