To say that the members of Atlanta's Gringo Star know how to play with excitement and precision is putting it fairly simple. In fact, it's a common sight to see the band's four members switch over from guitars to drums to vocals every few songs or so, all while playing their comparably changing and "all encompassing rock and roll."
"It makes it more fun for us to play," says band member Nick Furgiuele, who is joined on stage by his brother Pete as well as close friends Pete DeLorenzo and Chris Kaufmann (the latter joined the band only two weeks ago). "For us, it's not like you're the bass player of the band or the drummer or anything. We're kind of equal musicians that play music together."
This Friday at Club Garibaldi, Gringo Star brings with them an intense rock and roll show and a sound that fits somewhere between The Animals, Motown and The Kinks. This blend continues to earn them spots at major festivals, including Lollapalooza several weeks ago.
"There's not a pinpointed sound because we change it up a lot," says Furgiuele. He adds that he gets inspired by music from the '50s, '60s and '70s, including British rock/pop.
Jeff Hamilton, the booker at Club Garibaldi, can't wait to have a band of fellow multi-instrumentalists perform at his venue. He joked that Gringo Star offers great tunes to dance the watusi (a '60s-era dance) to. For him personally, Gringo Star fits in with the '60s garage and revivalist bands he listens to while offering something unique.
"I think they are a bit more polished (than the others] for lack of a better word," says Hamilton. "We have all seen trashy garage bands but it is nice to hear a bit more focused of a sound. They strike me as a bit more pop sounding...The music has an irreverence to it, almost child-like but with a undertone of cynicism; with the melodic and instrument choices, the combination works to make them somewhat unique."
The combination of sounds from Gringo Star (the name comes from being called gringos by their fellow Mexican workers) began an as more of an experiment inside the studio to see what the four members could do. Impressively, they recorded an album before any shows and before they were really a formal band.
"We ended up playing a lot of different things and we enjoyed it so much that we decided to form a band," says Furgiuele. "It carried over with everyone doing their songs and taking turns with different lineups and different guitar players and such."
He adds that when it comes to writing and playing the band functions fairly democratically and everyone has a chance to sing lead, write songs and contribute.
"Whoever writes the song has an idea who they want to play drums, guitar, piano or something on it. We all work on it until it takes shape," says Nick Furgiuele.
Every song takes time to perfect and the band works hard to make sure it's how they want it.
"We take it song by song, which I think allows us to focus on songs and stuff like that," says Furgiuele. "It's an important part of music besides the general sound that we have."
Their show in Milwaukee is only one stop on their tour around the globe as they plan to head out west for the first time and return to Europe another time (they hope to sign with a German label to release their album over there as well). For the last five years, the band's taken similar routes with upwards of a hundred shows a year or so.
With each show the band gets tighter and with Kaufmann joining, the band's as focused as ever.
Once they're back home, it's back to the studio to record their next album. But they rushing things - they're enjoying every moment to experience new things whether musically on stage, on the road and playing bigger shows like Lollapalooza, or meeting new people.
"It's all just a constant lesson," says Furgiuele. "It gives everyone a well rounded look at themselves as person and musician...Pretty much every day is a story. Every day has little bits of new stuff that adds to the experience."