Live hip-hop funk. Booty-shaking. Jam Band. Dance music.
When asked to describe the musical genre of their band, Wordsauce members rambled off these words, all disagreeing with each other on what the perfect explanation would be. Wordsauce’s music is certainly difficult to define, as its band has seven positions ranging from DJ to saxophone player.
One of the only things they all have in common is their love of music and living in San Luis Obispo. But when it comes to their backgrounds and what they love about musicianship, their answers are all a little different, bassist Wesley Price explains.
“Kevin is a metal head. Rick and Eric are super into hip-hop. Bill is into everything. Sam is jazz as can be. I like punk,” Price said. “The coolest thing about this is the amount of people in the band. We always make space for everyone. There is so much going on all the time because there are a bunch of layers of music.”
Their band name invokes the image of food simmering in a pot, and that’s how they make their music. They throw in bits of musical flavor until there is a full “meal” or song. Instead of following a specific “recipe” of how things have been done in the past, Wordsauce is all about collaboration and improvisation until the members create a sound they all like.
Many times, someone will bring a riff or beat into band practice and they will all mess around with it until they figure out their own specific parts, guitarist Kevin Strong said.
“We don’t do a lot of writing down the structure, usually that comes after,” Strong said. “How long should this part be and how long should this verse be comes at the end of a jam session. By the time everyone knows what they want to do, we have pretty much a full song.”
Not only have the band members’ styles influenced the overall feel of the music they produce, but individual musician styles have changed as well.
Strong used to be in a metal band, and it was difficult for him to play more simple guitar parts to make room for other musicians.
“It was the polar opposite of how I used to play, where everything I would do had to be as loud and fast and as much stuff packed into as little time as possible,” Strong said. “I still like that kind of stuff, too. I can do simple and feel like I don’t need to be showing off the whole time.”
Vocalist Rick Loughman had to get more comfortable with singing because he started off his musical career rapping.
“After playing with the guys for a year or two, I personally became not so confined in my song writing and when I was doing vocals,” Loughman said. “I have gotten more comfortable singing over the years and have become a little more dynamic.”
With many styles to draw from, Wordsauce has struggled with cohesion but has made progress. The band made it a goal to become more structured but retain its original sound. Improvising gave them all an energy that worked on stage but could also be risky if the sounds came together sloppily.
However, Wordsauce’s many different styles and genres come in handy when putting together a setlist.
“As far as what we play at certain shows, it just depends on the atmosphere,” Loughman said. “So if we start playing at the dinner hour, we probably won’t play our heaviest songs. That’s the nice thing about having a lot of different sounds is that we can pick and choose what we think would be best for the crowd.”
The band’s versatility makes it a favorite with most crowds. On its summer 2014 California and Oregon tour, Wordsauce was able to win over even middle-aged audiences who were initially skeptical of the band. Playing songs from its EP “The Leak,” the band was able to find something in its repertoire that could engage any audience and get them up and dancing.
This was a first for Loughman, who previously didn’t even want to perform for his family because of their prejudice against hip-hop.
“When I first started rapping and making beats, I almost just didn’t show my music to family because I knew their sentiment towards that genre of music already,” Loughman said. “On tour, we got to show our music to people that maybe didn’t think that they liked that certain genre but then realized that there was something about it that they could enjoy.”
For the monthlong tour’s duration, the band members packed into their Wordsauce “funk academy bus” for traveling purposes.
The band got closer, literally sleeping in the bus many nights while on the road. They were able to share their music with others and even used their downtime to write new music for their upcoming album, which will be their first full-length album.
“To have everyone show the level of commitment that it takes to drop everything for a month and just go on the road for 30 days was awesome,” Loughman said. “We had known we had wanted to do it for a while, but the actual booking process for venues takes a long time. Wess really brought it together.”
The new music will be fresh and recorded differently from Wordsauce’s previous two EPs. Due to space and time constraints, the old EPs were recorded one instrument at a time, playing over tracks from the other musicians. Drummer Billy Gerhardt said their old way of recording wasn’t ideal for Wordsauce’s casual-jam style.
“The best way that Wordsauce records as a group is live and together because we all feed off of each other’s energy,” Gerhardt said. “We are happy with the EP, but recording the new album live is really going to take it to the next level.”
Wordsauce is hoping to release its finished new album by the end of 2015 but will be dropping the new tracks on its website as they are finished.