Soul Compound: Bringing Beach Blues to the Asbury Scene

Drew of Soul Compound
Photo Credit: Griffin Lotz

Don’t let the name fool you, Soul Compound is not what you think. When you hear the band’s name thoughts of a ’60s soul and Motown revue tribute band, or maybe a weekend warrior jazz and R&B outfit might spring to your mind.

In reality, Soul Compound is a dynamic, guitar-driven band that delivers a unique, toe-tappingly infectious “beach blues” sound. Oh they’ve got plenty of soul alright, and you’ll find that amongst those tasty licks, and driving backbeat.

We recently caught up with the band to talk about their sound, their upcoming gigs, and their new record.

Who is Soul Compound (Band Members & What Instruments They Play): The Soul Compound is a blues/soul/rock trio. Drew plays guitar, sings, and plays harmonica. Jay plays bass guitar, and Rich plays drums.

We became a band in (the year): We started playing in the summer of 2013 just as a fun project. Suddenly we realized there’s some pretty cool and unique material, and started getting more serious shortly after.

We’re Based Out Of: Asbury Park, New Jersey

You’ve Seen Us Perform in Other Bands Such As: Jay was in The Ghost in Black and White, Rich was in a punk band called Feeble Minds, and Drew sang in a band called Fifty Year Storm.

The Story Behind the Band’s Name: Individually we are a mix of different experiences and each member brings a different feel to the table. Although our musical experiences are diverse, we produce original tunes that offer a pleasing myriad of flavors in one package. Therefore, we are The Soul Compound. A single element to feed the soul on multiple levels.

Our Sound Has to Been Likened to: I call it “Beach Blues.” II think people who like a raw alternative blues or soul influenced rock will dig this. It’s definitely not overproduced, as we’re going for a more retro style like something from the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Our biggest musical influences: It’s a really wide range from old blues musicians like Elmore James and Howlin Wolf, who in turn influenced bands like The Rolling Stones, soul singers like Otis Redding or Bill Withers and contemporary artists like G. Love and the Special Sauce, The Black Keys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gary Clark Jr. Arctic Monkeys and John Mayer.

Any New Music Coming Out: Yes! In fact we just put out a three song sampler that is going to be part of our thirteen song debut LP called Loose Ends. The tracks are currently on YouTube and SoundCloud and I’m super excited about them. The album was produced and mixed by Paul Ritchie, who people might know as a member of The Parlor Mob and gods; two amazing bands.

Photo Credit: Griffin Lotz

I think these days with so many avenues to discover new music, thirteen songs all at once might be aggressive for some individual’s attention spans. We ultimately decided that while the other songs are being mixed and mastered, put a few on the web so people can listen for free. The new songs are a better representation of our current sound, especially compared to our first EP from 2015, which was while we were still in self-discovery mode.

Cool/Famous Bands We’ve Performed With Before: We’ve been fortunate to play with some really great national touring acts and local Asbury Park bands. Some of these include The Main Squeeze, Quincy Mumford and the Reason Why, Husky Burnette, Hidden Cabins, Tide Bends, Von Mons, and Lowlight.

Is there any misconceptions about the band’s sound, especially given the name? When I think Soul Compound, I think something along the lines of an R&B or soul group, but here you guys are playing some killer guitar driven rock music.

You could say that and we certainly don’t want to mislead anyone, however when people listen to our record you’ll hear a wide range of influence and sounds. I like diverse records. Bands like the Clash or Sublime could do a Reggae song then immediately throw in a Punk Rock tune. Listen to how Gregg Allman sings “One Way Out,” there’s definitely old soul in those bluesy vocals. We might play a strictly heavier bluesy track like you said, then do an open tuning style tune like you’d hear on Led Zeppelin Three.

Plus, I always loved those classic R&B Berry Gordy Jr. tracks on the Motown label. They suck you right in and keep you interested! The only thing that they were missing, in my opinion, was some raw bluesy guitar licks, we are trying to bridge that gap.

Being in a scene like Asbury Park, do you feel it’s been conducive to your guys development as a band, or do you feel that SC has a hard time finding its footing in this scene?

First off, Asbury Park is a great town with so many amazing bands, we’re so happy to part of the small city that has so many venues and opportunities to play. I’d say the current sound in Asbury isn’t necessarily our style of music. It’s got a little dark and stormy side to it whereas, we like to bring more of a party scene. But that’s the beauty of making music, everyone has different style and tastes; likes and dislikes. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. That being said, it becomes a bit of a challenge trying to snag a band you “fit in” with to share gigs, but we’re going to keep doing what makes us happy as artists and play music that we enjoy.

For someone who may have never heard you perform before, what’s a song you’d recommend they’d check out in order to fully understand the band, and why?

There’s a tune called “My Way Home” that has that raw thigh-slapping bluesy slide guitar sound. One we just released is a groove called “The Night Owl” is a great ‘windows down in the car cruiser’ for sure.

What’s been your favorite moment as a member of the band? What’s been the craziest?

My favorite part is simply having the opportunity to play music that we create. Some folks are just locked in their bedrooms saying, “I wish I did that when I was younger, etc.” It’s pretty strange the first time people start singing lyrics you’ve written or when random people say how they enjoyed the show the other night. I’ve been approached by others thanking me for playing slide guitar and harmonica, like it’s not as common these days I guess. I just thought it sounded cool.

For those who may have never seen you live — what can they expect from a Soul Compound show?

We’re not going to play any over aggressive or heavy tunes, just cool grooves that beach blues vibe. We like to put on a fun show which also means we’re not afraid to bust out some covers on occasion. Being a three piece, and an original song writing band, I’d say we put our own spin on these tunes. I think people of all ages and backgrounds can enjoy our music.

What do you love about being in Soul Compound?

Obviously I love playing live. It’s why I picked up a guitar in the first place as a teenager. But it’s a close race between that and writing a new tune. Going in the rehearsal space with a completely blank canvas then creating this new piece of art it’s not something everyone can do you know? There might be hundreds of people at a show that can like the same song for hundreds of different reasons. Despite some obvious themes, the songs are open for interpretation. If anyone is interested, just stop me at a show, I can talk music all night long.

What do you guys have planned for the rest of 2017?

We’ve got a show Friday October 20 at Tenth Ave. Burrito in Belmar, so come see us live! After that we’re waiting for the rest of those songs to be finished mixing and mastering and put out full LP out. We’re going to have a record release party which should be a blast as well. I basically never stop writing songs, which means another EP probably next year sometime. Other than that, we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing and hope for the best, stay tuned.

The Soul Compound performs at 10th Ave Burrito in Belmar tonight. For more on the band, follow them on Facebook.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites