The classic, swing for the fences, roots-rock thing has always been an elusive thing to nail in the studio. The stage, sure. There is something about a stack of amps, a boisterous audience, and a pure, only-for-the-moment kind of performance. In the studio it doesn't always operate that way though. Still, the Venice Beach outfit Terraplane Sun
wanted to attempt to tap into their own live energy when recording the band's forthcoming EP (still untitled, due out via Trama2 Records). So, naturally, the band started things off by unleashing songs live in the studio. Today we're premiering, "Ya Never Know", from one of those jams for the aforementioned EP. In its live incarnation, it's a little raw, but the low end really gives the ears a good thump, the organ fills in all the soulful little cracks of the song, and Ben Rothbard leads with his semi-raspy vocals.
Comprised of frontman Ben Rothbard, guitarist Johnny Zambetti, bassist Cecil Campanaro, keyboardist Gabe Feenberg and drummer Lyle Riddle, Terraplane Sun the Venice Beach quintet self-describes as "blues indie folk dance soul," but artfully blends all of that and more into a rootsy rock cocktail that defies any specific era. It's what happens when four-fifths of your lineup is born and bred in SoCal, pulling together just the right recipe of shared and disparate influences.
"I wanted to make this a very classic, vintage-based band, where all the tones were kind of timeless, and let the songs do their thing," says Rothbard. That vision has rounded into shape as Terraplane Sun embraced eclecticismFeenberg also contributes lap steel, accordion and trombone, Zambetti mandolin, and Rothbard harmonica. "Each band member's musical input is virtually irreplaceable," the frontman adds. "It would be very hard to create this sound with other players."
"It's evolving into this collective unit," muses Zambetti. "We come from a pretty wide range of musical influence."
While Terraplane Sun occasionally evokes hitmakers like The Black Keys or The Rolling Stones, they're not married to any trend or scene. Even the moniker is old-school, nodding to '30s bluesman Robert Johnson's "Terraplane Blues," a song about an old car breaking down, which doubles as a metaphor for the deterioration of a relationship. Similar wit shines in the band's lyrics, co-penned by Rothbard and Zambetti.
"We're coming from two different places, but we can meet in the middle," Zambetti says. "We get the broad theme, then we fill in the blanks. Sometimes we can go line for line."
"It's easy when we're in it together," Rothbard notes. "Our lives are interconnected and we're chasing the same thing."
Indeed, what they're after is bringing it to the masses. Their intense and intimate live show is just as impressive headlining clubs as it is opening for the likes of Alabama Shakes or Imagine Dragons. See the chorus to "Get Me Golden": "Got a plan in the palm of my hand to keep me rollin'." Terraplane Sun intend to maintain that momentum.