Chynna Johnson, Contributing Writer
Local Oneonta band The Spectacular Average Boys have been making a real splash in town. Inspired mostly by The Avett Brothers, this “foot-stompin” band is all about the music. “Success would be great,” says lead vocalist/guitarist Ned Brower. “I’d like not to need a ‘real’ job. But it’s more about the music and just getting it out there and seeing what happens from there.”
These guys have been officially performing together since 2010, starting at the Oneonta Theatre and progressing from there. They’re composed of frontman Ned Brower, bassist Joel Shue, drummer Matt Payton and vocalist/guitarist Sophie Gault. Their songs are influenced by the high and low points of life in upstate New York: eternal winters, muggy summers, crisp autumn air, hand-me-downs, your dad’s favorite band and being townies. Over coffee at the Latte Lounge, Brower gave me some insight about the band — how they got together and what they’re all about.
Chynna Johnson: So, on the band’s Facebook page, your genre is labeled as “black grass.” What exactly is this genre, kind of like bluegrass mixed with some other influences?
Ned Brower: It’s kind of like loud acoustic bluegrass; an alternative genre. The blues, folk, country, rock — we’re inspired by all those genres.
CJ: What was your first professional gig like and how did you get it?
NB: The [Oneonta] Theatre originally. Solo acoustic drummer Matt insisted to be a part of the band, so then he joined us and it all just started to fall into place.
CJ: Does the band always collaborate well together or are there sometimes some disputes?
NB: I mean, sometimes someone will say “that song sucks” and then we have to start over. It’s definitely a process, but we each bring in something different.
CJ: What do you and the band like to do in your free time?
NB: (laughs) You know, drink, smoke, have bonfires…
Matt Payton: …Rollerskate.
CJ: If you could perform with someone alive or dead, who would it be?
NB: A million — Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Wilco.
CJ: What music have you been into lately?
NB: The Felice Brothers, Richie Stearns.
CJ: What is the best part about being a musician?
NB: Playing music. Plain and simple, that’s it. Just being there for the music.
CJ: What would you say is the hardest part?
NB: It’s always a struggle, I mean there’s a sea of other musicians out there, then there’s organizing events and costs.
CJ: How are people responding at your shows?
NB: Oh, people fuckin’ love it, they go crazy.
CJ: What advice would you give musicians starting out as professionals?
NB: Find whatever you want to play. Have fun, don’t try to copy anybody else and just find your own original style and go with it.
The Spectacular Average Boys are passionate and honest young musicians, and they put on intense live shows that the crowd eats up, mostly at the Oneonta Theatre and The Oak. Shows and songs can be tracked through their fan page at theaverageboys.bandcamp.com or on their Facebook page. “Cupcakes for the Army,” “That Dirty River” and “Evil Thing Called Love” are the songs on their album “The Burning of York.” The three songs released online are truly spectacular; their honest lyrics intertwine with banjo, guitar and drums, staying true to their folk feel yet creating an original style all their own. There’s just nothing average about them.