Amplif[ie]d | GrooveSession
By: Marissa Scheerer
Six bare feet tap on stage to the rhythmic beat of the drums and electric bass; guitar riffs and energy fill the space in that blues-y, funk’n rock ‘n’ roll vibe GrooveSession brings to the stage. The crowd is movin’.
“It’s always been tricky to describe our music,” says lead vocalist and drummer Manny Sanchez. “I want to say movin’, groovin’ music. We love blues, rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, funk and reggae. We want to play music that makes people want to move.”
Manny, along with band mates Sarven Manquiat (on guitar, keyboards & vocals) and Ronnie Sanchez (on bass and vocals) make up the Ontario-based power rock trio Groove Session. Born and raised in the IE, Groove Session is known for their positive energy, explosive performances and genre bridging, classic and cutting-edge musical fusion. “Something that someone said recently that I really liked was ‘primal rock’,” says Manny, while continuing to contemplate how to describe the band’s sound. “We like to keep it organic so the energy in the room can keep the songs different from night to night.”
With over 950 performances and four albums under their belt, the band has a reputation for connecting with the crowd and leaving an impression: wherever they have played; wherever they go. Amidst the busy life of the band preparing to release new music and rock more shows in the upcoming year, we were lucky to get in touch with Manny to learn a little more about GrooveSession firsthand.
Q: How did you guys meet?
Manny Sanchez: Ronnie and I are from Ontario. Sarven is from Montclair. We met Sarven through this thing I was putting together my junior year, reenacting Woodstock. They [the high school] asked if I could put together a band ‘cause they knew I played drums, and they wanted us to cover a bunch of songs from Woodstock.
Q: How did you become a band?
Manny: My brother and I both attended Musicians Institute, and Sarven went to nursing school. About four years after high school we connected and started the band. Ronnie and I were at a backyard barbecue where Sarven was playing. We sat in [on the set] and were shocked to hear he wasn’t playing in a band [already], because we both thought he was unbelievable. We’ve been playing for seven and a half years together but we’ve known each other for closer to 12.
Q. We have to know, where did this reputation for playing with bare feet come from?
Manny: Ha. I’ve always played barefoot. I started playing at seven or eight, and growing up in Southern California, we have great weather year ‘round. I like to feel connected to the pedals playing drums. It became a way to feel the most connected. My feet get kind of claustrophobic. I remember the first thing Sarven said to us, “So, what’s with the bare feet dude? Does this mean I have to take my shoes off?” Both Ronnie and I laughed. We told him, “Do what you want!” But, it just caught on. Now, the show doesn’t feel right with my shoes on. Except when we played in Tahoe, and it was so cold we had no choice. It was freezing.
Q. Can you tell me about your guys’ experience; maybe one or some of your most memorable performances?
Manny: This last year, the summer tour was really great. We did the Midwest, Middle America and worked our way back. We had a series of shows in Wisconsin. We go out that way every year in June so there were five nights in a row of full capacity shows! It’s very humbling. It felt like home but we were far from home. It’s awesome coming back out there and feeling the appreciation for us. [We have] friends that we’ve made that we’ll definitely have for a lifetime. It makes the world feel a lot smaller.
Q. So, what do you love about playing back here in the IE?
Manny: Something we’ve noticed in the last couple years is just the growth as far as the local fan base. It’s been really great to see, [with] it being home and all. For a while it was hard because there are only so many places to play here. A lot of bands think you have to go play in LA. But you can play anywhere and be a band! It’s nice to see people going out and supporting live music and making the scene! I really just want to say thank you to everyone!
Though the band was sad to share that their longtime run with Hip Kitty will be coming to an end, GrooveSession will continue to perform and put out sweet jams. “We will be releasing our fifth album at the beginning of 2015,” says Manny. “We have plans for releasing a couple live albums next year, hopefully every three months. And late next year, we want to put out an additional album. And, of course, we want to release singles . . . We really haven’t figured out the exact way we’re going to release everything but definitely [we want to put out] as much music as possible.”
Don’t miss out on catching Groove Session’s final hurrah at Hip Kitty on Sun, Jan. 4 from 7p.m. to 11p.m. Manny warns, “It should be a real doozy. We’re expecting to have a lot of folks there. We want to have some special guests and do something special for a show there one last time!”
Guess we’ll have to head to GrooveSession’s final Hip Kitty show to see for ourselves just how much they bring the house down! If you can’t make that, be sure find their music, photos, blog and social media outlets on their website and catch them on the road elsewhere (tour dates available here. In the spirit of GrooveSession, go out and support the live music scene; don’t be afraid to dance around barefoot, connect with people everywhere, and make the world a smaller place!